The Gold Standard: $3.99 And Up, A Top Five List, And A Weekly Roundup

Now, I’m sure that people will read this and think “Well I remember when…” the same way I will, though their numbers will be lower, but I remember when a comic was ninety nine cents. Alright, to be fair, those were Marvel doing cheap kid friendly issues in the mid nineties for a discounted price. Really what I remember are books for a dollar fifty or two bucks. I also remember the price hike to two and two fifty, and again to two fifty and three. Unfortunately I also remember the hike to the present, of three or four bucks depending on the book, but man, comics used to be kinda cheap and it was nice.

Now, I’m not one of those guys who is going to bitch and moan about not wanting to spend the money. I really don’t mind, I mean, sure, it’s not always easy to warrant the big spend, but I do like getting my moneys worth. The first price hike I experienced led to better paper and ink quality across the board, and I loved that, I didn’t mind the cost at all because I wasn’t flipping through paper that felt like newsprint. Hell, the jump to $2.99 I could understand just because of the economy and, well, the economics of print media. Same reason goes for the removal of two pages across the board at DC.

So $2.99 is a fine price for me, I don’t mind it at all. $3.99, on the other hand…well, that’s an entirely different animal. DC started using the price to go along with eight to ten extra pages per issue with the price tag, usually a backup story by a different creative team, and I didn’t mind. Extra content is extra content, and we’ve gotten some real gold out of that extra dollars worth of pages over the past couple of years. Hell, it’s gotten to the point where there are books I want to pay the extra buck for to get more pages. It’s a great system that has led to recent treats like the Shazam backups in Justice League; it’s literal bang for your buck.

Marvel….Marvel doesn’t seem to get it. Some books do, in fact, get extra pages at the House of Ideas, but the vast majority do not. Hell, if Bleeding Cool is to be believed (and they generally are), you can number crunch some of those $3.99 books and find less than twenty pages an issue. That means that some books cost the extra dollar for less pages. Really? Really, Marvel? The average book is $3.99 for standard page length, and quite a few of those books double ship, pretty much anything Bendis writes. Why don’t people speak with their wallets against it? Because it’s hard to speak out en masse against X-Men or the Avengers, especially when those over priced two or three times a month issues make up the principle title in a line.

It’s gouging, it always has been, it always will be. It’s knowing that readers will pay more and taking advantage of that fact. It’s the reason Marvel NOW! Point One was six bucks for a glorified teaser. It reminded me of a more high class version of DC’s Brave New World one shot (from 2006, yes, I googled that), which paved the way for a group of launching series in pretty much the exact same format. It cost a dollar.

Sure, six years ago, and I doubt that they’d pull a stunt like that today, but you know what is more reasonable for that price? Anything. For six bucks I actually get mad at a standard length story and a bunch of reprint or backup content. I want to feel like I’m getting something for that enhanced price that is worth it, not necessarily a full length giant sized story, but I don’t want padding. Marvel is famous for this, giving us a double sized double priced anniversary issue where the extra pages are just reprints of classic material. I detest that, I hate that I’m paying for material that I simply don’t want, and usually have no other choice because the normal story that opens it up happens to be the continued narrative that I was reading before the anniversary issue, and will continue to read after.

I guess the point is that I wish books were cheaper, but I don’t mind the price I’m paying…so long as I’m getting my moneys worth. Twenty or twenty-two pages for $3.99 is a rip off, and when that book is coming out multiple times a month it’s a slap in the face to me as a reader.

At least some of these books I can go in a few weeks later and pick up digitally for a dollar less….well, the DC ones anyway. Marvel’s digital policy is a rant from a previous day and a rant for a future day.

What I read this week:

  • Birds of Prey #13
  • Blue Beetle #13
  • Green Lantern: New Guardians #13
  • Justice League #13
  • Nightwing #13
  • Supergirl #13
  • Sword of Sorcery #1
  • Wonder Woman #13
  • AVX: Consequences #2
  • Captain Marvel #5
  • Daredevil #19
  • Hawkeye #3
  • Marvel NOW! Point One
  • Uncanny X-Men #20
  • Venom #26
  • X-Factor #245
  • Cyber Force #1
  • Arrow #2
  • Smallville: Season 11 #20
  • Legends of the Dark Knight #20
  • Superman Beyond #9

Comixology Sales of the Week:

  • Transmetropolitan (picked up #1-12)
  • Teen Titans Year One (actually been getting this week by week, but finally read it this week when six hit)
  • Reluctantly passed on Frankencastle.

Top Five Books of the Week:

5. Justice League #13
4. Hawkeye #3
3. Daredevil #19
2. X-Factor #245
1. Wonder Woman #13

What I Watched This Week:

  • Raising Hope
  • Tosh.0
  • Brickleberry
  • South Park
  • 30 Rock
  • Parks and Rec
  • Thursday Night Football
  • The League
  • Last Resort
  • Shark Tank
  • College Gameday
  • Young Justice (wait, that’s right, no I didn’t….)
  • Saturday Night Live
  • Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes
  • Sunday Afternoon Football (I was at the Rams/Packers game.)
  • Sunday Night Football
  • Walking Dead
  • Monday Night Football
  • WWE Raw

The Worst Things I Saw On Shelves:

For the price? Marvel NOW! Point One. A few weeks ago I got a free oversized previews thing from my LCS that featured the first few pages of several of Marvel’s upcoming books, and it was essentially the same experience for a lot less money. That said, I did enjoy Mike Allred’s work, as always. I just hated the price.

