The Gold Standard: Pricing, Reboots, Ranting, A Top Five List…Grey Returns!

Something that has amused me for the last few years is all the anti-DC ranting I see. Whether it be on Facebook, Twitter, message boards, out of the mouth of my broseph Ike, anywhere. People love to talk crap on the New 52, and how DC is destroying themselves, and how it won’t last, and it’s an insult, and yadda yadda yadda, etc etc. DC is evil, New 52 sucks, YAY MARVEL!

 

These are comments from casual fans, diehard fans, people who’ve been reading months, people who’ve been reading decades, and in more than a few cases I’ve noted, the Marvel love seems just as much in spite of DC as it is out of actual Marvel love. That isn’t to say that Marvel doesn’t deserve love, because, I mean, they totally do. Just as it isn’t to say that DC doesn’t deserve the hate, because, I mean, go read Teen Titans. Try it. I dare you.

 

Yeah, that’s right, Kid Flash is an evil asshole mass murderer from the future, because WHY NOT?! Great Gods that book is awful.

 

So, before I really get started, let’s just go ahead and say that this is the comics industry. Companies have good books, companies have bad books, companies have middling books. Assuming that any company is only good, or only bad, is just ignorant (though just middling is a thing). When people tell me that everything at DC sucks because it’s New 52, and then admit that they only bothered to try one or two books, then I acknowledge that they have no idea what they are talking about, and that their opinion is invalidated. That’s right, this is going to turn into one of those rants. The kind where I feel no shame in telling someone to shut the fuck up when grown folks is talkin’.

 

Thank you, Black Dynamite.

 

Now look, I’m willing to admit that Teen Titans should be exiled from time and space for being an abomination that sullies the name of the team that Wolfman and Perez cut their teeth on. I’m willing to admit that the first year of Justice League was awful, that Green Lantern has fallen to pathetic pieces since Geoff Johns left, and that the first sixteen issues of Green Arrow should never have been published. I can admit that there is some utter crap that DC has produced over the last few years, hell, Superboy and Lobdell’s Superman are on stands, same with Teen Titans, they’re still producing some total crap.

 

Just like Marvel fed us Fraction’s awful Fantastic Four and FF, Thunderbolts and the rotating creative teams of doom, the Uncanny X-Force relaunch of “What’s the point?”, and who can forget Red She Hulk? A book that Marvel canned without even bothering to tell the creative team. There are crappy books everywhere, I mean, Uncanny Avengers is one of the most overrated books I’ve seen out of either company lately. Lots of hype, lots of flash, no substance. A book that wishes it was Grant Morrison’s JLA, but that just can’t seem to contain itself long enough to be more than a series of big splashy moments.

 

 

Flat characters? Boring plots? Just up the frequency, increase the cast size, and hope readers are fooled!

Flat characters? Boring plots? Just up the frequency, increase the cast size, and hope readers are fooled!

 

Now, I’ll say one thing, I do like a lot more books at Marvel than I do at DC. This is a thing, it’s not always a thing, but it is currently. What IS always a thing is that I do ALWAYS buy more Marvel books than I do anyone else, and Marvel eats the lions share of my comics budget. Why? Because Marvel hates their readers. Because Marvel is the kind of company that would take a beloved yet criminally low selling books, all but say “It’s cancelled”, and then jack the price up a dollar so they can turn more profit on its way to the land of canned books. That’s what they’re doing with Superior Foes of Spider-Man, btw, great great great book, the best thing Nick Spencer has done outside of Morning Glories, buttttt Marvel wants to make their max dollar, so the final issues are going to see a jump from three bucks to four, because why not?

 

These are the things that have begun to bother me the most as I’ve grown older. More so than disjointed stories, or terrible art, or editorial manglings of long term arcs. My biggest issue? Price gouging. The fact that All-New X-Men is one of the best books Marvel puts out, but that I’m buying it two or three times a month…that’s gouging. I mean, yes, if it were JUST that book, I wouldn’t mind, but I also read Uncanny X-Men on that schedule. All-New X-Factor debuted on that ‘whenever we can ship it, we ship it’ schedule. Going into this current wave of new NOW! books, I read less than twenty unique titles out of Marvel, but the frequency is murder. I picked up All-New X-Factor because I loved the first volume, but the fifth issue drops next week, and that’s less than three months since launching. Wolverine and the X-Men ended with a five dollar issue a few weeks ago, only to be followed up by a four dollar relaunch THE NEXT WEEK!

