X-Men Jed MacKay

Hit or Miss: The New Jed MacKay X-Men Comic

Marvel Comics unveiled their rebooted X-Men franchise comics on March 14, 2024. It appears that Marvel Comics is going to be doing what they always do and flood the market with a ridiculous amount of X-Men franchise titles. This will include three “main” X-Men team titles. These three titles will be supported by three additional team titles in X-Factor, X-Force, and NYX. There will also be three solo titles Wolverine, Storm, and Phoenix. This brings the total number of X-Men franchise titles to a whopping nine titles.

Given that Tom Brevoort is in charge my expectations were low. It is a good thing I took that approach as the three main titles that Marvel Comics rolled out were largely unimpressive. Of the three main titles, it appears that X-Men will be the flagship title. I say that because X-Men easily got the best creative team in Jed MacKay and Ryan Stegman. The second main title is Uncanny X-Men by Gail Simone and David Marquez. The third main title is Exceptional X-Men by Eve Ewing and Carmen Carnero. These titles and the teaser information about them did little to elicit much interest. In fact, they did not elicit much of a reaction either positive or negative from me. I was more bored and apathetic.

Evidently, I was not the only potential customer who was bored by this unveiling. Tom Brevoort posted the following on Twitter/X after the big reveal of the X-Men relaunch.

Brevoort Twitter X-Men

This was a rather sad and telling post by Brevoort. The fact that he admits that not many people are talking about Marvel Comics’ X-Men trailer and then posting it again is just a pathetic sign of where Marvel Comics is these days with the X-Men franchise. The Marvel Comics YouTube channel has 20.4 million subscribers. Yet, at the time of writing this article, the X-Men trailer only has 173,000 views. Even more discouraging is that the trailer only has 7.4K likes and 3.7K dislikes. All of these numbers show a relative lack of engagement over the six days this trailer has been on YouTube.

These numbers show that readers appear to be bored by this new X-Men relaunch. Marvel Comics desires either a strong positive reaction to their news or a strong negative reaction. Both drive attention to their product. Both drive eyeballs to their comics. However, the death of any consumer product is when there is no large positive or negative reaction from the consumer. Instead, there is mostly apathy from the consumer. Apathy is a sign of consumer disinterest and disengagement and that is when sales fall. The numbers associated with the X-Men trailer indicate that there is a large percentage of the consumer base that is simply not interested at all.

This is what Tom Brevoort had to say about this refresh of the entire X-Men franchise.

“The X-Men are fractured in the aftermath of the end of Krakoa, scattered across the globe without a central base of operation. What that means in practice is that all three titles carrying the name X-Men are core X-Men series—they all center around one of the major aspects of what the team has been about at different points. This is very much by design. We want to field a wide assortment of X-titles with different styles and tones and approaches, an X-Men book for virtually any taste.”

That quote would concern me if I was a Marvel Comics executive interested in making money. Brevoort ends his quote by stating that they will have a wide assortment of X-Men books for virtually any taste. This leads me to one of the eternal laws of marketing that if you try to make a product that appeals to everyone, it will end up appealing to no one. The X-Men is a mainstream superhero franchise and Marvel Comics should be trying to maximize their potential by targeting their primary audience first and then making it as broad as possible to be as appealing to the mainstream audience as possible.

At any rate, in this article, we will examine the new X-Men title first and try to predict whether Marvel Comics will have a big hit on its hands or not. This will be the first title to debut from this new X-Men franchise relaunch. X-Men #1 ships on July 1, 2024.

The creative team for X-Men is Jed MacKay and Ryan Stegman. This series features Cyclops leading a team of heavy hitters from a remote base in Alaska. Marvel teases that the team is “battling for the destiny and philosophy of the mutant species.” Jed MacKay said, “It’s not just those three titles in this relaunch, there’s a lot! [My X-Men title] is where we’ll see the first inklings of what the X-Men will look like in 2024. I’m very excited for you guys to see it when it comes out. If you look at that line-up, they’re a group of people who are not well suited to integrating into the world. And in these books, we’ll see what that means and what it looks like going forward.”

Rokk’s Excitement Level: 6 Night Girls out of 10. The creative team of Jed MacKay and Ryan Stegman is by far the strongest creative team of the new main X-Men titles. No doubt about it. Ryan Stegman is a fantastic artist. I have absolute confidence that X-Men is going to be an excellent-looking comic book every month.

Jed MacKay is a solid writer and is a smart choice to write one of the three main X-Men titles. MacKay is always in the running for the Joshua Williamson Award every month for his accomplishments in the Top 50 of the single-issue comic book sales rankings. MacKay has a misfire now and then but is normally a reliable writer who cranks out dependable reads. Of all the writers left in Marvel Comics’ increasingly bare cupboard, MacKay is their biggest name writer and the most successful one remaining outside of Jonathan Hickman.

While I am fine with the creative team for X-Men, what dampens my excitement for this new title is the roster. The roster for X-Men is Cyclops, Magneto, Beast, Psylocke, Kid Omega, Temper (formerly known as Oya), Magik, and Juggernaut. Cyclops is fantastic and has always been one of my favorite X-Men. So, I like the selection of him as the leader of this team. I also love Beast so I am glad to see him on this team. I am neutral on Magik. I used to adore Psylocke’s character before Marvel Comics began to unnecessarily mess with this character’s continuity. I have zero interest in Kid Omega and Temper.

That leaves Magneto and Juggernaut. I adore both characters. They are fantastic classic X-Men villains. And that leads me to my biggest problem with these two characters being on this team. I know Marvel Comics made the editorial decision a long time ago that classic X-Men villains are now going to be heroes and fighting alongside our classic X-Men heroes. I never really liked this decision in the first place. And after all of this time, I am burned out on classic X-Men villains being heroes. Magneto and Juggernaut are amazing characters and I wish Marvel Comics would allow them to be classic villains once again.

