The GeeksverseThe .1 Failure

The .1 Failure
Published on Thursday, May 12, 2011 by

This is what Marvel said about their .1 initiative:

“Geared for new and long-time readers alike, the all-new Marvel: Point One initiative delivers the perfect jumping on points for the biggest super hero series in the world! Beginning in February 2011, select Marvel comic series marked with a “.1” after the issue number feature full-length, self-contained stories by Marvel’s top creators, laying the groundwork for the next year of storylines. From Invincible Iron Man to Avengers to Amazing Spider-Man, each Marvel: Point One issue of the associated series not only begin major new storylines, but also seamlessly introduces new readers into the dynamic Marvel Universe and its popular super heroes.”

Taken straight from the press release.

So did the initiative work?

No. Not at all.

Sales showed that many of the .1 sold less then the regular series, a clear indication that new readers and old readers were not picking them up. But beyond sales the thing failed as a concept.

Read the thing again. “laying the groundwork for the next year of storylines” and “seamlessly introduces new readers”.

Very few did those two goals. Hulk #30.1 laid the groundwork for the next year of stories, introducing some of the new villians. Captain America laid the ground work for upcoming storylines but didn’t do anything to “seamlessly introduce new readers.”

Wolverine? Possibly laid the groundwork, but let’s be serious here for a moment. It was Wolverine #5.1, does a series that has only been out for five issues really need a “jumping on point”? The same thing for Uncanny X-Force. It was #9.1, does a series that has only been out for nine issues really need a .1 issue? And Uncanny X-Force was even worse because it did nothing about upcoming storylines (the next issue of Uncanny, #10 is what should have been the .1 issue) and it sure didn’t help new readers get into the book.

Amazing Spider-Man? Nope on both counts. It introduced the new Venom series.

Thor? Not even close. This was a one and done story that wasn’t even done by the upcoming (at the time) creative team of the book.

Secret Avengers followed the .1 guidelines and it was done by the upcoming creative team on the book. Was it good for new readers? It worked better then any of the others. Avengers #12.1 introduced future storylines, that was good, but it seems like this upcoming storyline is alot more then a year out.

And then we come to Ghost Rider .1 and Alpha Flight .1, in both cases the .1 issue introduces a series that isn’t even out yet. What is the point? Since neither issue is out, we can’t tell if they do anything to help new readers get into either title, but at least we can say it’s a help for the writers. They get 1 extra issue in their runs and can get alot of the set-up/build-up out of the way. That’s a benefit I suppose.

The idea behind the .1 initiative is very solid. It would have been great if it worked. The only problem, like so many good sounding ideas, is in the execution. Why did Marvel editorial allow some of these books to deviate from the stated goal of the program?

If all the books had followed the Secret Avengers and Captain America models the program could have been a success, at least as far as the stated goals. And maybe they would have sold better as well. But if the books are essentially one-offs and have no bearing on the ongoing story, why would a long-time reader spend the extra money that month?

Alot of time, effort and money went into these books for little to no result. Which is a shame because the idea as noted by Marvel above is a solid one and one that should be done every couple of years.

Getting into an ongoing series, especially one that has been around for a long time, is extremely hard for any comics fan. The idea that there would be a special story that sets up the next couple of storylines and at the same time allows a new reader to get into the series is one that is sorely needed in the industry.

It’s too bad that Marvel’s first attempt at it failed.

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