“Money? Oh, no thank you.”

§ June 20th, 2022 § Filed under marvel, retailing § 5 Comments


The last time we had a comic book tie-in to the Fortnite video game, we were mostly caught offguard by its immediate and immense demand from customers, mostly from lots of new faces who wanted the codes inserted into the issues for the game. The end result was reports of shortages and price gouging, lots and lots of desperate phone calls looking for the comics, and DC reprinting the issues multiple times.

In the usual comic marketplace, second (or later) printings don’t see anywhere close to the same demand as the first printings (except sometimes from speculators who from all appearances randomly pick certain reprints as being “valuable” and snap ’em up for eBay sales). However demand for DC’s Batman/Fortnite reprints remained very high, often selling out as quickly as the first printings.

Sales on the series did become less frenetic eventually, as retailers were able to adjust their orders on the first printings of issues 3 (I believe) and above after seeing demand for the first two issues. As such, eventually there was plenty to go around (particularly in areas like mine where there is a high incidence of comic shops) and the desperation to track down these comics decreased. Plus, there was the hardcover release that not only collected all these comics together, but also included a code for all the items previously offered as well as a bonus item.

When the later printings came into stock, the primary thing I was asked about them was if the codes were still included. That these were reprints made not a difference to most of these customers, only that they could still get these game codes. As I recall, the people who did want first prints were almost exclusively existing comic collectors. The new customers, the ones that entered the shop to get added material for their video games, they couldn’t care less what printing it was so long as the codes worked.

Which brings me to the Marvel Fortnite: Zero War comic.

This was a slightly slower burn than the Batman/Fortnite book, at least for me. Probably several reasons for that, like being the second major publisher out of the gate to do this gimmick. Also, that initial order numbers were probably much higher this time, resulting in more copies to meet demand (again, especially in locales like mine where there are plenty of comic stores). My own order was…pretty high, but on its Wednesday release I began to think “uh oh, I may have made a mistake” as sales were not encouraging at first. That changed quickly, and by the weekend they were gone…and I’m still getting calls for them.

That I’m still getting calls now even after what I presumed would be a much higher print run and much higher local availability tells me demand likely exceeds those Batman sales. Maybe it’s just more people want “Spider-Man Fortnite” (which is how I’m hearing it referred to) than Bat-Nite, maybe it’s that we’ve had a year or so for awareness of “codes can show up in comic books!” to percolate throughout Fortnite fandom. Regardless, demand for these comics is still being driven by the inserted game codes, nearly all these new customers citing the codes are reason for their purchase.

Which is why it is exceedingly baffling that the second printing for this first issue will not contain the code. Quote from the solicit: “PLEASE NOTE THAT EACH SECOND PRINT ISSUE DOES NOT CONTAIN A REDEEMABLE CODE TO UNLOCK A BONUS DIGITAL COSMETIC IN FORTNITE.” (EDIT: originally used other solicit info which was vague; this is the info from the Penguin Random House solicit)

Now it’s possible I missed and/or forgot the announcement that only the first printings would contain the code. I’ve had a lot on my plate lately, so I wouldn’t put it past me to have overlooked it. I still ordered lots of the first print #1, so I did okay. And all the solicit for the first printing said was, quoting again, “Each first print issue contains a redeemable code to unlock a bonus digital cosmetic in Fortnite!” Doesn’t explicitly say “not in the reprints!” but, well. Again, could’ve missed that notice.

Still doesn’t make this any less stupid a decision. It’s the codes driving these sales. The vast majority of people buying these, in my experience, was the codes for the game. If they’re reading these comics at all, it’s a secondary concern. Nearly everyone who asked about the Batman reprints asked if there were still codes. When I suggested that the first issue of this Marvel series would be reprinted, I was asked “would it still have the code?” Nobody is going to buy this to keep up on the story.

BEFORE YOU COMMENT/SEND IN EMAILS, I know I’m making some blanket statements here. There are always exceptions. As a Twitter pal noted to me, maybe the reprint is for “the discerning gamer whose only in it for the lore.” And I’m sure that’s the case. I HEREBY ACKNOWLEDGE THAT NOT EVERYONE IS BUYING THIS FOR THE CODES (OR SPECULATION).

But most are. As was also pointed out, maybe the decision to omit codes in reprints might not have been Marvel’s decision. Or it could have been Marvel’s strategy to get higher orders on first prints to avoid having to do reprints. I have no idea. But it’s a regrettable decision that’s going to disappoint a huge new audience coming into comics, even if only fed in by a gimmick…but that’s still money that a tiny industry like comics can’t afford to lose the trickle-down from a business that makes some real cash.

5 Responses to ““Money? Oh, no thank you.””

  • Cassandra Miller says:

    Silly question, but could they mean “no digital download of *the comic*” instead of game codes? Every Marvel book normally has a digital download code, so maybe they just worded it badly?

    Because, yeah, otherwise there’s no point in a 2nd print.

  • Dave Carter says:

    They could do a printing that was 32 blank pages, and as long as it contained a game code it would likely still sell just as well.

  • Mikester says:

    Cassandra – I copied the text from the Diamond solicit instead of the Penguin Random House one, which are worded differently for some reason. I’d posted the Diamond text which was vague…here’s the PRH info:

    “PLEASE NOTE THAT EACH SECOND PRINT ISSUE DOES NOT CONTAIN A REDEEMABLE CODE TO UNLOCK A BONUS DIGITAL COSMETIC IN FORTNITE.”

  • Cassandra Miller says:

    Oy. That’s…that’s inexplicable.

  • Snark Shark says:

    So, all of a sudden Disney DOESN’T want all of our money?

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