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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.

sonic_a_covers_vs_advertised_covers

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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Curse Words…for Curse Words: Dropped Due to Variants

If you’ve been reading this blog for ANY length of time, you know that I–as a general rule–loathe variant covers. Primarily "ratioed" variants, but with very FEW exceptions, variants in general, their very existence.

And this week just REALLY reminded me WHY.

And though I COULD blame the comic shop, I personally place the blame squarely on the publisher, FOR doing a variant. Or allowing a variant. Or WHATEVER the case is.

curse_words_variants

After actually rather enjoying the first issue, and looking forward to the second issue, the day finally came: Curse Words #2 was on "the list" as out on February 22nd.

Having been "burned" by a "surprise" variant on Moonshine #2 (which, by the way, immediately prompted me to NOT pick it up ,and thus lost me on singles on that series), I was "re-aware" of even Image doing variants on stuff (something I’d be more inclined to attribute to DC, Marvel, IDW, Boom, and Dynamite!).

So, when I saw two different covers, neither of which was visually "familiar" to me, and I was already expecting there to be a "new" or "unfamiliar" (because I ONLY bought one cover of #1!) issue, I figured fine, they did a second issue with variants, I had not really seen any "marketing" or such for the issue so was not (for once) pre-disposed to preferring one specific cover…so I grabbed the more appealing (to me) cover of the two or so I saw.

Got it home, even included the thing in my photos for my "Weekly Haul" post, none the wiser of anything.

But then I went to READ the thing.

And I saw that the word "Second" was NOT followed by "Issue" after all, on the cover.

Nope…it was followed by "Printing."

I managed to grab a second printing of #1, the issue that I already owned, that I bought and read weeks ago.

And of course, much as with most publishers, comics are not some "returnable" thing, so it’s not even like I can take the thing back to the shop for a refund or such. I’m stuck with a second copy of the first issue now, and no copies of the second.

Frankly, to say that I’m "annoyed" is an understatement.

On principle, I’m done with this book as single issues. I might snag the collected volume(s), but I will NOT support it any further as single issues.

Should I have noticed that it was not actually the second issue? Maybe. BUT when I know the second issue’s due out, with a cover that’s not mimicking the first, and I’m grabbing my comics in a hurry and just want to get stuff and get out after a long day at work, I’m not gonna examine every stupid facet of a cover. I buy comics because I want to read the story, not for stupid covers!

Maybe the shop should have put something with the issue to indicate 2nd printing. Maybe they should’ve shelved it with last month’s books instead of right next to the brand-new 2nd issue (but probably more sales having them together, so someone can immediately see and pick up BOTH issues if they’re looking for them/curious!).

So, I hold Image responsible…with no idea if the "idea" or "push" came from a creator or not. Just use the same darned cover, and mark it as a second printing! IF I wanted more "art" from something, I’d buy a darned print or something!

And on top of this…folks wonder why I tend to gravitate toward collected volumes for new issues. At least THERE, I’m FAR LESS LIKELY to wind up getting some 2nd print of something I already have, with just a cover in quick passing to go on.

Stuff I Didn’t Buy – Week of November 16, 2016

My "Weekly Haul" this week ended up consisting of Superman #11, Aliens: Life and Death #3, Reborn #2, and Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye #2. I may get into those tomorrow or Friday.

But, indulging in some negativity and ranting (this is my own blog, after all–read it or not, completely up to you!) here are several things I didn’t buy, but considered buying, almost bought, or under other conditions would have bought…and why.

Moonshine #2

moonshine0002a     moonshine0002b

I picked up Moonshine #1 last month to try, and for what it is, enjoyed it enough that I’ve been watching/waiting for #2 to come out. It’s finally out this week (Oct. 5 for #1, Nov 16 for #2…that’s about SIX weeks, no?) Thing is…it’s a brand-new series. New series, new creators, not spinning out of anything, hasn’t had long enough to really develop or have any "in jokes" or (to me) any real iconography or symbols or other stuff to warrant any relevant/useful/interesting/cool variant covers. But there they were on the shelf, two covers that–at least at the shop I was at–sat there in equal-ratio. So, just looking at them, I saw nothing overly obvious to indicate which was the "main" cover, the "A" cover, the "primary" or "basic" cover…in short, which one was NOT the "variant."

