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  1. #1
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    Default Marvel's "evergreen" material

    When perusing graphic novel sales data over the past several years, a key difference between Marvel and DC (in my mind) pops up: While they might not top the charts every year, there are several familiar DC titles that continue to hang around on the charts with, all things considered, respectable sales data. These titles (at least the ones Iíve noticed) are Watchmen, Dark Knight Returns, Kingdom Come, and Sandman (Vol 1 is usually what will chart the highest). All four of these titles, in my mind, are evergreens, and at least three out of four of them have crossed over as far into capital-L literature as a big-two published book can.

    Which brings me to Marvel. There really doesnít seem to be true Marvel evergreens, at least as far as sales are concerned. I can think of a few titles that could potentially reach similar heights, and perhaps even should have, but, to date, donít seem to have latched on in the same way as the aforementioned titles have. Itís worth noting that Infinity Gauntlet topped the sales charts in 2018 and is a story that could very well reach that category, however, itís worth noting that the following year saw Watchmen top the list, so we can posit that recent film/TV adaptations played a large role in those sales. The difference between the two, however, is that Watchmen seems to always hang around on the sales charts.

    So, here are my questions: What material, if any, do you consider evergreen? If nothing, why do you feel that is? What has the potential to reach this status?

    Now, I don't want to be misconstrued: I'm not necessarily advocating that Marvel dig up material from its past and promote it over new material. I think that can be rather regressive. However, I also don't think there's anything wrong with finding a few titles that seem to have an infinite shelf life.

    Looking forward to the discussion.

  2. #2
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    Marvel doesn't have as many evergreens because most of Marvel's material is in-continuity. You'll notice that most of the DC "evergreens" are stories that either take place in their own continuity, or are out-of-continuity stories about familiar characters like "Dark Knight Returns" and "All-Star Superman" and "Kingdom Come. "

    Marvel has for whatever reason never had as many of those self-contained, out-of-continuity stories that are the right length for a trade. Instead its most famous stories are usually part of a larger run and have a lot of subplots running through them that aren't fully resolved. Or they're like "Marvels," which, unlike "Kingdom Come," is in-continuity and takes the POV character through decades of actual Marvel comics stories.

    "Infinity Gauntlet" is a limited series and very popular, but because it's an in-continuity story it's not as satisfying an experience as some of the DC evergreens. It pays off years of previous stories about Thanos and the Marvel characters who appear in it are often tied to a particular status quo of the time, like Vision being white and emotionless. New readers can enjoy them but there's always a sense that there's a part of the story they're not getting.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gurkle View Post
    Marvel doesn't have as many evergreens because most of Marvel's material is in-continuity. You'll notice that most of the DC "evergreens" are stories that either take place in their own continuity, or are out-of-continuity stories about familiar characters like "Dark Knight Returns" and "All-Star Superman" and "Kingdom Come. "
    Your point on continuity, in my mind, is spot-on. I nearly titled this thread something along the lines of "Is continuity preventing Marvel from having truly evergreen material," but felt it might come across as a bit hyperbolic.

    To add on to that point, though, I feel it should be noted that Sandman is (or was, who can tell anymore?) at least ostensibly in continuity, and yet it might have the most reach in terms of getting into literary circles, though that might be on the back of Neil Gaiman's success as an author of novels.

    Again, however, I would like to say that nothing that I'm saying should be interpreted as an indictment of Marvel's publishing history. In fact, I think there are a few titles published within the last 20 years that very well could reach evergreen status under the right circumstances. If I may be so bold, I think that a run like Milligan & Allred's X-Force/X-Statix could reach that level, considering it is largely disconnected from the general happenings of Earth 616 despite ostensibly being in the main continuity and generally has some interesting things to say regarding media, celebrities, and the culture that surrounds them. Again, that's just my personal opinion.

  4. #4
    Spectacular Member JTHM's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dreamglide View Post
    To add on to that point, though, I feel it should be noted that Sandman is (or was, who can tell anymore?) at least ostensibly in continuity, and yet it might have the most reach in terms of getting into literary circles, though that might be on the back of Neil Gaiman's success as an author of novels.
    Saying that Sandman is in-continuity, while correct, isn't really accurate considering the conversation at hand. For one, none of its events are dependent or even remotely related to anything in the larger DC Universe. You don't need to read absolutely anything else, understand anything else - Or for that matter, you don't even need to know anything about DC to enjoy Sandman. Which is one of the big appeals. At least with stuff like Kingdom Come and Dark Knight Returns, you do have to be at least somewhat familiar with who the character is. Because even though they are not in continuity, I don't think anyone is really going to buy Kingdom Come without being at least distantly familiar with the DC Universe. Sandman and Watchmen don't suffer from this.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dreamglide View Post
    These titles (at least the ones I’ve noticed) are Watchmen, Dark Knight Returns, Kingdom Come, and Sandman (Vol 1 is usually what will chart the highest).
    In the case of Watchmen, that's kept in print specifically to make sure rights never return to Moore and Gibbons. So there's a big question mark there.

