Robot 6

Marvel’s Atlas ending with issue #5

AOATLAS001-poster-717840Sounds like the little series that could finally couldn’t. In an interview with Comics Alliance’s Chris Sims, writer Jeff Parker has revealed that Atlas, the very recently relaunched series starring a motley crew of 1950s superheroes from the Marvel/Atlas/Timely stable, will end with #5 — largely at Parker’s own discretion. “I’m killing ‘Atlas’ at issue 5….But at least it was me who went out back and shot Lenny while he looked for bunnies, not Marvel,” Parker said.

According to Parker, the series’ first issues sales, in the 20K range, put it on the potential chopping block right away. “Atlas has actually always sold better than a lot of books that get to go on much longer- a good bit of DC’s line. But the Marvel danger zone is 20k more or less, and since books tend to trend downward, that always sets off alarms,” he told Sims. Parker notes that Marvel editorial suggested he “tie the book into another crossover mini-event” to keep it going, but having done that several times in the past with everything from Dark Reign to the X-Men to the Avengers to Hercules, he didn’t feel like going back to the well once again.

Parker’s optimistic about the future for some of the Atlas team: Venus will be appearing in Hercules’ God Squad, while Gorilla Man — who’s the subject of the bulk of Sims’ “interview” — is the star of his own miniseries. But collectively, Jimmy Woo’s team has seen its last stand-alone adventure.

Honestly? I really applaud Marvel for working as hard as they did to ensure the Agents of Atlas stuck around as long as they have. A team of largely forgotten pulp-ish superhero-esque characters from Marvel’s most fallow period as a publisher, tonally reconceived as sort of Marvel’s answer to the B.P.R.D., was always gonna be a tough sell. But Marvel clearly believed in the concept, in Parker, and in the rock-solid line-up of artists he assembled for the team over the years. By my count, the Agents starred in the Agents of Atlas miniseries, which received an impressive collection stuffed with back-up material and reprints from the team members’ golden years; came back a couple years later to launch an ongoing series by the same name; were the beneficiaries of a Dark Reign tie-in; made cameos in Thunderbolts and Deadpool Team-Up; saw their main series cancelled only to co-star in crossover miniseries with the X-Men and the Avengers; briefly shifted over to back-up strips in an Incredible Hercules storyline that culminated in the title character’s semi-death; generated spin-off minis starring team members Marvel Boy and Gorilla Man; and got relaunched yet again as Atlas with the dawn of “The Heroic Age,” the promotional images for which prominently featured Gorilla Man. As always, I think we need to look long and hard at a publishing and retailing model that works relentlessly to pump up the top sellers but can’t sustain a book that even its biggest publisher so clearly believes in, but that said, Marvel and Parker showed a sticktuitiveness here that’s nothing but praiseworthy.

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Comments

21 Comments

There’s undoubtedly a larger plan in the works for these characters. While I agree that shoving them into their own title again and again and hoping for the best wasn’t the smartest approach, these are fantastic characters and Parker told some great stories with them.

The best angle to work now is most likely a slow burn. Give them a corner of the Marvel Universe to live in, build them up as a (villain?) force, cameo them in bigger titles like NEW AVENGERS, tie in some bigger characters (even add a bigger-name hero to their ranks like Iron Fist), fold them into a crossover in an important way, and try the solo series again. It worked for the Secret Warriors, who have managed to keep their own title afloat (albeit just barely these days).

Regardless, the Agents are too unique and important to fade away this easily.

A real shame, I really enjoyed both this and the previous Atlas ongoing. What I would say though is that I don’t think the crossovers worked to boost sales on the basis that most of them were outside the main series in minis, and thus cost more. If they’d been kept inside the ongoing I’d have been much more inclined to pick them up (did pick up X-men and was picking up Hercules anyway, but not the others)

I do definatly agree though that it’s definatly impressive on Marvel’s part that they put so much into Atlas, it’s a shame that they didn’t show this much tenacity with series in a similar situation.

Also, I still think that the way to really get a sales boost into a book like this is to launch a major crossover out of a small book, not just have them trailing along behind at it’s fringes where they are periferal. Furthermore, have “small book” characters actually be the ones that solve things, and not resort to the household names to be the ones to claim the victory every time.

Hasn’t anyone learnt yet? You can’t trade wait a series that hasn’t read the 500 issue mark!

It’s been lamented by many a creator that the system doesn’t seem to be able to be able to find a broader audience for this “niche” material, but I have to wonder if that’s a market issue or simply the market for superheroes in general – in other words, it seems the cut-off threshold for indie books, or even Vertigo, is much lower and therefore more forgiving than it is for superhero titles. I just don’t know that the superhero audience, en masse, wants to read anything other than the more established heroes, regardless of quality.

