There's a bit of a controversy brewing in the comic industry all of a sudden. We at OAFE may be all about the toys, but comics are where most of the toys come from, so you'll forgive us if we feel the need to get into this.
The whole thing started with DC's Blackest Night. A Green Lantern-themed crossover, the story involves the dead coming back to life. So, you know, it's basically DC trying to get a bite of that sweet Marvel Zombies success. Anyway, in order to promote some of their tie-in books, DC came up with a promotion whereby buying certain books would get you a free power ring, in all the various colors:
A fun little thing, sure, and it no doubt helped those books sell. For every X number of copies a store ordered, they could order a bag of promotional rings to do with as they wished - hand 'em out free with a purchase of the book, sell them, give them to people who donated canned food, throw them at passing cars, whatever. It was entirely up to them.
Fast forward a month and a half. The ring promotion is over. This past Wednesday, Marvel announced an incentive plan for retailers: return 50 DC comics, get a free Siege #3 variant. The list of returnable books? All the ones that were part of the ring promotion. Oh, snap!
For some reason, this created a huge controversy. Fans called it childish, insulting, petty... everything but what it actually is: smart.
Marvel isn't offering a 1-for-1 trade-in, not by any means! Retailers have to send in 50 books. Do you have any concept of how many comics "50 comics" is? Not as a number, but as a physical representation of unsold stock? If you're reading this, odds are good you collect comics: go make a stack of 50 books and really look at it. Do you see how big that stack is? Your local comicshop can trade that many books in for one (1) variant. If your lcs really has that many comics, you think they wouldn't love to get rid of them somehow? If they didn't over-order to that extent, then good for them: they know their customers well enough to order appropriately; this promotion isn't for them.
It's for the shops who went crazy with the deal, buying tons more than they usually would and hoping for new customers seeking rings. It's an out for stores that made a mistake and now have valuable capital tied up in unsellable stock.
There are a few ridiculous claims out there, but Marvel Executive Editor Tom Brevoort answered those yesterday. This isn't a scheme to get DC books off shelves before fans can buy them: most stores make short-term money on new releases in the first two weeks; there are no real long-term sales backing that up any more. Odds are good that all the copies of, say, Doom Patrol #4 that are ever going to be sold have already been sold.
Neither is it an insult at DC. If the books were over-ordered because of the rings, then that has nothing to do with the quality of the product. And despite what some commentors think, "stripping" the books - tearing off the covers and mailing only those back - is standard practice in the publishing industry, not a order to "destroy" books. But hey, this is the internet: it's all about mouthing off on things you don't understand.
Basically what it all boils down to is DC fans getting pissed because "their" company didn't think of this first. Marvel came up with a clever strategy to not only provide a service for retailers who need it most, but to get a ton of free publicity at the same time. If this had been DC announcing a rare Brightest Day variant in exchange for unsold copies of Dark Reign tie-ins, those same fanboys would have been crowing about what a masterful move it was. The people who are pissed are only pissed because it's Marvel doing it, not because they hate the idea. The plan is a good one, and Marvel was smart to do it.
The best thing to come of all this, though? The news that Hitler was a comic fan:
That kind of over-reacting is typical. Even Blackest Night writer Geoff Johns got in on the sour grapes.