It’s possible that the surprise of this year’s San Diego Comic-Con was the complete lack of additional information given out by Marvel about Marvel NOW! at any of its panels; although we’re still months away from the roll-out of that new wave of branding, the fact that it’s been announced and seemed to be something to get fans excited suggested that it would be something Marvel could capitalize on at the convention. Instead, the comic arm of the company seemed to fade into the background, eclipsed by the movie panel’s confirmation of long-standing rumors of Ant-Man footage and Guardians of The Galaxy as the studio’s second 2014 movie, as well as DC’s two surprise announcements of the return of Sandman and a Django Unchained comic, as well as the swath of Image Comics announcements.
The cynic in me, recovering from the surprise lack of NOW! news, snarked that it made sense, because why waste announcements at a comic convention when there will always be USA Today pieces available? But that in itself feels oddly telling, and not just about Marvel’s current intentions. After all, DC announced two projects that would have sizable mainstream crossover potential at the con, instead of in some news outlet, which seems like a shift in policy considering the media news blitz for… well, everything to do with the New 52, really. With Sandman still at least twelve months away, that announcement came as a massive surprise – and, still, feels like “the news” of the con – in large part because, let’s face it, who actually spills something that big at a comic convention anymore?
Part of me wonders if both the Sandman and Django announcements were calculated risks for DC; big enough that, even if they were announced at SDCC, they would be picked up by mainstream media outlets even without exclusivity, as opposed to superhero news that may be less unlikely to appear as “news” to anyone without the promise of “You’ll have it first, and everyone will be linking to you.” Plus, by announcing it at SDCC, DC manages to appear more fan-friendly and reclaim some fandom buzz in a year that’s been particularly unkind to the company.
Marvel, though; while there are plenty of benefits to keeping mum on Marvel NOW! for, well, now – Not least of which is the fact that the books are going to roll out over the next few months, and so this way they get to theoretically extend the initial excitement as new titles/teams are announced – the lack of NOW! news feels like a mistake. By concentrating on Avengers vs. X-Men spin-offs like AvX: Consequences, A-Babies vs. X-Babies and even A+X, Marvel NOW! faded into the background in terms of awareness, even as Marvel’s publishing arm in general seemed to fade into the background when compared with what the movie arm was getting up to this weekend.
I don’t know. Am I overthinking things? Was Marvel right to hold back on Marvel NOW! announcements at San Diego?