I Pity the Poor Retailer

Marvel Comics' sales/marketing did something recently, in relation to retailers, that irritated me enough when I heard about it that I figured I'd share it with you folks.

Retailers, as you may or may not know, purchase the comics they sell about two months before the comic books come out (orders in, say, January, are for comics coming out in March - the orders are at the end of the month). However, Marvel and DC allow retailers to adjust their orders up until about three weeks before the comics come out. This is a fairly recent innovation, and it is certainly nice for retailers (Marvel was the first company to do so, DC only fairly recently followed suit).

Here is where the problem shows up. Civil War was supposed to end on January 31st. Therefore, there were a number of comics coming out after Civil War #7 that directly tied into the events of #7, so Marvel wanted to keep them hushed up in the solicits.

However, as you might imagine, this affects retailers - because, after all, if they do not know what happens in Civil War #7, this might greatly affect what they would order of the comics AFTER Civil War #7. So they sorta need info regarding the books after Civil War #7.

Marvel said they understood how this could be a problem, so they promised special revised solicit info after Civil War #7 comes out to keep the retailers informed about post-Civil War #7 comics. Which was totally cool.

However, Civil War #7 was then pushed back to February 21st. Which is totally fair enough.

Except, of course, suddenly the info that Marvel promised to retailers post-Civil War #7 was now in danger of not being on time.

And, sure enough, this week, the final cut-off date for retailers to adjust their orders came about for two major post-Civil War #7 books, Captain America #25 and Civil War: The Initiative #1.

The latter is not much of a big deal, as Marvel has basically given folks as much information about The Initiative as one could expect. But Captain America #25 is a whole other story. As you may have heard, a major hero is supposedly going to perish in the last issue of Civil War. Is it Captain America? If it IS, then that would certainly impact the sales of Captain America #25, now wouldn't it? Similarly, if it is NOT, that would ALSO impact the sales of Captain America #25. However, since the delay in Civil War #7 occurred without the cut-off date being changed, retailers had to finalize their orders for Captain America #25 a week BEFORE Civil War #7 was released.

Marvel has been telling retailers for awhile now, "Trust us, order a lot of Captain America #25, but we can't tell you any more than that." But how can a retailer order non-returnable comic books based just on that?

It is tough situation, and it is irritating because Marvel apparently realized that there was a problem and said they'd deal with it, but the latest delay kept them from helping retailers out, and placing retailers into a real crapshoot.

Which doesn't seem right to me.

Anyhow, rant over.

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