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  1. #1

    Default Are Spider-Man satellites a good idea?

    Marvel solicitations for January suggest a new Spider-Man monthly title will be launched with Tom Taylor and Juann Cabal's Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man. There's no sign of Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man, suggesting that title might have been cancelled.

    Satellite titles have a history of lackluster sales. The big question is whether doing these is a good idea? Is it worth the low sales for whatever reason? Are there ways to do it better/ more successfully than we've seen in the last 15 years? Or should Marvel cut their losses, and just publish Amazing Spider-Man?

  2. #2
    Incredible Member Jman27's Avatar
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    I dont mind the titles however I would like to see the stories reference each other more and have like a better timeline. Like Spectacular was behind Amazing in the timeline for a good while and I liked how issue#6 with Jameson spill over to the Main title. But that still took a while for it to get reference. Basically all i want is that when I read a satellite title it follows the main title in some degree but I beleive that wouldnt encourage enough originality for the writers on those titles though

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    Astonishing Member CrimsonEchidna's Avatar
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    I do think they need themselves a hook to make them distinct from the flagship book. What worked initially for Spectacular (the most recent relaunch) was that it worked as a alternative for those who weren't fully onboard with Slott's Global exploits. But three "Back-to-Basics" Peter Parker titles is just redundant.
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    Quote Originally Posted by CrimsonEchidna View Post
    I do think they need themselves a hook to make them distinct from the flagship book. What worked initially for Spectacular (the most recent relaunch) was that it worked as a alternative for those who weren't fully onboard with Slott's Global exploits. But three "Back-to-Basics" Peter Parker titles is just redundant.
    Especially when the main title is doing it.
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    I think Spider-man, the character, can easily support weekly shipping across however many titles. I think as along as each satellite has a distinct "mission statement" it's a good option. Based solely on the solicitations, I'm not entirely sure FNSM will be a significantly different book than ASM. Be it a team-up book, Spidey on the road, Spidey vs organized crime, or whatever, I think the satellite's need to be defined in terms of (and to an extent, in opposition to) ASM. I tend to analogize to Batman a lot, but 90s Batman had 'Tec and Batman being primary books, then LOTDK was past tales, and SotB was a more psychological take on Batman. For Rebirth, Batman was the main book and 'Tec was the "Bat-team" book (since Tynion left, it's basically been an aimless mess).

  6. #6
    Astonishing Member Inversed's Avatar
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    I think ultimately, like other people have mentioned, it has to have a distinct identity towards it with the types of stories its gonna tell, but also have a strong creative voice behind it. Even through Spectacular's ups and downs, Zdarsky had a distinct voice that complimented the book, and Taylor has shown himself to have one as well, so will be good to see how he handles Friendly Neighbourhood. Probably the best way to make it most interesting for people is to make it obvious how exactly it differs from Amazing other than "More Spider-Man". I'd say best bet would be going for more slice of life or smaller scale stories, the best Spectacular issues (Dinner With Jonah, Sandman, the Finale) were exactly this.

    Also as a side note, I just wanted to remember the list of artists that Spectacular got. Adam Kubert, Michael Walsh, Joe Quinones, Michael Allred, Chris Bachalo, & Zdarsky himself. This is a murders row of some of the best working today.
    Current Reading List: Amazing Spider-Man, Spider-Gwen, West Coast Avengers, Ms. Marvel, Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man, Avengers, Sonic The Hedgehog

  7. #7
    Moderator Frontier's Avatar
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    As had been said, there can be a lot of value and mileage in having satellite titles that offer different and distinct stories featuring your title character, and having different writers offering different voices and perspectives on them.

    We would probably have never gotten to read some of the great stories from PAD, JM DeMatteis, Conway on Spec, or Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa without satellite titles.

    And Spider-Man is Marvel's most successful solo property. If Batman or Superman can have 2-3 books centered around them, I feel the same can be true for Spider-Man.
    Quote Originally Posted by bob/.schoonover View Post
    For Rebirth, Batman was the main book and 'Tec was the "Bat-team" book (since Tynion left, it's basically been an aimless mess).
    And All-Star as the Snyder Batman vehicle.

