Quick side note: I’ve been a little bit out of it recently. Over the course of January I had a combination multiple deadlines at university and a tonne of work to do over at Daily News Service. By the time I got to this site I normally threw up something that, frankly, wasn’t up to my normal standard. That is about to change. I’m going to give Grr(aphic) Monday’s a rest for a little while and make that the new BearSleuth Opinion Piece day whilst Wednesday will now become Comic History 101. Comic History 101 is where I’m going to talk a little about some of the biggest comic books out there and why they were important to the industry as a whole. I’m going to give this a try for a few weeks and if it seems to be working we’ll stick with it, if not I might do another reshuffle. Right, let’s get on with Comic History 101 then *cracks knuckles*.
Picture Source: http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1388438121l/105961.jpg [Accessed: 01/02/2016]
The Avengers were dead and buried. The Scarlet Witch had gone insane and killed several key members of the team whilst discrediting or gravely wounding others. The team was over. At least the team was over in the state we knew it as. At a brainstorming retreat between the Marvel writers, Brian Michael Bendis, saw the death of Earth’s Mightiest heroes as an opportunity. He raised his hand and simply asked ‘If the Avengers were supposed to have the greatest heroes in Marvel Universe on board why were Wolverine and Spider-Man not on the team?’ silence fell across the room. Back before the films started dominated the world, the majority of the Avengers roster were relatively unknown to the wider public, but Wolverine and Spider-man? Everyone knew those two.
Picture Source: https://lh6.ggpht.com/ArWcgD21R0oOafOQZg88aYcHy8xChyiNvAxYeDo6qo4shoC6eKsYfAIrsUc-4J_PP7g=h556 [Accessed: 01/02/2016]
Bendis went on to pitch the ‘New Avengers’ a more diverse team involving characters that had never really mixed before outside of the occasional team up. The roster included Captain America and Iron Man from the old team, Spider-man and Wolverine for the wow factor, Spider-woman for female representation, Sentry from the left field and Luke Cage. Cage would go on to become one of the fans favourite characters, but at the time he was pretty much unknown except for a few die-hard fans. Then the marketing team got to work, there are few images I can show you of the marketing but it all boiled down to the same thing that made the Avengers film so successful, every fan was asking themselves ‘how can this group of heroes possibly work?’. Luckily Bendis had a cunning plan…
Picture Source: http://www.chasingamazingblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/New-Avengers-09-e1372461184873.jpg [Accessed: 01/02/2016]
The original Avengers team had formed around a fight. The fight against Loki. The fight against Loki was one which each member of the team at the time had a stake in as each had some motive to want Loki stopped. Bendis designed a similar scenario that gave each hero a reason to want to fight alongside the other heroes, a huge prison breakout. This created a bond between the characters from the start whilst giving the team a huge roster of villains as well as a strong sense of purpose. The team was formed to recapture the escaped criminals from the breakout. The book was well written with a strong focus on character personality and dialogue. Marvel got David Finch, one of the strongest artist in the business at the time, involved and then the book hit stands.
Picture Source: http://static.comicvine.com/uploads/scale_large/0/5648/278685-11497-101407-4-new-avengers.jpg [Accessed: 01/02/2016]
It’s hard to get a read on the fan reaction at the time, but according to Diamond Comic’s monthly sales figures at the time, the first arc was a resounding success. It’s worth noting that that the first five issues didn’t include Wolverine on the roster, even though his inclusion had been advertised, which gave audiences an extra reason to finish the first arc. I do know some fans who saw the book as a ‘cash grab’ at the time and there is some truth to that. The previous Avengers series had been under-performing, so if the team was to come back Marvel needed to know it was going to sell. While I think this is a valid argument, I feel the book was handled better than later series which attempted to do similar things. Breakout deserves its place in the halls of comic book Valhalla as it was the beginning of a new age of comics…but we’ll get into that next time.
…that was this week’s Comic History 101!!! Check back on Friday for a new Bear Sleuth Spoiler Free Comic Book Bundle!