When was the last time you saw a comic book advertised on television? Not a comic book movie, mind you, but an honest-to-goodness comic book. In order to promote Jonathan Hickman’s House of X and Powers of X series, Marvel produced an X-Men TV spot to promote the series. This 30-second clip comes from the two-minute trailer/featurette for the series released at the end of June. There is no word yet where this X-Men TV spot will air, but its existence at all is surprising for a number of reasons. The first (and foremost) reason is IT IS A TV COMMERCIAL FOR A COMIC BOOK! In more than 30 years of being a huge fan of comic books, I don’t recall ever seeing one before.
Yet, apparently, it’s a thing they do from time-to-time. DC put out a TV spot for Brian Michael Bendis’s run on Superman. There’s even a commercial for Spider-Man #72 from 1996 (during the whole “Spider-Man is a clone” era). It’s an interesting marketing strategy, especially in the days of DVRs and online streaming. Yet, when a comics publisher wants to give a new book or creative team a little push, they take to the airwaves (or cable, uh, waves?) to promote it via a good, old-fashion commercial. Are these TV spots a good idea or a waste of money?
The House of X and Powers of X: A Big Deal for Marvel
If you’ve followed our reviews of the first issues of House of X and Powers of X (pronounced “ten”), you know that this is a lengthy story arc from Jonathan Hickman meant to redefine mutants in the Marvel universe. It’s a brand-new story, one that Marvel hopes fans who may have drifted away from the books in recent years can just pick up and start reading. If it is your first time reading them, you can feel like you’ve missed a lot. The mutants have their own nation and are leveraging super-medicine for humans in order to be left alone. This is just Hickman’s style. He will reveal important narrative details as the story goes on, weaving a tale that goes both forwards and backwards.
Perhaps this is why the X-Men TV spot emphasizes that heroes from “every era” are involved. It doesn’t ignore the continuity that came before it, but it serves as a landing pad for wayward X-fans. It also promises a payoff that connects both series, which will then springboard into a new “paradigm” for mutants in the Marvel comic universe. On this series, Marvel doesn’t want fans to wait for a trade paperback. Yet, is the expense of a television commercial worth it for a project like this? Will it convince people to stick with the series as the story unfolds?
The answer to this is, of course, “no.” The only thing that can do that is the story itself. Still, a TV spot could be a way to grab the attention of older fans who might just miss the feel of a comic book on their fingertips, after the pure delight that was Avengers: Endgame. Skip the TV spot, though, and watch the full featurette above.
Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.