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Comic book relaunches are an old hat. They’ve been around almost as long as comics themselves have. They, for a given value of course, could even be said to have kickstarted or created the Silver Age of Comics altogether. The then brand new versions of The Flash and Green Lantern igniting a new era of superhero comics with bolder and/or strikingly different directions.
Relaunches should be kept in such a manner. Where the book is actually being taken down a new path or being seen through a new lens. It justifies the creation of a new “Number One”. That’s where one starts. That’s where one can find the beginning of a singularly unique or resurrected incarnation. There being something that can set it apart. Without such pre-requisites it just falls into the trap that has become ubiquitous with the mainstream comics industry, namely the “Big Two”. Shuffling back issue numbers for the arbitrary sales bump but not much else at all.
Of course this is nothing new or even unheeded for modern cape comics. Just take something far enough, but still recent, like Marvel’s “The Heroic Age” for one. Yet even in something as unnecessary as that there were more often than not an actual shake-up involved. Jonathan Hickman’s Fantastic Four run being a prime candidate among them. It’s just been another accepted part of being a cape reader, like editorial mismanagement or lower selling books hiding short lived hidden gems. A fact of life. However, recent developments in both DC and Marvel have brought this aspect to the forefront, and made it a pressing issue.
The long standing offender, at least this early in the year, has been noted as being the “All-New Marvel Now” relaunches. Which in itself has not relaunched much at all for previous titles. Honestly, all it has done is simply create a blank slate for a new story-arc. I dare not even use the word “run” because any creative teams have yet to even change hands. It’s quite bluntly the same run as before, but only with a new “1” after 8 or so issues. Runs like Paul Cornell’s Wolverine have been said to not even be missing a beat – with the only notable change being a new artist. Though not much of import in the story department.
The biggest example of this in Marvel’s tent being the relaunch of Kelly Sue DeConnick’s Captain Marvel series. After a short, uninspired, and not really that captivating trial run Marvel seems to have used “All-New Marvel Now” as an ecuse to wipe the board clean. Quite literally saying “let’s try this again” and lauding the short previous arcs as a “fan favorite/sleeper hit”. The new launch was littered with titles such as these. Avengers Undercover, Daredevil, and Hulk to name three more. It’s an inane practice. This is possibility the closest thing to giving customers a short change for a justification. Honesty would go a long way to making this not look unintentionally funny.
This is of course not to lay sole blame on Marvel as DC Comics has humorously got in on the action with two ill-timed announcements. The replacement books for Teen Titans and Suicide Squad being… Teen Titans and Suicide Squad. Both with almost exactly the same rosters and over seeing hands. In a community starved for teases of a post-Forever Evil world, “more of the same” was the wrong way to go. Like the recent Marvel relaunches it’s only glides along the notoriety of the event in order to justify itself. There’s really no actual change up.
The only thing with actual potential in their area being the possible inclusion of a Nightwing relaunch, which would be deserving of a new start. Over on the other end for Marvel, there comes All-New Ghost Rider, or even Miss Marvel, which are pretty much the most straight forward. It actually sells what it is saying it does. Like the silver age starters of old, it’s a brand new incarnation that can now be easily jumped onto, good or bad. The arrangement is a sound one and the prevalence of relaunches near every year has brought it to a cringe inducing sort of practice at this point. Although, that’s probably enough on my end, what have been your favorite relaunches in the past months? Please comment below.