 

Last week of February.

Last week of February.

First week of March.

First week of March.

 

What gives? Superior Spider-Man has thirty issues, two annuals, two spin off books that are each ten issues in, and even a pointless AU issue. Superior Spider-Man launched January of 2013. That’s fifty-three issues of Spider-Man in just over a year. Superior Foes is the only one of those books to not cost more than three bucks an issue, but that will be changing next issue. But seriously, there’s been an issue of Spider-Man to make up for every week since the book relaunched, more or less. Do we need that much Spider-Man? Would the world come to an end if the book was monthly? Or even a strict twice a month? We also had the Inhumanity mini, and the Amazing Spider-Man point one issues. Venom was around (thirteen issues since Superior launched), Scarlet Spider too (thirteen!)….again, I haven’t left the Spider-Man family. Superior Carnage. Alright, now I’m leaving.

 

Avengers, New Avengers, Avengers Assemble, Mighty Avengers, Avengers A.I., Avengers Undercover (which is the followup to Avengers Arena), Avengers World, Secret Avengers (relaunch!). I haven’t even listed off the solo books yet.

 

All-New X-Men, Uncanny X-Men, X-Men, All-New X-Factor, X-Force (born on the backs of Cable and X-Force and Uncanny X-Force), Wolverine (complete with relaunch), Savage Wolverine, Amazing X-Men, Wolverine and the X-Men (relaunch!).

 

And A+X fits in with both! And I omitted a ton of books! But still, that’s just Avengers, Spidey, and X-Men. I just named off twenty books that are currently ongoing, and they all have a few things in common. For instance, Superior Foes and Avengers Undercover are the only $2.99 books amongst them. Or that the majority of those books ship at least twice a month.

 

Remember when comics were monthly and $2.99? DC Comics remembers. Wonder Woman and Green Arrow are two of the best books on the market, and they’re both holding the line at $2.99. They’re also monthly. That’s something DC does, they remember the value of the monthly title. You see books ship late (fuck you very much, Forever Evil), not early, and while yes, delays can be a pain in the ass, I’d rather see a book slip two weeks, than ship every two weeks without warning. Unfortunately, they’ve started creeping prices up as well, and without the same level of compensation as Marvel.

 marveldigicode

Marvel does the free digital code for any book you buy, in print, at $3.99. It adds a little value to the issue, and attempts to justify the added dollar in cost. You can have a digital copy (which is what I do), or you could sell it for a dollar to recoup the price (I have friends who do that). DC offers some books where you can spend an extra dollar and get a digital code, or you could pay the flat cover rate and not get one. This is especially nice because DC hasn’t figured out how to do that with books that aren’t already four bucks. That’s right, Justice League is four bucks, but Justice League with a digital code is five. It used to have extra pages, now it doesn’t, but whatever, I can still buy it without a code and not be spending an extra dollar for nothing.

 

Something I can’t do with any Marvel book I buy digitally. Seriously, Marvel’s digital books for four bucks are some of the worst deals you can get on a regular basis. Four bucks for a print copy and a free digital, or four bucks for the digital? Why is my physical pull list mostly Marvel? Because it’s actually a rip off to get their four dollar books via the digital marketplace if you have the option to get them in print, and Marvel has less than a dozen books in their entire line that cost under four bucks. Marvel has joined Image in being publishers where I’ll try out a first issue of most anything, but my return rate dwindles. Black Widow? Tried it, dropped it. Invaders? Tried it, dropped it. Hulk? Tried it, liked it, dropped it because it was just another four dollar book. Captain America? I read that one for a while before finally dropping it because it came out on a costly week.

 

It’s kinda funny, I drop DC books because they suck, but I drop Marvel books because I don’t want to afford them. If Black Widow were three bucks and monthly, I might give it a fair chance, but the first two issues dropped in a three week span, and I didn’t come back for the second issue. Punisher! There’s a good one, I have a habit of picking up the first issue of every new Punisher book because, frankly, I want to like a Punisher book. Didn’t even try this time. There wasn’t a point.

