Daily Archives: May 29, 2011

Politics as Unusual

Secret Avengers #13
Writer: Nick Spencer
Pencils: Scot Eaton
Inks: Jaime Mendoza & Rick Ketcham
Colors: Frank D’Armata
Letters: Dave Lanphear
Cover artists: Adi Granov (regular)/Lee Weeks (variant)
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $3.99 US

After reading this comic book, at first I couldn’t quite decide if I’d read one of the smartest Marvel publications so far this year or one of the corniest, most ham-fisted ones of 2011. There are a lot of things I enjoyed about Nick Spencer’s plot and script. The political elements, the over-the-top notion that saves the day, a couple of sharp turns of phrase and a believable connection between two characters despite the fact that one of them had only just been introduced all made me smile. But for every strength that Spencer’s writing brought to the book, there’s a flaw that detracted from the reading experience and took me out of the story. I was only planning on writing a capsule review (one of my Quick Critiques) of this comic book, but I found that as I got going, I had a lot more to say about it than I expected. As I sorted through the pros and cons that I perceived, I ultimately realized that no, this wasn’t one of Marvel’s strongest offerings of the year, but rather a strong foundation upon which a rickety house was built.

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Covering Fire

Well, that didn’t take long.

Earlier this year, IDW Publishing happened upon a fairly interesting and effective promotional campaign involving variant covers. Now, variants are hardly the freshest idea in the comic-book industry, but this one was a little different. If a shop ordered 500 copies of Godzilla: Kingdom of Monsters #1, its copies would feature a cover image of the Japanese monster’s gigantic foot crushing its premises to rubble. About 75 shops took advantage of the promotion. It definitely boosted sales on the comic book. Numbers indicate the comic sold almost 59,000 copies, which is probably somewhere between 30,000-40,000 more than it would’ve sold without the marketing gimmick.

Given this success, it was only a matter of time before other publishers gave it a shot. Avatar offered a special personalized variant cover to retailers featuring a unique piece of art for each of those covers (as opposed to the same image being tweaked slightly, as was the case with the Godzilla retailer variant. Given how small a publisher Avatar is, though (despite the popular and established writing talent it draws upon), I don’t think we’ll see tens of thousands of these personalized variant editions turning up.

So it’s Marvel Entertainment that’s taken the next big step in what I expect will be a crescendo of shop-specific variant comics.

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