In searching for suitable images to use for this post, I’ve narrowed it down to the one with the skulls as being the cover I’d’ve gone with–and that was the one I’d added initially to what I had in my hands to purchase. But whether it was there or not, I did not see anything to indicate which should be which…and I refused to stand there in the middle of the shop, googling on my phone to try to determine an answer…but I also was not going to suffer buying a variant when I want to have the "regular" cover.

So, I wound up saying "screw it!" and put ’em both back.

Because of a variant cover, a series I was otherwise trying, interested in, willing to give a chance to–I opted NOT to buy #2, and as such will NOT be buying ANY OTHER single issues for.

Hope it’s worth it, folks. Maybe I’ll buy the collected edition, which presumably will have a single cover. But even there, for throwing a random variant in there, you’ve cost yourself MY purchase, and MY goodwill, such that here I am giving your book more space and time pointing out the customer frustration with variants, and that you won’t have me (not that I matter, personally) playing any role in talking the book up positively.


DC Universe: Rebirth – The Deluxe Edition Hardcover (LCSD edition)

dc_rebirth_deluxe_lcsdHere’s another one I’ve been looking forward to. I believe the "regular" edition of this should be out soon; a week or two, perhaps, yet.

But what really turned me off about this (and I was sort of surprised to see it out already instead of being held back til Saturday) is the cover. That is, the "sketch" cover. THe lines-only, without cover, except in the trade dress and credits.

See, I don’t get why people like these. (If you do, more power to you–I simply do not get it!) To me, it looks like a draft, and unfinished product, an inferior product. It’s not finished, it’s not the intended edition, etc.

So while I’d’ve been willing to plonk down full cover price for this thing in-person, in general…I was NOT willing to do so for an inferior cover.

Yeah, it’d almost certainly be on my shelf spine-out and I wouldn’t even SEE the cover most of the time. But when I’d pull it down off the shelf, I’d see it, and I’d be treated to the unfinished image at that point, and reminded of the sheer ridiculousness of it, when I can simply wait a week or two and get the full color cover edition, which is the actual product, and actually has the cover to grab attention and attract one to reading it.


Thanos #1

thanos_0001I should have been a prime mark for this book. Thanos, and it’s a #1, so supposedly a jumping-on point, right?

But this is Marvel. And at this point, I don’t trust them. Yeah, I could buy the issue, but is this a 6-issue series? Or 12? Will this be partaking in events before issue 10?

And then, there’s that shattered NOW! thing, recycling an initiative from just four years ago.

And that big #1 in the upper left corner, but then a small white #1 down near the Marvel logo and UPC box, as if to clarify "yes, this actually IS a true #1, this is not one of the issues we’re trying to TRICK you into buying as a #1 when it’s really a #7 or #18 or some other such!"

Further, there’s the fact that I’m not interested in buying any Marvel #1 issues for $4.99! That is way too freaking much for a single issue, padded/"’bonus’ material" or not!

Oh…well, this is "only" $3.99? Yeah, well, it’s seemed all the other #1s have been $4.99, and Marvel has been very clearly conditioning and "training" me into the SIMPLE "assumption" that ALL of their #1s are $4.99…so sure, it’s a "surprise" when it’s not, but I still have the other stuff above counting against it such that $1 less than assumed price is not a great selling point–this is STILL $1 MORE than grabbing a random DC Rebirth issue!

There’s also the odd mix Marvel has lately of stuff ignoring enough continuity to be frustrating in general to one who greatly enjoys continuity (at least 1980s into early 2000s) and yet being so stupidly tied-into stuff as to feel impenetrable if one has not been closely following recent events. Flipping through, I caught what looked like Thane, who I believe is a "son of Thanos" or such from Infinity (an event/crossover I did not and have not read) and thus another aspect of things I am actively disinerested in.

Perhaps most "petty" of me…this is not a Jim Starlin book, and I much prefer his take on the character, if only for some sort of internal consistency that I (again) do not trust Marvel to maintain in general at this point.


