An industry change: are smaller comic book stories overtaking Marvel and DC?

Due to the increase of television shows, smaller comics have become more popular.
Due to the increase of television shows, smaller comics have become more popular.
Photo by Jonathan Cooper on Unsplash

With the sudden rise of television shows like “Invincible” and “The Boys,” paired with a stark decline in the popularity of many huge Marvel and DC projects, this poses the question: are we seeing a rise in smaller comic series overtaking the big two?

“Invincible,” which made its debut on Prime Video in 2021, just wrapped up its second season on air to an outpouring of love from superhero fans alike.

“This series is as special as they come,” wrote critic Austin Burke via Flick Fan Nation. “The care for the characters is even more impressive in season two, and the brutality is just as shocking. ‘Invincible’ is truly spectacular.”

Similarly, another adult superhero TV series at Prime Video, “The Boys,” is about to go back on air with its fourth season, with promises from cast and crew to be the show’s strongest season yet.

“It’s my favorite season we’ve ever shot,” explained the show’s lead actor Jack Quaid via Esquire.  “It’s a very intense season. We take some chances that I think are really awesome. It’s our best one yet.”

Both shows have proved to be extremely successful. “Invincible” has already been confirmed to have a third season coming and “The Boys” has a fifth season on the way.

In a day and age where public opinion is continuing to shift against superhero media, specifically many of the recent high-budget DC and Marvel projects, it’s not very surprising to see smaller comic series, like “The Boys” and “Invincible” receive their time in the spotlight.

Audiences are becoming more and more intolerant to basic, manufactured superhero media. They are beginning to see Marvel and DC projects as being made with the sole purpose of generating profits.

Yet, when you turn your attention to smaller stories, you see much more passion behind these projects. 

Another aspect to consider is the fact that Marvel and DC characters are becoming increasingly more well-known and tiresome to many people. 

Batman has been played by seven different actors in live-action films alone, and when you consider television and video games, that number jumps up ever higher.

It really makes you think; how many more times can audiences see the same character plastered in a new movie before they eventually seek something new and refreshing?

Well, that time may already be here. Many people hadn’t even heard of “Invincible” or “The Boys” before their run on Prime Video, meaning that it supplied viewers with a new series to latch onto, with unique, unknown characters to them.

It doesn’t just stop at “Invincible” or “The Boys” either. “Gen V,” a separate show set in the universe of “The Boys,” also made its debut on Prime Video in late 2023 to stellar reviews. 

“Prime Video’s new series is just as brilliant as the original, and it’s also a demonstration that the superhero genre still has a lot to say,” wrote critic Aglaia Berlutti via PopConCine.

A rise in these smaller comic stories, ones that wouldn’t have been given the chance they have now just a few decades earlier, proves that while superhero media is seeing a decline, indie superhero media is here to stay.

In a forever changing landscape, audiences are less excited to see any new Marvel or DC project that hits theaters and are craving original superhero media in a way we haven’t seen before. It’s truly refreshing  to see such a “originality first” way of thinking from fans.

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