    So, here are my questions: What material, if any, do you consider evergreen? If nothing, why do you feel that is? What has the potential to reach this status?
    Among Marvel's stuff, I'd say the following:
    -- The Phoenix Saga/The Dark Phoenix Saga
    -- Daredevil: Born Again
    -- The Coming of Galactus
    -- Secret Wars 1984
    -- The Infinity Gauntlet

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    Quote Originally Posted by Revolutionary_Jack View Post
    In the case of Watchmen, that's kept in print specifically to make sure rights never return to Moore and Gibbons. So there's a big question mark there.



    Among Marvel's stuff, I'd say the following:
    -- The Phoenix Saga/The Dark Phoenix Saga
    -- Daredevil: Born Again
    -- The Coming of Galactus
    -- Secret Wars 1984
    -- The Infinity Gauntlet
    This just about covers it.

    I'd say Doctor Strange/Doctor Doom: Triumph and Torment is almost there but not quite yet. It's had a couple of reprints since the original publication.

  7. #7
    FF purist/snob CaptCleghorn's Avatar
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    I'd imagine an "evergreen" work to not depend on continuity. When a reader picks it up, they should not have to know much, if anything, about the characters. In fact, that heavy continuity might very well be a disadvantage in that even if the story is set outside of continuity, it may very well have that "another Spider-Man story" look. Dark Knight Returns was about a future version of Batman and in that brief phrase, it's separated from the thousands of Batman stories out there.

    Gillen's Young Avengers is a good work. King's Vision would also make a nice evergreen book. Something like Fantastic Four: World Greatest Comic Magazine might also be fitting, although I can't remember the FF story's creators. The collected Franklin Richards: Son of a Genius stories are a perfect item for Marvel. It might be creators, it might be Marvel's lack of ability in this area, it is probably due in part to the heavy continuity, but the only thing that I am positive about is Marvel wants more evergreen works and that they are working on ways to produce them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptCleghorn View Post
    I'd imagine an "evergreen" work to not depend on continuity. When a reader picks it up, they should not have to know much, if anything, about the characters. In fact, that heavy continuity might very well be a disadvantage in that even if the story is set outside of continuity, it may very well have that "another Spider-Man story" look. Dark Knight Returns was about a future version of Batman and in that brief phrase, it's separated from the thousands of Batman stories out there.

    Gillen's Young Avengers is a good work. King's Vision would also make a nice evergreen book. Something like Fantastic Four: World Greatest Comic Magazine might also be fitting, although I can't remember the FF story's creators. The collected Franklin Richards: Son of a Genius stories are a perfect item for Marvel. It might be creators, it might be Marvel's lack of ability in this area, it is probably due in part to the heavy continuity, but the only thing that I am positive about is Marvel wants more evergreen works and that they are working on ways to produce them.
    Franklin Richards: Son of a Genius was very entertaining. IIRC they would sometimes appear as a comic strip series on the letters pages, back in the days when they still had a regular letters page.

    Fantastic Four: Worlds' Greatest Comic Magazine was a labor of love project of Erick Larsen with Eric Stephenson as co-plotter and Bruce Timm also scripting, pencilling and inking. Writers and artists also included Stan Lee for the concluding issue, Tom DeFalco, Chuck Dixon, Paul Ryan, Michael Golden, Ron Frenz, Jae Lee, Jeph Loeb, Kurt Busiek, Joe Sinnott, Jorge Lucas, Al Milgrom, Steve Rude, John Romita Sr and Jr . I found some issue's transition between artists a bit jarring. All were doing it Jack Kirby style and some were better than others. I skimmed through it this morning and found it to be a fun romp back to the 1960s. I think it only had one TPB printing back in 2011.



  9. #9
    Extraordinary Member Revolutionary_Jack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaptCleghorn View Post
    I'd imagine an "evergreen" work to not depend on continuity. When a reader picks it up, they should not have to know much, if anything, about the characters. In fact, that heavy continuity might very well be a disadvantage in that even if the story is set outside of continuity, it may very well have that "another Spider-Man story" look. Dark Knight Returns was about a future version of Batman and in that brief phrase, it's separated from the thousands of Batman stories out there.
    I am not sure an evergreen work doesn't depend on continuity or pre-existing knowledge.