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    World's Greatest Hero blackspidey2099's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CrimsonEchidna View Post
    I do think they need themselves a hook to make them distinct from the flagship book. What worked initially for Spectacular (the most recent relaunch) was that it worked as a alternative for those who weren't fully onboard with Slott's Global exploits. But three "Back-to-Basics" Peter Parker titles is just redundant.
    Agreed. I kinda want a large-scale huge Spider-Man adventures book now, instead of 3 Spider-Man titles with varying levels of smaller and smaller focuses. I don't even get the point of it any more.
    "Anyone can win a fight when the odds are easy! It's when the going's tough - when there seems to be no chance - that's when it counts!" - Spider-Man

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by blackspidey2099 View Post
    Agreed. I kinda want a large-scale huge Spider-Man adventures book now, instead of 3 Spider-Man titles with varying levels of smaller and smaller focuses. I don't even get the point of it any more.
    The point would be to have more opportunities to tell more stories.

    Think of some of the excellent issues of Spectacular Spider-Man that Chip Z'Darsky did. If Spec didn't exist, those stories wouldn't have been told.

    There can only be so many issues of ASM a year and as creative teams tend to stay on that book long term, there should be other places for other voices to tell their own Spidey stories.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mister Mets View Post
    Marvel solicitations for January suggest a new Spider-Man monthly title will be launched with Tom Taylor and Juann Cabal's Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man. There's no sign of Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man, suggesting that title might have been cancelled.

    Satellite titles have a history of lackluster sales. The big question is whether doing these is a good idea? Is it worth the low sales for whatever reason? Are there ways to do it better/ more successfully than we've seen in the last 15 years? Or should Marvel cut their losses, and just publish Amazing Spider-Man?
    Financially 2 issues of ASM will sell more because ASM automatically sells more due to the name brand recognition.

    Creatively speaking 2 ASm issues instead of ASM + 1 satellite is worse.


    Bi-monthly schedules strain creative teams, especially artists, which compromises consistency and impacts newer readers. It is akin to new actors coming in every so often to play characters you are familiar with.

    Additionally having just the one book creates a major gamble creatively because if that one writer is not good or off their game then your whole month just sucked and people just paid £4-8 for it to suck.

    A seperate creative team increases the chances of better results, but only if you have ONE other title. 3 or more titles is stretching the character too thin, he can't support that many titles and have the stories be broadly good. Hence Web of Spider-Man and No Adj suffered.

    But in the 1980s when you had Stern, DeFalco and Michelinie doing upbeat boiler plate superhero action adventures with a dash of the soap opera stuff whilst Manlto, Milgrom, Peter David and Conway handled either the Spidey/Black Cat relationship, gritty street crime stories or drama involving the wider supporting cast's lives, there was a creative justification to the satellites that mutually supported ASM.

    The same can be said of ASM and Spec when you had Michelinie and DeMatteis. Both seires were Spider-Man, but with very different approaches, one offering light and fun action, the other offering dark and heavy psychology. Had the series JUST had those 2 titles you'd remove a shitton of weaker stories from that era.

    Whilst Superman works better in light and optimistic stories (most of the time) and Batman in darker and grittier stories (again most of the time) the nature of Spider-Man's characetr as defined from the Lee/Ditko run allowed him to have a foot in both.

    Hence you can have tragic tales like the Death of Gwen Stacy, dark psychological stories like Kraven's Last Hunt, humour stories like when Commeth the Commuter, action thrillers like the second Venom story, 'day in the life' boiler plate superhero soap operatics like the Hobgoblin mystery, small personal stories like the Kid Who collected Spider-Man and none of them feel foreign to Spider-Man the way say a gritty noir story could in Superman or a space story would in Batman.

    Coupled with a rich supporting cast and deep villain bench of costumed criminals and regular criminals (I'm counting Kingpin and Hammerhead among the latter) and there is more than enough material to creatively justify two titles.

    But again, financially if that second title isn't called 'Amazing Spider-Man' it will never sell as much because ASM auto sells off the back of prestige alone.

  11. #11

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    Thanks for the responses.

    I've swung back and forth on the question myself, although I seem to be more anti-satellite books than is typical here.

