The folks at Comic Book Therapy have a good post up describing the sales result's of Marvel's pseudo-reboot, Marvel NOW! The gist is that Marvel appears to have flipped the tables on DC, regaining eight of the top ten sales positions for the first time after the New 52 relaunch. I want to use this news as an excuse to discuss my reactions to Marvel's new lineup in the new era.
For entire time I've collected comic books, I've been a die-hard X-Men fan. While the longtime collector in me was a bit miffed when Marvel canceled the original 1963 X-Men series and relaunched post-Schism, I decided to roll with it as a reader. I was pleasantly surprised that behind the sales gimmick of launching Brand New #1 Collectors' Editions, the art and storytelling behind the books like the new "Uncanny X-Men" and "Wolverine and the X-Men" were solid as they had ever been. Freed from the constraints of running a school for young mutants, Kieron Gillen's Extinction Team stories in "Uncanny" focused on the hard-hitting nature of Cyclops' team. As a newcomer to Jason Aaron's storytelling, I was very happy to get the flip side of the coin with his stories set back in Westchester at the Jean Grey School. Where Gillen told some great stories about existential threats to mutants, Aaron did a wonderful job telling personal stories of the Westchester students and teachers.
So, in light of the Marvel NOW! reboot, many of my titles had already gotten the reboot treatment in "Schism", so the line-wide relaunches were not a big deal to me. That said, I have been paying attention to the opinions of folks I trust and post-reboot, I've become a regular reader of both the new Gillen's Iron Man as well as Jason Aaron's Thor. These two books mirror the DC books that I started reading regularly in the New 52 era: Synder & Capullo's "Batman" and Morrison & Burnham's "Batman Incorporated". In the Marvel NOW! era, I'm also reading "Uncanny Avengers", but I'll probably drop that title after the current Red Skull story concludes. (I'm just not a fan of the art or characters in that book.)
In terms of the new status quo in the X-Men books, I've been extremely pleased with the conclusion of Avengers vs. X-Men and how well it's dovetailed into "All New X-Men". I've been patient with the first two issues of "Cable and X-Force" and I think that book will be a nice slow burn not unlike Swierczynski's run on "Cable" a few years ago. I have no complaints so far, and I'm enjoying the ride.
Taking the big picture view, I've been very happy with the relaunches (both Marvel & DC's) and I think that contentment comes from the quality stories that both companies are allowing top-notch writers to tell. The one thing that I think Marvel did better than DC was to keep their relaunch in-continuity. Given the decades of history that many of these characters enjoy, it's been great to see some of these heroes out of their comfort zone and responding to the new situations in novel and interesting, yet consistent ways. One of the things that I think I dig most about "All New X-Men" is the conceit that our present is the past's dystopian future, and that's not really a story that could be told in DC's complete universe-wide reboot. The reason that these stories resonate more on the Marvel side of the shelves is that these are the characters we grew up with, and not some alternate universe versions. By tapping into decades of history shared with the reader, Marvel's certainly made it for harder for me as an existing reader to abandon the books, while keeping things fresh enough to be interesting for a new reader after the big shakeup.
I'm looking forward to seeing how this plays out in the months ahead.