So, I walked out with my four comics that did not frustrate me on sight. Superman #11 had a variant cover, but the bulk of the covers present were the same–the one I got–and the other cover I couldn’t even tell what the image was supposed to be, just glancing at it. On Cave Carson, I was able to use the same methodology: this cover had more of this than the other, and seems to fit the title better. And it’s at least an "established" (if decades-old-since-established) property and not a brand-new-concept-characters-universe-everything kinda issue. Aliens is an Aliens comic, the 3rd issue of a stated-up-front-on-the-covers 4-issue-miniseries rather than something being cancelled before telling its intended first story or such. And Reborn #2 only had one cover available on the shelf, so no "confusion" or wonder about what the "main" cover is.

But as stated last week by Valiant‘s Dinesh Shamdasani, "we’d love nothing more but the industry is not set up for that" [having only 1 cover per issue] and "must also remember that while we both may not like variants lots of people love them."

Still, I’m obviously a clear case where having variants is a detriment, and that’s a couple of lost sales (magnified the longer Moonshine runs) and whatever else spills out of that.

And thanks to crap with variant schemes and holding content hostage, I’m presently (since July 2015) refusing to purchase anything from Valiant, and since their stunt with Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #0 earlier this year, I refuse to touch anything from Boom! Studios, either.

According to Valiant, the Comics Industry Isn’t Built for Comics to Have Only 1 Cover Per Issue

I’m rather dismayed at information I was given–by an industry professional–over the weekend.

I rail against variant covers, as probably any reader of this blog knows. But now I have it from a major figure of a fairly major publisher that apparently, the industry is NOT BUILT FOR NON VARIANTS.

Saturday, I read an article on Bleeding Cool about Valiant‘s latest stunt–a game of collect-and-clip-coupons-to-mail-away-for-a-super-special-limited-edition isue–and I tweeted a comment referencing the Valiant language of the stunt being a "tribute" to the 1990s coupon promotions:

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Not long after, to my surprise, I received a response:

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I followed up, as that answer does not sit well with me AT ALL:

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I continued:

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And I received these followups:

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I am not, myself a publisher; I am not involved in that part of comics. All I know is as a fan, a customer, someone who BUYS comics, and has been REPEATEDLY "burned" by the use of variants and stunts involving the intentional screwing-over of longtime fans in interest of a short burst.

I think it’s a bunch of crap that the industry "is not set up for that" [doing only 1 cover per issue].

THAT ALONE shows me the short-sightedness and HUGE PROBLEM with the comics industry. For a publisher to feel that they CANNOT POSSIBLY go with ONLY ONE COVER for a SINGLE iSSUE of a serialized comic book?!?

Does that mean that the material is NOT QUALITY, and can ONLY sell well enough to BE published by forcing people to buy MULTIPLE COPIES of an issue? (Why not just double or TRIPLE the price, and insert an extra full-page image and 3 more ads in the back?)

"Trying 1 cover with Mirage" suggests (to me) a lack of commitment. It’s not like that’s a top-tier primary character from the publisher…so it’s not going to sell as well ANYWAY as, say, a more recognized property like X-O Manowar. So it’s tried with one issue (or 4 or 5, the entire mini-series?) of one series. That’s hardly lengthy enough to get the idea out there that quality stands on itself instead of just not selling as many copies as a bigger title that IS using variants.

IF variants were truly limited solely to A/B 50/50 1:1 individually-orderable status, I still don’t like them, but those sorts I can sort of overlook. But it’s the ratioed variants that cause me the most frustration; the 1:10 and 1:25 and 1:50, with the worst offenses getting up into 1:100, 1:500, 1:1000 levels, to list a few (and without getting into specific Marvel numbers/hoops I’ve seen referenced, say, by Brian Hibbs in his Tilting at Windmills columns)

But both Valiant and Boom! have earned my ire (and specific avoidance + loss of existing purchasing in protest) over the variants and ratio-based shenanigans.

I just have a really hard time getting my head around the notion that the industry is so ****ed up that supposedly it can’t support comics being published and standing as themselves, without Every. Single. ISSUE. having at least one variant!

I guess I’ll be "interested" to "see" what "initiative" is being done for X-O Manowar, though at this point, it being Valiant, the publisher that is going back to making people clip coupons out of an issue and pay to mail those and shipping expenses to receive some "special edition" issue, and the publisher that sought to force longtime, loyal customers into being Valiant salespeople if they wanted to keep up with the "full story" of the comics universe…I can’t say I’m expecting all that much.

