Okay, so it's one thing to overhype your stuff to the tried and true fans; by this point, we should expect every issue of every comic that rolls off the Marvel assembly lines to fundamentally change our lives and bring peace to the Middle East. No, let's not get into whether or not the issues actually deliver, let's stick with where our expectations should be. Marvel should make it sound like every character will be the axis of their universe because somewhere, out there, that character is to that loyal fan. All their books should crack the internet in half and cause a mad rush to the stores to but every copy and then some. We're fans. We already love your product. Marvel's job is to make us love them more.
The common media needs to be reminded that comics still exist and that they're pretty nifty and cheap entertainment. Honestly, that's it.
Anything more is either going to get confusing and be a waste of time, yours and theirs. I remember watching Joe Quesada on the Colbert Report when Secret Invasion was coming out and asking myself, "Why is he finishing a rather fantastic interview having to explain what Skrulls are?" Seriously, watch 'till about the 4min mark and then imagine the viewer's brain just start translating Quesada's voice into a Charlie Brown schoolteacher. Not even the easy visual gag of seeing Obama or McCain morph into Skrull heads doesn't save the obvious and uninteresting plug. It starts out great, don't get me wrong: using Colbert to tell people who the new Cap was going to be and when the issue came out made it easy to understand and relatable. Telling him that he was still in the Presidential running in the Marvel Universe had the right effect: I remember people coming into the shop to ask if that was true and to pick up at least a Spidey issue to check it out. None of those guys asked for Secret Invasion.
So when Marvel promised 'Civil War-like' promotion of Captain America #600, some of us were already sitting down. Mind you, it could have been mind-blowing: new Cap could have shook hands with President Obama and indeed, the internet might have cracked, just a little. No advance idea of what the book was going to be about or why we should start hyperventilating now, retailers were once again caught with the Lady or the Tiger. Order a bunch and be left with stacks of comics that don't move or order too few and miss that frensied fevor when it turns out to be something huge. We make the orders, hold our breath and...
... wait, that's it? Steve Rogers' return is 'Civil War like'? NO! It's the first thing we all thought and I mean all, fans and non-fans. Yeah, the rubes fell for Superman's death, but fool me once, shame on you. Everyone and their mom knew Rogers was coming back, it's a freakin' comic book trope! You've got to be kidding me that this is what all of that was for! Not only that, it's promotion for the start of a story. Not the result. Not the first appearance. The beginning of a comitment to read this sucker until you get the payoff you expected before the issue came out.
Don't get me wrong, Ed Brubaker has been writing the most consistantly amazing Captain America stories I have ever read. The sun will rise and set and Captain America will entertain and delight you, even if it's just Bucky having a birthday. When I got a chance to breathe the same air as Mr. Brubaker last February at WonderCon, he was as giddy as a schoolgirl when he mentioned that July was going to be huge for Cap. A schoolgirl, people. Don't try and get the image of Ed Brubaker in pigtails out of your head, just know that I'm deadly serious about trusting him with this very obvious story.
But that's me. I'm a fan. I'm already sold and this is just trying to be the cherry on top of my awesome Cap sundae. For the average man on the street, hearing that the start of a story will be coming out on a Monday ("You mean they still make comics?") bringing back a character from the dead becomes a joke on NPR.
Lemme show you how it's done: this Saturday, June 20th, at 10am, I am returning from the dead.
I'm serious. Go to Metro Entertainment this Saturday and see Yours Truly sell you a goddamned comic again because I've finally got the Doctor's OK to go back to work.
That, my friends, is a payoff.