    Quote Originally Posted by bob/.schoonover View Post
    I think Spider-man, the character, can easily support weekly shipping across however many titles. I think as along as each satellite has a distinct "mission statement" it's a good option. Based solely on the solicitations, I'm not entirely sure FNSM will be a significantly different book than ASM. Be it a team-up book, Spidey on the road, Spidey vs organized crime, or whatever, I think the satellite's need to be defined in terms of (and to an extent, in opposition to) ASM. I tend to analogize to Batman a lot, but 90s Batman had 'Tec and Batman being primary books, then LOTDK was past tales, and SotB was a more psychological take on Batman. For Rebirth, Batman was the main book and 'Tec was the "Bat-team" book (since Tynion left, it's basically been an aimless mess).
    Batman and Superman have a bit of a difference in that there are other titles on par with the flagship books. Action Comics and Detective Comics have a strong brand of their own. And when there isn't an obvious main title it allows for a third or fourth book to stand out.

    An issue with Spider-Man is that Amazing Spider-Man has had a bigger reputation than most of the others.

    This is before we get into the question of whether a book has a unique enough identity.

    Quote Originally Posted by Inversed View Post
    I think ultimately, like other people have mentioned, it has to have a distinct identity towards it with the types of stories its gonna tell, but also have a strong creative voice behind it. Even through Spectacular's ups and downs, Zdarsky had a distinct voice that complimented the book, and Taylor has shown himself to have one as well, so will be good to see how he handles Friendly Neighbourhood. Probably the best way to make it most interesting for people is to make it obvious how exactly it differs from Amazing other than "More Spider-Man". I'd say best bet would be going for more slice of life or smaller scale stories, the best Spectacular issues (Dinner With Jonah, Sandman, the Finale) were exactly this.

    Also as a side note, I just wanted to remember the list of artists that Spectacular got. Adam Kubert, Michael Walsh, Joe Quinones, Michael Allred, Chris Bachalo, & Zdarsky himself. This is a murders row of some of the best working today.
    Great artists. But those were not good sales.

    Quote Originally Posted by boots View Post
    i wonder if marvel's model has moved towards short sales cycles anyway? rather than a long running title (which is the hope, i suppose) they settle for a series of short lived series that get sales going at the launch point.
    That's an interesting point. This also means there isn't as much emphasis on making sure a book has a hook that outlasts its creative team.

    Quote Originally Posted by oldschool View Post
    Satellite titles for a character with as rich a supporting cast/rogues gallery as Spidey is a very good idea. The trick has always been to get the right creative teams in place and, equally important, the right tone for each book. Too often these books seem inconsequential or removed from the main Spidey narrative. Marvel seemed to get it right back in days when the original volume of PP:SSM and Marvel Team-Up (later Web) ran concurrently with whatever was having in ASM yet each title had it's own tone/flavor for readers who didn't want to read all 3 titles.
    There does have to be a careful balance between making books consequential, but also allowing books to stand on their own, and be enjoyed by someone who isn't reading everything else.

  12. #12
    Extraordinary Member Celgress's Avatar
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    They can be a good idea but each must be distinct. If a series does not have a unique way of telling a story about a spider-themed hero, and one that appeals to a mass audience, it won't last.
    "So you've come to the end now alive but dead inside."

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spidercide View Post
    Financially 2 issues of ASM will sell more because ASM automatically sells more due to the name brand recognition.

    Creatively speaking 2 ASm issues instead of ASM + 1 satellite is worse.


    Bi-monthly schedules strain creative teams, especially artists, which compromises consistency and impacts newer readers. It is akin to new actors coming in every so often to play characters you are familiar with.

    Additionally having just the one book creates a major gamble creatively because if that one writer is not good or off their game then your whole month just sucked and people just paid £4-8 for it to suck.

    A seperate creative team increases the chances of better results, but only if you have ONE other title. 3 or more titles is stretching the character too thin, he can't support that many titles and have the stories be broadly good. Hence Web of Spider-Man and No Adj suffered.

    But in the 1980s when you had Stern, DeFalco and Michelinie doing upbeat boiler plate superhero action adventures with a dash of the soap opera stuff whilst Manlto, Milgrom, Peter David and Conway handled either the Spidey/Black Cat relationship, gritty street crime stories or drama involving the wider supporting cast's lives, there was a creative justification to the satellites that mutually supported ASM.

    The same can be said of ASM and Spec when you had Michelinie and DeMatteis. Both seires were Spider-Man, but with very different approaches, one offering light and fun action, the other offering dark and heavy psychology. Had the series JUST had those 2 titles you'd remove a shitton of weaker stories from that era.

    Whilst Superman works better in light and optimistic stories (most of the time) and Batman in darker and grittier stories (again most of the time) the nature of Spider-Man's characetr as defined from the Lee/Ditko run allowed him to have a foot in both.

