Shades of Grey: Marvel's Assault on my Wallet

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So the other night I’m sitting around with my best friend, and I’m gushing about the finale of Spider-verse...which isn’t as easy at it sounds. See, she’s not a regular reader, and when it comes to Spider-Man, she’s a never-reader. This means I had to break down the context for each and every individual thing I wanted to gush over. Not a problem! I do that kind of shit for fun! The real trick, and this is the accomplishment, is afterwards when she asks me for a reading order so she can get in on it.

That’s always the win when you’re pitching a story you read, that the person you’re talking to isn’t content to just hear your version, or really, that they don’t just tune it out in moments. When you’re talking comics to an occasional reader and they come out wanting to read that story, that’s awesome, and it means you did something right. Of course, given that this is Spider-verse, there is a problem that quickly arises.

Here’s the book list I had to give out for Spider-verse:

  • Amazing Spider-Man 7-15 (though I told her to start at one)
  • Edge of Spider-verse 1-5 (to be done before Amazing 7)
  • Spider-verse 1-2
  • Scarlet Spiders 1-3
  • Spider-verse Team Up 1-3
  • Spider-Man 2099 5-8
  • Spider-Woman 1-3

And then I realized that the entire Superior Spider-Man bit would be confusing, so I mentioned that if she wanted to know more about him to go back and read the full run of Superior Spider-Man...and Superior Team Up. Which then requires you to go back and read the end of Amazing to understand what’s going on. And, I mean, this is all fine for me, but I’m trying to get my favorite lady reading comics, and she’s eager, but I have to throw her a giant stack of books with a confusing reading order, and promises that it’s all relatively approachable, but still pointing out that I’m the walking context machine so she won’t get too lost.

That’s when I realized that Secret Wars is coming, and that there will never be a way to get her involved in that. That even trying to explain it out loud makes MY brain hurt.

Then I started thinking about the release schedule behind it. I mean, Spider-verse was big given how contained it was, but it really wasn’t that giant of a dent in my wallet over the course of four months since it was mostly contained in Amazing.

Secret Wars won’t have that. In fact, Secret Wars won’t even put books on pause due their tie-stories. PAD’s Secret Wars 2099 will be running alongside Spider-Man 2099. Planet Hulk will run alongside of Hulk, Spider-Verse runs alongside Amazing, Old Man Logan will run while we get four crappy issues of Wolverines every month, etc etc. Years ago during the Age of Apocalypse, Marvel put all of the X books on hold for four months so that they could really make an impact with their alternate reality story. The effect was two-fold, in that removing the core books made the alternate reality miniseries that much more important, as well as that fans with budgets weren’t forced to choose between the books they read regularly and the shiny new event. Marvel doesn’t grasp that anymore. I mean, I can’t remember if DC was any better with Flashpoint, but they’re sure as hell doing a better job with Convergence.

But hey, that’s how you gouge a readerbase, right?

Just like how I had to cancel my Amazing Spider-Man subscription on Comixology to make sure I didn’t wind up with “Amazing Spider-Man Special #1”, which part one of a three part, FIVE DOLLAR an issue, mini where Spidey and Falcon Cap team up with the Inhumans and GREY DOES NOT GIVE SHITS! But the way it’s labeled (as part of Amazing and not a separate entity) means that if I want to have Amazing automatically show up, I’d be forced to spend five bucks on this drek. At least when I had a local comic shop I could just walk up the counter and be like “Fleet! Come on man, this book sucks, take it out of my stack.” and all would be done and awesome.

I miss having a comic shop. It’s only been a month or so, but it’s just brutalized my interest. I shopped at the same store (essentially, they moved locations a few times and I kept following) for about twenty-two years. So right now everything is just...off. Though that could just be because now I’m spending four bucks an issue on Marvel books without a free digital code (since I’m getting them digital to start with), and now I feel like I’m getting screwed every issue.

But hey, that’s how you gouge a readerbase, right?

<<Note: I wrote this a few weeks ago, and am just getting around to posting it. I acknowledge that Marvel is ending a lot of books, but I didn't feel like completely redoing a chunk of this piece, so hey, this is me saying that I know>>

<<Editor note: The reason I put the Booster Gold image up as a temporary banner is because he's Grey's favorite hero.  My son Ben was very excited when he saw the picture of Booster.  Definitely raising that kid right.>>