Recently, Marvel has announced their upcoming March 2018 schedule of publications, and in doing so simultaneously confirmed several cancellations. The most notable titles on the list so far are:
The Unbelievable Gwenpool
Guardians of the Galaxy
America(centered around the character America Chavez, if you are unfamiliar)
Hawkeye(with Kate Bishop as the lead instead of Clint Barton)
Not a particularly outstanding list, right? And yet it’s making massive waves in the news, with the comic book community responding in it’s very typical fashion. Currently these cancellations are being lauded as some sort of victory over the “SJW Comic Book Agenda,” which is a thing that doesn’t actually exist. Comic book fans believe that adding diversity to comic books is the reason comic books just don’t sell the way they used to. It’s the boogeyman that some people will shoehorn into any discussion and try to make it sound like the right answer, not unlike the stepsisters in Cinderella who cut off their fucking toes and heels to fit their feet into a glass slipper. Sometimes low sales are just low sales, especially in such a heavily competitive market. Marvel's March will also feature a big comic book event in order to build up hype for the Infinity War movie, so the cancellation of lower selling comics to make room for the all the tie-ins was inevitable. And to treat these cancellations as though this is Marvel “learning their lesson” is a committed attempt to unhinge yourself from reality entirely.
The most obvious response to all of this is the fact that we still have Captain Marvel, Miles Morales as Spider-Man, Thor(starring Jane Foster), and the confusingly named “Iron Man” with Riri Williams as Ironheart still at the forefront of Marvel’s releases. Dropping a few low-selling comics featuring diverse leads doesn’t really prove anything when Marvel is still doing just fine with some of their other big names. Maybe some of these low selling comics just…happen to feature diverse leads? The listing above certainly seems to indicate as much, given that even GoTG, Luke Cage, and Jean Grey got cut. Is that unreasonable for you? Instead of Marvel being scared of displeasing a shrinking market of straight white dudes in their late twenties who still get emotional about comic books(…fuck), maybe they just made a sound business decision based on the sales of individual titles? That would mean you’re making false connections because it fits this point you want to make, even if the reality of the situation proves you wrong. I don’t think Marvel has a problem with diversity, and I don’t think this minor series of cancellations is the culling you’re celebrating it as. I don’t see Marvel abandoning their push for inclusiveness any time soon.
It’s strange how many outcasts got into comic books, and yet they fight so hard to exclude other people from the experience.
I wanted to explore the cancellation of Gwenpool, because this was arguably the most popular cancellation on the list. And while I was reading up on it, I had an interesting thought that just didn’t fit with the end rest of this post, but I wanted to include it anyway:
One possible explanation for Gwenpool getting the chop could be Disney buying Fox and acquiring the rights to Deadpool. If they want to turn around and make more Deadpool movies in the future, they’ll want to clear the board of anyone who can detract from their ability to build hype for Deadpool. Disney CEO Bob Iger has already mentioned the potential for a Marvel-R brand as a platform for continued R-rated Deadpool movies in the future, so I’m speculating that Marvel is thinking ahead and planning to publish more Deadpool comics accordingly.
The other, more grounded explanation is Spider-Gwen is the more popular of the two characters featuring Gwen Stacey, so maybe we don’t need her wise-cracking ad nauseum in two separate publications.