Given I’ve seen numerous comic shops with multiple longboxes full of nothing but "variants"–an ENTIRE IN-STORE CATEGORY–obviously (to me, experientially) that means it’s NOT LIKE they’re ALL SELLING. SOME people MAY "like them," but not enough people to buy them all!

And *I* think that if publishers would just give the darned things A REST and STOP IT for several months, take the "hit" of "lower profits" for the short-term, it might avoid as much likelihood of a bomb-out like the ’90s.

That the entire viability of a publisher is predicated on variants, as if it’s an unconscionable loss to not use variants on every issue, makes me an official subscriber to the notion of the industry being in trouble.

But hey, that must mean that I am just old. That I am not the target audience. Comics are no longer for me if I’m not willing to change and embrace the trend(s), right?

Well, dear publishers (not just Valiant), where IS the mythical "new audience," the huge influx of "new readers" and such? When comics are among the worst value in entertainment, frustrating the people who overlook that week in and week out is (to me) not the best of plans.

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Old-School Variance: Superman #75

I’ve often referenced it, but rarely had actual "live" photographic example to illustrate the point.

I do not consider 1990s "Collector’s Edition" and "Newsstand Edition" comics to be variants. Technically, I’ll give you that they are variants–one issue with two (or more) different covers.

Perhaps it’s that typically there would be two covers, and two covers "only" in such cases. There was also the notion of the selling channel–one version was intended for the "direct market" (comic shops) and the other for standard newsstand distribution. Also the fact that they were equally orderable by a shop–no "regularity" of 1:10 or other worse "ratios" on ordering and the other ridiculousness seen today. (special cases such as "platinum" or "gold" editions could be an exception, but those tended to seem truly "special" compared to 2016 1:50 or 1:100 or 1:500 or 1:1000 ratios!)

Back in 1992, there was the cover image. This is what people were looking for. They’d seen the image on tv, in the newspapers, in magazines, etc…so this is what they were looking for; and it was the content of the issue, the "event" of the story that was key, not which of fifty dozen alternative covers you had.

superman_0075_all_4_printings_newsstand

The variance (as opposed to variants/multiple editions) of the Superman #75 covers is due to the multiple print-runs. You have your standard first print; and then for later printings, rather than taking interior art or additional artists, the color of the Superman logo and text The Death of Superman! was changed, and a small Roman Numeral was added to the cover copy to clearly indicate which printing the issue was. (I recently came across at copy of The Killing Joke that I had and couldn’t find anything saying which printing it was…I finally realized/remembered that which printing is indicated simply by the color of the book’s title and the cover price). That’s part of why the issue(s) are so clearly "iconic" and memorable…they’ve not been diluted by umpteen hundred different images for just one issue.

It’s occurred to me that there’s likely additional variance–the UPC box. In my photo here, the first print has an actual bar code…while printings II, III, and IV have the creator credits (these are direct market copies of the "newsstand edition.") I also make a distinction there–bar code vs. not–I consider the same. I’m not actually sure if the later printings have a version with the bar code, or if the later printings were comic-shops-only (newsstands perhaps having gotten the first printing only, and anyone else had to go to the direct market?)

Anyway…the ultimate point of this post is the photo; that these are 4 different versions of the same edition of the same issue, just produced as separate print-runs. Yet same cover image, still instantly recognizable as the same issue, despite not all being printed at the same time.

What If…’The Death of Superman’ Happened in 2016?

superman_075cBack in 1992, DC treated us to Doomsday!, or The Death of Superman. The event played out across six weekly issues of the Superman titles of the time, with a seventh chapter in a Justice League America tie-in issue.

While the various titles went through multiple printings, the cover images stayed the same. DC would add a Roman Numeral to the cover copy–II, III, IV, etc to denote which printing the issue was. To add further difference to the printings, the color of the title logo would be changed from the original.

This meant that the cover image of Superman: The Man of Steel #18 was distinctive and remains iconic, 24 years later. Ditto the various other issues.

Especially on the "key" issue–Superman #75.

