So the new Fantastic Four is the way-overhyped “death” issue, in which it looks bad for the character in question, sure, but not necessarily a cut ‘n’ dried demise by any means. I’m not going to get into spoilers, for those of you who’ve managed to miss the media blitz about the event which happily revealed the comic’s alleged starring corpse, but anyone reading the story can see it for the “all the other characters think this character is dead, but we’ll eventually catch up to that character and see what he/she’s been up to in the months during the apparent deceased-ness” situation that it is.
Not blaming the creative team of the book, I should note, which has been turning out a solid adventure serial. Jonathan Hickman and Steve Epting are presenting complex, interesting, intelligent and still fun superhero stories. This “death” was clearly just a plot twist in an ongoing saga that got blown out of proportion to a general audience of non-comic-readers who are becoming increasingly wary of these stunts. (Let me link again to this post of mine about this sort of promotion.) Unfortunately, I can’t really blame Marvel for this promotional stunt, as it’s hard to get widespread mainstream attention on comics that isn’t “somebody dies, no really!” or “soon to be a movie!” or “this comic has a swear in it, WON’T SOMEBODY THINK OF THE CHILDREN” or, as pal Dorian noted to me, “found strewn about the killer’s apartment….” It’s a shame you usually can’t get this amount of attention simply by saying “this is a good comic people might enjoy,” but the saying isn’t “if it reads, it leads,” after all. You need a gimmick, and “SOMEBODY DIES!” is the one that gets the real world attention. Conversely, “SOMEBODY COMES BACK!” never works as well in grabbing the public, as every return of a dead character since that white-bagged Adventures of Superman #500 has shown.
It’s interesting to see that even the mainstream news media stories are now including the implied “what, again?” eyeroll regarding this kind of marketing stunt (such as in this spoiler-filled article), which may further undermine the influx of magpies clutching at the shiny investment potential of yet another temporary death. Especially since the last few have been reversed relatively quickly, turning hypothetical fortunes into just so much polybagged paper.
Ultimately, I expect we’ll sell out of this new FF…we didn’t go overboard on ordering it, and it comes sealed in a familiar-looking if fairly pixelated black bag which will certainly grab attention. But if we do get some new folks in looking for the comic, it’ll once again be a one-shot media-fueled bump, bringing a few bucks into the comics marketplace, but won’t be built upon, won’t be sustained, and will only return when the next “death” comes along, assuming there are still some people left who’ll continue to buy into the hype. The returns diminish each and every time.
Well, I’m certainly Mr. Downer-Pants. Here, let a little stuffed bull treat the topic at hand in the best way anyone can…with big laffs!