Marvel Comics came under fire a couple of weeks ago when it released Astonishing X-Men: Ghost Boxes #1. Written by Warren Ellis and illustrated by Alan Davis and Adi Granov, the comic, priced at $3.99 US, featured only 16 pages worth of story, and the rest of the issue was fleshed out with “bonus material.” That material took the form of Ellis’s scripts and rough breakdowns from the artists. Fans were incensed, as the inflated cover price certainly didn’t seem merited. I bought and read the issue in question as well, and I have to agree.
The publisher’s solicitation information mentioned nothing about the limited nature of the story pages. The issue’s solicitation information — still live on Marvel’s website — is not only silent on the limited story pages but also lists the artists as Davis and Frank Cho.
Marvel’s not the only super-hero publisher to lead its readers astray about the real nature of a higher-priced spin-off comic. Last week, DC released JSA Kingdom Come Special: Superman. I picked it up as well, and there were two things about the comic that I found surprising. The first was the lack of a stronger promotional effort from the publisher for a one-shot written and illustrated by Alex Ross, following up on his landmark Kingdom Come series of 1996. The second surprise was the fact that despite the 48 pages and $3.99 US cover price, the issue wasn’t filled to the brim with Ross story and artwork (plus ads, of course).