I’ve talked to other fans of Marvel Comics (we are also comfortable being described as nerds, dweebs, fanboys or dorks), and I seem to be in the minority with my discontent with the newest event, Fear Itself. Besides the obvious Roosevelt reference in the title being a lame device, the story is equally lame. But then I thought, “Hey, maybe I’m not giving it a fair shake; after all, I’m just reading the main ‘Fear Itself’ series and the subsequent tie-in issues when they happens to pop up in my regularly purchased titles (Fear Itself has popped up in Iron Man, Iron Man 2.0, some Avengers titles, etc…), but now I wonder: maybe I’m rushing to judgment and I’m missing a big part of the story?”
If you’re not a comic book fan (AKA not lonely), this is how events work: see, you’re reading your favorite comics (Marvel’s Captain America, Iron Man, Avengers, Vertigo’s House of Mystery, etc…), minding your own business and then blam-o! Marvel releases a limited series that affects nearly every one of their characters in some way. So you break down and you buy it – after all, what’s the difference? It’s just one more book to buy, and limited series are usually only 4 issues long, (Fear Itself is 7, that’s seven issues long, but who’s counting?) so it’s not a big deal to go along with the flow and watch all the characters struggle together against a common threat… (Yeah, that sounds a lot like the plot of the Avengers books, but whatever.) But it doesn’t end there – then they release a companion limited series to the primary limited series, Fear Itself: Home Front. And then they release another one! Yep, here comes Fear Itself: Youth in Revolt. Plus, there are tie-ins in nearly every regularly published title, like The Avengers, Uncanny X-Men, The Invincible Iron Man and so on. How many different Fear Itself limited series and other issues are out there? And how much will it cost, when all is said and done, to read every single issue that proclaims that its part of Fear Itself? I was going to buy Iron Man anyway, but now I’m buying this limited series… It’s only one extra book per month, but if I went all in like I did with a previous event (Marvel’s Siege), I would be buying a lot more that just 1 extra book a month.
I guess the question is, how much extra does Marvel expect me to spend per event? What’s the price tag?
Well, so far, there are 85 (yes, eighty-five!) issues that encompass Fear Itself and subsequent tie-ins. Sounds crazy, right? You don’t have to believe me – get it from the horse’s mouth here. At first, I thought the number was so high because of all of the variant covers, but when i dropped the titles into a spread sheet, that brought it up to over 150 different issues. (By the way, Variant Covers means they put out the same issue with more than one cover. Why would they do this, you ask? To get collectors to buy the same thing twice. Who knows which cover will be more valuable? This is especially difficult to gauge when they put out multiple variant covers… OK, I’m boring myself now.) Anyway, Marvel Comics cost $2.99, $3.99 and sometimes, $4.99 – so just for giggles, lets say every issue and tie-in to Fear Itself costs $2.99 (they don’t) – when we multiply that by 85, what do we get, class?
$254.18. That’s where I’m trying to keep my comic book budget FOR THE ENTIRE YEAR. So I don’t care if I’m missing part of the story; I’m not spending $250 bucks on Fear Itself – and I don’t think that covers every single issue as the event is not over yet and publication dates haven’t been announced for all issues yet. So the total for the event is probably going to be at least $300.
But the cost doesn’t end there – I am sure Marvel is hurting itself with this annual event strategy, or as the NY Times put it, event fatigue. I went from going ‘all in’ – buying every single issue of an event (Siege), to only buying the primary series (Daredevil: Shadowland)… and next year, am I going to buy any issues of whatever the event is? I won’t know until I see what it’s going to be (and I think I can pretty much guarantee that there will be an event next year), but if i have to answer now, the answer is no, I won’t be buying. ‘Fatigue’ isn’t a strong enough word – I have Chronic Event Fatigue Syndrome.
In the short term, Marvel made a good business decision to do events like Civil War, Siege and Fear Itself as they’ll sell more books, but as the NY Times article noted, the profits are falling – when does it start to hurt regular monthly book sales? At some point, people will get so sick of events, they’ll move away from their regular books because they hate the annual disruption from the storyline. And that’s not good for business.