While DC was content to reserve their $3.99 price tag for miniseries and events, they recently announced co-features (aka 8 page backups) to select comics to justify a price increase. Marvel, on the other hand, led the charge to $3.99 ongoings with Dark Avengers, New Avengers, Thor, and Hulk, which they've gone out of their way to state on numerous occasions are their only titles that will be $3.99 outside of the odd event or miniseries.
Yet the recent solicits seem to suggest otherwise. Hit the jump for general thoughts on $3.99 books and to find out what Marvel titles are making the jump to $3.99.
First off, I just wanted to point out that Marvel is pushing out about 104 titles (I tried to leave out poster books or what have you, but it's roughly 104) for the month of July. Of those 104 titles, would you believe roughly 37 of them are not $3.99 or above? Here's a breakdown of Marvel's output for the past few months in a convenient table (Note: numbers are manually counted based on solicits found at Comic Book Resources. While I tried my best to be as accurate as possible, there may be errors and solicits can change or contain mistakes as well):
As the above table shows, the number of $3.99 books per month has drastically increased and, more alarmingly, so have the number of $4.99 and $5.99 titles (although, they are relatively few to begin with and are mostly 70+ page count reprints of past storylines). Of note, about half of the $3.99 books are the standard 32 page comic with ads format while the remainder are mostly 40 pages with ads.
Also of note, the number of $3.99 titles back in January totaled about 39, making for roughly a 20% increase in $3.99 priced comics over the course of seven months since they originally made the switch to $3.99 ongoings back with the launch of Dark Avengers. In fact, it's almost been a complete reversal in the numbers between $2.99 and $3.99 titles.
For comparison's sake, DC Comics has roughly 80 titles a month and was averaging about 60 comics at the $2.99 price point. This has dropped slightly with the addition of about six co-features to select books, which are now priced at $3.99, but with 40 pages with ads.
Meet the New $3.99's, Same as the Old $2.99's
Up until now, Marvel has been fairly true to the 'only four ongoings are $3.99' spiel. Key words being 'up until now'.
UNCANNY X-MEN #513Uncanny X-Men seems to be joining the $3.99 titles for a standard 32 page comic. I assume the logic behind it is that they can't justify selling us the other half of the story, which takes place in Dark Avengers, at the $3.99 price point, so, instead of dropping DA's price to $2.99 for a couple of months, they are upping the price on Uncanny. I would imagine they are also testing the waters for Uncanny's readers and I would be shocked to see the book revert to $2.99 come the September or October solicits when the crossover with Dark Avengers ends.
Written by Matt Fraction
Art by Terry Dodson
“UTOPIA: CHAPTER 2”
WHO ARE THE DARK X-MEN? He has his own Avengers team and now Norman Osborn has his own X-Men team. The other shoe has finally dropped and Emma Frost has betrayed Cyclops and the rest of the X-Men. And that’s just one of the huge surprises in “UTOPIA”. Is that Namor? Cloak and Dagger? Professor X?! The thing that you aren’t ready for is that Osborn is right.
32 PGS./Rated T+ …$3.99
CAPTAIN AMERICA #601
Written by Ed Brubaker
Pencils and Cover by Gene Colan
A special double-sized issue featuring art by the legendary Gene Colan! Bucky and Nick Fury uncover a lost tale from Cap and Bucky's days in WW2 - a tale of horror and war and brothers-in-arms.
48 PGS./Rated A …$3.99
X-MEN FOREVER #3 & 4I'm not sure if Claremont just knows where the bodies are buried or what, but he has some way of getting these types of projects approved that simply boggles the mind. Case in point, this is a bi-weekly ongoing at the $3.99 price point. I was hoping the opening issues were the only ones that would be higher priced, but that doesn't appear to be the case.
Written by Chris Claremont
Art by Tom Grummett
The mansion is still reeling from the events of the previous issue; having just scraped through the Fabian Cortez mission by the skin of their teeth, they were completely unprepared for a psychic blast from Jean, which rendered them all unconscious, and even less prepared for the subsequent surprise visit from one of their greatest nemeses, SABRETOOTH! But as the dust from the battle between the X-Men and this invader—culminating in a brutal battle between Sabes and a particularly vicious Storm—all may not be as it appears… Plus, what secret is Kitty hiding up her sleeve? Don’t miss comics legend and New York Times Bestselling Author CHRIS CLAREMONT’s thrilling return to the X-MEN!
32 PGS.(each)/Rated A …$3.99 (each)
PUNISHER: FRANK CASTLE MAX #72Of course, there's also the Punisher MAX title, which is, for some reason, excluded from any mention of an ongoing that has a $3.99 price tag, despite having been so for a while now. Marvel's first rule of $3.99 books is obviously that we don't talk about $3.99 books.
Written by Victor Gischler
Penciled by Goran Parlov
‘WELCOME TO THE BAYOU,” PART 2
Frank thought he was only passing through the Louisiana Bayou…until he crossed paths with a suspicious family of rednecks and decided to make their business his business. The Geautreauxs are throwing themselves a barbeque with all the fixings – and Frank Castle is the main course.
32 PGS./Explicit Content …$3.99
WOLVERINE: WEAPON X #3While there is no solicit for Weapon X for July, it's also a $3.99 ongoing that has gone unnoticed by most, particularly in Marvel's steadfast "only 4 ongoing $3.99 titles" company line.
Written by Jason Aaron
Art by Ron Garney
In the third issue of this all-new ongoing series from the same creative team as last year's sold-out "Get Mystique" storyline, the super soldiers of Strikeforce X have Wolverine trapped in the jungles of Colombia. They are heavily armed, ruthlessly brutal and outnumber him 12 to 1. But when one of their ranks disappears and screams begin to ring out through the darkness each night, the soldiers ask themselves...who's really the hunted?
32 PGS./Parental Advisory ...$3.99
These are just a few of the titles that will be $3.99 in the coming months and, based on the accelerated rate of books making the jump to $3.99, expect Marvel's entire line to be pushed to the $3.99 price tag come early 2010. The question then becomes, will events and miniseries make the jump to $4.99 once everything else is set at $3.99?