Not satisfied with absolutely killing DC at the box office this summer, Marvel has decided to strike at the DCU where it really hurts—the local comic book shop.
Both Marvel and DC are midway through their summer event series. For the uninitiated, both major comic book publishers do a huge story arc each year that traverses multiple characters and multiple books, thus forcing readers to buy more titles than they normally would to guarantee that they don’t miss out on a key part of the story. It’s a money-making scheme but, depending on the story and the writers, it can be a worthwhile one. Marvel’s event series is called Fear Itself, and DC’s is called Flashpoint. Got it? Good.
The wrinkle on this occasion is that Marvel is offering an incentive to retailers that involves destroying DC’s Flashpoint series—literally. For every 50 copies of any of the Flashpoint #1’s that retailers rip the cover from, Marvel will send them a rare, variant cover of Fear Itself #6, which can be sold at a higher price.
Will it work? Probably. As a point of comparison, Fear Itself #2 sold more copies than Flashpoint #1. That is virtually unheard of in the comic book market. It’s clear that Fear Itself is by far the better seller and, with piles of unsold Flashpoint books stacking up, it’s actually beneficial to retailers to lose them in favor of the Marvel variant.
It’s even more beneficial to Marvel, who won’t only be damaging DC’s present but harming its future, too. Flashpoint is meant to be the lead-in for DC’s new 52, which relaunches almost their entire cast of characters. It’s also the beginning of DC’s initiative to sell digital copies of issues on the same day of the print release.
By taking Flashpoint off the stands, Marvel could significantly reduce interest in the upcoming DC shake-up. Is it unethical? Not really. Just competitive business. It does look an awful lot like kicking a man when he’s down though, which could backfire.
What do you think? Is Marvel playing too dirty?