Thursday, August 12, 2004

DC and Batman say "SCREW YOU" to collectors

Disclaimer: Some serious nerding out to occur in this post. Look out.

New comic book day is Wednesday. Unless a holiday screws up the UPS shipping schedule, your newly minted comics will be at your local retailer each and every Wednesday. And like a good little pre-programmed freak, each Wednesday or Thursday (depending on how busy I am), I go down to my local shop and pick up my weekly stash of comics.

There exists more than one Batman comic. In fact, there are probably 8 or 9 of them. Within the industry, the collection of comics surrounding a single character are usually called a "family", and are run under a single editorial head. So, you have a number of Batman comic per month, which can mean more than one Batman comic per week, depending on if you really want to read all of the Batman books which come out.

I do not.

I read all of the Superman stuff, but keeping up with all the Batman stuff is near impossible, and a lot of it suffers from uneven writing and/ or art.

The Batman titles include:

Detective Comics (which Batman first appeared in back in issue #27. I think we're up to 800 now).
Batman: Gotham Knights
Legends of the Dark Knight
Birds of Prey
Superman/ Batman
My Dinner with Commissioner Gordon
Alfred's Totally Excellent Adventure
plus, and unlimited number of limited series runnign at any time

Point being, there are many titles, and I think I read 4 of them. Actually, it's more like... nevermind.

But one thing DC promised it would quit doing about two years ago was to create a big-multi-part story which would require you to buy all of the comics from a certain family. The idea was, they would create a huge, industry spanning event which would draw a lot of attention and drum up sales for ALL of the books in the family. But, usually, these stories turned out to be the most half-assed stories all year as more than half-a-dozen writers are asked to write only one part of a story, and only the editor knows what's really going on. And the reader DOES have to buy all the parts so you know what the hell is going on.

This means, say I normally buy half of the Batman comics... now, in order to know what is going on in Detective in July, I have to get everything else in June. This might mean 6 or 7 extra comics.

As a kid, I enjoyed chasing down all the parts. As an adult, I feel screwed.

But DC hadn't done this in two years, coming off the tragically flawed "Joker's Last Laugh" story arc. I'm not a fan of the idea of editor and business driven series, but when the Batman Family editors said "We're doing a huge story arc about a gang-war in Gotham, and it's called 'War Games'", I said: Okay. Sure. Why not. It'd been a while.

They kicked War Games off last week with a $0.12 comic, called Batman: The Twelve Cent Adventure.

Cool enough.

And then, this week, I pick up my Batman comics, one of which is NOT my regular title, but which is necessary to follow the story, and... they wrapped the comics in sealed mylar bags. Apparently there is a promotional CD-Rom for Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow inside of the bag being sold with the comic.

This is a HUGE problem for the collector.

Usually I take very good care of my comics between shop and home, read the comics a few times, re-check out the art, blah blah blah... and then the comics get put into a plastic poly-bag. The comics are then put away into longboxes in my closet. At this point, I believe the comics to still be in very good condition.

But if the comic is in a sealed mylar bag, I stand a chance of damaging the comic while opening the bag. Also, no matter what... when I OPEN the mylar bag, the comic is instantly valueless. It has instantly lost any claim to being "Near Mint." Which, in collector's terms, means the comic is worth the cost of the paper it's printed on.

(someday I shall relate the absolute horror I felt as my brother's pal, Suzannah, grabbed one of my comics and used it as a coaster... She will never know how close she came to being forcibly ejected from my house that day.)

For REAL collectors out there, a sealed mylar bag means they will need to buy TWO copies of the comic. One copy to open and to read, and one copy to keep in the mylar, which, in turn, whill be sealed in a poly-bag. This, of course, drives sales of the damn comics through the roof.

The last time I remember this ploy really working was The Death of Superman, which bagged the Death of Superman issue in a black mylar bag (with a bloody Superman logo emblazoned upon the plastic...). Then, when Supes returned from the "dead", they had a white mylar bag. I have copies of the Death of Superman and his return in the mylar bags and opened. Sigh.

I decided not to buy two copies of the same comics as, let's be honest, it's going to be my estate which will be selling my Batman and Superman comics. I'm way too much of a packrat to let those go.

Long and the short... DC and Marvel are returning to their money making tricks of the early-90's. I expect foil covers to be making a re-appearance very soon.

No comments: