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Why Variants Have Me Dropping IDW’s Sonic the Hedgehog on Principle

I knew there was something kinda fishy going on with the first issue of IDW‘s Sonic the Hedgehog. But I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

I ended up at a second local shop in order to get the "A" cover of #1, despite thinking I had recognized the art of the cover I’d held in my hands, which was the "B" cover.

Then for #2, I was able to get the "A" cover with no problem, but again, the "B" (VARIANT) cover had seemed more familiar, and I wasn’t quite sure why, and didn’t think much about it.

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But then Saturday, something "clicked" and I realized what it might have been, so I opened to the back of both issues, finding the same double-page ad for the first four issues, and realized what was going on.

For the first issue, I’d specifically noticed the "Cover B" and put the issue back, despite a familiar-ish image, probably from seeing stuff about the series on Bleeding Cool or some other place online about the then-upcoming Sonic the Hedgehog #1.

For the second issue, I was able to get the cover marked as the "A" cover, and didn’t really think about it.

But the advertised covers–the double-page ad in the back of the issues, showcasing the first four weekly issues of the new series–show the "B" covers. The covers by the interior artist, which would be far more fitting as the PRIMARY, or "A" covers.

This severely bugs me, just on principle: part of the POINT of me consciously, specifically seeking out the "A" covers for any given series, IS THAT THE "A" COVER is the PRIMARY cover, the cover that is advertised, etc; and that it is the VARIANTS that come after, the B/C/D/E etc covers. And the VARIANT covers might be ALSO advertised…but generally "online" or places OTHER THAN the ads and "next issue" pages in the print edition; so if you only have the print edition to go on, there’s ONE cover image you’re looking for.

This flips that, and with NOTHING on the ad pages to indicate these are "B" covers–nor even that there are variant covers at all–I personally feel like it’s disingenuous at best. Worse still, I now feel like I have personally been "tricked" on this, AND I feel stuck with covers that ARE NOT THE ADVERTISED COVERS. I will NOT re-buy the two issues just to have the "correct" covers when I’ve already bought the other covers.

And on principle, I am DONE WITH THE SINGLE ISSUES. Just like that, cold turkey. On principle.

Maybe I’ll buy collected editions, but with IDW seemingly to RIGIDLY and PRIMARILY do 4-issue volumes–and with it being highly likely that the first volume collecting Sonic the Hedgehog will be only these first 4 weekly issues–at $17.99 or so, that’s way, Way, WAY too much for only 2 issues of (to me) "new content." And even if they do a smaller-trim volume (6"x9"?) in the $9.99-$12.99 range…that’s still too expensive for content I already have when they’ve already totally ticked me off on principle. (As opposed to me absolutely loving stuff and having a great experience with the whole thing and thus THEN being willing to simply "double dip")


So for mixing up "A" and "B" covers with what’s in print, what they "usually do," and what’s blatantly, actively advertised; for dealing in variants at all, this is a PRIME EXAMPLE of a publisher/series losing me due to variants.

Is it stupid, surfacey, petty, and "cutting off my nose to spite my face"? I’m sure many/MOST would go with THAT.

But to me, it’s stupid, surfacey, and petty of publishers to CONSTANTLY, for every single issue of every single series they ever publish, running with VARIANT covers.

And as said: when I feel like I’ve been tricked, when I feel like I’m stuck with the covers that I don’t want, and when this has resulted DESPITE my CONSCIOUS attention to detail in making sure I’ve gotten the "A" covers SPECIFICALLY…I’m far from feeling satisfied with my purchases.

And there are way too many comics out there at way too high a price for me to get everything that I’d like to, to get everything I have the slightest "interest" in, for me to be spending money on something where I’ve been manipulated or tricked, and am unhappy with what I own.

  • Is it "just a cover"? Then why does there have to be a variant?
  • Buy the cover you want? I specifically buy the "A" covers for consistency, because in recent memory, the "A" cover seems to always be the cover that is advertised. In this case, that’s flipped.
  • Change and buy the "B" cover going forward? Now that messes with my mental OCD, and consciously knowing subsequent such issues do not match/flow consistently.

I’m only one person. But I now have a negative feeling, a negative attitude toward this series; I’m jumping off 2 issues in and there’s plenty stacked against it on me picking up later volumes…and so I’m one less person to sing its praises (nostalgia or otherwise), and one more person with a negative experience.

And I am thus an example: YES, someone WILL actually, truly DROP A SERIES "just" because of the cover, "just" because of variants.

Because (like numbers) the cover does matter.

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The Weekly Haul: Week of April 11, 2018 #NCBD

Thankfully, this proved to be another small-ish week for new comics!

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We have a new issue of TMNT, starting a new arc. I might be slightly "off" but it seems like IDW managed to FINALLY realize it is possible to do comics in longer-than-4-issue-arcs! Meanwhile, we have the 2nd issue of the new Sonic the Hedgehog…I remain skeptical of a WEEKLY $3.99 title. However, for a launch, I’m all for a quick succession of 4 issues–it gets more material out quicker, and gives a full (larger) arc in a shorter time, and while the "cost" to me is the same, without looking to the hassle that weekly titles are to comic shops, it gives me a chance to have several issues to decide if I want to continue with the series…without the question being dragged out for months.

We also have the new issue of Oblivion Song (I reviewed the first issue here) which I’ve pretty much lost interest in and haven’t experienced any "hype" for its SECOND issue (yet again where "only" the first issue/premiere of a series is pushed and then left to sink or float on its own while the "next big thing" is actively over-pushed).

Then we have what I think is the "final" issue of Supergirl (well, this current iteration anyway. Given the hit tv show, I can’t imagine there not being some sort of comic series going for it). And of couse, far behind as I am in the reading, the latest issue (again? Already?) of Detective Comics.

Finally, a True Believers reprint of The Infinity Gauntlet #1. From 1991…a 27-year-old comic that back then was "just comics" doing some gratuitous cosmic crossover and now is a multi-billion-dollar basis of movies. Though I’ve gotten copies of this issue from 25 and 50-cent bins in the ("distant") past…this is certainly the cheapest way I’ll acquire any new copies. And on shinier, cleaner paper, possibly with "cleaned-up" colors/restorations…and certainly the (print copy) "convenience" of the issue, without digging through all my unsorted longboxes. Plus…it looks like this 2018 edition reprints the ENTIRE ISSUE. The 2015 edition (around Secret Wars) did not–as I recall–give the entire issue.

Next week will have the issue that–in nearly 30 years of being into comics–I’ve waited the longest for; having looked forward to it for some 23+ months: Action Comics #1,000.

And really, in a way I’ve been looking forward to it for over 350 months…since my first issue of the title as a new comic, waaaaaaay back with #651!

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Recently Redone Action Figure Shelves (Early April 2018)

Along with recently redoing the setup of my comic space with new bookcases and such (which I will "eventually" be showing off here), I’ve been working on redoing some action figure shelves.

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I now have a shelf set up with the various TMNT villains, and another for variants of the Turtles themselves as well as allies. (Some folks might notice a potential villain in with the allies, but to me he is one of the Mighty Mutanimals and thus an ally!)

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I also have this old wall-display shelf I "rescued" from the attic of my parents’ old house. It’s perfectly-slotted to display the three "generations" of TMNT so far, along with Splinter and April. Whether this display remains somewhat permanently or not remains to be seen…especially with a new "4th generation" line due out soon (for better or worse).

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Then there’s my Superman shelf. Previously, I’d had most of these crammed onto one shelf on the same level and couldn’t even see many of them. Redoing the display, I’ve been able to incorporate a tiered system that allows for better overall display and visibility of the various figures and such–from the 12" figures to DC Direct to Multiverse to regular size to the various miniatures and such…as well as a statue and even a Heroclix figure.

…And these are not even all of my Supermen! But I barely got these to all fit into one shelving slot, and with other figures that I will eventually have displayed and such, it won’t hurt to still have Superman mixed in with those as well!


I have several other "shelving slots" to fill, but have to get more supplies yet for my "tiered system" so my efforts were put on hold for a bit. Given events going on in my personal life, that’s not a bad thing, and it’s certainly not a rush to get done!

I’m sure I’ll show off other shelves in the near future. (And those of you who follow me on Twitter, you probably recognize the above photos from me sharing "in the moment" as I finished up the displays!)

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The Weekly Haul: Week of April 4, 2018

Well, this proved to be a small week for new comics!

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New issues each of Superman and Batman; sadly, I believe this run of Superman is being cut off in another issue or two, not EVEN making it to #50; and who knows on Batman?

While I’m highly annoyed at the early-release at a convention, and at the constant variant covers…I decided to check out the first issue of IDW‘s Sonic the Hedgehog series. I passed over 20 years ago on the Archie-published premiere, so here I am with a likely-near-"worthless" one now. But hey…nostalgia. (Sonic the Hedgehog was the first videogame I ever "beat" with no cheat codes or "Game Genie" and so on!)

Then we have the second-to-last issue of the Rogue & Gambit mini…I’m pretty sure as "regular" "full price" issues go, that leaves me with only 2 more "planned" Marvel issues (#5 of this series, and the final issue/epilogue of Mighty Thor since I already have the 6 chapters I do, might as well finish out the last issue before Yet. Another. Renumbering). And while I was aware of a Kickstarter thing, I’m verrrrry glad to see Demi-God get a regular, actual, real release…and I’m happy to support it this way, having access to the "A" cover vs. a variant, and it actually having regular distribution and not being limited just to some Kickstarter thing!

