On January 13 2010, Marvel Comics announced they were introducing a new program called “Comics for Comics”— specifically designed by the company (they said) to put much-needed money back into retailer’s hands. All comic shop owners had to do was return (50) TORN COVERS from their UNSOLD Blackest Night crossover comic book inventory for (1) Deadpool comic book variant for Siege #3.
Many believe the hastily announced program really had at least a couple of DIFFERENT hidden agendas past “helping” retailers. The most important? Generate BAD PUBLICITY for their resurgent rival during a cycle when their Blackest Night Crossover was proving to be very popular. The second most important? Remove actual DC product from comic book stores!
Many duly noted that Marvel chose NOT to process the Comics for Comics program through the exclusive Direct Market Distributor– Diamond Distribution. Rather than use the decades-old established pipeline for book returns– retailers were instructed to send the ripped Blackest Night tie-in covers DIRECTLY to Marvel offices. Many mused wondered if the company didn’t want a Third Party involved to “snoop” on the process… And possibly then report to the press whether the program was actually popular with retailers– or just a publicity stunt.
Regardless, the in-house returns gave Marvel Editor Tom Brevoort ample opportunities to shamelessly tweet pics of stacks of supposedly ripped Blackest Night covers across the interwebs. And seemingly like everything else TB does– he overdid it.
At the time, DC had been HUMILIATING Marvel in comics sales… With all– or most– of their Blackest Night comics (and related books) dominating the majority of Top Sales slots. Admittedly, this was a HIGHLY UNUSUAL turn of events– as Marvel Comics had been dominating the sales charts for decades.
Given that this event was an obvious “blip” that would see sales most likely revert to Marvel dominance the minute the DC crossover was complete (which it mostly did, immediately)– one would think Marvel would just sit back and allow their competitor their brief moment in the sun. But no, like a possessive maniacal child who would rather piss and shit in a sandbox so NO ONE else– even themselves– can play– Marvel just couldn’t stand silently and allow the Blackest Night phenom to play out.
Thus the ill-advised, massively childish and insanely hostile “Comics for Comics” program was born.
Once news of Marvel’s plan hit the internet, it seemed a large segment of comic fandom was ENRAGED! Many intelligent internet comic book commentators described the program as a low brow, half-baked idea conjured up by a bunch of jerks. Others went so far as to say that the program should have NEVER been allowed to happen! The rest of the fans saw it as a simple-minded one note joke Marvel was pulling at the time… While the remaining ever-present Marvel Zombies loved the shit out of it. Since the VAST MAJORITY of comic book fandom was pissed, many people thought Marvel would have to be even BIGGER DICKS (or fools) to EVER do it again!
Fast forward to a year and a half later: DC’s newest blockbuster summer event, Flashpoint, is holding its’ own on the sales chart. The main book and satellite mini-series are reportedly selling BETTER at many outlets than Marvel’s own Fear Itself crossover and tie-in series.
So what does Marvel do? If you guessed Launch Another “Comics for Comics” Shamefest— you guessed RIGHT! The comic company– now part of an even larger multi-billion dollar conglomerate– has once again decided to offer a program to remove copies of their top competitor’s books from the marketplace– again attempting to throw a dark cloud over their Distinguished Competition’s success.
Marvel no longer seems simply satisfied to just lead the sales charts– or ever give their competition the occasional win. They want to be #1 so bad 24/7, they’ll even repeat a jackass move that was met with massive amounts of derision the first time. I’m not a psychiatrist or anything but isn’t the repetition of the same behavior– expecting a different outcome– supposed to be classic definition of insanity? And then to willfully shove it into the NEWS CYCLE just because DC is getting all the attention?! WTF?!?
It’s important to remember, again, that in 2010 Marvel hilariously said they were implementing the “Comics for Comics” exchange to help retailers. I’ve questioned their true motives on that count, fair enough.
So let’s look at another way Marvel acts like they are trying to “help” retailers almost every month of the year: It is not uncommon for them to flood comic book stores– releasing 40 or more titles on certain weeks. Many believe this product to be so useless, that the books seem to serve no purpose other than to rip money out of the wallets of rabid completists.
In case you don’t patronize one, reputable retailers HATE this!
All across the world, conscientious comic shop workers (including Inveterate Media Junkies Co-Founder Jose Melendez) strive to see their customers buying books that are of the best quality. Responsible retailers know that it is quality that will entertain their customers and, most important, keep them coming back for more. Just because a book has a big red “M” on it doesn’t automatically guarantee a quality read… And for Marvel to consistently saturate the market with crap smacks of a being a bully hellbent on nothing more than making the most money by crowding everyone else’s product off the racks.
Competent and caring booksellers like Mr. Melendez work hard to get ALL the weekly comics prepped and ready for their customers– so when Wednesday mornings roll around fans have a good selection to pick from ALL the companies. When Marvel pulls an asshole move like flooding the stands (which seems to be happening more and more often)– they make it hard to near-impossible for some deserving books to ever have a chance… Especially when they are comics NOT solicited by the Big Two.
Given Marvel’s steadfast insistence to keep a large part of their line at a wallet-busting $3.99 per comic– they ironically even make it hard for some of their OWN better-than-average books to get sampled!
In the end, whatever Marvel does with this ripped-covers-for-shitty variants scheme is their own idiotic business… But corporate parent Disney can’t possibly be happy with the response this current ill-timed, poorly thought out plan has again conjured. It begs the question: Should Disney, a company that prides itself in a FRIENDLY PUBLIC APPROACH– finally step in and level some sort of disciplinary action?
