DC Villains month has come to an end, and along with it, the 3D covers on every DC comic book. This trend of variant covers begs the question: what value (if any) do they add to comic books?
New York’s largest comic store is Midtown Comics. They have two locations: one in midtown, and one downtown. If you read comics, you might have also seen their ads to purchase your books online from them. They are big players in the comic store business. Every week during Villains month, I stopped by Midtown Comics around noon to check out the books as they came out. The first week, they still had all their 3D covers available for purchase at noon, but by the 3rd week of Villains month, they were selling out much faster. The reason for this faster sell out might have been to do with the issues out that week, but my hypothesis is that the spectator market is the reason for such quick sellouts.
It was no secret that comic stores would be receiving limited allocations of the 3D covers of Villains Month issues, and DC and Diamond printing had bobbled the print count of these 3D books. In an effort to ease the problem of not having enough comics available, they released plenty of non 3D cover
s and will be issuing a second printing of all the 3D covers in a few months. Now to a comic fan who is just interested in the actually comic storyline, 3D covers may not matter so much. But to someone who plays the comic book buying game like the stock market, they will fight to have the first printing of those 3D covers. That small presence is my first clue that the spectator market (those who buy and sell comics based on the speculation that they will be worth something some day) was behind so many fast sellouts of the less mainstream villains such as Lobo or the Joker’s Daughter.
Again, let’s look for more clues: a few weeks before Lobo was printed it gained some media attention as the story was leaked that this one issue would change the whole history of Lobo and, in essence, reboot him to a much younger, more vampirical looking bounty hunter. Fans all over the internet voiced their skepticism of the retooling of this character. Once the book came out though, the internet began to sing a different song: one of high praise for an amazing new author, Marguerite Bennett. Her story of the “original” Lobo was so well told that many fans, me included, can’t wait to see what she’ll do next. With all of this exciting press about the Lobo book, it’s no wonder the spectator market bought as many copies as possible, and is now selling them for $15 or more on eBay.
One last clue that I think makes my point: the last week of Villains month released a book titled The Joker’s Daughter. The story is about a girl who is a little mentally off and how she goes through life not wanting to be the beauty her parents and the world perceive her to be. She disfigures her own face and finally runs away from home. While living in the tunnels under Gotham, she finds the joker’s face that he had ripped off in previous Batman storylines. Yes the actual skin/face of the clown prince. She puts on the “mask” and takes over the Gotham underground. The story isn’t that great, and most comic websites reviewed it as “painful” (IGN) and Bleeding Cool put their copy in a microwave after reading; that should make it pretty clear how this book was received. However, if you look on eBay, the 3D cover of that book is selling for $20-$30 thanks to those playing the comic market game. Amazing!
So 3D covers: a good thing or not? Well good if you play the comic book buying business like the stock market. Bad if you’re just a loyal comic fan who wanted a special cover of a good book.
Guest Writer Billea Bones is a host on Girls With Issues, a podcast dedicated to comics and comic news. Listen to Girls With Issues weekly, find them on Facebook, and follow them on twitter @GWIpodcast.