    The Dark Knight Returns does appeal to some form of pre-existing knowledge of Batman and other superheroes. You have to know that Bruce Wayne is Batman, that Commissioner Gordon is a major supporting character, that there was a Robin called Jason Todd (when the most famous Robin was and is Dick Grayson thanks to the 1966 show). You also need to know a bit about Superman and his '50s reputation as All-American clean cut hero to get the subversion of Superman as Reaganite stooge.

    Likewise, these evergreen stories are if anything far more serialized than mainstream comics are. Neil Gaiman's THE SANDMAN for instance is far more continuity-rigid, exact and coherent in subplots, mainplots, and so on than superhero stories are. It's not like this is some static negative continuity thing.

    In actual fact, during the 1980s, SECRET WARS 1984, an in-continuity Marvel event storyline was far more successful and sold better than The Dark Knight Returns, than Watchmen. CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS also sold more.

    So I don't think continuity is inherently some big barrier that prevents new readers.

    Among Spider-Man stories, I'd argue KRAVEN'S LAST HUNT is an evergreen story.

  10. #10
    see beauty in all things. charliehustle415's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gurkle View Post
    Marvel doesn't have as many evergreens because most of Marvel's material is in-continuity. You'll notice that most of the DC "evergreens" are stories that either take place in their own continuity, or are out-of-continuity stories about familiar characters like "Dark Knight Returns" and "All-Star Superman" and "Kingdom Come. "

    Marvel has for whatever reason never had as many of those self-contained, out-of-continuity stories that are the right length for a trade. Instead its most famous stories are usually part of a larger run and have a lot of subplots running through them that aren't fully resolved. Or they're like "Marvels," which, unlike "Kingdom Come," is in-continuity and takes the POV character through decades of actual Marvel comics stories.

    "Infinity Gauntlet" is a limited series and very popular, but because it's an in-continuity story it's not as satisfying an experience as some of the DC evergreens. It pays off years of previous stories about Thanos and the Marvel characters who appear in it are often tied to a particular status quo of the time, like Vision being white and emotionless. New readers can enjoy them but there's always a sense that there's a part of the story they're not getting.
    You're totally right, however there are some stories out there.

    I mean Ultimate Spidey is every green in my mind that entire run can be read on its own as almost all of it is stand alone. As well as Millar's Wolverine Public Enemy and Old Man Logan.

    Then there is Alias by Bendis as well as his and Brubaker's Daredevil which can be read back to back. Fraction's Iron Fist and Iron Man can be read almost by itself minus the Dark Reign and Fear Itself stuff. I think Superior Spider-Man can be read on it's own but there are some questions for new comers like Pete owning his own company.

    But yeah compared to DC Marvel doesn't have that much.

  11. #11
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    DC lends itself to self-contained stories in a way Marvel does not because of what's baked into each company's historical DNA. DC's structure was always siloed, all the way back to its roots as two different publishers (National and All-American). Marvel came from a common creative core.

    Sure, there's been some Fief-building at Marvel, but the whole environment as a brand has always been bigger than (most of) the individual properties. DC was always more about individual properties. Seven in particular (actually, two plus another five sort of).

  12. #12
    see beauty in all things. charliehustle415's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrNewGod View Post
    DC lends itself to self-contained stories in a way Marvel does not because of what's baked into each company's historical DNA. DC's structure was always siloed, all the way back to its roots as two different publishers (National and All-American). Marvel came from a common creative core.

    Sure, there's been some Fief-building at Marvel, but the whole environment as a brand has always been bigger than (most of) the individual properties. DC was always more about individual properties. Seven in particular (actually, two plus another five sort of).
    Yeah even big names can't keep editorial away for company wide crossovers - I mean JMS's Thor is my all time favorite and it got roped into one.

    Also I suppose House of X is pretty standalone

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    I don't know about House of M. That's a bit debatable only because the history of Wanda and Pietro is so screwed up. First of all there's the issue about just who their parents are. Last I checked, Magneto is no longer considered to be their father but I could be wrong about that. I remember being confused by Wanda's children since I had stopped reading comic books for a number of years. Granted, they're not in HOM that much. but I had never read the mini by Englehart where you see their origin and how they came into being. On a side note, IMO that should have never happened anyway...it was just too bizarre.

  14. #14
    Astonishing Member Panic's Avatar
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    Daredevil: Man Without Fear is self-contained (in part owing to being originally intended as a screenplay), and is highly regarded.

    Wolverine: Weapon X is self-contained and well-regarded.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Panic View Post
    Daredevil: Man Without Fear is self-contained (in part owing to being originally intended as a screenplay), and is highly regarded.

    Wolverine: Weapon X is self-contained and well-regarded.
    I haven't looked at the numbers, but do they continue to sell well? I think the durability of the story's ability to make the sales charts is what the OP was asking about.

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