Axel-In-Charge: Facing the 'Divided' Marvel NOW! Future
How are new comics priced? I ask this mostly as a rhetorical exercise; I’m sure there is a process to decide how much new titles cost that involves sacrificial chickens and a large dart board, because it seems absolutely unfathomable to me some days. The average comic is either $2.99 or $3.99, and I’m always a little thrown off by which books get to be what price. There’s a certain amount of prestige to the $3.99 books, but I couldn’t tell you why. All I know is that I’m really glad Hawkeye is $2.99, and no one wants to jinx that by overthinking the cost process.
I also know that a more reliable indicator of cost is size; the bigger the comic, the more money they want for it, and that’s fair. More pages, more work, more money; it’s not that difficult a sell. More pages also mean a special occasion as they don’t bust out the 80-page giants for just anything. Larger comics are for a special occasion, even if that special occasion is just an annual that only happens once a year. They celebrate things, like anniversaries, milestone numbering or big story events. Say, a wedding…
That bad segue leads to the shocking event that three books this week totaled up, cost around $20 in the United States, around the price of a trade paperback. But just for three comics: Daredevil #1.50, All-New X-Men #25 and Deadpool #27. Were they worth it? Read on and find out.
WARNING: Mild spoilers ahead for Daredevil #1.50, All-New X-Men #25, and Deadpool #27; I’ll try to leave out any juicy bits, but I will talk about what the books are about. You have been warned.
Daredevil #1.50 is an obvious case for the over-sized celebration issue (and apparently that pesky decimal numbering). It’s the Man Without Fear’s 50th anniversary this month, so why not grab some historic writers and artists, and commemorate the occasion? In this issue, we have three stories by three different creative teams, all handling a unique perspective on Matt Murdock’s past and future (I guess the present will get more time in Daredevil #1). I think this might be my favorite way to acknowledge an anniversary of a super hero, by looking ahead to the possible future of the character rather than a long look back at who they’ve been. It’s a sneaky way to get in a good What If? story or two, which they do as Mark Waid, Javier Rodriguez and Alvaro Lopez look to a future where Daredevil is a family man, Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev return to introduce us to a really nice woman who may marry Matt Murdock someday with all the dire consequences that entails, and Karl and Kurt Kessel (who dedicated their story to Stan Lee and Gene Colan) take a moment to return to a more free-wheeling time for Daredevil. It’s a nice look at the different kinds of themes present with the character — his adventure, his tragedy and his fearlessness — and they’re all told in a very dedicated and passionate style. This one was $4.99 this week for 40 pages, and it’s worth the price, both for fans and those simply curious for a sampler of the Man Without Fear.
All-New X-Men #25 is a number milestone; we’re celebrating the 25th issue of a book that is sort of the cornerstone of the Marvel NOW! movement. Bendis coming on board did change a lot for the X-books, and it’s nice to take a breather out of the story to celebrate itself and remind everyone reading what their central objective is. In this issue, Beast is reminded to feel really bad about bringing his friends back from the past and summarily stranding them in the present, possibly ruining the future as we know it. It’s a broad plot point that allows all 26 different artists to get in a splash page or two to depict all the various futures and possibilities that are now destroyed thanks to Hank McCoy’s actions. Don’t get me wrong; the art is fantastic and it’s great to see everyone in one book drawing mutants across reality, but… I’m not sure this tells us anything. Yes, time is messed up, but Hank’s actions were just one of many that broke everything in Age of Ultron. There are no solutions given, just one big guilt trip while lying in bed that may lead to the next Original Sin story event. The best story to come out of this are the three mini-comics in the middle that break with the splash page fest for a moment and poke fun at the lives of our merry mutants. It’s a weird book to be 40 pages at $4.99 and not one I’d pick up to find out what happened in the wake of the “Trial of Jean Grey,” but certainly one I’d recommend to casual fans of the artists collected or the X-Men.
Then there’s Deadpool. Deadpool #27 this week is a mighty 100 pages and a mightier $9.99 for a single issue. It seems like highway robbery at first; #27 is not a milestone in any way but the cheapest, seeing that this is the issue where Deadpool is getting married. As we all know far too well by now, weddings are the rice cake of special comic events: a little stale, never filling. Strangely, the book seems to know this as well, as Deadpool will be marrying Shikla, a succubus Queen of the Dead. You can already see where this is going. In fact, the book goes a step further into knowing how much of a sham comic weddings are by retconning in a bunch of previous weddings into Wade Wilson’s past. The best part? All these previous marriages are written by fan-favorite past writers. If you’ve loved Deadpool at any time in his 13-year history, you have read a story from one of these authors, perhaps even drawn by one of the artists they worked with. Everyone is here (except Liefeld), from Fabian Nicieza to Daniel Way. I was even surprised to see Christopher Priest’s name on the credits list! It was such a fun love fest that didn’t take itself seriously, a party thrown for party’s sake. The Guinness Book of World Record’s stamp is on the front of the book as it holds the record for most characters on a comic book cover (George Perez is going to Brock Lesnar that streak any minute now) and that cover really fits the book. There’s just so much in here for such a goofy gimmick; we’re looking at 12 stories (13 counting the main one), nine historic writers, 11 different artists. $9.99 is a lot of money, but longtime fans will love the returning writers and appreciate the whole picture of Deadpool they create. However, I just can’t see the cost effectiveness for more casual Deadpool fans.
If you want more story, please spend the money on a trade paperback. There are plenty of them to choose from, and you can jump into an arc and learn more about a character and their ongoing tales through collections. However, milestones are for celebration and while the entry point might be a sticking point, they are certainly fun, both for fans and those who just like a good party.