An exchange between direct market retailers and Marvel Comics editors became heated in the closing minutes of Marvel’s Retailer-Only panel at New York Comic Con 2017, starting after a unidentified retailer expressed concern about Marvel’s lenticular variants not selling well in his store.
Marvel executive editors Tom Brevoort and Nick Lowe fielded the question, thanking the obviously upset retailer for his feedback. However, the retailer cut Lowe short to express his distaste for Marvel’s recent trend of replacing or altering its existing characters.
The retailer speficially cited examples such as characters that don’t reflect the ethnicity, gender, or sexuality of their predecessors – specifically expressing his distaste for Iceman “kissing other men,” and Thor “becoming a woman.” The retailer’s complaints sparked an outcry among the other retailers present in the room, some echoing his frustration, with multiple attendees raising their voices to speak over each other.
The original speaker called for “creating new characters and not messing with the old guys. The old guys are solid,” while a second said that Marvel has “never replaced its characters like this.”
Lowe pointed out that the changing nature of the identities of characters was engrained in Marvel’s history, pointing out examples from James Rhodes to Frog Thor. The retailer responded that Marvel has “never replaced them all at once before,” going on to say that he has had Marvel Cinematic Universe fans come into his store to find Avengers comic books only to leave “when they see that Thor is a woman and Captain America is a black man.”
Lowe reiterated that Marvel is bringing many of its recently-absent characters including Steve Rogers back to the forefront in its “Legacy” initiative, and that Marvel would continue to focus on creating characters and stories that reflect “the world outside your window,” a longtime Marvel adage. He also stated that Marvel will continue to publish characters that fans of all backgrounds can connect to, before closing the panel at the planned time.
This seemed to do little to calm down the increasingly heated retailers, who congregated around Marvel Senior Vice President of Marketing David Gabriel in the hall outside the panel, continuing to vociferously express their frustration and anger over these issues.