Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Curse of Threes—Three Types of Issues Comic Companies Need to Stop Releasing

Comic books come in all varieties, and with over 9,300 of them, it’s a safe bet I have at least one example of all of them.

But there are some that I desperately wish comic companies would stop putting out.  No, I’m not really referring to the silly gimmick ones with the glow-in-the-dark covers and holograms and foil stamps and all that.

Actually, the nostalgic part of me kind of misses those.

To be fair, the nostalgic part of me is a bit stupid.

And it needs to wear this helmet at all times.
I’m talking about the specific issues that companies release that seem to be designed to trick the average customer into spending more money.  
Yes, yes, that’s the point of a business, to make money, and, of course, no one is ever forced to buy a comic book, but even still, there are some types of issues out there that have always irked me.

Should I get irked about such things?  Probably not.  But it’s my column and if I want to be crazy for a day, then that’s what I’m going to be.  Besides, if I can’t rant about fictional characters, what meaning is there left for my life, right?

“Now march into that store and buy two copies of Sword of Sorcery right this second!”

The first type of issue I want to see gone is the “annual,” at least in its present form.  There was a time when annuals came out…wait for it…annually.  Yes.  That’s right.  Just like a monthly comic is released monthly, and a weekly series comes out weekly, and the Daily News is printed daily, annuals used to do exactly what they were supposed to.  For years.

And then they just started getting released randomly, still as “annuals,” because I guess “randomals” didn’t pass marketing.  If you have no intention of releasing these things once a year, just drop the charade.  Call it a “special” and be done with it.

Of course, since these issues are always priced higher because they contain more pages, there’s a more important thing that needs to be addressed, especially with Marvel comics.  I recently paid $4.99 for DC’s Superman Annual #1, same as I paid for Marvel’s Astonishing X-Men Annual #1.

The difference?  The Superman Annual was a full length adventure with all new material; Astonishing X-Men Annual #1?  It was a regular issue’s worth of stuff…and a reprint of an Alpha Flight issue from twenty years ago.  Yeah.  Fans had to shell out more money for an issue I’d venture many already had.  Don’t advertise something as a special double-sized issue when it’s really a regular sized one with an old reprint tacked on.

In truth, even free, this issue would have been overpriced considering the quality…
Then there are the Red Sky Tie-Ins, what we call tie-ins to events that barely have anything to actually do with the events themselves.  The name derives from Crisis on Infinite Earths, where some books were labeled as crossovers only because the skies in the issues were red, a reflection of occurrences in the main series.

Too often, Marvel and DC will announce a book as a crossover/tie-in and then you’ll get it and find out the “tie-in” consists of someone mentioning the event in passing and that’s it.  Really?  Come on, people, if you want a particular title to sell better, then make it better; don’t try and trick people into thinking it’s more than it is.  Don’t slap a crossover logo on Tanking Title #14 and have the crossover part of it being Soon to Be Canceled Guy saying, “Wow, what’s that sound?  I hope it’s not from Random Linewide Event #6.  Oh well, now where was I?”

Approximately 4 ½ out of 30 pages in this issue actually had
anything even remotely to do with Night of the Owls.

Finally, if you have to release something like an annual, don’t pull a bait and switch.  It’s not too much to ask that if I buy Green Lantern: New Guardians Annual #1, an alleged part of the Rise of the Third Army event, that it actually has something to do with any of that.  That issue was a double-whammy, with the Third Army being mentioned maybe once, and then the issue having nothing to do with the actual main characters of the book.

Why?  Because it was really a launching point for a new series that will likely be canceled in a year called Threshold.  That’s right.  It didn’t even have a complete story—it was to be continued in another book that hadn’t even been released.

Call me crazy, partly because I am, but I’d like to read about the characters I’m purchasing a book about and not have it hijacked to hawk another product.

I think the Third Army was mentioned by name twice…

So there you have it, the ramblings of a madman.

At the end of the day, none of these things are world shattering.  These aren’t war crimes.

But, regardless, would it really kill the big companies to be a bit more upfront with their products?

Probably not.

I’m just going to assume DiDio and Quesada won’t be tried here any time soon.

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