"Guardians of the Galaxy" holds strong in second week & Rocket rules the comic shelves!
After a historic debut weekend for an August film, James Gunn's "Guardians of the Galaxy" from Marvel Studios was unable to overcome the big green dudes from the Michael Bay produced "Ninja Turtles" to remain in first place for a second weekend in a row. However, it still raked in $42.1 million in its' second weekend - a drop of only 55% which makes it the best second week earning by any film in 2014 so far. As Box Office Mojo notes, this second week drop is roughly the same as the second week takes of April's "Captain America: the Winter Soldier" and 2013's "Thor: the Dark World" - both more expensive sequels to already established superhero films. Within ten days, "Guardians of the Galaxy" has raked in $176.5 million in North America, which already has made it the top film of the year so far. It also added just over $40 million overseas for a ten day worldwide haul of $313.5 million. Having quickly become a critical darling and a pop culture (and merchandising) dynamo, this quirky space team has quickly become one of Marvel Studios' most unexpected hits.
In addition, Marvel Comics has accomplished the surprisingly rare feat of translating hype for a film into sales for their comic books. July's sales estimates are in and "Rocket Raccoon #1" by Scottie Young sold nearly 294,000 copies to dominate the top 100 list and lead the direct market to its' biggest month since 1997. It spearheaded over $53 million generated in comic book and trade paperback sales for direct market retails, topping the previous high from October 2013. This is a tremendous achievement for Young as well, as until now he'd toiled for years on low selling "Oz" adaptations for kids. This strong July turned a flat year into a profitable one for the industry. For the record, the relaunch of "Spider-Man 2099 #1" also sold extremely well, debuting at the bottom of the top 5 with over 90,000 copies sold. The general "Guardians of the Galaxy" comic is a sold top 20 seller, outselling far more "well known" comics such as a slew of Batman, Superman, Wolverine, and various X-titles. In addition, three "Guardians of the Galaxy" related trade collections were among the top 20 graphic novel sellers for the month.
"Weapon X Program" to rise in the ashes of "Death of Wolverine"!
Marvel Comics plans to ax off Wolverine this September. If you haven't heard, that is strange as they've been screaming about it since at least April, with more details about the aftermath arising as the months have went on. It should be a cautious sign when not even the poster child for 1990's popularity can currently sustain steady sales for longer than a year without desperate stunts or relaunches anymore, but it is a lesson completely lost, or ignored, by editors. At any rate, in addition to "mourning" crossover tie ins and a "Logan Legacy" mini series, writer Charles Soule and artist Steve McNiven will kick off a five issue mini series in November called "Death of Wolverine: the Weapon X Program" which serves as "a direct sequel" to the "death". The premise is that in the aftermath of Weapon X's most well known creation, five recent "experiments" flee from a compound and now have the world after them. One of them, Junk, is able to gain animal-like abilities at will. The series is considered a darker version of "Runaways". Naturally, spin offs of the Weapon X project are nothing new; Deadpool is perhaps the most well known and successful. If this seems like a darker version of DC Comics' "Reign of the Supermen", note that "big two" comics are much like professional wrestling; the only new ideas are recycled old ideas.
Meanwhile, Lenil Yu's variant cover for the 48 page "Death of Wolverine" has been revealed. It will cost five dollars and likely have enough variant covers to circle Jupiter at least once. Marvel marketing for you! The most overexposed character in Marvel Comics history has to get a send off which will put "Death of Superman" promotion to shame.
New Rick Remender series to launch from "AXIS"!
It is little surprise anymore that Marvel Comics uses crossover events to justify the launch of new comics; in fact, it is expected. Thus it is little surprise that in the build up for the next crossover event, "Avengers & X-Men: Axis", it was announced that the aftermath from it would spawn a new ongoing series by writer Rick Remender with possible involvement by Jerome Opena. Details were scarce but he promised that it would involve one of the villains from "Axis".
"Axis" spins out of events from "Uncanny Avengers" as well as has ties to everything Rick Remender has written for Marvel for years (such as "Captain America", "Uncanny X-Force", and "Secret Avengers"). It will see the Avengers and the X-Men, who often fight each other more than anyone else, be forced to team up to battle a child's action figure collection's worth of villains such as Red Skull (in Onslaught's armor), Dr. Doom, Hobgoblin, Sabretooth, Loki, and Carnage. It will be the fall crossover event to flank the summer crossover event, "Original Sin" (which is selling modestly).