Saturday 19 October 2013

The cancellation of The Fearless Defenders is a sad loss to the comics world

Art by Skottie Young/Marvel

Yesterday news came out that writer Cullen Bunn had announced that The Fearless Defenders will end in December with #12. Fearless is known for being one of the few mainstream books fronted by an all-female cast, which was a refreshing change from the tokenism of the past. Not only that, but it was a genuinely heartfelt, funny and exciting comic - not to mention having some of the greatest covers on the shelves, courtesy of Mark Brooks.

Unfortunately, the numbers don't lie. Since its debut in February of this year, Fearless has seen a steep decline in sales, going from 53,688 with the first issue and reaching an all time low in September of just 15,840. While it was doing better than some books from other publishers, it wasn't able to pull its weight in the Marvel NOW! initiative, despite the fantastic creative team of Bunn and Will Sliney.

That's not to say that it's the perfect book, but the premise of Valkyrie rounding up her own group of shield maidens to fight against the Doom Maidens is a strong one. There were some great comedy moments, action pieces and characters, even if some of the art exposition could be rocky at times. But Fearless certainly never deserved such low numbers, especially when you have a lot of dreck that's been hanging on for many, many years (looking at some of the New 52 there).

So what caused the severe dip in sales? Was in the prospect of a team of women with no sign of a Y chromosome in sight? But then you have the most recent volume of X-Men which is also all female and the first issue topped the charts with 170,000+ sales. On the other hand, that probably tells you more about the selling power of the X-Men as a brand than whether people are so bothered about a cast of ladies.

Not too long ago Marvel posted up the cover of Fearless Defenders #10 on Google Plus, a cover that was met with derisive comments about how the heroes are portrayed in typical street dance/hip hop attire (complete with giant clock). Maybe the problem is that people just don't know how to take the book with its wild covers and concepts. It seems that people may not have been ready to give it a chance, opting for more serious fare (although serious is relative when it comes to comics).

Whatever the reason, the loss of Fearless Defenders will leave a hole in the market for a fun, progressive and entertaining comic.

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