If I was allowed free reign at Marvel for six months, I could fix the place up nicely. Here's what I think Marvel should do to bring itself back to at least a fighting chance:
1. Make stories fun again
Go back a few decades and find out why Marvel was dominant. It's because the stories were fun. The heroes were heroic and the bad guys lost with little to no bloodshed. Today, Marvel has decided to go as dark as humanly possible for every story. Blood and gore dominate everything they write. Take the recent "Frankencastle" storyline for Punisher. It starts off with Punisher being decapitated by Dark Wolverine, and only gets worse from there. The new Punisher series that took off after Civil War was amazing, with very little blood involved but excellent stories (Punisher beats down Rhino with the demon glove...Punisher versus Sentry...awesome). Then suddenly it becomes the bloodiest book out there! It's like someone decided the world functions like a Rob Zombie movie and started plugging away!
don't polarize your audience! Yes, there's a place for cutting-edge stories, but when you blatantly take a shot at an entire political party like they did in the recent Captain America storyline where they made the Tea Party folks look like redneck anarchists you're going to lose some readership! Twenty years ago Captain America ran for president as part of a storyline, but it wasn't a direct attack on either party--it was just a good story. I can appreciate that Joe Quesada is in love with our president, but someone in the line-up should have said "You know, this might not be a good idea since we're in last place and all."
Give us good stories that are fun to read and exciting! Give me something based on plot, not on shock value. Besides, if every issue is filled with "shock", then nothing shocks me anymore; every moment becomes the same white noise. Dracula fought the X-Men 20 years ago and the only blood was a little black ink in a few spots. Today that story would run four printers out of red ink for just the first five pages.
2. Bring back variety titles!
The rules are simple: no Wolverine stories...ever--not even guest shots. And let the readers vote on the characters that eventually find their way into the stories. In this information age you could have a poll on the Marvel website for a week and have instant results. Each book would have four stories, with two being single-shot titles and two being multi-issue stories.
I would be willing to buy a comic book with a Squirrel Girl story in it if it meant I'd get to read a "Paladin" storyline as well. Likewise, I'd suffer through a Vision story if I knew it was going to be followed by "Nighthawk". See? Everyone wins as you cram 4 titles into 1 title per month!
This brings us to point number 3...
3. Quality not quantity!
Take the line-up to some basic titles and go from there. Yes, some artists and writers would be out of work, but costs would go down significantly as well. You might even be able to squeeze out a few more successful titles rather than throwing anything out there you can print.
DC is stepping into this problem as well with Batman and Green Lantern right now, but even so they're not that bad. Even their flagship hero Superman is only in three titles a month.
Next week, part 2 of my master plan to fix Marvel Comics. I'd love to hear from you on suggestions of what you'd do if they'd get out of the way and leave you in charge a while!