Marvel Attempts to Force Collectibility With Ultimate Spider-Man Polybags

As Graeme McMillan points out at the Newsarama blog (link no longer available), Marvel’s upcoming Ultimate Spider-Man #160 is bringing back an unfortunate era of superhero comic history: the polybag. As Graeme put it,

Ultimate Spider-Man #160

The publisher announced this morning that the book will ship with two polybag options (Yes, we’re at the point where there will be a variant polybag for the variant cover to the comic; it’s taking ’90s nostalgia to a whole new level), not be overprinted, and not be available on newsstands.

He attributes this to a desire to drive retailers to up their orders on the comic, due out in June, and I’m sure that’s right. Retailers won’t be able to get any more later, if the promised media publicity comes through and drives more customers into their stores, so they’d better (from Marvel’s perspective) commit more resources upfront to stocking this issue deep. Also, obsessive collectors will now have to buy four issues — two of each polybag, one to keep mint (unopened) and one to see the different cover. (Plus, the cheap plastic used in the bags tends to decay quickly, so better get them slabbed, too!)

Marvel’s publicity claims that the bags are to prevent readers from being spoiled by seeing the covers (or maybe grossed out?). From their press release:

with covers so shocking we had no choice but to conceal them.

But the thing I noticed was this. The storyline is entitled “Death of Spider-Man”, and there are rumors floating around about what that might mean, extending to speculation that the Ultimate line might also end. A polybag is an excellent way to prevent readers from seeing the contents of the book without buying it, so Marvel might just be trying to forcibly convert browsers to buyers.

10 Responses to “Marvel Attempts to Force Collectibility With Ultimate Spider-Man Polybags”

  1. Ray Cornwall Says:

    …the holograms are coming…

    …the holograms are coming…

    …the foil, the shiny foil die-cut spruced up ready to sell all for a buck is ready to ship today but only today don’t wait a minute order with no delay…

    …the holograms are coming…

  2. SKleefeld Says:

    Everyone sounds surprised. Didn’t it work phenomenally well when they killed of the Human Torch just a couple months ago? Why wouldn’t they repeat it?

  3. Eric Rupe Says:

    The issue also has a “spoiler” variant cover so the polybagging looks even more like an obvious cash grab that people will still spend money on.

    I have to say though, that Ultimate Spider-Man has turned into a sad parody of the worst trends of the 90s (deaths, variant covers, relaunches) is really kind of depressing since it started out as almost the exact opposite of all that.

  4. Johanna Says:

    Kleefeld, I’d forgotten that that came polybagged as well. Did they also announce no newsstand, no reorders?

  5. Thad Says:

    “A polybag is an excellent way to prevent readers from seeing the contents of the book without buying it”

    That’s assuming Marvel doesn’t have every news outlet in the country spoiling the ending the day before it hits the stands.

  6. Johanna Says:

    Ha! True enough. That’s the tradeoff they offer in order to get the coverage, I suspect.

  7. Dwight Williams Says:

    As good as the story’s likely to be, I’m still probably getting but the one copy for my library.

  8. Anthony’s picks for Marvel Comics for July 2011 | Anthony's Notes Says:

    […] of Ultimate Spider-Man” via bringing back that should’ve-stayed-long-buried 90s tactic, the polybagged cover. Nothing says “2011″ (and “shift toward a digital world”) like wasting […]

  9. Suzene Says:

    “…so Marvel might just be trying to forcibly convert browsers to buyers.”

    They’ll likely succeed in converting on-the-fence buyers to torrenters.

  10. How Should a Manga Publisher Cancel a Series? Viz Ends Gin Tama » Manga Worth Reading Says:

    […] to decline in sales over time. U.S. superhero comics fight this through publicity stunts — someone dies! — but to work, that requires a familiarity with the characters among the pool of potential […]




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