Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Future of Simulated Marveldom

As we wind down the simulation, do you guys feel that we should outline the general paths we see ahead of us, what we would do if the simulation were no simulation, but we were really in the employ of Marvel Entertainment?

For my part, I would probably describe how, after the momentous conclusion of Balance of Power 5, She-Hulk 27 and Fantastic Four 558, those two titles would have three issue wrap-up decompression arcs in which the characters would adjust to the new shape of the Universe. FF 559-561 would focus on the reconciliation of the original Fantastic Four, not only with one another but also with T'Challa and Storm. She-Hulk 28-30 would serve as an epilogue for the She-Hulk series (unless number had gotten so high that She-Hulk warranted 2 ongoing series... you all know where I'm going with this), an epilogue that would not only tie-up all the loose ends but start unravelling some new threads, threads that would lead directly into:

Fantastic Four: Los Angeles 1, with a roster of She-Hulk, Human Torch, Tigra and Crystal. Sean, I know you still hate the name, but I would have eight months to convince you it was a good idea. The series would be as I originally described it, a light-hearted girl power title with lots of fun action, but would carry extra weight after She-Hulk's pivotal role practically leading the FF through their difficult ordeal during the Balance of Power. She-Hulk will have really earned these good times.

Meanwhile, in FF 562, the FF would welcome a new member to their ranks, hopefully someone established, appropriate and unexpected. After so many issues of personal, inter-team squabbling, it would be time for the FF to take to the cosmos for another grand, exploratory adventure. Like She-Hulk, these guys would have earned the opportunity to engage in some whimsy.

Wolverine would continue its awesome epic novel-length noir story through issue 70. Who knows what Brubaker would come up with to follow that. Depending on how strongly people responded to the noir saga, perhaps with another one; or maybe we'd let Wolverine explore some other pulp genre, and we could spend a few years retracing the roots of genre fiction through the eyes of Wolverine.

And after the record-shattering sales and critical success that was Balance of Power, I'd follow up by trying to bring the weekly comic to the offices of Simulated Marvel. Except, rather than focus on a few C and D list characters as DC has done for both of its year long books, I'd try and encourage an already existing, established, popular title to step up production for a year or two (Avengers Weekly? X-Men Weekly? Maybe even Fantastic Four weekly, if Balance really raised their stock among Marvel readers. Avengers Weekly? Are you kidding? How sweet would that be?).

Or all these plans would crash and burn, making way for new plans, new collaborations, ideas we can't even imagine. Sometimes I become so moved by all the possibilities that await us, even when they're only simulated possibilities in a simulated career.

It's certainly better than nothing.

The Last Solicitations

I think the longest I've spent on any single thing this entire simulation was coming up with the name for Brubaker's first multipart Wolverine story, and reading it back I really like it but it's incredibly not spectacular.

I wanted to run these past you, Mike, before posting them tomorrow, just to make sure I'm in the proper head space (one reason why I may not be is that when someone says noir I think of Hammett and Chandler whereas your mind goes to Bukowski) to solicit issues of your baby.

Wolverine 59
Written by Ed Brubaker
Pencils by Michael Perkins

“That Restless, Lonely Sleep,” Ed Brubaker’s 12-Issue Wolverine Noir Event, begins! Logan’s seen more than his fair share of death, pain and suffering, so what happens when he decides he simply can’t take it anymore? How far is Logan willing to go to forget all the pain of the world and let his life disappear into a great blur? And is such a selfish retreat really an option for one of the world’s greatest heroes?
32PGS./Parental Advisory…$2.99. On sale December 12

Wolverine 60
Written by Ed Brubaker
Pencils by Michael Perkins
“That Restless, Lonely Sleep,” Ed Brubaker’s landmark Wolverine Event, continues! The world is broken, his life’s in shambles, and Logan’s face to face with another brutal murder. The desperate plea of a grieving mother with no one else to turn to ignites what may be the last remaining ember of fury in Logan’s cold and jaded heart, but will it be enough to bring a killer to justice?
32PGS./Parental Advisory…$2.99. On sale January 9

She-Hulk 23
Written by Dwayne McDuffie
Pencils by Amanda Conner
“Scales of Justice, Scales of Peace” Part 1 (of 5)
When disaster strikes, the desperate and terrified pray that there is someone who can save them. But what happens when the heroes can’t even save themselves? As the employees of Goodman, Lieber, Kurtzberg and Holliway struggle to stay alive, Jen Walters takes one final look inside herself before coming to a decision that will re-define the She-Hulk forever! Not to be missed!
32PGS./Rated A…$2.99. On sale January 9

Fantastic Four 554
Written by Dan Slott
Pencils by Mike Deodato, Jr.
“What Hangs in the Balance” Part 1 (of 5)
Reeling from the rampant destruction seen in Balance of Power 1, Reed, Sue, Johnny and Ben must work through their shock and anger in order to save as many lives as possible. But as the Baxter Building stands unscathed amid the rubble, and Reed Richards’ confidence is shaken to the core, does the world even want the help of the Fantastic Four?
32PGS./Rated A…$2.99. On sale January 26

What Else Should I Deux?

