The Decline of Marvel Comics

In marketing, diluting your brand is death.

That is why Coca Cola doesn’t co-brand potato chips, why Porsche doesn’t buy a sock factory, and why underwear companies don’t also create RAM chips. Dilution is confusion which erodes trust.

I wish Marvel Comics could learn something from this, but they are intent on destroying whatever cachet they have left after the wholesale politically correct takeover in the 2000s.

For years, DC comics was somewhat of a laughingstock among people who actually read comics (not just collected them), and rightly so. There were “shades” of Batman: Batman the 1960’s TV show, Batman the comic book, Batman in Superfriends, Batman the comic book, The Dark Knight, and then the Batman of movies, in various forms. You could have Batman any way you wanted him – over easy, poached, scrambled.

Some people do not care. Some people will lap up whatever a company gives them, servile and grateful for a moment’s distraction from death. However, if you value anything at all in this world, you long for consistency; you long for someone to trust. When an artist creates something, it is a social contract, unspoken, but one nevertheless. He or she says, “I have made this and define myself this way. You should expect things like this from me.” Thus, eager fans who are that way line up to buy the things that artist produces.

When an artist, or in this case, a comic book company, becomes something of a Tourette’s syndrome sufferer, you never quite know what to expect. Will they produce kiddy Batman or serious Batman? Cheesy Batman or gothic Batman? Who knows? It’s media Russian roulette.

Marvel comics has learned nothing from their – as they used to say – Distinguished Competition. Now they have silly kiddy cartoons, PC comic books, well-done movies, and rated-R movies (Deadpool).

All hail the brand, whatever it is.

All trust the brand, whatever it is.

Meanwhile, those who long for quality and trust live like the disappeared; profits come and go, but some who should be your audience never return. Could it be? Do you know why? You were false to yourself and now, you have no-one willing to follow you or care about what you do.

You would think people would learn the perils of diluting the brand, but failed companies every year demonstrate that human folly is eternal.

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6 Responses to The Decline of Marvel Comics

  1. swanpride says:

    ????? I honestly don’t see your issue there. As long as they don’t try to cover all bases with the same characters, but keep certain characters for certain purposes, this is exactly what any publisher should do, covering the whole readership which, in Marvel’s cases covers all ages. I also don’t get why you mention Deadpool as an example, because everyone who is remotely interested in Marvel knows that this movie was made by Fox and not by them.

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    • Poster says:

      I suspect you are confusing clarity and agreement with your own perspective. I don’t think anyone could be any clearer than “diluting your brand is death.” Stating that Fox made Deadpool even further supports the point. Who created the character? Who gave Fox the rights to use the character? Who in the end is responsible? Marvel.

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      • swanpride says:

        So you think that they shouldn’t have sold the right years back when it was the only way to rescue the company? What exactly is the act which “dilutes their brand”? You brought the Batman example from DC, but not only was that one specific character, Batman is to this day DC’s best-seller. So why exactly is it a cautionary tale?

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      • Poster says:

        I’m not going to keep restating what I’ve already said in the post, because there’s no need; the details you allude to are not germane. You simply don’t agree with what was said, and that’s fine. However, I don’t do extended arguments here, so if that’s what you want, I must disappoint you.

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  2. Former Marvelite says:

    I concur with your assertion of marvel diluting the brand. We have how many spider people now? We have every race, gender and even timeframe (e.g., 2099) represented. It’s gotten to the point there is nothing special about being Spiderman anymore. And I’m sorry but to me Spiderman is Marvel and vice versa. That is what is called a flagship character like Classic Coke is to Coca-Cola (to continue with your analogy). We have seen our heroes transform before our eyes. We have old man Captain America and Falcon Captain America. In the golden age (to me the 1960s) the House of Ideas was cranking out new heroes and villains monthly. Now that creativity seems to have migrated to the independents – a phenomenon started by Image in the 1990s. And with Marvel what we are left with is old recycled ideas and multiple characters representing one single brand and disconnected universes with the majority of the focus on producing movies. As a result of this, I am finding more and more of my weekly comic pull being filled with indies with only a few Marvels that I am desperately holding on to solely for emotional reasons (e.g., Amazing Spiderman, Spidey, and a couple others.

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    • Poster says:

      Good points – esp. the disconnected universes. The indies really have picked up the ball and ran with it. It’s a shame that Marvel made a hole that they could fill, though.

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