Monday, August 30, 2004

Too much is never enough: Also at Ninth Art, Paul O'Brien looks at Marvel's expanding Ultimate line and asks, "How much is too much?":

"There was a time when the X-books could deliver sales with pretty much anything, because they did so sparingly. The franchise crawled up to four books a month by 1991, which seems positively conservative in retrospect. And then it exploded. The turning point, for my money, was MAVERICK - a competent but unexceptional title about a Wolverine supporting character, which managed to get cancelled inside a year. For an X-book to fail that quickly was previously unheard of.

"On the other hand, compare the Ultimate books - one of the few imprints that has been diligently protected over the last few years. Marvel can release pretty much anything under the Ultimate imprint and be guaranteed that it will be received as an event. ULTIMATE FANTASTIC FOUR was big news. ULTIMATE ELEKTRA will doubtless do respectably, despite having no connection with the other Ultimate books, featuring a lead character whose solo title was recently axed due to low sales, and having a writer unfamiliar to many superhero fanboys. True, it's got Salvador Larocca, and he's certainly a selling point. But the strength of the Ultimate brand name will play a huge part in delivering sales to this book. If the same creators had done a miniseries about the mainstream Marvel Universe Elektra, called simply ELEKTRA, I suspect it would sell rather worse."