An entry from my old Marvel blog, this one the wrap-up to a sequence in which I guided the audience in trying to determine what was the worst single Marvel comic book ever published.
…if you can call them that.
It was an interesting weekend, watching people debate back and forth which choices counted and which ones didn’t. And I noticed something interesting, which I’ll share with you after the play-by-play.
The winning, unvetoed book was ULTIMATES 3 #4, with 18 votes.
As people pointed out, both HULK #5 and AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #545 were vetoed, putting them out of the running. But just for the sake of completeness:
HULK #5 received 21 votes
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #545 received 25 votes
Now, what’s interesting to me about all of this is that all three of these books are less than a year old. Of the older books, the next-best vote-getter was TROUBLE with 6 measly votes.
What this suggests to me is that today’s comic book readers—at least the ones who are online and vote in polls like this one—are very focused on the “now.” There was a time not all that long ago when CIVIL WAR #7 or CIVIL WAR: FRONT LINE #11 would have been the runaway winner. And going back further, books like AVENGERS: DISASSEBLMED, SPIDER-MAN: CHAPTER ONE or X-FACTOR #1 that overturned or revised some key story-point always stirred up their share of ire. But it seems as though these key moments of the past very quickly get left in the past, get folded into everybody’s experiences and accepted, if not embraced. And that also seems to indicate that a year or two from now, were we to do the exact same contest, it would be three newer issues sharing the victory lap. I don’t know if this indicates a short attention span on the part of the overall audience, or simply that it wants what it wants when it wants it.
The other uniting factor between these three winning titles is that they all sold incredibly well. Putting aside AMAZING #545 for the moment, with all of the anger directed at Jeph Loeb in this contest, it’s difficult to believe that he’s a best-selling writer. But there’s no denying that he is—his numbers prove it time and time again, month in and month out. So what does this tell us? Is this another case, like the much-quoted example of Priest’s BLACK PANTHER, where the sentiment expressed by the hardcore audience online doesn’t synch up with the behavior of the readership as a whole? Or is there more to it—are people actively buying these titles even though they don’t like them? I see the same sort of hatred expressed at Geoff Johns over his DC work, and certainly Bendis and Millar have experienced their share as well. Is this simply the price of success—that with more people reading the work, there’s a greater likelihood that more people are going to have an extremely negative reaction to it (even if those people are a relatively tiny subset of the majority?)
I don’t know. But I’d be curious to hear some opinions.