o Why is Marvel canceling all those "special variants" all of a sudden? According to the most recent Diamond update (temporary link), previously solicited variant editions of Hulk #20, Incredible Hulk #607, Ultimate Comics: Avengers #6, Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man #7 and X-Men Forever #18, as well as second-print variants of Black Widow: Deadly Origin #1 and Vengeance of the Moon Knight #3 have all been cancelled.
Are we seeing a paradigm shift at Marvel regarding variant-cover editions and/or reprints? Is the variant bubble about to burst? Or is it just a glitch?
o Marvel will be offering its own version of DC's "After Watchmen" promotion, releasing cheap $ 1.00 reprints of popular debut issues. They called it "Marvel's Greatest Comics."
The books mentioned are Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca's Invincible Iron Man #1 (which will be free, to kick things off), Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting's Captain America #1, Eric Shanower and Skottie Young's Wonderful Wizard of Oz #1, J. Michael Straczynski and Olivier Coipel's Thor #1 and, finally, one of the various adult-oriented Punisher comics published under the Max imprint—it may be one by Garth Ennis, or the recent relaunch by Jason Aaron and Steve Dillon.
Comparing this with DC's offerings, the thing that jumps out is that all of the material is from the last five years. Whereas DC went back as far as to the 1980s, Marvel seems more confident in the recent output than in, say, the first issue of Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli's "Born Again" arc that ran in Daredevil in 1987. (Although, who knows what's still to come.)
Also, Marvel doesn't really have as much to offer beyond superheroes as DC does, of course, so it's both surprising and encouraging to see that two of their more well-reviewed non-superhero books are among the bunch.
Overall, it strikes me as a solid collection of good, critically acclaimed titles—if you do this sort of thing, you might as well do it with these comics.
o ICv2.com talks to Dark Horse publisher Mike Richardson. The interview doesn't have any great revelations, but, as always, it's still interesting to see executives of the major companies talk about their views on the market.
On comic books versus book-length comics, Richardson says:
Obviously there’s less interest in the pamphlets than in the past and more interest in having a book that people can put on their shelves with the other books that they enjoy, so you see a growth of the graphic novel business. […] There are a lot of economic factors that play against the traditional pamphlet. […] And so at some point you wonder what the perceived value is.
On the topic of digital distribution, it appears there's a slow paradigm shift at Dark Horse. A few years ago, the "experience" of reading a comic always seemed to be something they were confident would continue to be important in a digital distribution model.
Now, though, Richardson isn't so sure anymore, evidently:
In the past we’ve always felt that people like to have the paper, like to hold the books. Certainly you and I feel that way, but I’m not so sure that the youngest audience feels that way. They’ve grown up in an age where they read on their computers and visit the Internet regularly and are not as attached to paper products, so that plays a factor in our business particularly.
o On a somewhat related note, I'm curious who ICv2.com is talking to at DC this year, with Paul Levitz taking his hat.
o The promised review of Jeff Lemire's Sweet Tooth #1 is online, for your reading pleasure.