With Isom #2 garnering $1,553,618 in sales (as of this writing), The Rippaverse has proven to be a legitimate sensation, not a flash-in-the-pan novelty. Eric July, like indie comics creators Ethan Van Sciver and Richard C. Meyer before him, has capitalized on the dissatisfaction many fans have with the mainstream comic book industry – a movement known as Comicsgate – and created his own comic. But it’s not just Isom; other heroes are springing from this initial book, with talented writers like The Soska Sisters (Black Widow limited series “No Restraints Play”) and Chuck Dixon (co-creator of Batman villain Bane). The Rippaverse code of ethics is all about respecting their customers and focusing on storytelling, two things disenfranchised fans have felt have been lacking in mainstream comics.
Given the success The Rippaverse has seen so far, you’d think the big two – DC and Marvel – would pay attention and maybe try to replicate Eric July’s success. But that’s not how businesses operate in the modern era, especially ones beholden to their political ideology; the mainstream comics and comic book media’s response to The Rippaverse has been either ignoring him or, in one Marvel artist’s case, taking shots at him on Twitter (while blocking him). He has attacked July for the book itself during the Isom #1 campaign and, more recently, a fan art contest.
July also got flak from a writer at comic news website CBR.com during the Isom #1 campaign:
In business terms, they were trying to qualify Eric July’s success. It’s understandable why they behaved this way when Isom #1 came out; they were hoping it was an anomaly that July wouldn’t be able to replicate, and of course, insulting your competition is what businesses and their media allies do. But with Isom #2’s repeated blowout business, it would just look embarrassing; you can’t spin this as insignificant, especially when July is bringing top-tier mainstream talent to The Rippaverse. When you look at the numbers, The Rippaverse is legitimate competition for DC and Marvel. So they ignore it, instead relegating the mainstream’s poor comic book sales to a general disinterest:
This is the equivalent of movie studios and the entertainment media continuing to blame COVID for every film that bombs at the box office; they ignore things like Top Gun: Maverick, Spider-Man: No Way Home, and Avatar: The Way of Water just as the mainstream comic book industry and media ignore The Rippaverse. It’s inconvenient to the narrative to admit that it’s your fault.
As shameless as this sounds, if they were smart, the big two would try to replicate July’s success. Ideally, they’d do that by dropping their sociopolitical tunnel vision and adopting The Rippaverse’s code by catering to their customers and writing the best stories possible. But the more cynical version of that, and the more historically likely one, would be to rip off his ideas, to try to incorporate whatever they think makes Isom so attractive to the audience they’ve lost. It’s happened before, with DC and Marvel often copying each other’s popular characters or ideas. But they’re not doing either of these, and it’s a safe bet the success of Isom #2 won’t change things.
I think the reasons for this are, again, similar to those of movie studios like Disney. These are no longer businessmen; they’re ideologues. They’re more concerned with their political allegiance – and shouting it over a bullhorn – than with selling comics, with their sycophantic media buddies falling in lockstep. And the writers they’ve hired reflect that; how many times has one of them admonished people not to buy their book if they don’t like the politics in it? It doesn’t matter that The Rippaverse endeavors to be apolitical; they consider not choosing a side to be choosing the other side.
And fine; let them do what they want, to the detriment of their bottom line (and, unfortunately, the beloved heroes and villains with which they’ve been entrusted). Eric July, Ethan Van Sciver, Richard C. Meyer, their fellow creators, and the people they inspire will reap the benefits, while fans go to places like Bounding Into Comics and Bleeding Fool (both of which have reported on The Rippaverse) to get their news.