Granted, there were actually multiple covers for Superman #75. There was the "black bag edition," also known as the "collector’s edition." This was only available through comic shops (the "direct market") and outside of a "platinum edition" I believe only had a single initial printing.

superman_075b     superman_075a

The "collector’s edition" cover itself was a grey tombstone. This edition was what would in contemporary terms be the "variant" edition.

The "regular" edition–the "newsstand edition"–fit the usual/standard trade dress of the time, and featured an image of Superman’s tattered cape caught on a pole amidst the destruction in Metropolis. Subsequent printings–as mentioned above–change the color of the Superman logo and included a Roman Numeral to denote that each printing was no longer the first printing.

I believe the issue went through four printings–I have never been made aware of a fifth or later. (Exception being years-later reprints, like the Millennium Edition or stuff included with toys, etc.)

That was all fine, I was ok with it–retailers could order however many copies of each edition (though "in the moment" few ordered enough). The later printings kept the issue around to satisfy overall demand…and the cover image became and has remained iconic. There’ve been a number of subsequent comic covers over the years doing the "homage" thing based on the Superman #75 newsstand edition.

That was 1992.


If Superman #75 was published in 2016, in the present? There’d be a zillion variants, totally diluting the cover and any singularly-iconic imagery.

deathofsuperman_03     deathofsuperman_04

A set of two covers that placed together form a single wider image. Why not get folks to buy two copies of the issue with different images just to get one image?

deathofsuperman_01

But hey, there’d also be the wraparound cover, showing the actual death of Superman as a single cover.

deathofsuperman_02

And another wraparound, showing a fallen Superman with Doomsday’s shadow…effective imagery in general, but also not in keeping with the story itself as the two fell together/simultaneously.

deathofsuperman_08     deathofsuperman_11

Regardless of the fact that there’d be the "upcoming" Funeral for a Friend story (also known as World Without a Superman), there’d be at least a couple of "funeral covers" for the actual death issue.

deathofsuperman_07     deathofsuperman_15

There’d be the generic-ish images of Doomsday’s fist with Superman symbols.

deathofsuperman_10     deathofsuperman_19

There’d be a couple that showed Superman is potentially victorious, despite the cover blurb proclaiming The Death of Superman!

deathofsuperman_05     deathofsuperman_06

deathofsuperman_09     deathofsuperman_21

There’d be the generic-ish Superman and Doomsday slug-it-out images with even a "photo cover" of a statue thrown in.

deathofsuperman_25     deathofsuperman_26

Superman and Doomsday colliding covers…

deathofsuperman_23     deathofsuperman_22

Another collision cover, and a generic (yet cool-ish) Superman with Doomsday looming behind him (or the shadow of the creature somehow).

deathofsuperman_18     deathofsuperman_28

There’d be the generic "bleeding-S" covers. Promotion for the comics, and of course there’d be a ready-made animated movie already, with toys and such to further tie-in.

deathofsuperman_12     deathofsuperman_14

There’d be a painted "moment of death" cover, and a "concept sketches" cover.

deathofsuperman_13     deathofsuperman_16

deathofsuperman_24     deathofsuperman_27

There’d, of course, be the Doomsday-centric covers, showing off different takes on the creature in various poses. Recognizable as the creature, but not necessarily anything iconic or singularly stand-out. Or to BE stand-out, make that one of Doomsday reaching toward the reader a 3-D cover!

deathofsuperman_17     deathofsuperman_20

And aside from the different takes on the creature looking somewhat like he does in the actual story, there’d the the much more exaggerated, flashy takes on the character, going a bit beyond.

And there’d be way more fun than just these! See below for even more thoughts on the matter, as I’m "breaking" the post here for length on the front/main page of the blog.

Continue reading

Where is the NON-Variant?!? TMNT Universe #1 Frustration

Welcome to The Weekly Haul Disappointment post for this week.

Yeah, there’s a bit of annoyance there, and disappointment, and frustration, and as I type this, I’m more “resigned” to things than the lit-up pissed-off that I was a couple hours ago.

See, ever since it was announced, I’ve been looking forward to the new TMNT Universe series from IDW. I’ve been loving the regular ongoing series (well, the past year or so post-Shredder hasn’t been nearly as interesting to me, but that’s another topic for another time) and I was jazzed at the prospect of a second ongoing title! (Presumably there’ll still be room for the occasional parallel-running mini-series in addition to the ongoings, but two ongoings allow for a lot more development without having to keep track of a bunch of “side” mini-series to begin with).