And finally, the first of another wave of True Believers issues, this time featuring Thanos…because hey, there’s a movie coming out in just a few short weeks! I do definitely prefer when these True Believers issues are basically a straight up "reprint" of a particular issue–a True Believers Edition–rather than being made out to be a whole other thing–Thanos: The First is a reprint of Iron Man #55–the first appearance of Thanos (and another short/early story from an issue of Logan’s Run). I’d much rather a True Believers Iron Man #55. For a less-iconic singular issue like the Thanos vs. the Avengers I’m ok with it as it’s not the same sort of "key" issue like a first appearance, "death," or "return."

Overall, a nice small-ish week that didn’t leave me with "sticker shock" or such!

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Ultraverse Revisited: Early House Ads

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Here are several early "house ads" for the first few Ultraverse titles, plus the "Ultratorials" from Prime, Hardcase, and The Strangers #1s.

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For me, one of the most noticeable differences from ad to print with Prime was the title logo–the lower portion was removed, and the cover of the first issue features only the full, heroic Prime–not the two-stage transformative part next to it.

The text description sorta fits what I remember, in the "hype" sense, but doesn’t feel entirely accurate on the first issue in particular.

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This Strangers ad is the image for the first issue’s cover, and offhand seems like what was printed, albeit with some different coloring, perhaps. And with Malibu‘s coloring department (long-rumoured to have been why Marvel bought the company) it makes plenty of sense to me offhand that that would make for some simple changes, and the coloring (of the background) can make an image look at once familiar yet suitably different like this.

The text definitely fits, though sorta "gives away" the "lost city" bit…but had you asked me before looking at/reading this ad, I would have been able to tell you essentially the rest of it, just not "…with a sorceress from a lost city…"

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I feel like Hardcase was another logo that changed between ad and print, with a more "basic" and bigger/blockier design. This logo is familiar enough that I want to say it got used on later issues of the series.

This image is completely different from the first issue’s cover, though 25 years later, this would simply be a case of "I didn’t get the variant cover." I like the image in terms of the ad, but it would seem rather boring and "off" to me for what I recall of the first issue itself.

The text piece mostly gives the premise of the series, but I wonder (now) about the timing of stuff for what I recall of the character only having a year "off" from super heroics–is that really time to build a huge film career?

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I like this Freex ad–it’s the image I associate with the first issue, and I think I even have a poster of this. I prefer the text being part of the image, rather than a Microsoft Word "text box" dropped onto the image…it feels a lot more dynamic…and memorable!

I do notice a small "text box" but even that seems a bit fancier than the first three ads, and actually does NOT stand out so much. "Life’s tough when you’re a super-power freak."

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Mantra is another where the image from the first issue’s cover is used, which I definitely like!

The text box seems a bit much, with two ‘paragraphs’ of premise given…it makes it look a bit more complicated. Of course, I like that this info is provided, as it beats the heck outta just simply giving the image and saying "blindly buy me!" It also somewhat spoils developments in the first couple issues, and as I recall, technically "spoils" the first issue’s cliffhanger.

Additionally, for a "solo title," the cover makes it look like a bit of a team-up book, with Mantra and Warstrike fighting together, and possibly for the shadowy guy in the background (the villain Boneyard). The main character is the smallest figure on the image!

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Here’s the "Ultrafiles" page from Prime #1. While I the first part is the same across the several issues, the latter part is changed up to fit the specific issue, with small quotes from the creators of the specific issue.

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Here’s the page from Hardcase #1…

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…and here’s the page from Strangers #1.

Though I’ve been almost certain that Strangers had been the first of the titles out (granted, this was 25 years ago and I was a 12-year-old kid at the time), that its page showed the covers of the next month’s new #1s has me slightly doubtful.

Regardless, I appreciate that these pages were changed to fit the specific issue–they were not just a one-size-fits-all static thing inserted into each issue.

This is also from a time when the "primary" cover was what was marketed–not the variants. Variants existed–specifically full-cover holographic covers, and versions with silver foil logos–but they were not the marketed versions. They were special "additional" versions! The hologram images I’ve come to learn were actually different from the printed art; but the foil editions are the same exact cover, just with the bulk of the logo as silver foil. The hologram covers are extremely distinctive–you’d know EXACTLY what you’re looking at to see one; and otherwise, the marketing (like these pages and most of the house ads) show you exactly the cover image you’re looking for, on whichever series!

Two and one half decades later, and going through back-issue bins, one can immediately tell what issues are what and the (series) reading order and all that.

