Welcome to the comic books question and answer mailbag! Obviously since this is the first one and I haven’t put out an open call for questions then I’ll have to finesse this a little. This is a chance to have any questions, qualms, and queries related to comic books answered and discussed from a guy who needs an Excel spreadsheet to keep track of all of his comics.
By the way, you are now cordially invited to submit questions for future mailbags to [email protected] Please add COMIC MAILBAG to the subject line. Ask about comic books, comic characters, comic creators, collecting comics, whatever!
With all of the logistics out of the way, onward and upward!
Q: I’m relatively new to reading comic books, and I have really no idea what to read. Where should I start?
– Archie A., Rivderdale
Great question. Short answer is new readers might find Image Comics more new reader friendly, while legacy titles from DC and Marvel require a little more work but have more to offer.
There are literally hundreds of new comics each month from tons of publishers, the biggest publishers are Marvel and DC, also known as the Big Two. Anything related to the Big Two probably needs a decent bit of background knowledge to thoroughly enjoy them, otherwise known as a high ‘barrier to entry’. Books like Superman, Batman, Amazing Spider-Man, and Avengers are all great books but require some working knowledge about characters, villains, and previous events. By all means go crazy if you want to start reading these books, and it’s easy to get caught up with digital services like Marvel Unlimited and collected trade paperbacks.
Image Comics is probably the next biggest publisher behind Marvel and DC, and honestly if you’re a new reader it might be worth your time to invest in these because Image books are completely self-contained and catching up on a great title like Birthright requires reading two issues. Even a Revival only requires a handful of trade paperbacks for the entire story.
The best way to find out what you want to read is to pick up some books and see what you like. Even if you pick up a book that is right in the middle of a story arc you could always go back and re-read. Go pick up some trade paperbacks to get caught up easily and have a handful of issues to read or peruse your local comic shop and pick out a few titles. Check out any title you think you might want to read and prune the list down to what you want to continue reading. Won’t know until you try it!
Q: I’m not sure about this, but I feel like a lot of Marvel comic books are $3.99 and DC is a mix of $2.99 and $3.99 books. Is this true? If so, why?
– Billy B., Fawcett City
Good work, gumshoe, you’ve stumbled on probably my biggest publishing pet-peeve!
Marvel’s January 2015 solicitations include four books that are $2.99 out of a total of 77 books. Conversely, a large proportion, probably close to two-thirds of DC’s books are $2.99 and their top-tier titles like Superman, Action Comics, Batman, Justice League are $3.99. The Batman book was $2.99 until issue #8 in April 2012, so it’s still relatively recent that this happened and these are only their top titles that face the added cost. Meanwhile, almost every book from Marvel is $3.99 for the same number of pages.
DC publishes two versions of most of their books; a regular edition and a combo-pack that comes with a digital code to redeem for a digital copy of the book. The combo-pack is an extra dollar.
Marvel includes a “free” digital code for their books tucked under a square sticker near the back of the book so you feel like Marvel is gifting you something.
My biggest pet-peeve about Marvel is this dumb ploy to make it seem like readers are being gifted a free digital code but at the cost of all of their books being marked as $3.99. Why can’t they just price their books at $2.99 and make the code a $1 coupon for the digital copy? Other readers I’ve discussed this with assure me they use the digital code because it’s free and don’t believe they would go out of their way to pay the dollar from my idea. But at least with my set-up readers might take a chance on another book because it’s only another $2.99 instead of $3.99.
DC pretty much stays true to their slightly old slogan of ‘drawing the line at $2.99’.
Q: Do you collect variant covers?
– Crazy Q., Gotham City, NJ
I’m not too crazy about variant covers, but honestly that’s just my personal preference.
I can definitely see the draw with certain variant covers and certain variant cover artists. I LOVE Alex Ross and I LOVE Alex Ross covers, but what I mainly stick to is the regular edition to check it off my checklist and read it.
There was one notable exception in recent memory, and that was the LEGO variant for The Indestructible Hulk #14. It was a LEGO version of an iconic Jim Steranko cover from The Incredible Hulk Annual #1, which is probably my favorite cover of all time.
Thus ends the first mailbag. So write down those questions you’ve been wanting to ask and send them in. Odds are they could end up in the next Comics Q & A Mailbag!
“Making you a better geek, one post at a time!”