“Fresh Start.” Jeezum crow, here we go again.
For the umpteenth time in as many years, Marvel has announced yet another relaunch/soft reboot/course correction. There’s no shortage of hot takes and thinkpieces out there, but rather than drop my own two cents I thought I might try a different approach. After all, DoYouEvenComicBook? isn’t me or any one person. It’s all of you. So I reached out to the community and also went wading through the contentious waters of Comics Twitter to gauge the broader fandom’s reactions to Marvel’s latest initiative.
#DoYouEvenComicBook fam, what is your biggest gripe with Marvel’s “Fresh Start” relaunch announcement and what is the most positive aspect or outcome you could possibly see with it? pic.twitter.com/1fByD30Sv5
— Let’s Get Drunk and Talk Comics (@drunkcomicsfans) February 25, 2018
I couldn’t begin a piece like this without first and foremost addressing the concept of “relaunch fatigue.” I know: we’re sick of being told by the world outside geekdom that we’re getting sick of the world of geekdom. Hollywood’s old guard seems to think after decades of superhero films, ten years of the MCU, and nearly twenty successful installments of Marvel’s mightiest, we’re somehow over—or about to have had our fill of—superheroes. This genre clearly isn’t some fad or flash-in-the-pan moment at this point. It is a legitimate corner of cinema unto itself.
That being said; yes, we absolutely do get bored with certain concepts when they become oversaturated or stagnant. Any franchise, company, genre, or medium has to keep its content fresh and with the times to retain an audience. In many ways, this is exactly why Marvel has repeatedly made this marketing move. It is an attempt to shake things up and generate a boost in sales. While that may have been successful in the past with Marvel NOW!, I think its safe to say these are wearing thin for many fans. Relaunch fatigue is real, at least in this moment.
Too many relaunches too frequently and its getting really annoying. Most positive aspect is that its not a reboot, leave that to DC.
— Kyle B. (@Notsosmartguy95) February 25, 2018
I have lived through too many “fresh” starts and reboots…I have seen it play out…in a loop, which characters get to shake out near the top and others scraped off the edge into the nebulous void to be forgotten about until next reboot…
— Tony DeMarco (@DeMarcoDraws) February 25, 2018
It’s worth noting, though, that there’s a difference between relaunches and reboots. Marvel has done little to none of the latter, unlike their counterpart in what we refer to as the Big Two. The All-New, All-Different relaunch in the wake of Secret Wars’ shakeup wasn’t a full resetting of the universe (or multiverse) in the same sense that DC has completely restarted their continuity after events like Crisis on Infinite Earths and Flashpoint. All-New, All-Different was more of a soft reboot, with the purpose of ending the Ultimate Comics imprint and bringing some of its characters into the fold of the main continuity of Earth-616, among other things.
Fresh Start, in a somewhat ironic choice of name, isn’t really even that. It’s a tidying up more than anything. Many characters will retain their current status quo; however, there is a concern by many fans of characters who are female, people of color, or LGBTQ+ they they will have their roles diminished, or even stripped away entirely. With Logan and Tony Stark being resurrected, the Odinson seemingly becoming worthy of the Thor title once again, and Carol no longer being in the leadership role she once was, some fans view this as a step backward for progression of this world and its characters regarding inclusivity.
1. #CaptainMarvel seems to have received a demotion and is no longer part of the leadership trio.
2. Spider-Woman has been left out.
3. Only 6 of 24 characters shown are women.
— Lori Hyrup (@LoriHyrup) February 25, 2018
The lack of Jessica Drew and that Carol doesn't seem to be part of the main Trio anymore.
— Seren is Exhausted (@Serendipity824) February 25, 2018
This is certainly a valid concern about Fresh Start, as is another being voiced about not only the characters in the books but also the creatives and editorial staff behind the scenes. In a recent interview with comicbook.com writer Chase Magnett, Christopher Priest spoke at length about being a black writer in comics and feeling typecast, which was widely misinterpreted by fans who wanted his words to fit their narrative about what they regard as “diversity hires.” With the proper context of the full interview, it’s clear he was commenting more on Marvel’s (and DC’s) generally tone-deaf approach to bringing diversity and representation to their creative teams due to the editorial boards being mostly…well…white dudes.
“The problem is the two major companies don’t have anybody of color in upper management with the exception of Jim Lee. There are certainly no African Americans in upper management. Any time I’m writing anything about race now, I get all of these notes back where they’re wringing their hands and not sure about anything. They’re terrified of the Twitter-verse, but half of those people aren’t even reading your comics either.”
So the Marvel comics much hyped Fresh Start is:
✔️ the eighth relaunch in 6 years
✔️ piloted by old white dudes
✔️ no queers allowed
✔️ reducing women & PoC chars
✔️ capitulating to actual white supremacist fan demands
✔️ piloted by a fake japanese man
So fresh. pic.twitter.com/zr1oIRi8SL
— Thal (@thalestral) February 20, 2018
Beyond concerns of Fresh Start’s representation both in characters and hiring, there’s also a general lack of faith among fans for a number of other reasons. Whether it’s a lack of consistency in the books, poor business practices (such as overshipping), an over-saturation of events that result in upending storylines, or even the general anger of “muh canon” due to changes in—or even replacement of—characters…some fans just simply aren’t willing to give Marvel a chance at this point.
This saddens me, actually.
Despite my many criticisms of their comics division, I also believe they are home to some of the brightest new talents in the industry today. They’re crafting some of my favorite arcs I’ve read in some time. Perhaps, with time, some of these fans will find reason again to put down their money on Marvel books.
That I just don’t trust them, outright no trust anymore. 😕
— Adam Olesen Damkjer (@BestedByAdam) February 25, 2018
It’s not all mistrust and apathy, though. Some fans are genuinely excited by this upcoming Fresh Start slate, which has been greatly helped by some truly enticing announcements regarding books and creative teams. Check out Task’s Twitter feed for some of that goodness. No matter what direction this company is ultimately going in, we know we are getting at least four books that, as of this writing, I will be dropping my money on without hesitation.
I actually don't mind the relaunch I'm just looking forward to more stories.
— Piper Whitaker (@PiperWhitaker4) February 25, 2018
Marvel’s Fresh Start creative teams have been solid so far. Can’t wait to start picking these up. pic.twitter.com/GLUdjOYFNR
— Eric Palacios (@wwjd69) March 1, 2018
people keep giving Marvel shit for their Fresh Start. Saying they're rebooting AGAIN. Well you know what? I bet when they did Legacy they didn't expect their most popular writer to up and leave and take his toys with him too. They had to adapt, and they did. And I'm glad.
— pettyWISE🤡 #DoYouEvenComicBook (@TASKvsTheWorld) February 20, 2018
What are your thoughts on Fresh Start? Are you looking forward to the series already announced and the prospect of a new direction? Do you share the same concerns as some of your other fans? Are you flat-out done with Marvel—or even done with them temporarily? Feel free to leave a comment here or hit me up on Twitter.
I’m Dexter Buschetelli, the drunk comics fan who isn’t actually drunk at the moment but, you can rest assured, will be soon.
Dexter Buschetelli thinks he is really clever, but you know better; don’t you? Do you? I dunno, I’m not your mom. Dexter can be found here on DYECB writing reviews and opinion pieces as well as on the website for his podcast, Let’s Get Drunk and Talk Comics.