The last time Marvel did a “Comics for Comics” program, they rather slyly offered a Marvel variant edition for the covers of some DC BLACKEST NIGHT tie-ins. And they are at it again. The cheeky devils at Marvel are offering a variant edition of FEAR ITSELF #6 to retailers who strip off the covers of a bunch of FLASHPOINT tie-ins. It’s kind of a variation on the old “collecting scalps/heads of our enemies” routine. In the PR, Marvel claims that tens of thousands of covers were sent in in past versions of the program…considering the print runs of some of these books, that would be a significant chunk of the runs.

As part of Marvel’s unrivaled efforts to provide support to comic retailers in 2011, Marvel is pleased to announce the return of their groundbreaking Comics For Comics program, offering all retailers a chance to turn unsold comics into a rare Marvel variant! The extremely limited edition Fear Itself #6 McGuinness Variant will be made available to retailers who return the covers of select comics. In addition, qualifying retailers will gain exclusive access to a special Marvel sale.
“In these tough economic times, feel it’s our duty to help,” explained David Gabriel, Marvel Senior Vice President of Publishing, Sales and Circulation. “After the overwhelmingly positive response to our Comics For Comics programs, through which we received tens of thousands of covers, we’re excited to provide retailers with the chance to help their stores through selling an ultra-rate variant.”
Retailers – for every 50 stripped covers of the following comics from the below group sent to Marvel, you will qualify to receive one FREE Fear Itself #6 McGuinness Variant. The 50 stripped covers can be any combination of the comics listed in that group and all submissions need to be received at the Marvel office at the address below by Friday 8/12/2011.   Also included with the stripped covers must be your store contact information including Diamond Account # and email address. With boxes of covers arriving every day, Marvel urges retailers to get theirs in by the due date to guarantee themselves copies of this stunning variant.
Retailers with any questions about Marvel’s Comics for Comics program, should e-mail [email protected] for further assistance.
Please note: No second printings, third printings, variants, are accepted as part of this promotion. Only the specific issues of the series listed below are eligible
Address To Send Submission:
J Friedfeld
Marvel Entertainment LLC
135 West 50th Street, 7th Floor
NY, NY 10020
Information To Be Included With Submission:
Store Name
Store Address
Contact Person
Email Address
Phone Number
Diamond Account #
List of stripped covers being returned and their quantities
All the directions above must be adhered to in order to receive the free Fear Itsellf #6 MCGuinness Variant and the submissions must be received by Friday 8/12/2011 in order to qualify.
Please note that this is not a Diamond-affiliated promotion and Diamond should not be contacted. Retailers will be contacted via email once Marvel receives the submissions. 


  1. Marvel is the textbook definition of a sore winner. They’ve beaten DC in sales 99% of the time for the past 10? 20? 30? years (usually by a significant margin) yet they still feel compelled to pull childish stunts like this and talk crap in public.

    Can you imagine a music label acting consistently like this towards another label? Or one movie studio to another? Remember how Random House always talks smack about HarperCollins? No, you don’t, because book publishing is a real industry run by adults.

    I have no particular love for DC as a company but I do applaud them for not stooping to Marvel’s level.

  2. I’m kind of surprised they pulled this stunt again. Didn’t they get their heads handed to them by the retailers last time?

    But THIS… this I find hilarious:

    “Please note: No second printings, third printings, variants, are accepted as part of this promotion. Only the specific issues of the series listed below are eligible”

    So they get to have their cake and eat it, too. They get to talk smack about the competition, but only on first prints. That’s brilliant, right there.

  3. Well have you ever taken a good look at who runs Marvel? A bunch of men who never grew up. Would you really want to hang with Joe Q in reasl life if he wasn`t connected to Marvel. thankfully Disney bought the company and Marvel will have a vastly different look in a few years.

  4. Well, to be fair, I think they’re trying to avoid retailers ordering second printings of these books just in order to qualify for the variant, aren’t they? Not that any of this really makes much economic sense, however you look at it.

  5. If a retailer places any value on his or his staff’s time, wouldn’t complying with Marvel’s terms cost much more than the FEAR ITSELF “ultra-rate” variant could possibly be worth? How many people really give a shit about variant covers these days?


  6. @Dick:

    I don’t know. I’m pretty sure Disney re-upped most of the executive staff since purchasing Marvel. When Warner Bros. tethered DC more closely to itself, it took less than a year for major for the shift in creative to be felt. Now look at what they’re doing. Do you think DC would re-number the ENTIRE line without corporate’s blessing?

    But that does bring up an interesting point: If you look at the more recent Marvel movies, they are VASTLY different in tone than the comics they’re based on. With Marvel unable to capitalize on the movies’ success, it makes you wonder how long it’ll be before Disney dictates that Marvel lightens things up and makes their comics more accessible to a greater audience.

    … which is kinda what you said, isn’t it?

  7. I think this is one of the most unethical and offensive practices I’ve ever heard of, it’s truly disgusting and puerile. I hardly buy any Marvel books – there’s only so many times I can the same story from a slightly different perspective – but reading this might just lead me to boycott them all. At least until Punisher MAX is finsihed, anyway.

  8. They really ought to be offering variants for ripped up copies of Lee’s X-Men #1, Liefeld’s X-Force #1 and MacFarlane’s Spider-Man #1. Lord knows there’s still more than enough of them to go around.

  9. The house of recycled ideas.

    its funny that DC is thinking about long term strategy and growth i.e. day and date digital and accessibility of stories for new readers, while Marvel seems pretty focused on marketing gimmicks and PR stunts.

  10. And THIS is the company Disney bought for $4 billion???

    Again, another sad example of what Marvel believes is marketing/PR/a great idea.