 

Which takes me to my next thing, the constant relaunches out of Marvel are past the point of driving me insane.

 

See, I was the kind of reader, and feel free to point out if I’m showing my age/nerdness, but I’m the guy who gets MORE excited by a book as it reaches issue milestones. I LOVE a two-hundredth issue even more than I love a first one. Why? Because books launch all the time, but it’s always been rare to see a book find enough longevity to get to that two-hundred mark. I also accept twenty-five, fifty, seventy-five, and pretty much any number in front of those as well. That’s how it was when I was growing up, a book hit a milestone when it launched, another at twelve issues, and from then on out if was multiples of twenty-five.

 

My first issue of X-Men was Uncanny X-Men #300. Why? It had a shiny cover and I was a kid. Why was the cover shiny? Because it was an anniversary issue and they wanted it to look special. Nowadays marvel just puts a big #1 on a cover of a book, and then you get to the smaller credits and see that it’s issue twenty something, because hey, nobody’s going to notice or get confused.

 

 

Superior_Spider-Man_27.NOW

Don’t let that big #1 fool you, this is #27.NOW. Seriously, the book is .NOW. That’s a thing.

 

A book over two-hundred issues long means that there’s been a commitment, both from the company and the readers, and that obviously something has been done right. Longevity is a great thing, and not really as scary as some would perceive it. Yes, those big numbers are daunting, but in this world of the internet and people who go out of their way to detail comics and movies and everything for anyone willing to search it, for someone to buy a random issue of a comic and get too lost to bother trying to continue reading means that the person is a frakwit who didn’t care that much after all.

 

When I got back into comics in 2003, X-Men felt like a brick wall. I loved the X-Men, and I didn’t like being so damn confused by what was going on. Then I found Uncannyxmen.net, and you know what? The guys there helped me get a grasp on what was going on, and it was like I hadn’t met anything. It’s comics, the only excuse you actually have to not understand what is going on is that you haven’t made an effort to.

 

I’ve gone a bit off topic, I know this, it happens, so I’m going to try and wrap it all up.

 

I love comics. You know this, or, if you don’t know this, come read the site more. I LOVE COMICS. I gladly throw money out of my paycheck at comics every week. I’ve done it for years, and I’ll keep doing it for years at this rate. All I really ask is that my status as a loyal reader not be abused by a company I would gladly support. I’ve already long since made it a point to not stick with titles that I can’t stand the quality of, so please, stop giving me titles that I can’t stand the pricetag of. Stop giving me titles at that expanded price that ship so often that it almost would be cheaper to just go read them in trade.

 

Because that’s an option, trades, or sales on Comixology. I’ve got a list of Marvel and DC books that I won’t spend a dime on again until they wind up on sale that way.

 

Oh, and Marvel? Don’t reprint NEW books, in their entirety, in the backs of high selling books. Yes, I understand, you want people to read Black Widow, but that’s never going to happen, and all you succeeded in doing is pissing off anyone who bought that book only to get a free second copy because they followed Superior Spider-Man.

 

Superior_Spider-Man_Vol_1_30

A little circle that tells me I wasted money on a book, and that I can never trust Marvel to not do it again.

 

 

Oh, and hey, if you skipped Inhuman #1 this week, don’t stress it! On top of the mediocre reviews that have been coming in, Marvel is going to stick it in the seven dollar Amazing Spider-Man #1 as well! Go figure!

And now, a random list!

 

Top Five Marvel Books I Wish Would Come Back:

5. Avengers Academy (I’m still going through Finesse withdrawal)

4. Generation X (Get rid of the A list teachers and do a book about the students being awesome instead)

3. X-Man (Nate Grey, who I loved as a kid, and enjoyed the return of, still has interesting stories to be told)

2. Runaways (Do it right this time)

1. Spider-Girl (Mayday Parker, and yes, I would even settle for them being on sale digitally)

 

It's still a Spider-Girl World.

It’s still a Spider-Girl World.

The Gold Standard

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