Dear ‘S.W.O.R.D.’ Creators…

Posted: August 3, 2010 in comic books, Jeff Holland, reviews, Threat Quality
Tags: , , , , , ,

Holy crap, we’re so sorry!

I know! You’re exactly right, Lockheed, you adorable, temperamental, half-drunk little alien-dragon-guy, you.

You deserve an explanation. One with plenty of (potentially book-selling) pictures!

When I first heard Marvel Comics’ S.W.O.R.D. – the S.H.I.E.L.D. extra-terrestrial response sub-group first concocted during Joss Whedon’s “Astonishing X-Men” run – would be getting its own series, starring Abigail Brand and The Beast, I responded thusly:

  • Really?
  • There’s a market for that?
  • Huh.
  • Guess I’ll wait for good reviews, and then maybe pick it up when it gets collected into a trade-paperback.

And the reviews WERE pretty kind! Probably because of delightful scenes like this:

Or maybe this one:

See, I was basing my buying decision on Kieron Gillen’s other book, Phonogram, which sounded like “What if John Constantine grew up during the Brit-Pop era,” and read like “…And also you didn’t get 90% of the references.”

I was gunshy. I apologize.

OK! OK. Everyone just calm down. I’ve admitted my mistake.

Unfortunately, while I was trying to make up my mind, everyone else in the buying public was doing the same damn thing (it’s the same logic that leads you to go shopping on Christmas Eve, thinking everyone ELSE has already done their holiday shopping).

So NOBODY bought the damn comics as they were coming out, sales tanked hard, and the book got canceled quick – issue 5 ended up being the finale.

It took Braak buying the paperback and passing it on to me (thanks man, by the way) to make me realize what I’d missed. And, wow. Fun, adventurous, exciting, steeped in Marvel-lore without being hard to follow…and I missed it. Whoopsie-daisy.

Now, I argued earlier that Marvel should just promote long-shot series like these as try-out mini-series, and I still stand by that. If that were the case, Marvel could check out the sales on the collected edition and decide maybe strong word-of-mouth was enough to commission a second series.

Like a summer-run TV show, basically.

But that doesn’t excuse the fact that I probably should’ve been more confident in what I like: I like the X-Men’s lovably verbose Beast, Hank McCoy, I like the no-nonsense unflappability of S.W.O.R.D. director Abigail Brand, and I – like all right-thinking comics readers – like the curmudgeonly alien-dragon Lockheed.

And if this series had been promoted as “No-nonsense Abigail Brand fights bureaucratic numbskullery, fends off an alien invasion of stupid rock-creatures, barters with a robotic bounty hunter, and tries not to bruise her furry X-Man boyfriend’s ego too much – all in a day’s work,” I would have known to buy two of every issue.

Aaaah! Aaaaah! Lockheed, I said I was sorry!

Anyway. The damage is done. So now, Marvel, being that you’ve promoted the series and gotten the strong word-of-mouth…now that you’ve got a digital-comics selling model up and running for the iPad…

Well, that means you can sell comics without having to worry about paper and publishing costs. You can – call us crazy – publish digitally. A page a day? A small subscription fee, for an iPad-exclusive comic?

And if the sales warrant it, maybe a print edition later?

Seems like the thing to do, right? Seems like the future of comics.

Seems like something the stars of an alien-invasion response force with an unruly dragon sidekick would be tailor-made for, I imagine.

I know one vanity publishing house that would buy a couple copies of that….

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