This week, we finally got official confirmation from Marvel that Jonathan Hickman’s House of X and Powers of X would be the start of a line-wide X-Men relaunch, with any remaining X-books including Uncanny X-Men and X-Force ending in July to make way for Hickman’s “new era” of the X-Men, in which Hickman will write the as-yet-unnamed flagship title after the 12 weeks of House of X and Powers of X end.
We also learned, via tweets from Marvel Editor-in-Chief C.B. Cebulski and Uncanny X-Men writer Matthew Rosenberg, that this was the plan since last Summer, before Uncanny X-Men launched, with everyone involved fully aware that the series would last only for a limited time.
Yes, this has all been planned since last summer and we're grateful for every creator who has worked on our X-titles since then, from X-Men Blue/Yellow/Red to Disassembled to Age of X to Major X to Uncanny. They have all been putting the pieces of the puzzle in place for HoX/PoX! https://t.co/lgvJQRnrS4
— C.B. Cebulski (@CBCebulski) May 14, 2019
When @Marvel brought myself, @edbrisson, & @79SemiFinalist to write UNCANNY X-MEN we knew that our time was limited and that @JHickman was coming in to blow minds within the year. I couldn't be more proud of what we all did, and I couldn't be more excited about what's to come.
— 𝙼𝚊𝚝𝚝𝚑𝚎𝚠 𝚁𝚘𝚜𝚎𝚗𝚋𝚎𝚛𝚐 (@AshcanPress) May 14, 2019
But if the series was always expected to end in 22 issues, why then was it announced as an ongoing series?
Uncanny X-Men #1
(W) Ed Brisson, Kelly Thompson, Matthew Rosenberg (A) Mahmud A. Asrar, Mark Bagley, Mirko Colak, Andrew Hennessy (CA) Leinil Francis Yu
THE CHILDREN OF THE ATOM ARE BACK!
New ongoing series kicking off with a 10-part weekly epic, the flagship X-Men series that started it all is back and better than ever! Starting with a mysterious and tragic disappearance, the X-Men are drawn into what might be…their final adventure?! X-Fan favorite writers Ed Brisson (EXTERMINATION), Matthew Rosenberg (PHOENIX RESURRECTION) and Kelly Thompson (MR. & MRS. X) and all-star artists Mahmud Asrar (X-MEN RED), R.B. Silva (X-MEN BLUE), Yildiray Cinar (WEAPON X) and Pere Pérez (ROGUE AND GAMBIT) join forces to bring you…X-MEN DISASSEMBLED?!
In Shops: Nov 14, 2018
Part of it, probably, depends on just what the definition of an “ongoing series” is. Out of the 90+ new comics Marvel is publishing in July (including one-shots and mini-series), only four titles have an issue count higher than 30, and two of them are Star Wars books. That’s Star Wars, Doctor Aphra, Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur, and Unbeatable Squirrel-Girl. An additional four titles have numbers higher than 20: Avengers, Amazing Spider-Man, Runaways, and Uncanny X-Men. Seven additional titles have numbers higher than 10: Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Venom, Doctor Strange, Black Panther, and Deadpool. The rest of the comics have 10 or fewer issues.
It’s clear that Marvel loves to relaunch their books on a regular basis. But does that mean that, with a few exceptions, the ongoing series at Marvel is a thing of the past? When Marvel launches an “ongoing series,” should we take that by default to mean a twelve to twenty-four issue maxi-series? And is that what we should expect Hickman’s line-wide relaunch to consist of as well? Should we be already planning for the X-Men Universe to be changed forever with a bold new take and multiple number one issues (with lots of variants) as early as 2021? 2020?
More importantly, is this actually a positive thing for anyone? We would argue that, rather than providing convenient jumping on points, the chaos of constant relaunches and short-running titles, often with casts duplicated across several concurrent series, makes it confusing to figure out exactly how all of Marvel’s comics fit together, much less where to start reading them if you’re a new reader. The idea of Marvel as a living universe where the stories of our favorite characters are all happening alongside each other — the very same shared formula that made the Marvel Cinematic Universe a success and spawned dozens of Hollywood copycats — is severely damaged by a lack of a coherent timeline across Marvel’s constantly relaunched, constantly “changed forever” line of comics.
Your mileage may vary, of course, and it must, at the very least, be profitable in the short term for Marvel to keep doing it. That being said, Marvel’s short term financial health is not necessarily indicative of long-term health for the industry as a whole.
In any case, one thing we can be certain of at this point is that actual “ongoing series” are the exception, not the rule, at Marvel, so the next time you see one announced, you should take it with a grain of salt. Let us know what you think about all of this in the comments.