Saturday, July 29, 2023

In Review: The X-Men's Krakoa Era

Psst. I'm still over on Substack, but I did say this would be my receptacle for whatever dragged-out, uncritical pop culture writeups I might feel irresistibly compelled to throw together. I'm afraid the time has come to use it in that capacity.

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American superhero comics have it really bad these days.

Dating back to the 1930s, the original business model of the comic book publisher was simple: grind out a slew of cheaply printed monthly (or twice-monthly) serials and/or anthologies, and sell them at newsstands and chain stores across the county. They were a popular sensation, but their long-term decline began with the dawn of the Television Age. As the world turned away from print matter, the scheme gradually stopped working. With newsstands on the decline and comic book shops decimated by the aftereffects of the Great Comic Crash of 1996, publishers compensated for declining sales by raising production value and jacking up cover prices beyond what a kid with a weekly allowance (or even an adult with a wage job) can afford to splurge on several times a month. As the once-mighty superhero comic became more of a niche product (and as the internet killed magazines in general), drugstores, supermarkets, and gas stations stopped stocking them. For the last decade and a half, their collected editions have been getting their asses kicked by manga, and now their digital editions have the webtoons juggernaut to compete with. At this point they're pretty much R&D divisions for Disney and Warner Bros' film and television studios, and comfort food for thirty-to-fifty year old males who collected them as kids and never fell out of the habit.