For those with long memories, yesterday’s announcement of 52 different covers for next year’s JLA #1 book sounded some alarm bells. Despite slightly declining sales, comics seem to be doing well in multiple channels, even if much of the periodical growth is being fueled by variant covers. While by no means the most variant covers ever—IDW had 100 for a Godzilla issue and 55 for Mars Attacks—52 is still a lot, and it reminded a few people of 1992’s Death of Superman, a variant issue, multiple story-line event which marked the high tide mark of the Chromium Age, only to see artificially inflated sales plummet when the tide went out, leaving everyone stranded on the beach. It was the event which marked the beginning of the Dark Years of the 90s, when comics publishers lived in caves and huddled around a single candle as they printed comics by flashlight.
52 different varieties sounds like a lot—this isn’t catsup after all—but while most retailers we polled rolled their eyes at the initiative—and the PR that made it sound like the patriotic thing to do—they didn’t think it was sending comics over the fiscal cliff. For one thing, if you read the original story about the books closely, these are not going to be all different covers by 52 different artists, but rather, like IDW’s Godzilla promotion, simply new, state identified elements changing on each cover:
There will the initial “regular” cover of “Justice League of America” #1 — featuring an American flag — and then each of the variants will depict elements from each of the states. The sure-to-be collectible cover initiative will not be an “incentive” stunt for comic book retailers — every shop owner has the equal opportunity to buy every cover equally.
As Earth 2’s Carr D’Angelo put it, “These sound more like variations than variants, if that makes sense.
“I imagine most retailers will order their own state as the ‘regular edition, and neighboring states if they get shoppers from them,” D’Angelo continued. I was reading that as state flags or symbols instead of an American flag but the same foreground art of the team. 52 covers by different artists would be very difficult to order.”
This “State’s right” edition of JLA does sound a little weird —we wouldn’t know the flag of New York State if it slapped our butt and called us Pocahontas—but it does suggest that fans of Cali’s “Golden Bear” will need to special order.
In fact, looking at the various state flags, there are some real stinkers in the bunch—Washington’s flag is a wobbly picture of George Washington? Really?
Our prediction for the most popular variation? Oregon. Because it already has a variant flag! Or at least a front side and a back side, the latter of which includes a picture of an adorable beaver. And everyone loves adorable beavers.
Heidi MacDonald is the founder and editor in chief of The Beat. In the past, she worked for Disney, DC Comics, Fox and Publishers Weekly. She can be heard regularly on the More To Come Podcast. She likes coffee, cats and noble struggle.