Reading last week’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #61 and seeing the house ad for the series made me think first that I had flat-out missed the issue somehow, and then think it was late. (Of course, then I realized there was a fifth Wednesday for the month of August this year, and so it would still hit for “August 2016” and thus be “on time” for all the more I recalled any specific date).

tmnt_house_ad

So, with it being a fifth-week situation, and no new DC books due out for Rebirth (thus, no new Superman or Action Comics issue), there was one single, solitary issue I was particularly interested in for the week. TMNT Universe #1.

tmnt_universe_0001_regSo despite recent discouragements and frustrations in life, and a particularly bad start to the day, I eventually set off for a comic shop intending to pick up this TMNT issue I’ve been looking forward to.

I was honestly sort of afraid it might sell out, given it might be under-ordered as being “just” another TMNT book, and yet I believe the cover artist (if not interiors) is the same as the Batman/TMNT mini, and it wouldn’t surprise me for that alone to impact sales of this (frustratingly enough).

So when I walked into the shop, I went straight to the “new comics” rack, skipped over the first half of stuff and found the “T” section, and spotted the logo/title and physically picked up a copy…as I began to realize something was wrong.

I was, of course, expecting the cover above. The cover whose image had been advertised as being the cover. The cover whose image I’d come to associate with looking forward to the issue. The cover…to TMNT Universe #1.

tmnt_universe_0001_subInstead, I had a Kevin Eastman-style cover, which even though it’s a really freakin’ cool-looking image, is not the solicited image. It’s NOT the cover I have been looking forward to, expecting, and is not the standard cover. The one that actually, truly belongs to the issue.

This would be an absolutely fantastic poster.

I would love this as a poster, in fact.

But it’s a generic, stock-ish image of classic Mirage Studios TMNT, something that makes me think of the recent-ish TMNT Ultimate Edition hardcovers, or like something reprinting the original, classic TMNT #1, or a posterbook of Eastman covers, or something that actually is not this new, in-continuity parallel ongoing series to be a companion to the main Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles title. This image does not reflect current goings-on in the series, and thus is not “relevant” for the ongoing stuff. It simply suggests a typical Turtles vs. Shredder and Foot.

After some honest debate and waffling on the matter, and despite the admittedly cool cover (which would have been perfectly fine had it been advertised as THE cover), I put the thing back, and didn’t buy it there. They had at least 15-20 copies of this cover, but none of the standard/regular cover.

tmnt_universe_0001_riI went to another shop I haven’t been to in awhile that was close-by, figuring ok, they would have the correct standard/basic/non-variant cover.

Unfortunately, on walking in and locating their “new comics this week” I was again greeted with a bunch of issues sporting that same cover–cool, but not the standard, basic, most non-variant cover.

I actually picked up their entire stack to gently flip through in the vain hope of at least one copy sporting the main cover.

No luck on that front, though I did find a copy of the “RI” cover (Retailer Incentive). Looking for the image online, I believe this one was indicated as the 1:10 ratioed variant, and since I did not see a price on the front, I turned it over to check the barcode box on the back, but alas! No price.

And I was in no mood whatsoever by then to even take a chance at being further pissed-off by asking the price and being told some outrageously jacked-up number (even $10) so I neatly put the stack back, and left.

I was angry enough to post an angry tweet on the matter.

It’s just a comic. It’s just a cover.

And frankly, simply buying the standard, basic, advertised cover for a brand-new issue, out today, with plenty of copies of the issue in-stock and available for cover-price should never be such an amazingly frustrating experience!

It’s not fun. It’s not cute. It’s not some “bonus” or such, it’s not “nostalgic” or a “nod to the past.”

It’s the sort of thing that–were it basically anything else other than TMNT, I’d be done with the series, and possibly even done with the publisher, just on principle. But as I’ve been on record in the past saying, TMNT is my exception, the thing that (so far) I’ll “give a pass” on and such.

But this is really trying whatever patience I have, and is a concrete reminder of just how freaking ridiculous stuff is getting in the world of contemporary comics and their publishing.

tmnt_universe_0001_correct_cover

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