Marvel may be a powerhouse in the movies, but in the comic book arena, DC is beating them black and blue. In fact, in 2016, only one Marvel title made it to the top 10 in comic book sales compared to 8 by DC. Check out the chart below:
- Batman #6 – DC (138,853)
- All Star Batman #2 – DC (137,748)
- Batman #7 – DC (135,585)
- Civil War II #5 – Marvel (120,208)
- Justice League #4 – DC (94,548)
- Walking Dead #158 – Image (94,316)
- Trinity #1 – DC (93,797)
- Supergirl #1 – DC (90,247)
- Suicide Squad #2 – DC (89,575)
- Justice League #5 – DC (89,342)
Why is this happening? Well, according to Marvel, we (the fans) are to blame for this. Here’s what Marvel Comics VP for Sales, David Gabriel, said in an interview with ICv2: “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.” Mr. Gabriel could not be more wrong. It’s not about anti-feminism or anti-diversity. It’s about bad decisions at Marvel.
Since the execs at Marvel seem so clueless about why their sales are dropping, I’d like to show them exactly what they’re doing wrong:
Shoving Political Agendas/Correctness in Our Faces
If you’ve read the Chelsea Cain-written Mockingbird comic series, you’ll see Mockingbird (Bobbie Morse) wearing a t-shirt that reads, “ASK ME ABOUT MY FEMINIST AGENDA”. And, if you read through the book, you’ll see several panels where this feminist message is pushed. Heck! They even have skull-pirates utter the words, “I’m a progressive feminist.” I’m not kidding. A freakin’ skull-pirate says those words!
It’s not only limited to Mockingbird. It’s literally in all their comics. In the All-New Mighty Thor (where Thor was replaced by a woman whom I will not mention because spoilers), Lady Thor punches the Absorbing Man in the face and, in her thought bubble, you can read, “That’s for saying ‘feminist’ like it’s a four-letter word, creep!” Now, I don’t mind a little feminist message every now and then from my comics, but to shove it down our throats is just too much.
It isn’t only about rubbing our faces into a feminist message. Marvel has to ride on the ‘diversity’ bandwagon as well. I already mentioned the female Thor. Now, we have the Korean Hulk (Amadeus Cho), the 15-year-old black female Iron Man (Riri Williams), the black Captain America (Sam Wilson, who used to be the Falcon) and the female Hispanic Hawkeye (Kate Bishop). Let me be clear, however, that having diversity in your characters is really a good thing. I’m a Filipino. I support diversity. But when diversity is the only reason you’re changing a character, it just doesn’t work.
On the other hand, the Pakistani Ms. Marvel (Kamala Khan) and the half-black, half-Hispanic Spiderman (Miles Morales) are actually good examples of well written characters that don’t force their diversity on to their audience. All the rest, however, always need to remind their audience that they are ‘not straight white males’. In fact, in many issues, straight white males are often depicted as the antagonists (from out of nowhere in some cases). If you think it doesn’t get worse than this, I’m sorry to say that it does.
I don’t know what Marvel was thinking when they turned M.O.D.O.K. (Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing—yes, that’s really what it means) into Donald Trump. I get it. You guys don’t like Trump. But, do you have to depict him in your comics this way? It’s simply tasteless. Personally, I don’t like Trump, but this is just really low for you, Marvel!
Some of you might tell me that comic books have always been political; and I would agree with you completely. I know that Superman and Captain America were used as anti-Nazi propaganda and that the X-Men comics were tropes for racism and bigotry. However, they’ve always done it in a way where the story came first and the political message came second or, in the case of the X-Men, hidden. DC also embraces diversity and have strong political messages (just read any Green Arrow comic book), but they focus on who their characters are at their core and on telling a good story. Marvel should really start following suit.
Another mistake Marvel is doing is having…