Why do the Guardians of the Galaxy comic book still struggle to catch on?

Originally published at: Why do the Guardians of the Galaxy comic book still struggle to catch on? | Boing Boing


Honestly? I found my initial dive into it to be tediously difficult to follow. Starting at one of the #1 compilations, I had no idea what was happening, who was doing anything, or why. There was so much action, but I couldn’t care about it.

… people still buy “comic books” :confused:

I think you explained it pretty well - it’s the difference between print medium and the movies. Print requires you to tell everything whereas you can show in movies. Even with the “recent” change in comic book storytelling where they show more, the Guardians books (even the original, which I absolutely loved) have a lot of talking. The most recent arc ended with Peter being some sort of space sun god which was another mountain of exposition.

The Guardian books have always been niche. Heck, Iron Man was pretty niche before the movies made him huge. He was C tier with Spider-Man and Wolverine being the main players, and the Fantastic Four selling far more than Avengers or X-Men.

Have you read any of the numerous Christmas comics that are released each year? They’re generally ok, sometimes one might make you smile a bit. Now contrast that with the Guardians Christmas Special, any of the Doctor Who Christmas episodes, or even the infamous Star Wars Christmas special. Would you rather watch one of those or read one of the comics? Sometimes a given medium just works better for a certain topic, and the smart-ass, meme-heavy, awkward Guardians of the MCU are a better product than their Earth-616 counterparts.

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Apparently so.


That’s an interesting angle on it. All the other Marvel heroes are chock full of confusing continuity, but they’re largely easier to simplify at the start of a new run. They have clear types and desires. Whereas, even if you streamline the Guardians, there’s still a lot of “Who are you and why?”

(I’d argue that the Abnett/Lanning original modern Guardians run did the best job of presenting them each as clearly defined clean slates that made me want to learn more of their backstories anyway)

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… unfortunately I believe both continuities refer to themselves as “Earth 616” :disappointed:

Over 90% of all US comic sales belong to Comichron and Diamond Comics.

Well, that’s confusing. Comichron isn’t a distributor. It’s John Jackon Miller’s direct market analysis site. It’s been going since 1996. Anyway, ICv2 and he have not yet published an industry report for 2022, probably because Diamond stopped publishing monthly sales reports last year.

I enjoyed the GotG Christmas Special until “Christmastime” played. I don’t have to care about song royalties with comics.

The MCU goes in a different box for the people who care about continuity tracking.

When I was last buying comics, I encountered the Guardians of the Galaxy due to some comics leading up to the 2018 Infinity Wars crossover event. Chris Sims and Chad Bowers wrote some Darkhawk comics, and somewhere in Infinity Countdown Drax was guarding the power gem stone, which after the 2015 Secret Wars crossover event was now the size of a building. Despite being intended to get people to check out other characters, I didn’t feel compelled. It would have been just after Jason Aaron and Russel Dauterman’s Mighty Thor was filling that niche very well.

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Modern comic readers are stuck in their ways and only read the titles they have followed for years. People don’t want to read new stuff.

For potential new readers, Marvel and DC monthly issues are too expensive for what they provide content-wise. Why not just buy the cheaper-per-page and easier to sort through manga? I remember a few people on social media sharing what the Comic Book section of their local bookstore looks like compared to the manga section and there is no competition. It is so easy to see Kimetsu no Yaiba and that huge 1 on the spine and know that is the first issue. Marvel would rather flood their book spine with last names of contributors who only mean something to experienced comic readers and make the volume numbers more difficult to follow.

Finally… Modern Marvel and DC comics are aesthetically bland and cluttered. I am not going to look at the page you shared and think, I’m about to have an incredible experience reading it.

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I had never heard of the Guardians of the Galaxy when the first film was announced. I picked up a few issues of the original series, and the newer one, just so I’d be familiar with them before the movie, and I don’t think that really helped anything. I was extremely skeptical going to the theater to see that first movie for the first time. A sentient tree? A talking raccoon? I was thinking, this is the goofy end of comic books and I don’t know how this is going to work, and even if it does, I don’t think audiences are going to buy this. And then I proceeded to have one of the most fun movie-going experiences I have ever had. The movie was just non-stop fun and I loved it. The 2nd one was good, but not like that. I saw the 3rd one yesterday, and while there were a lot more dark moments, I experienced that same level of fun I did with the first. Also, the fire alarms in the theater went off with about a half hour left in the movie and no one moved for like 2 minutes because we all thought it was part of the movie! Thankfully it was just a burned batch of popcorn and not a real fire, but I got to use the emergency exit in a movie theater for the first time, so that happened.


I don’t disss comics or anything, but there’s thousands of comics out there, and now hundreds of hours of TV, movies and video games that are all part of the MCU. Maybe most people don’t want to fill ALL their free time with Marvel.

Because nobody shops in comic shops, and Marvel only makes comics to keep the IP active for their next TV or Movie production. Instead of riding the publicity from these hugely successful movies and making comics available everywhere, the major comics companies and their corporate owners continue to pretend that specialty shops are their bread and butter.

Who’s the top-selling superhero these days? Dog-Man. Why? Because they have a publisher who has spent decades putting engaging books in the hands of kids, who has done the work needed to keep books in the bookstores (remember bookstores? Even they have more action than a comics shop). They are doing well even as the ‘serious’ book market limps along,.

Comic Book publishers are wedded to a direct market that hasn’t sold a million copies of a book since the X-Men re launch in the 90s. It’s a chore to buy from a comic shop – shop owners don’t make enough money off the monthlies, they are fragile as heck, and non-returnable to the distributor except under special circumstances. Because the books don’t have a high margin, the stores are stuffed full of collectible card games, dice, action figures, and lucrative graphic novel collections. That means there’s not much space for regular titles, and so Guardians of The Galaxy will be under-ordered, if they order it at all. If you want to ensure you get a copy of the book, the onus is on the customer to pre-order 3 months in advance, provided the shop allows it. So, onetime regular customers just wait for the graphic novel to come out, further reducing sales on the monthly title, and reducing chances that the book will make the cut for a graphic novel.

So, you can’t get the latest thing, you can’t catch up on old issues, and the shop owners would rather sell you a Rocket Raccoon action figure than a Guardians book.

And if you think that Marvel has dropped the ball, wait until you hear what parent company Disney has done with Mickey Mouse, licensing their comics to third parties, mostly in other countries. There hasn’t been a regular Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck title published in the US for decades. Partly because comics shops have aged up with their clientele, and have no on-ramp for younger readers.

It’s going to be a rough hole for the industry to get out of, meanwhile they continue to dig deeper for variant covers and other “collectibles”, ceding the digital market to Amazon, and just basically not understanding that they’ve painted themselves in a corner. That 12" resin Red Sonja figure is just going to look dumb on my retirement home nightstand.

I basically agree. Dav Pikley (Dog Man, Captain Underpants) and Raina Telgemeier (Smile, Ghosts, Guts, etc.) are two of the most popular comic book artists in the US and because people pay too close attention to Marvel and DC, they are often ignore in actual discussions about comic books.

I’m sure they are crying on their piles and piles of money, though.

I remember learning about Telgemeier from Boing Boing while living overseas. When I returned to the US I saw the independent bookstore by my house was having a signing of her second book, Drama, was coming out, I thought… I’ll support a struggling artist and get a book for myself and my niece and future kids. The signing line was incredibly long and took hours to get through. When the same store would have Marvel or DC people, the line would be like 10-15 minutes because people don’t care as much about the day-to-day caped hero guys as they used to.

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