This really may just reflect that apathy by the superhero periodical consumer for characters it is unfamiliar with. I thought what Parker and his collaborators did was fantastic, but I’ve heard from two different people who had no interest in reading about these characters, regardless of how much I pimped the book. I think at least one of the reviewers on iFanboy stated the same thing. The characters just didn’t hold any interest for them – they didn’t grow up reading their exploits and so there was no investment. I don’t know how you overcome something like that – especially since these consumers are likely the *only* audience for a title like ATLAS, which is so much a part of that superhero milieu.

AGAIN?!!

But then again, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised. Why would anyone try a new book when they can buy Deadpool’s 8th series and Wolverine’s 20th, even if it’s consistently a great read?

Greek Street yesterday and Atlas today.

A new Wolverine book was announced yesterday, and a new Batman book today.

What is wrong with this picture?

On an odd note, one of my Fav DC titles Doom Patrol is only getting about 10K readership (HORRIBLE numbers), but apparently get the go ahead for another year.

Is this part of what being #2 means? Holding on to those niche’s, when the #1 doesn’t have to bother?

The best Marvel book by far IMHO – I have “Any title featuring Agents of Atlas” on my pull list – I am a Marvel guy through and through but can’t bring myself to spend $4 on a redux of Image circa 1996 (ie Hulk). I’m not sure what they are thinking right now but I am losing interest in books that I can not read for twenty issues and pick up without missing a beat. The only Marvel titles that I have on my pull list these days are Atlas, Thor, Incredible Herc and the Cho series. I hope Parker/Marvel do not shelf these characters or kill them off because they are incredibly interesting and a fantastic corner of the Marvel U – he even got me to like 3-D Man for crying out loud!
It is a darn shame it was cancelled.

Steven R. Stahl

July 13, 2010 at 1:08 pm

I thought what Parker and his collaborators did was fantastic, but I’ve heard from two different people who had no interest in reading about these characters, regardless of how much I pimped the book.

I agree that interest in the subject matter outweighs praise for the quality of the material. There are far too many reading choices out there for quality or the recommendation of a stranger to make much of a difference. If the dust jacket copy is interesting, the writer is familiar, a character is familiar, or there’s another hook to pique the reader’s interest — boring, high-quality fiction is still boring.

SRS

JRC, to me Atlas is Marvel’s Doom Patrol.

I’m sad this title is going away. It was consistently a fun read, and I didn’t grow up with these characters, but they sure hooked me once I gave them a chance.

Would a digital presence for this title have changed its course in some way? Or did it just need a snappier title, like “Avengers: Atlas”?

I applaud Marvel’s efforts to keep this title afloat, but sure wish there were some way to keep it going.

Surprised they didn’t at least wait to see how the first trade did. I’ll miss the series

youd think with what they get from glutting the market with all the deadpool and avenger and hulk books they could let a smaller book live. it doesnt have to have huge numbers, let some of the money from the huge titles carry that burden. comic book socialism, marvel. try it.

Pity, dreadful pity.

As per usual Marvel can’t get the sales on a good book – but always has room for Wolverine, Deadpool, and another Unreadable X-book.

Oh well.

I thought it was funny that Jeff Parker made a dig that it sold better than many DC books – which is true – but sales or not, they’re still getting published: and that’s what matters to me.

Chris McFeely

July 13, 2010 at 4:08 pm

God.

DAMN.

It.

Big 2 Crossover: ATLAS vs. DOOM PATROL
winner gets canceled last.

I respect Parker for ending it essentially on his own terms, rather than trying to “tie the book into another crossover mini-event”. I’m buying until the series ends, and you can bet I’m buying Gorilla Man.

Sad to see Atlas finally go, but it’s still been an impressive run. Plus the fact that he decided to cancel it is pretty impressive. Having read some of Parker’s other comics I’m sure this isn’t the end of the characters though

Now to the next important matter. How long before Young Allies is canned? I’m really enjoying it, so of course it’s probably selling less than 20k. Will it cross over or just be cancelled at issue 5/6?

Why did Sean T. Collins put “interview” in quotation marks?

Well, I’m glad that Marvel and Parker did all they could to keep the title running, but still that’s another Marvel title off of my pull list. I guess I’m one of those rare animals that enjoyed MI:13, SWORD, Atlas, and all of the other fringe Marvel books. Apparently the days in which a reader can select a Marvel title to avoid the Avengers, X-Men, Wolverine, Deadpool, and all the other family franchises are numbered.

I really wish that the company could do more to emphasize the diversity of its properties, as the lack of these titles are driving away my business.

maybe they could call the next series Avengers of Atlas (because anything with Avengers gets picked up) and add Wonder Man to the line-up

Once again trade waiting kills a series.

A shame.

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