Click on the Image to EnlargeThis week it came out that Marvel Comics is offering retailers a variant cover of “Fear Itself #6″ by artist Ed McGuinness. But, there is a catch: To get the coveted cover, retailers have to rip the covers from 50 copies of any No. 1 issue of DC Comics Flashpoint tie-ins. This is not a figure of speech, they literally have to tear the covers off and send them to Marvel to get the special edition, rendering the issues unsalable.
Make no mistake, this is perfectly legal. The comic-shop proprietors would be destroying their own property, and it is their right so to do. However, this seems little different than someone buying books to burn them.
They would destroy a work of literature with the express intention of preventing another person from reading it. Anyone who does this is engaging in censorship, and Marvel Comics is agent provocateur.
This is not the first time Marvel Comics has tried this, and, according to them, previous efforts have netted tens of thousands of covers. According to the letter from Marvel announcing the new deal:
“In these tough economic times, [we] feel it’s our duty to help,” explained David Gabriel, Marvel Senior Vice President of Publishing, Sales and Circulation.
I can’t think of anything less helpful to the economy than destroying potentially thousands of copies of a comic. You can read the rest of the letter on ComicsBeat.com, but the entire thing reads like a melodramatic comic villain’s twisted view of reality where bad is good, and they are just trying to help everybody out anyway.
Even the name of the program, “Comics for Comics,” tries to sanitize what Marvel is doing.
No matter where you stand in the DC vs. Marvel debate, Marvel Comics is engaging in what can only be be seen as an underhanded trick to prevent you from reading comics from their chief competitor.
I won’t get into the debate about who is ripping off whose story lines (figuratively speaking) and who is selling more comics (it’s been Marvel for several dozen months in a row with only a few exceptions).
What matters here is the amazingly uncivil manner in which Marvel is acting, surpassed only by the incivility we are seeing now in the U.S. government. And like Republicans and Democrats in Congress, now is the time when Marvel and DC should be working together for their common good.
The comic book industry is in trouble. Big trouble. Any sale is a good sale if it keeps the medium alive.
Marvel might see this as a clever way to take a bite out of the sales of its chief competitor, but somehow I doubt it will succeed. If anything, the added attention may put more bodies in shops to see why Marvel is so scared of the Flashpoint series. But, I doubt that too.
More likely, this will just further damage the comic industry’s reputation in general as a bunch of geeks only interested in scoring cheap shots.
Oh, and that incredible variant “Fear Itself” cover that’s supposed to be worth 50 Flashpoint covers? I’ll let you judge for yourself whether it’s worth it or not:
Click on the Image to Enlarge