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The Weekly Haul: Week of March 28, 2018

This was another interesting week for new comics. Small-ish, but some high prices making it feel like a slightly bigger week. And I totally forgot to look for a certain back-issue that I’d missed last week, so I may be back out this weekend hunting.

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We have the $4.99 conclusion to Metal; the $4.99 next issue of Doomsday Clock (that I’m about ready to jump off and just wait for the eventual collected edition); and the $4.99 250th issue of GI Joe: A Real American Hero (the numbering goes back to the original Marvel-published #1 from the early 1980s!).

On the idea that I’ll catch up on reading TMNT before I make it back to the shop with the pull-list, snagged the "B" cover since IF I’m gonna have two copies of the issue, might as well get a different image. PLUS the TMNT stuff is my core "exception" where I’ll let a LOT more go than I will with any other property. The second issue of The Terrifics; the new Detective Comics (which is no longer going to sync necessarily with Action Comics the way it has for most of the past 22 or so months).

The latest issue of The Demon: Hell is Earth; and then the booklets that go along with the latest issue of Previews.

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And there’s the issue of Previews itself, along with image+; these kinda just are what they are.


Next week starts the April books; and also puts us into the month in which we should be getting Action Comics #1,000. While by regular scheduling that should have been this week, it’s being "held" for 3 weeks so its release coincides with the 80th anniversary of Superman. And based on the understanding that it’s otherwise done…I’m pretty much ok with it for said anniversary status.

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Dollar Sale Haul: Comics & Friends March 25th, 2018

This past Sunday, Comics & Friends (a comic shop in the Great Lakes Mall in Mentor, Ohio) had a $1 sale, with a bunch of longboxes of books for $1 each! I almost didn’t go, but figured I hadn’t been there in awhile, it was an excuse to "get out" for a bit, and maybe I’d luck into something especially cool.

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I ended up snagging a number of #1 issues. I’d usually "feel bad" about just grabbing a #1…but these were basically "orphans," where it was just the #1, if not multiple copies of the #1. And where I saw the X comic on its own for $1, the entire issue of Hero Illustrated that had a copy bagged with it was available, so I went that route. And though I have an intense dislike of contemporary Valiant, I still enjoy the classic ’90s stuff… and a Rai paperback for $1 is well worthwhile!

I don’t think I ever snagged The Demon #1 before; I’m all about Batman: Shadow of the Bat #1’s "Collector’s Set" for the posters and such; Elfquest #1 here is in better shape, I think, than a previous copy I’d gotten at one point. Amidst a bunch of other Image #1s, I’m not certain if I already had Youngblood #1, and while several of the other early-Image #1s seem pretty common in bargain bins, I don’t often see this. I’ve long been aware of the Dinosaurs for Hire series, but pretty sure I never had this #1. I’m also not certain off the top of my head with The Ferret #1…though I would not be surprised either way (having or not already having) it.

And just because I remember Wizard magazine overhyping Gen13 #1 and claiming it into the $40 range at one point, I take a certain satisfaction in continuing to acquire copies of this issue and still not being anywhere near that sort of price range as a total.

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I snagged a random Myth Adventures issue (it caught my eye as something right outta The Crapbox of Son of Cthulhu!); a Hero Illustrated promo comic of Concrete (I don’t recognize or remember it offhand…it may be from an issue I have yet to acquire); a "spare" copy of the promo Zero issue from DC (from its original Zero Month that followed the Zero Hour event). And then several "special" Marvel issues in Iron Man #300, Incredible Hulk #400, Avengers #375, The Secret Defenders #12, Incredible Hulk #418, and Fantastic Four #381. Anniversary issues, oversized and fancy foil/shiny covers or die-cut, and the "death" of Mr. Fantastic for a couple years. I’d typically consider these all to be 25-cent bin stuff, but I’m occasionally willing to go up to $1 or so like this "in the moment" and such.

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$1 each for "recent" New 52 issues with $5.99 and $4.99 cover prices is not bad. I didn’t buy into the blind-polybag-cover crap for the #50s at the time…but for $1, snagged Batman #50 and Batgirl #50; neither of which I owned before Sunday, offhand. And knowing I’ll eventually be wanting to fill in the ancillary Superman titles (Superman/Wonder Woman, Superman/Batman, Batman/Superman, etc.) snagged the first Batman/Superman Annual. I also snagged several "classic" ’90s Valiant issues that I think I probably already own, but they’re still in my phone as ones I was looking for, so I figured I’d get ’em just to be sure.


All in all, it was a bit more of an expensive purchase than I’d planned…but still kept it under $30. And a lot of these are ripe for potential/imminent The ’90s Revisited posts, so there’s that as well!

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