Marvel Comics has decided to axe several comic book titles, including The Unbelievable Gwenpool and Luke Cage, effective early 2018. The wave of cancellations comes as a result of poor sales, and could also be connected to the company's recent push to get back to basics by returning the focus to their core characters.
The purpose behind the Marvel Legacy relaunch earlier this year was to return many of the company's flagship characters to the status quo, while also continuing to develop some of their newer, younger heroes, like Ms. Marvel (Kamala Khan) and Spider-Man (Miles Morales). Due to the relaunch, fans have seen Steve Rogers back to his old self, the resurrections of Wolverine and Jean Grey, and all the Avengers series united under a single title.
Yesterday, it was announced that Hawkeye, Iceman, Generation X and The Unbelievable Gwenpool would be cancelled early next year. Today, Luke Cage was added to the growing list of cancelled titles. Luke Cage writer David F. Walker took to Twitter to explain the reasons for the book's cancellation. Walker admits that Luke Cage sold "VERY poorly" due to "various factors."
Time to get real...LUKE CAGE was cancelled because it sold poorly. VERY poorly. There are various factors that contributed to those poor sales, but they all add up to the same conclusion.— David F. Walker (@DavidWalker1201) December 20, 2017
The success of superheroes in film, television and video games ONLY carries over to comics when people actually buy the comics. Truth is not many people buy comics. Of the top 10 best selling comics in November, only four sold more than 100,000 units. That's sad.— David F. Walker (@DavidWalker1201) December 20, 2017
There is no bloodbath of cancellations. Some books end so new ones can take their place. That's just the cycle.— Matthew Rosenberg (@AshcanPress) December 20, 2017
Fans were concerned that Mighty Captain Marvel, Secret Warriors, and Defenders would be next, since all three titles are missing from Marvel's March 2018 solicits. However, Mighty Captain Marvel writer Margeret Stohl confirmed on Twitter that the series isn't going anywhere. This still leaves the future of Defenders and Secret Warriors up in the air.
Also on the list of cancelled titles is Guardians of the Galaxy, which is ending after issue #150 in order to accommodate Marvel's plans for Infinity Countdown. Jean Grey is set to come to a close as well. While fans are speculating about what this means for Marvel's current slate, Phoenix Resurrection and Tales of Suspense writer Matthew Rosenberg downplayed the importance of the cancellations. Rosenberg said on Twitter that there is no "bloodbath of cancellations", and that comics being cancelled to make room for new ones is "just the cycle."
Apart from Luke Cage, some of these cancellations may not come as much of a surprise. As pointed out by Iceman writer Sina Grace, solo X-Men titles are generally hard to sell, which explains why Iceman and Jean Grey weren't able to last long. As for Hawkeye, it could be that the title suffered with Kate Bishop as the lead character, instead of Clint Barton, the original Hawkeye.
With Luke Cage over, fans will have to wait and see if Marvel keeps Defenders, as it could be the only remaining series to regularly feature the fan-favorite character.