Lin Lie (left) and Lei Ling, two heroes from Marvel’s Chinese superhero comics. PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY
Marvel’s first two Chinese superhero comic series, launched in cooperation with leading internet company NetEase last week on its official comics site, are getting positive feedback from Chinese netizens.
So far, Warriors of Three Sovereigns has attracted 7.27 million hits on the NetEase platform, while Aero has had 6.64 million.
While some netizens expressed reservations about the style, many left compliments about the stories. Net-Ease user “1383” comments on the former series: “Very captivating plot. It includes Chinese cultural elements.” Another user, “Mudan”, wrote of Aero: “It is the comic series of my dreams. I think it’s amazing.”
According to a statement from NetEase, the comics are based on Marvel concepts and incorporate modern Chinese elements in creating the comic media giant’s first Chinese superheroes with contemporary characteristics.
Warriors of Three Sovereigns begins with a dream of protagonist Lin Lie, an 18-year-old university student who finds himself holding a sword against an evil monster Chiyou, based on the god of war in Chinese mythology. Waking up from the nightmare, Lin Lie embarks on a quest to find his missing father and brother, with only the sword his father left him.
Meanwhile Aero, aka Lei Ling, is a superhero able to manipulate air currents. She is the guardian of a modern metropolis named S, one of whose landmarks bears some resemblance to Shanghai’s Oriental Pearl Radio TV tower. She is also a renowned architect, whose buildings are turned into monsters by some unknown power. Though coming from China, these superheroes will not only serve Chinese Marvel fans but fight side-by-side with other Marvel superheroes.
The creation of the two comics features cooperation between Marvel and NetEase, as the worldview, characters and storylines are discussed by both parties, NetEase said.
Chinese illustrators and writers are responsible for the initial production process, and their drafts are sent to Marvel for editing and review. The two series were to be released first on NetEase Comics and published in volumes in the US.
The creators of the two series include mainly illustrators Gunji and Keng, along with writers Shuizhu and Zhou Liefen. Gunji is the creator of Instant Noodles Superman, a popular comic series featuring China’s first comic superhero.
C.B. Cebulski, editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics, said during an earlier visit to the Philippines: “We have been making great strides, especially in Asia. We try to hire more Asian creators, writers and artists to bring a piece of their culture to Marvel comics.”
According to Cebulski, the comics employ the Japanese comic style of manga, which is popular in the Asian market.
The first three strips of Warriors of Three Sovereigns were published in the past week, along with two strips of Aero. The two comics are being serialized weekly.
The project was first announced by NetEase Comics and Marvel in July 2017 at the 13th China International Cartoon Game Expo, where Marvel also authorized 12 popular comic series to Net-Ease, including The Amazing Spider-Man, Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy. This marks the first launch of Marvel comics on any Chinese comics platform.
Apart from those, NetEase Comics says that it will continue its marketing cooperation with Marvel in intellectual property, gaming, TV shows, films, literature and merchandise.
The cooperation is seen as one of Marvel’s approaches to expanding its Asian market. Others include its search for talent in the Philippines and its Marvel Stores in South Korea, according to Cebulski.
This year marks the 10th anniversary of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with its latest film Avengers: Infinity War. On April 19, Shanghai Disney Resort held a red-carpet celebration introducing some of Marvel’s most popular stars, including Robert Downey Jr., Tom Hiddleston and Mark Ruffalo.
The promotion was a huge success. According to Maoyan.com, Avengers: Infinity War grossed more than 1.1 billion yuan ($173 million) at China’s box office in just four days after its premiere on May 11.