With Marvel's <i>Reborn</i>, will retail history repeat itself?

Speculation that began last month regarding the possible return of Steve Rogers in Marvel's Reborn miniseries received a boost on Monday when Rich Johnston reported rumor of confirmation in the form of a Wizard solicitation.

Reborn, by Ed Brubaker and Bryan Hitch, debuts on July 1, but the contents of the five-issue miniseries have been guarded closely. Solicitations for the first two issues contain only the creative team, price, number of pages and the phrase "Solicit to be revealed soon."

The publisher released a somber teaser (shown at right) a month or so ago, making a connection between Captain America and Reborn likely if not exactly certain. (There's always a chance it's a feint on Marvel's part, I suppose.)

But while the rest of us have been lobbing I-told-you-so's, pondering the mechanics of the character's return, or wondering what will happen to current Captain America Bucky Barnes, retailer Brian Hibbs has been considering how the secrecy surrounding Reborn's contents will affect comic stores.

You see, retailers don't know much more than we do about the book, and apparently won't until after the final order cut-off date for Issue 1. That's because Marvel is banking on nationwide publicity on the day of the first issue's release, "possibly on par with the media coverage we received during Civil War." Therefore, virtually everything about Reborn is "Classified."

"So, basically, Marvel is cutting the retailers out of the information loop in order to hopefully make a splash in the wider media," writes Hibbs, owner of Comix Experience in San Francisco. "There are two problems I see with this strategy. One: depending on news going wide is a dangerous and risky move. What if 6/15 is the day that the President is assassinated, or we declare war on North Korea, or we find out a planet-killer asteroid is on its way, or whatever else of a billion things that could knock any media interest in ANY comics project into the garbage?

"Two: like we saw with Captain America #25, if there IS press coverage, and we don't have the information to even attempt to order properly, then we can't capitalize on it."

You may recall that back in March 2007 some retailers were upset because they were unprepared for the media coverage, and resulting demand, for Captain America #25, which depicted the assassination of Steve Rogers.

Will the possible return of the character go more smoothly than his departure?

Marvel seems to hope so. Hibbs posts an excerpt from the publisher's message telling retailers it "will do everything possible to ensure an overprint is on hand to counter huge anticipated demand."

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