Monday, November 8, 2010

Manic Monday--More Fun With Marvel Math

Man, Marvel's playing funky with the math lately.

First we have "Point One" issues coming up (good luck filing Amazing Spider-Man #654.1). Hurray, decimal points in issue numbers!!

Next we learn that "all new books" means "pretty much "no new books, sucka."

Let's recap. The first day of the New York Comic Con, DC announced that they were dropping their price point to $2.99, effective in January.

About half an hour later, in what Marvel maintains was a total coincidence, senior VP of sales and circulation David Gabriel announced that, Marvel, too, was dropping some prices. And after his announcement,

Reached after the panel Gabriel confirmed that “selected” Marvel titles — including new titles — would be priced at $2.99. There will be no reduction in story pages. He said the announcement was not because of DC’s news, and genuinely seemed not to know that the DC news had just broken.
A number of news outfits confirmed this report, and there was much rejoicing.

Until Marvel's January solicits appeared, and, lo and behold, a number of new titles were at $3.99, not $2.99. (In fairness, three new titles are at $2.99)

What gives? Well, according to Marvel Math Wizard Tom Brevoort, everybody was just too stupid to understand what was actually said. Even though Brevoort himself had reiterated the price drops the very next day, three weeks later he claimed "that people either misreported or misconstrued what David Gabriel actually said at that panel."

Yup, every single report got it wrong (which I suppose is possible, if unlikely), AND every single report got Brevoort's confirmation wrong the next day (increasingly unlikely), AND Marvel took 3 entire weeks to correct that "misunderstanding." Hmmm, sounds like someone jumped the gun on their "me, too" announcement, and took a few weeks to figure out what the hell to do when the corporate overlords didn't approve.

So what, exactly, is Marvel's new pricing policy? Thursday, Gabriel finally trotted out the answer:

"The pricing structure is that for limited series in the Marvel Universe that we roll out, we will price as many of those as we can for $2.99 for a 32-page book."

Man, there are more holes in that than in The Spot. Let's look at that one more time, shall we?

"The pricing structure is that for limited series in the Marvel Universe that we roll out, we will price as many of those as we can for $2.99 for a 32 page book."

Only limited series...only those in the Marvel Universe (sorry, Ultimate fans!!), and even then only "as many as we can."

That's the most weasel words in one explanation outside of a sports owner promising not to fire his head coach two weeks before he actually does it.

And in case you think I'm just being pessimistic, Gabriel goes on in the same interview to load on the exceptions:

If someone has 30 pages they want to put into those stories or [special issues], especially a one-shot, those will be at $3.99 as they have been. If there is back up material, the book will be at the higher price. If a series is already is in the works, again, we never made any announcement that we were lowering prices on series that were out already. If the first issue has been solicited at $3.99, the second issue will be at $3.99.
So, every time Bendis sticks his "Oral History Of The Avengers" in the back, you pay a buck more. If a series is "already in the works," a deliciously nebulous term, you pay a buck more. If they don't want to sell the series at $2.99, they'll just price #1 at $3.99, and the series is stuck at that price forever, apparently.

In other words, any time Marvel doesn't feel like selling you a book for $2.99, well, they won't, and one of these exceptions will justify them.

And Marvel didn't lie or misrepresent of over-promise. No, it's our own fault for "misreporting" or "misconstruing" what they told us.

Which could be true, because if we keep believing what Marvel promises us, and if we keep shelling out $3.99 for comics, then I guess we are too stupid...


Tim Knight said...

This just continues to confirm that my plans to get away from a lot of mainstream 'superheroic' comics is on the ball.

Although the majority of my 'Big Two' pull-list next year will probably be Marvel, it will be considerably fewer titles than it might have been and I'll be a lot more conscientious when screening titles to include in my monthly order.

I'm going to be a lot more reluctant to "take a punt" on an unknown title now.

Lazarus Lupin said...

It's a thankless job being a corporate shilling suck weasel, I'm sure Gabriel is crying in cranberry vodka martinis over the evil he has to perform. Let's all feel sorry for him.

Lazarus Lupin
art and review

Siskoid said...

Marvel is singing Give Piracy a Chance.

SallyP said...

Oh Marvel. I pretty much gave up on you during the whole Civil War fiasco, and you certainly aren't giving me any reasons to go back.