The one with the gannet.

§ February 9th, 2024 § Filed under marvel, publishing, variant covers § 9 Comments

Well, this is certainly something.

I know, I’m a little late to this polybag party, but boy howdy what a weirdly pandering idea that’s only going to contribute to the idea that kids aren’t welcome to modern superhero comics. Which is okay, I guess, because kids got their own stuff goin’ on, and aren’t likely to be interested in Marvels outside of Miles Morales and Deadpool anyway.

Basically, Marvel has announced that they’ll be releasing a comic, Blood Hunt #1, where apparently you won’t have to hunt far for that blood as a “Mature Readers” version of the title with all the gore and violence you crave will be presented in an unexpurgated fashion. Meanwhile, they’ll also produce a censored “general audiences” version of the same book that won’t sell. The naughty version, naturally selling for a buck more than its bowdlerized counterpart, will be sealed in a polybag for that extra attention from parents who already think superhero comics are all too violent for their kids anyway.

Perhaps I sound a little annoyed at this.

Now chances are pretty good this series will go over like a thing that doesn’t go over very well, and the whole “pay that extra buck, see what the butler saw” gimmick will drop off the face of the direct market. Or everyone will decide “I don’t want the stupid version made for babies, gimme that explicit content” and it’ll sell like gangbusters and suddenly every Marvel comic has a polybag. (Then Marvel can push the “pure and innocent” unbagged variants and charge more for those.)

I was put in mind of Marvel’s publishing…let’s say “strategy” in regards to their initial attempt at doing Miracleman. In this post (and please excuse my optimism that new stories were “close”), I noted that they were polybagging Miracleman issues despite the content usually not warranting it. My assumption was that 1) it was a mature readers book under the Marvel logo, and thus should be hidden from theoretically innocent eyes, and 2) by polybagging every issue, when they got to the “birth” issue it wouldn’t stand out as the only polybagged one.

And also there’s 3) the hoped-for sales boost by providing the lure of the forbidden by sealing the contents away, which didn’t work and sales continued to plummet because nobody cared.

There is a chance this may not be the case with Marvel books, though, particularly ones set in the mainstream Marvel universe, under the Marvel banner, in a standard comic book format, and not shoved under some distancing mature-reader label like “MAX” or “Epic” or “Star.” (Yes, Star, that Heathcliff was a freak.)

As I said above, the main problem with this is the perception from parents in my shop that all superhero comics are “violent” and “gory.” I always try to tell them “there are plenty of kid-friendly superhero books.” But seeing this on the stands…well, okay, it’s just the one so far, but it’ll be more of a problem once Marvel starts cranking out more of them. Or, to be honest, folks tend to home right in on the very thing you’d prefer they didn’t notice, trust me on this. But this isn’t going to help dissuade the notion that superhero comics are scary and gross. (I mean, sure, some are, but not all of them!)

Also I’m being reminded of another time publishers tried this sort of thing, when Aircel offered “adults only” and “general audiences” versions of Barry Blair’s Leather and Lace. As I said there, given the overall look ‘n’ feel of even the supposed general audiences version, there was no way in hell I was going to sell that to kids. I’m hoping history doesn’t repeat itself with this newest iteration of the gimmick.

9 Responses to “The one with the gannet.”

  • JD says:

    Sir, you are factually wrong.

    The extra-gory edition of BLOOD HUNT will be TWO dollars more expensive than the expurged one ($7.99 instead of $5.99). For a grand total of 8 more pages.

    Because clearly Marvel can’t see a price-gouging tactic without running it into the ground from the word go.

    (It should be obvious my opening line is facetious and I wholeheartedly agree with your overall point.)

  • King of the Moon says:

    I smell an opportunity here.

    Anyone who buys the family friendly edition of BLOOD HUNT, send me your copy, a SASE and two shiny quarters and I will Remarque plenty of blood into your edition with my red sharpie

  • Thom H. says:

    I can’t wait until the regular version is $7.99 and the bagged version is $11.99. Next year, maybe?

    Seriously, though: I assumed the two versions of Blood Hunt were for people who like gory horror movies and squeamish people like me. I just take for granted that kids aren’t buying superhero comics anymore, but it sounds like that’s not entirely the case. It would be great if kids were interested in Marvel/DC heroes in a way that perpetuated comics fandom for a while longer.

  • Donald G says:

    So, do the YouTube “Get Rich Quick” influencers, speculators, and flippers slab the explicit version in the polybag, or do they remove it from the polybag before slabbing?

  • DavidG says:

    I don’t like the gannet. They wet their nests.

  • Joe Gualtieri says:

    Donald, CGC and CBCS will remove your comic from the polybag before grading.

  • Aaron says:

    Honestly, I got distracted imagining a series of Once Upon a Deadpool TPB collections. “You know, for kids!”

  • Jon H says:

    The only way it’d be worth the extra $1 is if the “extra bloody” panels were done as photographed renditions of the scenes with practical special FX by Tom Savini or similar.

    Because imho even the goriest drawings can’t measure up to a photograph.

  • Snark Shark says:

    “Barry Blair’s Leather and Lace. As I said there, given the overall look ‘n’ feel of even the supposed general audiences version, there was no way in hell I was going to sell that to kids.”

    Barry Blair shouldn’t be sold to ANYONE. Dude couldn’t draw.

    This “Blood Hunt” nonsense DOES sound like a cheap cash grab.
    Is it a horror comic or a superhero comic with gore?