So, the roster for this title is what brings my excitement level for X-Men down to a 6 Night Girls out of 10 despite the strong creative team attached to this title.

Rokk’s Prediction: We all know that the X-Men main title is normally a sales beast. So, when trying to gauge the success of this new X-Men comic it is first necessary to examine the sales history of Jed MacKay. MacKay has handled four franchises for Marvel Comics: Black Cat, Doctor Strange, Moon Knight, and the Avengers.

First, let’s look at the Black Cat franchise.

Black Cat #1 debuted in June 2019, scored the number 1 spot, and sold 255,709 units. Black Cat #2 fell to the number 10 spot and sold 83,298 units. Black Cat #12 concluded the title at the number 79 spot. Black Cat #2-12 averaged the number 63 spot in the rankings. Black Cat is not a sales monster, so the fact that MacKay was able to average the number 63 spot is pretty solid.

Black Cat #1 debuted in December 2020 at the number 30 spot. Black Cat #10 concluded the title at the number 174 spot. Black Cat #2-10 averaged the number 108 spot in the rankings. The second volume of MacKay’s Black Cat was decidedly less than spectacular and spent most of its time as a Dead Title Walking. This title has been MacKay’s second-worst seller.

Iron Cat #1 debuted in July 2022 at the number 90 spot. Iron Cat #5 concluded the titles at the number 159 spot. Iron Cat #2-5 averaged the number 131 spot in the rankings. This mini-series was a complete sales disaster. I do not know who is to blame for the painfully lame and uncreative idea of Iron Cat. I am guessing this is the brainchild of Marvel Comics’ editorial. But, it could be MacKay who was responsible for this brain fart. At any rate, the Iron Cat mini-series has been MacKay’s worst seller.

Next is the Doctor Strange franchise.

MacKay wrote Death of Doctor Strange which debuted in September 2021. Death of Doctor Strange #1 debuted at the number 9 spot and sold 75,346 units.  Death of Doctor Strange #5 concluded at the number 41 spot. Death of Doctor Strange #2-5 averaged the number 42 spot. This comic was a success as it stayed in the Top 50 for its entire run.

MacKay then rolled out the mantle swap Doctor Strange comic Strange in March 2022. Strange #1 scored the number 1 spot. Strange #2 dropped to the number 20 spot. The title concluded with Strange #10 at the number 54 spot. Strange #2-10 averaged the number 66 spot in the rankings. While not as strong as Dead of Doctor Strange, Strange was still a Top 75 seller. This was nothing spectacular, but it was at least a solid seller.

MacKay unveiled a new Doctor Strange title in March 2023. Doctor Strange #1 debuted at the number 9 spot. Doctor Strange #2 fell to the number 63 spot. Doctor Strange #12 took the number 51 spot in February 2023. Doctor Strange #2-12 averaged the number 51 spot. MacKay’s Doctor Strange is just a whisker away from being a consistent Top 50 seller. This comic has been a good seller for Marvel Comics.

Next is the Moon Knight franchise.

MacKay’s Moon Knight #1 debuted in July 2021 at the number 2 spot. Moon Knight #2 dropped to the number 6 spot. Moon Knight #30 concluded this title at the number 7 spot. Moon Knight #2-30 averaged the number 17 spot in the rankings. MacKay was a total sales beast on Moon Knight! This comic was a big hit for Marvel Comics and is also the best-selling title from MacKay during his career at Marvel Comics.

Vengeance of Moon Knight #1 debuted in January 2024 at the number 11 spot. Vengeance of Moon Knight #2 dropped to the number 22 spot in February 2024. This new title has gotten off to a nice start.

Lastly, we get to the Avengers franchise.

Avengers #1 debuted in May 2023 at the number 3 spot. Avengers #2 fell to the number 21 spot. Avengers #2-10 averaged the number 26 spot. Avengers #10 took the number 27 spot in February 2024. MacKay’s Avengers is just slightly outside of being a consistent Top 25 comic. At any rate, MacKay is enjoying nice success with Avengers as it is a consistently strong seller.

Of MacKay’s nine titles, two have averaged sales in the Top 25, three have averaged sales in the Top 50, and two have averaged sales in the Top 75. Yeah, I put Doctor Strange as a title averaging sales in the Top 50. It was only one spot away! This means 55% of MacKay’s titles are consistent Top 50 sellers. 77% of MacKay’s titles are consistent Top 75 sellers. Only two of MacKay’s titles have been Dead Titles Walking which is just 22% of his titles.

After looking at the numbers, it is safe to say that the odds are anything MacKay writes is going to be either a consistent Top 50 or at least a Top 75 seller. Add to the mix that this is a main X-Men title starring some big-name characters and you have a title that I think is a lock to be a consistent Top 25 seller every month.

I would expect MacKay’s X-Men to post a Top 5 debut. I would then expect MacKay’s X-Men to make a legitimate run at being a threat for the Top 10 every month. At worst, I think MacKay’s X-Men will end up as a consistent Top 25 comic.

Conclusion: My reservations about the roster of the X-Men are most certainly not going to apply to the majority of comic book readers. I think most readers are fine with the various classic X-Men villains being members of the X-Men team of heroes. I also think that the majority of comic book readers probably still like Psylocke more than I do at this point. So, those reasons combined with MacKay’s history of sales success make me convinced that X-Men will succeed in the sales charts.

I plan to give MacKay’s X-Men four issues to hook me. If it does then this will be the first time an X-Men title has been in my monthly pull list since Hickman left the franchise.