Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Marketing Failure 101 - Avengers: Season One

Yes, I bought the combo giftpack of The Avengers at Wal-Mart, partly just to get the Avengers: Season One graphic novel included. I was curious about the sort of book Marvel would put out to tie-in with the movie and to win over the casual fans who may go "Oh, what the hell, I'll get a comic, too!" when buying their Blu-Ray/DVD combo. Michelle was intrigued by the idea of the comic until she saw it and remember that she doesn't really want to read any comics. To say that I was biased heading in wouldn't be inaccurate. I knew that Marvel had taken the wrong approach pretty much from when it was announced (or, rather, 'discovered' by Bleeding Cool... because why would you want to promote something like this?) by doing the same dumb shit they usually do when there's a chance to actually reach new eyeballs. I was genuinely surprised when Peter David revealed himself as the writer of this, because he's a lot higher on the talent scale than I was expecting. But, it's still disappointing to a degree that he was who they tapped. I look at a project like this and wonder why Marvel doesn't hire their top writer and top artistic team. Why not give people their absolute best? After all, this comic isn't really meant to be 'good' or a 'work of art' like others may be: it's a marketing tool. It's part 'bonus feature' and part 'first taste' of what someone could expect from Marvel.

So, really, there are three things that Marvel is 'selling' readers on here to get them to buy more comics from them:

1. The characters.

2. The writer.

3. The artist.

Those are the three things that Marvel can use to say "If you enjoyed this, here are some other books you'd like..." Three things that could be used to promote their comics and they fuck it up. They absolutely fuck it up in an amateurish display of idiocy that only seems to exist in comics. There are exactly two pages promoting other Marvel comics and what are they? The other 'season one' comics. You might see the logic in promoting those books, but you'd be wrong. You're thinking "Oh, it's a line of books, so it makes sense to promote those," and that's wrong. That's typical dumb comics thinking. Who cares about those other books? They have zero connection to what I just read (aside from Hulk: Season One), because they don't feature the same characters, writer, or artist. Instead, this should have been a book with the top writer, the top artist, and three pages of recommendations: one for the Avengers, one for the writer, and one for the artist. All to easy to find, in-print books that, if someone went onto Amazon right now, they could buy with as little hassle as possible.

But, we get Peter David and four art teams, each blander and more mediocre than the one that came before it. This is an ugly, uninspired-looking comic. This is fill-in quality art clearly produced on a tight deadline, because no one thought to plan ahead at all. This is a book that didn't make me want to read another comic. David's writing is workmanlike with a story that (as the plot provided at the back of the book shows) was clearly designed with the limitation that the three Avengers spotlighted (Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man) must split up to allow for the different art teams. The story has the trio of Avengers go after the Hulk at the behest of General Ross and get stuck in a trap by Loki to make them not trust one another. The pages are full of bright, shiny characters that lack any substance and I found it hard to keep my focus as I went along.

Normally, I don't care about comics looking or seeming like the movies, but the utter lack of any attempt to make this fit in with the movie at all seems like a bad call, too. Why include a comic that's one concession to the movie is leaving Giant-Man and Wasp out? Why not try to bridge the gap between The Avengers and the Marvel Universe a bit more?

Hell, normally, I don't care about the 'right' approach to bringing in new readers so long as the comics are good. Unfortunately, this comic is both bad marketing and a bad comic. It really does seem like something thrown together because someone had the idea of putting a comic in with the Blu-Ray/DVD without actually thinking through what the right approach would be. I mean, I assume part of the goal here was to get people to buy more Avengers (and Marvel) comics, right? If not, what was the goal?