Marvel Comics publishes a lot of comic books. In March 2020, Marvel published at least 80 new single-issue comics, the majority of which were set within the Marvel Superhero Universe. If a reader wanted to keep up with the Marvel Universe as a whole that month, they would have had to read 60+ books and spend $240+ to do so.
I’m certain that few (if any) readers did that. And anecdotally, retailers have been asking Marvel to reduce the number of books they publish for years now. 60+ superhero books is (and likely always has been) too many to ask readers and retailers to care about each month. Releasing that many titles that regularly oversaturates the market, cannibalizes sales, and perhaps most importantly, keeps readers from being able to access and understand the Marvel Universe as a whole.
Meanwhile, the Marvel Cinematic Universe releases roughly two new movies and a new TV show each year, and audiences eat them up. They do so because each new MCU installment feels accessible, digestible, and important. Because just two Marvel superhero movies release each year, each remains an event to behold. Because roughly 15 to 20 Marvel superhero comics release eachweek, each has to fight and scrap (or do something exceptional) to get noticed.
Retailers and readers like myself felt this way before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Now, it seems Marvel may agree with us. In early May, Marvel announced that seven of its current monthly titles (and one one-shot) would switch to releasing digitally first, before later being collected in print. (This is a bummer, by the way, for the creators who were excited for these books to release in print, the readers who were excited to read them in print, and the comic shops that will miss out on selling physical copies of these books.) Marvel’s print publishing line is now shrinking – so the question now becomes, how much further could it go?
Most times that I tell people Cyclops is my favorite X-Man, they ask me how that could possibly be true. They think that Scott Summers is not interesting. That he’s too perfect, too whitebread, too boring. To them, Scott is the boy scout “born leader of the X-Men” and not much else.
But Scott Summers is not a born leader. After spending years being bullied and hiding who he is, Scott was chosen to lead by Charles Xavier. Xavier recognized Scott’s potential – his levelheadedness and ability to solve problems. And he also recognized Scott’s shyness – and that the boy would likely need a push to become the best version of himself.
Being chosen to lead the X-Men was exactly the push Scott needed to become his best self. He became a confident, competent leader, a stalwart friend, and (eventually) a valued romantic partner. He did this while overcoming his predisposition toward hiding himself away, for fear he might lose control of his powers (and relatedly, his emotions) and hurt those around him. Scott worked incredibly hard to become the “leader of the X-Men,” the thing that ’90s X-Men cartoon fans know him best for.
That version of Scott Summers is a great character, and would likely rank among my favorite X-Men even if there was nothing else to him. But as I dug into X-Men comics, I learned what Scott Summers’s real superpower is – the power to watch his life fall apart, again and again, and figure out how to soldier on regardless. And that’s what has cemented him as my all-time favorite X-Man.
Over at Multiversity Comics, I reviewed a Spider-Man comic that means much more to me now that I’ve been married nearly five years. Click on through for a look at a classic issue from J. Michael Straczynski’s The Amazing Spider-Man run, as well as some ruminations on what goes into making a marriage work.