Marvel Comics is on a steep decline. For nearly two decades their sales have plummeted, as they’ve flooded the stands with too many books and variant covers, killing the collector’s market.
In addition, Marvel has crippled the possibility of the impulse buy. A single, inexpensive pamphlet no longer tells a full story; six or more issues are required to get a complete work. Their distribution is funneled through the monopolistic entity Diamond Comics, which only ships to an ever-decreasing number of boutique specialty shops. Marvel has also created almost no new heroes in years, still telling stories about the same characters that Stan Lee brought to life in the 1960s — more than 50 years later.
Even through all this, Marvel persisted. That is, until social justice warriors took over and dethroned them from their place of top-selling comics.
What Happened When SJWs Took Over Marvel
Marvel’s transition from fun superhero adventures to political shilling began in 2011. Brian Michael Bendis, Portland resident and rabid left-wing writer, announced that he would be writing a “half-black, half-Hispanic Spider-Man” in a relaunch of the reboot version of Marvel they call the Ultimate Universe. The comic received an exorbitant amount of free media from the Huffington Post to USA Today, bringing Marvel Comics to the mass media’s attention for one of only a handful of times outside of major movie events.
The gimmick worked, bringing a comic that was lagging with sales of approximately 33,000 unit to more than 89,000 units—a bestseller by comic book standards. Those sales did not last, as their drive-by and rubbernecking readers proved to be fleeting. Today, the Miles Morales Spider-Man book has settled back in the 31,000 unit range, a nearly 10 percent drop from when the book last featured its traditional lead, Peter Parker.
A year later, Marvel went for marketing to the social justice crowd through clickbait news again, this time with the X-Men. They announced that they would have the first gay wedding in comics, and again received droves of media coverage, which propelled “Astonishing X-Men” from its lagging sales of approximately 31,000 units to over 82,000 units. “Astonishing X-Men” was cancelled a year later due to low sales.
Comic Book Fans Want Substance, Not Shilling
Marvel employed these gimmicks more frequently. Each time they would see a smaller sales boost. Each time the boost wouldn’t last. Despite this, Marvel filled its editorial and writing slots with self-proclaimed social justice warriors, as many of its great talents left for creator-owned projects or DC Comics, Marvel’s main competitor. As late as last year, Marvel received headlines such as “Marvel diversity shaking the comics world.”
But as sure as the American voters rejected the all-but-given coronation of the first female president, who ran not much more than a Marvel-esque gimmick of her anatomical differences with past leaders, the American readership rejected Marvel’s political preaching through fantasy entertainment. The message from fans was simple: we want substance, not shilling.
ICv2 recently interviewed Marvel’s VP of Sales, David Gabriel, who said, “What we heard was that people didn’t want any more diversity. They didn’t want female characters out there. That’s what we heard, whether we believe that or not. I don’t know that that’s really true, but that’s what we saw in sales.” Gabriel was effectively denying any problem with the direction Marvel Comics is headed, downplaying the real reasons behind their terrible sales numbers. Even in failure, Marvel missed the point.
Marvel Fans Want Quality Storytelling Instead Of Gimmicks
Marvel’s quality of books and storytelling has dropped by significant measures. The gimmicks above come off as cheap tricks to push short-term sales. When used in every book in the Marvel line, those tactics become aggravating to readers who want a brief escape into a world of superheroes.
But there are other, more tangible quality differences to Marvel’s current work than in years past. There is less content both by depth of story and by page numbers than ever before. Almost every Marvel superhero that a reader would recognize from their childhood or the movies has been replaced by a minority knock-off, leaving the Marvel line unrecognizable. Anyone going into a comic shop looking to catch up on their favorite heroes would be turned off, and rightly so.
A comic book retailer in the San Francisco Bay Area voiced his frustration, saying Marvel went from 48 percent to 25 percent of his sales. His shop and livelihood are at risk because of Marvel’s continued dedication to their shallow faux-diversity. If this type of cheap virtue signaling doesn’t work in San Francisco, what audience do they think they’re selling to?
A Closer Look At Marvel’s Writers Helps Clear Things Up
Hearing the poor sales figures from a retailer prompted me to look into Marvel’s writers. Over a period of two weeks, I dug through the Twitter accounts of every current Marvel writer listed on marvel.com‘s new releases page, to see where they stood on politics. What I found would have been shocking, if I hadn’t already seen the extreme left-wing preaching posing as superhero adventures from their products. Even with that, the sheer lockstep and groupthink that these social media profiles display is unthinkable.
