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This week’s sermon - “Juss Don’t Believe The Hype”

March 12, 2007

For those of you who fell into a light coma, and have finally woken up, the “shocking” epilogue of Marvel’s Civil War, Captain America #25, was released this past Wednesday.

Why is the significance of that issue, you ask? Other than the issue hitting the quarter-century mark, I mean, really doesn’t every issue hit that supposed milestone? (Well not the criminally shit-canned The Thing). Well, since you’ve lived this long without hearing about the news and normally, this would be considered a spoiler in some circles, I’ll let you avert your eyes and quickly click on some other link here at the Quick Stop.

(Twiddles thumbs…)

I hear that the recent “SModcast” podcast and “Game On” vidcast are quite good.

(Looks at watch…)

Alrightey then, time’s up.

For those of you strong enough to stick around, the driving force behind Cap #25 is that:

Captain America #25

Cap gets CAPPED!

Yup, he’s dead as a door nail - or, to use a more current comparison, as dead as Sanjaya’s chances for winning Idol. But don’t worry; he’ll get some work in the entertainment industry as El DeBarge in next year’s biopic, Gang Wars: DeBarge versus The Jets. Jennifer Hudson has shown the way - Hallelujah!

Again, this latest revelation by Marvel is no big deal. Steve Rogers has been removed from the comic book scene more once in his storied continuity; most recently during the whole Heroes Reborn mess. (Although, he was really just put in a marble courtesy of Franklin Richards but that’s just semantics and bad plotting but let’s continue).

There are bits of news coverage out there from the New York Daily News to the L.A. Times to Newsweek to the Colbert Report talking about the death and that’s well and good. I don’t see a problem with any comic company getting some good, juicy, tabloid-style press. With all of the other entertainment options other there right now, comics needs all of the help that it can get.

However, my beef with this whole Captain America slaying thing isn’t the amount of press for Cap’s assassination. It’s something else which usually comes along with the hype that is completely familiar and horrifying at the same time. Let me illustrate:

A certain iconic superhero died and it was hyped up in the news like it was a real death. It was plastered all over the place and you couldn’t escape people commenting about it for days. The “death” issue, with a variant cover, was sold out completely and the comic book publisher started to ship out second and third printings (with a different cover) to keep up with the demand.

Comic shops were jacking up cover prices on that death issue as well as all of those back issues that contained any part of this storyline just as lapsing readers as well as non-comic book readers were driving in droves to buy these “special” comics; earmarking them as investments for their children.

Then, after a few weeks, the buzz started to wane and the comic book publisher started a new all-encompassing story arc in a way to keep the attention going. After awhile, the buying masses started to see through the marketing ploy and the comics industry was looking at a real crisis – a failing business strategy where their readership was dwindling.

That was, as you have probably guessed, the Death of Superman. The year was 1993, otherwise known as the beginning of the Decline of Western Comic Book Readership.

Let’s cut to today. Comics survived the speculator nose dive and have built themselves back into a relatively thriving business with more Cons and bankable theatrical blockbusters left and right (Nic Cage’s Elvis-talking his way thought Ghost Rider was the latest in that trend). Also, their recent multi-title story arcs, Infinite Crisis and Civil War, were, for the most parts, hits.

So, the people running the four-color “show” for the Big Two, so to speak, have gotten decidedly a little cocky. So, what is the first thing that they do with their newfound ignorance? Shocker; they forget their history and repeat 1993 all over again.

Here are some telling excerpts from what I’ve read so far in some of the various published reports:

ICv2 News – “One important issue is whether Marvel is able to get enough copies into the market to dampen speculation. If the news becomes ‘look what this comic from last week/month is worth’ instead of ‘look at this cool storyline in Marvel comics,’ look out.” (PftL - Here, here. Well said.)

New York Daily News - “‘I was shocked. I was not expecting it,’ said Gerry Gladston, co-owner of Midtown Comics in Manhattan. ‘I’d rather they didn’t kill him - but it’s going to mean great sales.’” (PftL - Oy vey. Déjà vu, anyone?)

In case you were wondering, Mr. Gladston was not joking. Chop Socky - Chris Simon

The secondary market for this issue is seeing some very questionable on-line retailers marking the issue up by almost 650% over the cover price while eBay, the arbiter of gauging at its finest, has more than one auction with the two covers for a starting bid of $2000. Two large for an overprinted comic book that will be collected in six months and retconned within a year? Are you kidding me? Am I the only one getting sick from a case of the (Re)runs?

Ya know, the first thing that comes around a rotting corpse is a vulture and the equivalent of this nasty animal in the comics industry is speculators. They are a group of people most foul. Not to get too pious (yeah right) but these profiteers not only reduce comics into a poor man’s form of day trading but they also take away the essence of comics and turn it from a intimate medium to tell a story into a sterile, slabbed commodity. This practice makes me so sick I feel like Simonizing someone.

I’m sure that the “Cap Death” and subsequent “Fallen Soldier” story arcs will be finely told tales and people will buy them en masse. I’m just worried what will happen to the comics industry after all of the buzz has died once again and the shop owners are left with millions of funny books and mounting issues of their own.

-britt

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