That title's a play on words with French or something.

Anyway, Sean, I posted a relatively brief, complaint-specific entry today that I think attempts to resolve what was on my plate.

Is there anything else on my plate? Even vegetables? I don't know, man. I feel like the past few days, since everything's established and sort of on cruise control, it's like we've just been running around putting out little fires, sort of set in our big picture strategy. Which, based on numbers, is apparently leading to something interesting.

This is probably more of my paranoid anxious rambling. Nevertheless, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the matter. I guess I'm feeling what you were feeling yesterday, Sean, this horrible empty feeling in my stomach that we're about to get devoured by a monster.


Okay, before I tackle any problems, check out those sales numbers!!

Amazing -- Up 3000 from our starting point
SheHulk -- Up 6500
Uncanny -- Up 9000
FF -- Up 31000!!!

Heck, even though Wolverine is down 5000, that was for a FILL-IN! And we've got fan-fave Ed Brubaker coming up right behind that...

Overall, we're up, up, UP!! This is REALLY incredible, guys! Now we only need BoPow and BoPowFL to sell 69000! Which means that if even half of the folks buying FF pick up both new books, we will be above out goal!

Guys, I am REALLY thrilled! You all (definitely including Pat here) have done a phenomenal job, and I think you've got a lot to be proud of!

Day 8

Uncanny, Amazing, FF and She-Hulk all have numbers higher than when we got them (three of them thanks to those Rise of the Defenders banners). Total sales are at 435,000. That's 15,000 higher than when we started. And since Tom seems to be giving us numbers two books ahead of time, our next set of numbers (if there is a next set) should include Balance of Power, Balance of Power: Frontlines and the Balance of Power Travel Guide. And if those three books can't total around 70,000, then I don't know what can. And it's a good thing Pirate Primates' first issue will be cheap; that keeps people from skipping our comics.

Things seem to be going swimmingly on your ends. Unfortunately this Finch situation is still unresolved. To be honest, I feel like sim-David has been out of line more than anybody else; at this point, however, I'm not ready to bring somebody else in on the project unless it's absolutely necessary. If you disagree, Sean, please advise ASAP.

I'll try and set things up between JMS and Finch as follows:

Finch, we need your artwork to really sell the atmosphere and emotion of this story. There's probably going to be some sections of this title that will be a little less ACTIONY than what you prefer, but there is no reason these sections will be any less VISUAL And besides, there's plenty of action throughout the title; JMS has been writing comics for too long and too well to think that a crossover event miniseries can be five issues of talking heads. And to that end, get drawing the first of those covers you were so territorial about.

JMS, Finch is a professional; if he commits to this book, he's going to give 100% to every page, even the ones he has less invested in personally. I think that what you each bring to this project will combine and make something both special and different. Finch is putting your story into visual terms that I guarantee you will only add to your story and not distract from it. I understand your doubts, in fact I've shared them, but I've since decided that any friction here at the formative stages demonstrates that you and Finch are both committed to delivering the best final product possible, and I implore you to trust our judgment in selecting Finch; this title is really going to come together.

And another day....

1.: Is there any way we can get Mr. Bachs a raise? If not, is there any way he will work for us?
I think getting Ramon Bachs a raise is my first option. Only if this doesn't play out and he won't work for us on BoPow Frontlines, then will I look into alternatives.

2.: I think using the whole T-Bolts team might not be a bad idea after all, since it reinforces a shared universe (and might boost sales a bit). I ask David Michelinie if that's okay with him. Doesn't have to be a big scene, it's just important that we see a part of the Symbiote left behind by Gargan. Of course, the whole thing has to be closely coordinated with Molly and Team Thunder. If we want to show fans that we care about continuity, every tiny mistake is lethal.

And then I get back to the remaining phone calls.

Next: Solicitations.

P.S.: Sean? Can we get an ad for Balance of Power in the New York Times? Big Money's marketing is very aggressive, so we might have to up the ante.