Out of 30 writers, every single one made bitter posts attacking President Trump and conservatives. There were no dissenters. Not one had a difference of opinion, not one even saw the sense in refraining from posting about politics. Here’s a few gems from their tolerant, open-minded, diverse writers:
Nick Spencer (Captain America): “The media collapse of 2016 is a spectacular thing to watch. Suddenly we’re pretending Trump supporters aren’t racist?”
Dan Slott (The Amazing Spider-Man): “If a Trump political rival (DNC or RNC) did this, HIS nickname for them wouldn’t be Lyin’ or Crooked, it’d be Nazi.”
Greg Pak (Incredible Hulk): “Racism, sexism, religious intolerance & homophobia enable violence & murder by letting people think of other humans as less than human.”
The message is clear: anyone who supports Trump is not welcome at Marvel Comics. Conservatives will be met with a litany of insults that one would expect to find on anonymous internet message boards, not in a professional corporate setting. Marvel, judging by their comics and their words of their employees, demonstrates unadulterated hatred for the half of the country that voted for the President of the United States.
As a business, one would think that a company the size of Marvel would keep their customers’ demographics in mind. But as we’ve seen above, a large portion of their customer base has been told they’re not wanted. Their problem: the new, diverse crowd they desire didn’t come into comic shops to purchase their books to replace those they shunned.
None Of Marvel’s Current Writers Are Christian
However, in his tweet, Mr. Pak did bring up another good point: what of religious tolerance?
I ran a Twitter search again, this time to investigate Marvel’s religious leanings. Marvel has writers who profess to be atheist, Jewish, and they even have a Muslim writer. Most writers, eager to speak out on their left-wing politics, don’t talk about their religion at all.
I did find one oddity: out of the entire group, I did not find one writer that openly professed Christianity. On the contrary, many of the writers made comments mocking Christians or the Bible. It begs the question: does Marvel hold a latent religious intolerance toward Christians? Based on this research, it would appear so. I reached out to the Marvel writers listed above and Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief, Axel Alonso, but they declined to comment.
Several Writers Say Marvel Has Blacklisted Them
Over the course of my research, several artists have spoken to me in private about Marvel’s business practices, stating their support for my efforts to expose the bigotry and intolerance in this company. These artists maintain that blackballing from those offices is standard practice. One such artist is Brett R. Smith, who used to have regular contract work at Marvel and D.C. comics. He worked as creative director, editor, and colorist of Peter Schweizer’s “Clinton Cash.”
“They stopped returning my calls,” he said.
Writer Chuck Dixon has sold millions of comics and created the infamous Batman villain, Bane. Even those credentials, he is intentionally overlooked for current comic work. “I am blacklisted at Marvel and have been for 15 years,” Dixon said. These days, he self-publishes novels on Amazon, such as his most recent, “Levon’s Kin.” “The effect has been direct on me, resulting in less potential work, less potential income.”
Lack Of Cultural Diversity Is Actually Killing Marvel’s Sales
What’s apparent in these empirical observations about Marvel’s hiring practices is that the company does not desire legitimate diversity. This is why their so-called “diverse” comics ring so false, and why readers have stopped buying their books. Marvel only wants and espouses a single opinion—one of social justice and extreme left-wing pandering. The diversity they feign is skin-deep, without any real differentiation in character or voice. In geek terms, they are the Borg, and if you want to work in the comics industry, resistance is futile.
A leading comic news site, Comic Book Resources, wrote a recent headline, “No, Diversity Didn’t Kill Marvel’s Sales.” This is true, but not because of the way it was framed in their article. The truth is that Marvel has no diversity of thought or culture, and as such, real diversity is not at fault for their low sales numbers. Marvel despises conservatives and Christians alike, and with that attitude, they cannot have a diverse group of writers. Their lack of cultural diversity has fostered an environment of creative stagnation. That is what’s killing their sales.
Marvel Needs To Reject Groupthink, Not Embrace It
Marvel claims their ways are changing, but there’s been no evidence of a true culture shift in their hiring practices. When their over-politicizing first showed low sales figures toward the end of 2016, Editor-in-Chief Axel Alonso said, “we never lost sight of or classic characters. We always have a plan for each of them. In 2017, a lot of those plans will be revealed.”
His words come across as spin for this failure, as if this were a planned arc to bring back Marvel Comics to its core of storytelling. However, real change must begin in the writers’ room, if it is to have more substance than their phony diversity push. If Marvel maintains the same group-think core of extreme leftists, we will continue to see a derth of creativity, resulting in further declining sales.
What’s needed is the voice of a few good writers who hold the core values of millions of Americans for Marvel’s rich tradition is to be restored. As a science fiction writer and fan myself, I hope Marvel gets their act together so that the those shunned by their blackballing practices can “Make Mine Marvel” once more.