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Marvel Continues Cannibalization With Contest Of Chaos

Just 24 hours after the announcement of Ultimate Invasion by Jonathan Hickman and Bryan Hitch Marvel announced yet another big summer comic book event. This new comic book event is titled Contest Of Chaos. Outside of the title of this additional summer event no creative team was announced. The only information we got along with teaser art by Bryan Hitch was from Marvel’s EIC C.B. Cebulski saying “Witness the corruption of absolute chaos in CONTEST OF CHAOS, arriving in Summer 2023!”

The way Marvel announced Contest Of Chaos says a lot about where it stands in terms of big events. With Ultimate Invasion Marvel made sure this hit the mainstream by having the announcement be exclusively made by Entertainment Weekly. Not only that but they even shared images from Ultimate Invasion further teasing how big of a deal it was.

How was Contest Of Chaos announced? It was announced as a small part of Marvel’s discussions at the ComicsPRO Comic Industry Conference. With ComicsPro being an industry only event for comic book retailers that shows Marvel doesn’t see Contest Of Chaos as having the mainstream appeal like Ultimate Invasion. Add that on the announcement there was only one sentence with the promotional artwork and no creative team announced Contest Of Chaos is given the perception of being another mini-series rather big event.

Contest Of Chaos Promo Art
Promotional artwork by Bryan Hitch for Contest of Chaos. Credit: Marvel Comics

The way this was announced Marvel will likely go silent about the event until the next big convention they have a major presence at. Given that Marvel usually has a major presence at C2E2 convention that is likely where we will be getting more in-depth information on Contest Of Chaos, including the creative team.

The way Marvel treated Contest Of Chaos announcement also speaks to how they are filling their summer publishing calendar. Marvel has been known for a long time with yearly “big events” but 2023 appears to be an example of an extreme even for them. Starting 2023 Marvel has had Avengers Assemble, Sins of Sinister, and the Spider-Man and X-Men crossover Dark Web. They are then filling this spring with the Captain Marvel and X-Men crossover Revenge of the Brood and the Captain America: Cold War. And most recently we learned those spring events would be joined by Carnage Reign, which is getting a prelude chapter in May.

Which brings us to the summer where Ultimate Invasion and Contest Of Chaos won’t be the lone big events. Both Summer Of Symbiotes and Fall Of X were also previously announced to take place in the summer, as long as there are no delays with that.

For those not keeping count Marvel will have at least seven events either going through or starting in this summer. That’s not counting other mini-series such as Extreme Venomverse and Hellfire Gala that will also be going through the summer without the “big event” designation. If that wasn’t enough Marvel has Jed MacKay and C.F. Villa’s Avengers run starting in May.

Flooding the market with this type of comic book publishing strategy is just not healthy. All Marvel is doing is cannibalizing their own sales not only for their big events. They are also not allowing the new creative runs that Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, and others are getting to build momentum. These titles are brand new and the creative teams should be allowed to spend time developing the stories around their series. But as usually the case we will likely see titles like Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy pulled into one of the many “big events” as tie-ins.

This is also not doing any favors for other series like for Amazing Spider-Man, Captain Marvel, and X-Men, who have all had their titles involved in crossovers to begin the year. There is no time to settle into what those crossovers mean for those titles. Amazing Spider-Man is the exception since it releases multiple issues a month and has remained a top seller even when involved in crossovers.

Marvel 2023 Event Timeline
Marvel’s big event timeline announced during NYCC 2022. Credit: Marvel Comics

But by creating this perception of big events Marvel is really just doing a disservice to their own creative teams for all their titles. Even if certain ongoing titles won’t be involve in these big events the fact is Marvel is making it so nothing but Ultimate Invasion, Contest Of Chaos, Carnage Reign, Summer Of Symbiotes, and Fall Of X get the marketing attention. With five events all taking up the attention there is no room for other titles to possibly get the marketing or fan attention they should.

The only titles that will likely be safe will be Amazing Spider-Man and X-Men since they’ve been consistent with their sales whether a big event is happening or not. The Avengers is where things are worrying as they should be on equal footing as Spider-Man and X-Men but they haven’t been for a long time now. One has to hope that MacKay and Villa will get the chance to develop their own stories for Avengers since it will be a brand new run.

At the end of the day cluttering the market with “big events” this summer is Marvel and EIC C.B. Cebulski decision. This is the direction they want to take the Marvel Universe. To Marvel credit, they have done a great job as of late with releasing new ongoings and mini-series with strong creative teams for characters like Wasp and Scarlet Witch. The only thing we can hope for is that this will not cannibalize the sales for other titles. But given Marvel’s publishing history the fear is certainly there that will be the case.