The Best Things I Saw This Week:

I was at the Rams game the other day and I could have sworn I was in Green Bay with the sheer amount of green and ridiculous cheese hats. I’ve seen the stadium packed with Arizona Cardinals fans, Pittsburgh Steelers fans, and Kansas City Chiefs fans (those fans will travel, or, in the case of Arizona, are people old enough to be die hards of the old St. Louis Football Cardinals), but this was a completely different level. Completely over run with Cheeseheads. As much as I hated it, I have to give credit for any giant mass of people that will buy tickets for a premium and then drive eight hours each way just to see their team. Also, on the note of the game, sure the Rams lost…but come on, find me someone who realistically expected them to win against the best offense in the league? The important thing is that they stayed competitive and held the margin to ten points, that easily could have been seven or four. Last year they beat us 24-3 and took out our quarterback. This year was a step in the right direction.

Man, Blue Beetle has gotten really good. The stuff with the Reach is awesome, and the book just gets better every month. Who would have thought, right? Mediocre first arc followed by absolute gold. I’m going to miss it when it’s gone, as I doubt we’re going to see Jaime picked up with quite the same amount of care if he winds up in some ensemble like Threshold. Hey, maybe they’ll have a new book ready to go in time for Young Justice to come back. Maybe a Young Justice book.

I finally caught up on Watching Dead this weekend, the show, not the comic. I have no idea if I’m going to be able to get caught up on the book short of some miraculous appearance of the entire series in my digital library.

I loved the twist in Uncanny X-Men, but I also love all things Sinister. I can’t imagine Scott is getting shuffled into limbo when Marvel seems to have so much enjoyment in playing up whoever they can in X as a villain.

I love Jim Lee, but for some reason my favorite issues of Justice League thus far have been the ones where he hasn’t been around. His art style and Geoff’s writing style just clash, but then you throw in a Tony Daniel like in this weeks and the story just flows so much better. Geoff is more of a character writer, someone who excels at the softer strokes that make you care that much more with the bigger ones. Jim Lee is the guy you bring in to draw the big ones, but his style is a bit too blockbustery for the slow stuff.

I talked about it in my review, but the I was happy to see Alex still existed in New Guardians. Kyle lost his entire stable of ex’s to the relaunch, and one of the things that always defined him was just how much he loved the people in his life. Not having people would kinda….well, it would be like any of the other nineties characters that is the same in name only. Thankfully Kyle is still Kyle.

X-Factor is easily the most under appreciated book on the market. Peter David has carved out something that is otherwise completely foreign in the mainstream market of Marvel and DC; an unmolested self contained narrative that is not creator owned. Six and a half years with only Messiah Complex being a truly tied into event (though the book did launch after House of M, and really did sell the devastation of M-Day in a way few other books attempted to), sure, the book has reflected new status quos as they’ve come and gone, but they never really interfere with what PAD is doing. He picked up Havok and Polaris during Regenesis, and now he’s losing Havok to Uncanny Avengers, and it’s seemless and logical. Unlike the books that actually drop the characters to him, or choose to take them away after the fact. I don’t expect mentions of X-Factor out of Havok in Uncanny Avengers, just like Rahne never said a word during X-Force.

I’m not sure why Kyle Higgins is taking a few issues off of Nightwing, but the fact that Tom DeFalco is filling in makes it not really string. I love Tom’s work, always have, and while this issue wasn’t some giant must read ten out of ten, it was definitely solid. He writes great character stories, and he makes the dialogue sell the story. I still miss Spider-Girl.

I don’t know what to say about Hawkeye. On one hand, the viciousness and carnage isn’t…Avenger like. Clint and Kate are pretty much just killing off nameless bad guys like it’s an 80’s action movie, but I can’t get enough of it. This Hawkeye is better than anything we’ve gotten in any mainstream Marvel comic since…well, he’s my favorite version yet. The book is absolutely amazing as a stand alone and an instant reminder of why Matt Fraction kicks ass.

My Pissed Off Moment of the Week:

Wasting six dollars on Marvel NOW!

The Cardinals just had to choke, didn’t they?

Top Five Little Moments of the Week

5. Man, that is a lot of ninjas. Birds of Prey #13.

4. Fear her, for she is Diana. Wonder Woman #13.

3. Talk about little, the combination of my favorite Ant-Man and Mike Allred were the best part about Marvel NOW! Point One.

2. I saw this and just laughed and laughed, it’s simple and awesome. It’s why I loved Hawkeye #3.

1. I’m biased and won’t deny it, but really, moments like this are absolutely why I read this book. Check out X-Factor #245.

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The Gold Standard

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