Probably not. But unprofessional, easily seen through stunts like this seem DESERVING of some such warning or expression of displeasure– at the bare minimum.
Just like the latest, IMJ Nation™ Podcast, I would like to give a shout out to IMJ commenter Tiger Topher for reproducing this discussion between a fan and Tom Brevoort about the whole Flashpoint cover rip-off fiasco (on TB’s Formspring page):
Fan: Just wanna say, that Ed McGuiness cover you’re giving for the ripped Flashpoint tie-in covers (Really? Again? You didn’t look enough like unethical assholes the first time?) is absolute crap. The best part is that I know you know it.
Brevoort: Unethical assholes? How so? You’re reacting emotionally, like this is somehow a commentary on you, when it is in fact no such thing. We’ve spoken to retailers; they have a lot–a LOT–of Flashpoint tie-ins sitting on their shelves gathering dust and not generating income. And that’s bad for everybody, even Marvel. So we’re doing what we did last time, offering to swap them their unsaleable inventory for something that they have a better likelihood of selling. We’re not making a dime on this, in fact we’re losing money in that we’re printing and shipping these books. But it puts some cash back into the marketplace potentially, at a time when retailers are really feeling the pinch. And it’s not mandatory or anything–any retailer who ordered properly and sold his stock is in great shape, and doesn’t need this. And on the other aspect people talk about, the stripping of covers, this is a time-honored practice in the magazine field when it comes to returns, and is entirely about the cost of shipping fifty copies versus fifty covers–the latter is way, way cheaper. So this isn’t about “defacing” all of these books (which didn’t sell anyway, so it’s not somehow keeping people from getting them–and they’ll all be in TPB collections shortly anyway), it’s about not making the retailers pay a premium price for this assist. Is there a PR aspect to this? Sure. But it’s really about putting some much-needed cash into retailer hands (cash they could use to order more New DC #1s as much as anything else)
The above says a lot about how much “class” the man really has and just how “professional” he truly is! It also speaks to the maturity of a monkey-controlled million-dollar company that uses cheap dirty tricks in order to scam fans for money and to get rid of the competition in the dirtiest manner.
While DC rarely if ever publicly comments on Marvel’s (or TB’s) antics, I admit to thinking it would be HYSTERICAL if DC were to offer a similar Variant Program with the launch of their New 52 #1’s in September.
Why? Because Marvel would finally get a taste of their own misery! (Since lots of high-profile Marvel employees like making all this “Big Two”competition nonsense seemingly “personal”, who am I not to follow along with the asinine gag?) After pulling this stunt TWICE in a year and a half, it would only seem appropriate!
In case you are wondering, here is a list of the material they want from retailers:
FLASHPOINT ABIN SUR THE GREEN LANTERN #1, FLASHPOINT BATMAN KNIGHT OF VENGEANCE #1, FLASHPOINT CITIZEN COLD #1, FLASHPOINT DEADMAN AND THE FLYING GRAYSONS #1, FLASHPOINT DEATHSTROKE THE CURSE OF RAVAGER #1, FLASHPOINT EMPEROR AQUAMAN #1, FLASHPOINT FRANKENSTEIN CREATURES OF UNKNOWN #1, FLASHPOINT GREEN ARROW INDUSTRIES #1, FLASHPOINT GRODD OF WAR #1, FLASHPOINT HAL JORDAN #1, FLASHPOINT KID FLASH LOST #1, FLASHPOINT LEGION OF DOOM #1, FLASHPOINT LOIS LANE AND THE RESISTANCE #1, FLASHPOINT PROJECT SUPERMAN #1, FLASHPOINT SECRET SEVEN #1, FLASHPOINT THE OUTSIDER #1, FLASHPOINT THE REVERSE FLASH #1, FLASHPOINT THE WORLD OF FLASHPOINT #1 and FLASHPOINT WONDER WOMAN AND THE FURIES #1
The irony? Just like tons of the Blackest Night crossovers– many of these Flashpoint titles have gone into SECOND printings… So somebody is obviously buying them!
In the end, what do you get in return for all of these destroyed comics? A sorry-ass Ed McGuiness variant for Fear Itself #6. OOOOHHH… Who the fuck cares?!? NOBODY– that’s who!!! And NOT even an original cover! It was an old cover from a never printed Marvel series called Avengers Three– that has already been used as promotional art! As Jose said in the IMJ Podcast, Marvel can’t even be bothered to try to be original with this stuff anymore. (Like Jose also said, at least the Deadpool Variant made fun of the Blackest Night ring promotion.) Another true-blue DICK MOVE in this sequel to the original Comics for Comics Program.
Marvel, please STOP with the petty attempts to try to be better than DC… It’s so beyond ridiculous now! It’s like who has the bigger dick! It really, really is!
And it is ENOUGH! I have had enough! Retailers have had enough! And from the looks of the current backlash, YOU have had enough! Even many CREATORS/PROFESSIONALS (understandably normally shy about speaking of these squabbles) have had enough! Putting out shitty quality is bad enough, but trying to remove your rivals’ products from the shelves is even worse!
It has to stop sometime! Marvel… SOONER would be MUCH BETTER than LATER!
(With many thanks to Ian for some facts and stuff. Appreciate it!)