Here's a question for the Legionnaires: Is the mini-series the future of Marvel Comics?
They appear to be placing unusual bets on on it. I noticed this when I was forced to cut back on comics purchases, and decided to keep ongoing series on my pull list at the Local Comics Shop, and order mini-series and one-shots only from Westfield Comics. But while my stack at the comic shop has continued to decrease, my Westfield bill has remained steady -- despite a number of mini-series wrapping up. The reason? As various mini-series wind down, Marvel keeps adding more -- and not just easily-ignored books that don't much affect continuity like Pet Avengers Unleashed or Girl Comics, but minis that are virtually required reading to understand ongoing books that I'm already buying.
For example, take Incredible Hulk and Hulk, both of which I continue to buy. Currently there's the "Fall of the Hulks" storyline marrying the two, and there have been a couple of one-shots and so forth as adjunct reading. (Fall of the Hulks Gamma, Fall of the Hulks Alpha, Red Hulk, etc.). But as the story reaches its climax, a new crop of minis have come online, presumably also necessary to understand the story, including Savage She-Hulks, She-Hulk: Sensational, Realm of Kings: Son of Hulk, etc.)
But that alone wouldn't raise my eyebrows. What did was Ghost Rider.
In events last year in Ghost Rider, Johnny Blaze and Danny Ketch found out new revelations about their transformations and the entity behind them: an angel named Zadriel, which planned to conquer heaven. Danny and Johnny teamed up to stop him, and the story reached its climax ... but not in Ghost Rider. Instead the ongoing series was put on "hiatus" while a six-issue mini-series called Ghost Riders: Heaven's on Fire -- indistinguishable from the ongoing in any meaningful way -- continued the story to its finish.
Evidently, Marvel felt like a mini would sell better than the ongoing title. There's no other explanation for Heaven's on Fire, since it took the place of Ghost Rider on the schedule, employed virtually the same creators, and could just as easily have contined as Ghost Rider. It probably took a little extra effort to re-name it, for that matter.
Now, Ghost Rider hasn't returned from hiatus, so evidently Heaven's on Fire didn't raise the numbers sufficiently. But that doesn't detract from my basic point, that Marvel felt a miniseries would sell better than a familiar ongoing.
And this is not the only place Marvel has placed that bet. For example, Black Panther has been replaced on the schedule by Doomwar, a six-issue mini which is simply Black Panther under a different title. Immortal Iron Fist went on hiatus for the Immortal Weapons miniseries (and never came back). Meanwhile, Guardians of the Galaxy and Nova are both going "on hiatus" after April, but the characters and their storylines will combine into the Thanos Imperative: Ignition one-shot in May, followed by the six-issue Thanos Imperative mini beginning in June.
And God help you if haven't read the bajillion "War of Kings" and "Realm of Kings" minis and one-shots from the last couple of years, as they are just as much required reading to understand Thanos Imerative as Guardians of the Galaxy and Nova.
Will Black Panther, GotG and Nova come back from hiatus? Your guess is as good as mine. (And my guess is "no.") But what's interesting is that Marvel opted to shift their stories from ongoing to minis, evidently in the hope of better sales for poor-selling ongoings. Meanwhile, other Marvel ongoings keep getting the axe: Ms. Marvel, Ghost Rider, S.W.O.R.D., etc.
So what's the deal, Legionnaires? Is Marvel slowly shifting to a trade-friendly line of minis over ongoings? I imagine flagship characters like Amazing Spider-Man will always have a monthly, even if it's just a "Marvel Adventures" title for kids. But outside of the big guns (basically those that have carried a title from the Silver Age to present), will we eventually see the bulk of Marvel's product be minis and one-shots?
And how do you folks feel about them? Which do you prefer: Ongoings or minis? Do you buy trades of ongoings? What are the trends here? Anecdotal evidence welcome!