Marvel Still Won't Be Releasing Any New Comic Books Next Week

Marvel logo.
Marvel logo.
Image: Marvel

For the fifth week in a row, the presses of Marvel Comics, in both physical and digital, will remain silent.

As reported by Newsarama, Marvel has confirmed that next week Marvel will not be releasing any new comics on any platform or via any distribution method. On the one hand, this isn’t super surprising. The advent of the novel coronavirus ground the direct comic book market to an absolute halt, with physical shopping at local comic book stores now a safety hazard. Diamond Comics, the primary distribution channel for the direct market, has been shut down for the entirety of Marvel’s hiatus, and isn’t looking to open up again until May, which is, frankly, a rather optimistic plan considering the path the pandemic seems to be taking.

But it’s also somewhat surprising that Marvel has yet to leverage any new approach to releasing comics in the face of its primary competitor, DC, doing just that. Recently, DC has announced it will be using two new direct distribution companies, Lunar and UCS, to send out new books to the local stores still open. DC has also been relying on digital comics during this time to keep something new hitting the market.


It’s a legitimate bind that Marvel is in; a lot of consumers still aren’t on board with digital comics, and with, until recently, only one distributor in charge of the entire LCS marketplace, it likely doesn’t seem all that advantageous to seek alternate distribution methods that might affect the company’s relationship with Diamond. But as publishers like Marvel continue to halt publication even through digital channels, it’s creators, who often work as freelancers and get paid only when work is being actively commissioned, who suffer the most.

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io9 Weekend Editor. Videogame writer at other places. Queer nerd girl.

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The problem with switching to digital comics is that you need content first. If you aren’t already making a digital-first comic (like DC was doing with Batman: The Adventure Continues), then all you can do is publish stuff that you already had published (like DC is doing with their Wal-Mart only books — those are the digital comics they are publishing). You can’t digitally publish stuff that is waiting to be put out in stores, because 1) physical copies still sell a lot more than digital ones and 2) this would hurt any sales later on when the printed copies do come out.

So your options are: try to make a digital-first comic (which will take time) or try to ship comics using a different distribution company (which could be potentially disastrous, considering the outbreak, the lack of such distribution companies other than Diamond, and the fact that even the comic book stores that are open are getting vastly reduced business). DC, luckily, was already doing the former and is attempting to do the latter. Marvel, as far as I know, didn’t have any digital-first comics going on anymore (although they had some a few years ago with Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, Luke Cage, and Cloak and Dagger) and probably doesn’t want to risk sending out any new comics to comic book stores, especially since they were just about to enter into Empyre, their big event comic. Event comics make money, but not if they take place in the middle of a pandemic where people aren’t going to their local comic shop.

We’ll see if Marvel will announce any new digital-first books in the upcoming weeks, but DC will probably be reviving one, Batman: Black and White, and, hopefully, putting any creators that stopped working on other books on that one.