Super Soldier Serum Tastes Kinda Sour

Everyone in the comic industry (and a bunch of major media outlets) are talking about Marvel killing off Captain America in the Epilogue issue of Civil War, the massive crossover that dominated the Marvel 616 Universe as of late. Chatting yesterday with retailer friends, they’ve appreciated the media frenzy and sales that Civil War has generated but also pointed out some serious problems with Marvel’s timing on it.

When you have the New York Times, USA Today, CNN and other mass media spotlight focusing on the comic industry in a positive way, that’s powerful stuff. It’s the kind of attention the industry needs to jolt more people in to reading comic books and securing a bit more ground as entertainment media. With that in mind, it’s a bit baffling why they’d put such a crucial mainstream media worthy event at the end of their massive insular crossover. Collectors and gawkers may buy Captain America #25 to own the issue where he’s capped (pun intended) but none of them will be able to understand why it happened or the events leading up to that moment.

Marvel’s Civil War includes over eighty (no exaggeration) issues throughout the entire Marvel comic line detailing the many story threads being woven in to it. It’s practically impenetrable to someone not marinated in Marvel lore and recent continuity. Even if a new reader decides to back track and read only the main Civil War mini-series, there’s no guarantee that a retailer will have all the issues in stock and a trade paperback is not coming out for several months, long after the peak of “Death o’ Cap” frenzy. There’s no convenient way to get in to comics once their interest is peaked.

If Captain America had died at the start of Civil War, it could’ve created a real frenzy of new readers with an actual jumping on point. They’d be brought on board by mainstream media for the start of a big story worth following: a moral battle between Superhero Registration and breaking the law. In the midst of the media push with Captain America’s death, Marvel could’ve then pulled out the “Spider-Man reveals his identity to the world” stunt and catapulted the whole thing even higher. Imagine motivated brand new readers in comic book stores for several months straight instead of just groping around looking for a single Epilogue issue.

Instead, the whole thing looks like it’ll just be a sales blip/flash in the pan – nothing about it serves as a jumping on point whatsoever. People will flood comic stores to buy the valuable death issue (Have you seen the price on Death of Superman issues? You can find them in the 25 cent bins of many a comic retailer nationwide.) and will just as quickly leave, never to return, confident that they were there when America’s Super Soldier took a few bullets in the gut and bled out the last of his liberty juice.

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