|The infamous Cameron Stewart cover to "Marvel Adventures: Avengers" #9|
Writer Fred Van Lente, whose "Marvel Adventures: Spider-Man" storyline retells the "black costume" story as four stand-alone issues, stated that multiple-issue arcs are off limits in the MA books, so as to make sure new readers can jump in at any time. "You can't expect anyone who's buying this comic randomly at a Wal-Mart will know this, because this could be their first comic," Van Lente said. "You can't explain who Alicia Masters is...you've got to treat everybody like, literally, this is their first comic."
|"Marvel Adventures: Avengers" #9, page 1|
Van Lente believes the enforced Marvel Adventures structure is actually conducive to his style of writing. "My stories tend to be very dense anyway. I'm definitely more used to...I wouldn't call it 'condensing,' but being efficient. I love things like 'Curb Your Enthusiasm,' where it's 25 minutes, but it's very dense."
The writer also explained why the restrictions of the MA books have forced him to be "more creative," something Van Lente hopes to demonstrate in his upcoming run on "Marvel Adventures: Fantastic Four."
"We have [the FF] going back in time to ancient Egypt," Van Lente said. "We have them solving a mystery on an Atlantean station the Sub-Mariner has built to have better relations with the surface world. We have the Skrulls trying to take out Reed and Sue while they're on a date that's already going particularly badly. We can do all sorts of crazy things and different things [in single-issue stories] that we haven't seen a million times [before]."
|"Marvel Adventures: Avengers" #9, page 2|
Current "MA: FF" writer Zeb Wells agreed. "You can't cover up weak plots with subplots or plots from other books. You really have to put a lot of work on that one simple A-plot and make sure it holds together in a one-issue context."
|"Marvel Adventures: Avengers" #9, page 3|
The "MA: Avengers" team, featuring an eclectic mix of old, new and some X-Men characters, is the result of an attempt to create a broad fan base for the book. "The lineup for the Avengers was geared mainly towards characters that would be recognizable to non comics readers," Parker explained. "I thought Storm was a natural since the X-movies had her, and of course Spider-Man and Hulk were familiar. It was just kind of assumed that Captain America and Iron Man would be in for it to feel more like the Avengers. Wolverine I groused about, but I couldn't argue that he wasn't a good candidate for those reasons."
|"Marvel Adventures: Avengers" #9, page 4|
"A big part of that is that she works well as a correspondent to Spider-Man, in that she can joke more easily than other characters. Her costume is really just Giant-Man's old one, and I'm not crazy about it. Hence the antennae when she doesn't actually control ants. If I get my way, we're going to change it some in issue 13, 'Attack of the 50 Foot Girl.' Since readers keep wanting to know what her background is, we're finally going to do a story focusing on that."
|"Marvel Adventures: Avengers" #9, page 5|
Superhero comics' consumer base has been the subject of much discussion over the last few years. In 2004, Pulitizer Prize winning novelist and comic book writer Michael Chabon gave a keynote address at the Eisner Awards ceremony in which he stated that "children have not abandoned comic books - comic books have abandoned children."
|"Marvel Adventures: Avengers" #9, page 6|
Parker added, "In the Direct Market, I think it's mostly older readers who like sheer, visceral fun stories with their childhood favorites. In the 'real world' of Target, Walmart, 7-11 and so on, it's younger readers [who want the same thing]. Now we gotta get those middle folk. Look at "Captain Underpants" - younger-targeted than what we do, and it sells huge. What we need is a modern Harvey Comics or Fawcett that caters to very little kids. There are plenty of creators out there who want to produce that kind of material and can do it well, but some clever publisher will have to bring them together."
Zeb Wells feels that Chabon's statement doesn't address the entire issue. "I think it's definitely a more complex issue than just 'the market moved away,'" Wells said. "Markets are organic, and they provide for what's selling the best. I know the Marvel Adventures line isn't a top seller in the direct market, but I think it has a lot more to do with the fact that there's more for kids to do... such as movies or video games. I don't know who to blame for the loss of our readership, but I think there's still a place for all ages, definitely.
|"Marvel Adventures: Avengers" #9, page 7|
Marvel Adventures editor Mark Paniccia feels that the books are reaching a "wide variety of consumers," both kid and adult alike. "They're placed with other All-Ages material, but also available in the Direct Market—that's where we're getting the love from the older fan," Paniccia said. Producing the books for channels such as Wal-Mart and Target means they are on an even tighter publishing schedule than Marvel's other books. "These books are on a strict publishing schedule since they serve so many different distribution channels, and Assistant Editor Nathan Cosby helps me keep those trains running on time. Shipping these books late is not an option, and both of us are committed—along with the creative teams we're lucky to have—to making these the best books they can possibly be."
|"Marvel Adventures: Avengers" #9, page 8|
It would appear that there are many such e-mails pouring into Marvel, as the Marvel Adventure line will continue into the future with a top-secret fourth book written by Fred Van Lente premiering in 2007. "Keep your eyes peeled for Free Comic Book Day, 'cause that's when you'll get your taste for the new MA series!" Van Lente teased, offering one hint. "When you hear what it is, you'll go, 'oooh, okay. That makes sense."
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