If you’re worried about where Marvel Comics is going these days, Tom Brevoort has some kind words for you:
One of the things you’ve got to remember about the comic book field is that, in some respects, it’s cyclical. Especially when you’re talking about the big company-owned icon characters who’ve been in continuous print for forty, fifty, sixty years. Given enough time, everything comes around again, in one way or the other.
By that same token, the elements or approaches that do come back around aren’t preserved as though in amber, but do adapt to the era in which the comics of the day are being done. But in a general sense, there’s a pendulum swing between the ends of the content that I refer to as “classique” (evoking the traditional values associated with superhero comics–sense of wonder, heroic, colorful heroes, big spectacle) and “nouveau” (heightened sense of realism, more sophisticated, introverted storylines, deconstruction of the genre or the narrative in some way)… It doesn’t matter what you like (or what you hate, for that matter)–the grander approach is ever-changing. You can see it in microcosm just by looking at the Marvel Universe books over the last decade or so: the Heroes Return relaunches of AVENGERS, FANTASTIC FOUR, IRON MAN, CAPTAIN AMERICA and THOR were steeped in “classique”, a return to traditional values. But over time, especially in the ULTIMATE line, the pendulum was beginning to swing back towards the “Nouveau”, culminating in “Avengers Disassembled”, which generated NEW AVENGERS and recast that series in a modernistic approach. More recently, we’ve seen a resurgence of the importance of cross-title universe continuity becoming more and more of an issue with the readership–a “classique” concern if ever there was one.
And so, you’ve seen a movement towards more coordination between titles–not completely in the same way it used to be, but moving in that direction. And if the pendulum continues to swing in that direction, you’re likely to see more and more of this, on everybody’s part. However, at some point, that pendulum is going to start moving in another direction–heck, the success of SPIDER-MAN: REIGN may indicate that the necessity for tight inter-continuity among projects in order to guarantee their success is beginning to become a non-issue.
I thought the success of Spider-Man: Reign showed that people really want to read Frank Miller so bad that they’ll accept copies…