Marvel Comics just released a press release saying that they’ll be allowing retailers to return stripped covers of fifty unsold comics in exchange for a Deadpool variant cover version of The Siege #3. The promotion runs through February 16, just over a month from now, and will, according to Marvel, give retailers a chance to return over-ordered product in order to obtain what they call an “extremely rare” variant of their big event book.
The catch? All qualifying titles are DC Comics. Recent issues of Adventure Comics, Booster Gold, Doom Patrol, Justice League of America, Outsiders and R.E.B.E.L.S., which were ordered by retailers in huge numbers because of their connection the DC’s Blackest Night event and its related ring giveaway, are going to be bartered back by Marvel, presumably in hopes that they can embarrass DC with a press release trumpeting big numbers of “unwanted” comics that retailers felt obliged to order to get the much-in-demand rings.
The books in question all saw substantial sales gains in the month that they were propping up Blackest Night, both before and after the ring promotion month–but many retailers complained that the quantity they were being asked to buy in order to qualify for the rings was simply too high, and that while retailers bought a lot in order to get the rings, many of them ended up with too much product on the shelf. Given Blackest Night’s continued sales success, and a perception by some fans that Marvel isn’t dominating the sales charts in the same way as they had in recent years, the House of Ideas probably sees this as an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone by promoting The Siege by attacking Blackest Night.
That said, as Bleeding Cool observes, it’s primarily going to benefit large retailers and some of the online clearinghouses; many of these comics sold out at small and medium-sized retailers whose customers got swept up in the enthusiasm for Blackest Night. ”Not a slight against Marvel but I’m sure I don’t’ have fifty copies of those books left,” said Jeff Watkins, the manager of Cloud City Comics in DeWitt, New York, who referred to the ring promotion as one of the smartest things done in comics this year. ”I probably don’t have ten of those books; a lot of those books are complete sell-outs.”
Watkins operates a fairly small store in a suburb of Syracuse, but says that the ring promotion worked better than many similar gimmicks because the product was good. “I think it worked so well because people who bought them for the rings weren’t unhappy with the titles themselves; they put out some really good issues of R.E.B.E.L.S. and Outsiders.”
Still, they’re asking for an awful lot of copies in order to get one comic back from Marvel, so one has to wonder how many retailers will just hang on to all or most of their leftovers and figure that selling them in the dollar bin might be a more economical idea.