    Hence you can have tragic tales like the Death of Gwen Stacy, dark psychological stories like Kraven's Last Hunt, humour stories like when Commeth the Commuter, action thrillers like the second Venom story, 'day in the life' boiler plate superhero soap operatics like the Hobgoblin mystery, small personal stories like the Kid Who collected Spider-Man and none of them feel foreign to Spider-Man the way say a gritty noir story could in Superman or a space story would in Batman.

    Coupled with a rich supporting cast and deep villain bench of costumed criminals and regular criminals (I'm counting Kingpin and Hammerhead among the latter) and there is more than enough material to creatively justify two titles.

    But again, financially if that second title isn't called 'Amazing Spider-Man' it will never sell as much because ASM auto sells off the back of prestige alone.
    There have been times when the titles had unique identities, although this is a difficult balance.

    In the early 80s, you had Stern/ Romita on Amazing Spider-Man telling classic stories, Mantlo/ Hannigan telling crime stories in Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man, and DeMatteis & company telling offbeat stories in Marvel Team Up.
    A bit later, DeFalco/ Frenz had the classic Amazing Spider-Man, Peter David swung further towards crime with stories that didn't feature as many supervillains and were influenced by TV shows like Hill Street Blues, while Michelinie gave Web of Spider-Man a hook by sending Peter outside of New York.
    There have been some other interesting hooks. Todd McFarlane's Spider-Man pit Spider-Man against monsters. Millar/ Dodson's Marvel Knights Spider-Man was meant to give A-list creative teams twelve issues to tell a complete story.

    Spider-Man has a lot of range, although one problem with satellite books is that it limits the creative team of Amazing Spider-Man. If one book's hook is that it deals with crime, and another is a team-up title, the Amazing Spider-Man team is discouraged from telling those stories.

    I'll note that adjectiveless Spider-Man could probably sell pretty well. It was the title of the Raimi films, and the best selling Spider-Man comic ever.

    But there will still be problems.

    A part of the appeal of Peter Parker has been that things change for him every now and then, and reflecting that is a bit messy in satellite titles. How does an event in Amazing Spider-Man published in March effect an arc of adjectiveless Spider-Man published from February to July? When should Amazing Spider-Man reflect any developments in the other title?

    In terms of continuity and profit, the best course of action is increased output on Amazing Spider-Man in the hands of one writer. The artistic continuity suffers a bit, although this was always likely, since many artists can't even handle a monthly title.

  14. #14
    Astonishing Member whiteshark's Avatar
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    Spider-Man comics have such a diversity that satélites comic books of Spider-Man can be great.
    Spider-Man is usually a loner super hero and yet he had the Marvel Team Up satellite title that was about Spider-Man teaming up with other super heroes for over 100 stories.
    So while the satellites titles not always help the continuity,i think with a good creative team and working well editorially with Amazing Spider-Man it can make the narrative of the Spider-Man continuity interesting.

  15. #15
    Moderator Frontier's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mister Mets;3972720
    Batman and Superman have a bit of a difference in that there are other titles on par with the flagship books. [I
    Action Comics[/I] and Detective Comics have a strong brand of their own. And when there isn't an obvious main title it allows for a third or fourth book to stand out.

    An issue with Spider-Man is that Amazing Spider-Man has had a bigger reputation than most of the others.
    I'd say if we're talking about titles with pedigree, "Spectacular" would definitely fit the bill even if it's not as monumental as, say, "Action Comics" or "Detective Comics."
    Quote Originally Posted by Mister Mets View Post
    Spider-Man has a lot of range, although one problem with satellite books is that it limits the creative team of Amazing Spider-Man. If one book's hook is that it deals with crime, and another is a team-up title, the Amazing Spider-Man team is discouraged from telling those stories.
    Discouraged seems like a negative way of looking at it. I would assume that the writers for multiple Spider-Man books would work out what they want to focus on or emphasize when they're working on the book.
    In terms of continuity and profit, the best course of action is increased output on Amazing Spider-Man in the hands of one writer. The artistic continuity suffers a bit, although this was always likely, since many artists can't even handle a monthly title.
    But creatively I can see an issue in that there's only so much one writer can focus or work on on a single title, and that's setting aside whether people even enjoy that writer's take.

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