With DC Comics' New 52 having launched recently, Marvel needed to up their game somehow with numbers lower than DC. Clearly there's a problem if Aquaman is beating X-books. Aquaman. Having just had Schism in X-books, it was a surprise that Marvel would do this. But it was transitioned so well, that the typical X-reader somewhat forgets that Schism was only a year ago. Now X-Men and Avengers are united, despite some bruises still showing from AvX. Marvel's NOW! initiative will turn out better in the long run. It may not be as accessible as New 52, where DC characters are re-imagined, much like Marvel's Ultimate Universe; but Marvel NOW! is certainly a jumping on point, where characters in continuity are introduced to new readers and slowly developed even more while touching on a character's history throughout. They're allowing writers and artists to flourish in their team ups, and encouraging them to stay on as a team for the long run, unlike the New 52. In addition, they're avoiding events at the editorial level. If writers want to do an event in a natural progression, then it'll be fully supported. That's the Marvel plan with NOW! concerning the creator approach.
But concerning the marketing aspect, physical issues are being sold with free digital copy codes. This is so far working quite well, especially given that one could easily carry a comic anywhere if they have an iPad or e-reader. An initiative will eventually launch with smart phones and customers can take a photo of the cover, and with the program, a prospective reader can read about the issue and the book. Marvel is certainly adapting to new technology, especially with an increasing presence on twitter. Covers are also changing. Gone are the cluttered group shots of people flying towards the reader, even if the character can't fly. Covers are now designed to look like movie posters, and so far, they're incredible. The majority are clean, crisp, and cinematic. The Hawkeye covers are incredible in their minimalism, and the interior is just as great.
Marvel NOW! is also an opportunity for Marvel to launch female-led books, something which has been lacking recently with their company. X-books have typically been female-friendly, but the past few years got away from that. Marvel NOW! is making Storm front and center in the X-books, with Psylocke and Pixie close behind. A Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers) solo just launched, Red She-Hulk is continuing, Journey into Mystery is turning into a Sif solo, another unannounced female solo is pending, and an all-female Fearless Defenders is launching. Not only are female characters being highlighted and brought to the forefront, but female creators are as well. Kelly Sue DeConnick, Marjorie Liu, and Kathryn Immonen are wonderful writers being given a chance to showcase their talents at one of the big two. Characters are getting new costumes, and characters previously underused are in starring roles. It's risky, but it's fresh and exciting, especially for those who've been pushing for female-driven books that weren't half-assed or put out just so a company couldn't say they weren't sexist. X-Men, written by Brian Wood; Uncanny X-Men, written by Kieron Gillen; Uncanny X-Force, written by Rick Remender; and Ultimate X-Men, written by Brian Wood have female characters written like...get this...CHARACTERS! It's been a joy to read these books, and unfortunately three of the four are ending. Luckily Uncanny X-Force is relaunching as a predominantly female book, and X-Men just may be relaunched by Brian Wood with Pixie as a main character.
Already, DC fans are coming to try Marvel books. The hype is working in part due to marketing, but also because creators and editorial are truly caring about the books more than they seemingly have been. The books launched already are stellar, and sales have shown success. Hopefully the success won't fade and Marvel NOW! reinvigorates superhero comics.