    Why not focus their efforts on doing something positive for the greatest good of comics, instead of these childish games towards DC?

    Why do Marvel act like DC is the only comic publisher out there?

    You don’t see Pepsi doing that to Coke, Apple doing that to Sony.

    When is Disney planning to wake up and smell the coffee of the Marvel comics publishing side of their purchase??

  11. I have to say, when Marvel did this stunt during Blackest Night, the feedback from the fans seemed to be 50/50. The feedback from all the sites covering this story (The Beat, Newsarama, CBR, Bleeding Cool) seems to be overwhelmingly negative towards Marvel. It also seems that there’s a fair amount of retailers chiming in that they don’t have the issues of Flashpoint to send in vs the issues of Fear Itself tie ins they do have. IF this was a publicity stunt on Marvel’s part to steal back some of the positive PR DC seemed to pick up over the last week, it may end up being a giant backfire. Rich at Bleeding Cool pointed out that Marvel’s movie news far over shadowed their publishing news, and that DC’s publishing news far outshined Marvel’s. I’m wondering if this, combined with DC’s line wide day and date digital means we may be looking at a new paradigm within the big two…

  12. Beyond the mean-spiritedness there is something odd about saying “Stores, destroy your comics and we’ll give you a collectible. This program is worth it to you because you’ll probably charge your customers a huge mark up for the collectible.”

    Additionally, that’s an awkward cover. Look at how twisted and stunted Thor’s right arm and everything about Iron Man is. Ed McGuinness’ Cable Reborn teaser is similarly twisted. His eye is really far away from his arm. It hurts to try and recreate.

  13. I don’t see what the big deal is. If comic stores have a bunch of Flashpoint comics sitting around that they can’t sell, they can trade them in for something they might be able to sell. No one is making them do anything. And it’s not like customers will abandon their stores for a different store if they can’t get the variant, they’ll just go on ebay like everyone does for stuff like that.

  14. “its funny that DC is thinking about long term strategy and growth i.e. day and date digital and accessibility of stories for new readers”

    Publishing manga books, not getting them into the bookstores where most manga books are sold, and then closing the CMX imprint instead of making an effort to sell those manga books outside the direct market is thinking about long term strategy and growth?

  15. I’ve been on the fence on several Marvel titles and I dropped a mini-series [FEAR ITSELF] mid-stream for the first time because it wasn’t doing anything for me. When DC announced its line-wide renumbering and day-and-date this September, Marvel creators/editors took pot shots at DC and lo-and-behold, Marvel’s also shifting their publishing line to day-and-date. And reading the SDCC reports, Marvel was taking pot shots at competition to boost their own line [like its done in the past]. Its kinda left a sour taste in the mouth. I am all for competition but do it by coming up with superior-product, not underhanded stunts or smear campaigns. It’s like a politician who puts down competition as his platform rather than putting forth a solid plan of his own efforts. So I’ve pretty much cancelled most of my Marvel pull-list and will be trying more of the DC re-launch. I get to save a lot of $3.99s

  16. I applaud Marvel for fully embracing their douche-baggery. When you know you are no better than complete douchebags, you might as well go all out with it.
    Way to represent yourselves House of Douche-baggery.

  17. I said it last time Marvel pulled this stunt, DC needs to just go back to the presses and print a million covers to all of the eligible books and make them available for free to retailers.

    They didn’t do this the last time, and now Marvel is doing it again. Marvel will keep on doing it until DC turns it around back at them.

  18. “Publishing manga books, not getting them into the bookstores where most manga books are sold, and then closing the CMX imprint instead of making an effort to sell those manga books outside the direct market is thinking about long term strategy and growth?”

    This isn’t exactly accurate. Plus, Manga…not the boom it was five years ago. CMX shutdown about the same time most of the US manga publishers shutdown. Manga has not currently shown to be a growth industry and 6 years in the manga game (2004-2010) was not exactly a toe dipped in and then jumped out again.

    Incidentily, it’s not entirely DC’s choice to be stocked in bookstores. Their overall trade program shows they aren’t avoiding the book market by any stretch of the imagination. But the difference in sales and what booksellers will stock when you have 40 volumes of Naruto and One Piece versus whatever they were putting out…it was an uphill battle and the manga buyers for these bookstores were exactly trying to be eclectic.

  19. Agree with “LobsterAfternoon” — the store I go to is loaded with Flashpoint minis no one wants to buy because they will be erased in September. So if Marvel wants to offer a creative solution for retailers to take advantage of, who cares?

    As far as desperate goes, Marvel has a full Avengers animated series already out and two major box office successes introducing the world to The Avengers, Cap, Thor, HYDRA, and the Cosmic Cube. Clearly, they have a detailed plan in place developed around these characters — one that’s geared beyond comics, which is where the real money is. Which is good, because it (hopefully) will keep the comics afloat. DC, on the other hand, is concentrating more on comics it seems and utilizing the oldest trick in the book: re-launching at #1. I wish DC would do the same as Marvel — leave the comics mostly alone and make some good movies instead. Forget these nebulous new comics readers — new movie audiences would dwarf those numbers, right? What am I missing?

  20. What a bunch of douche bags. Really.
    Why not just put some effort into making comics people would actually want to read and care about? Marvel seems to be run by a bunch of juvenile jerk-offs.

  21. “In these tough economic times, feel it’s our duty to help,” explained David Gabriel, Marvel Senior Vice President of Publishing, Sales and Circulation. ”

    This makes me sick. Don’t cry again when the industry is in the dumpster….
    Thank you David Gabriel, you made me feel a little ashamed to buy your comics.

  22. I think to see why marvel did this is to step-back a bit. I don’t think a retailer will really send those covers in, and marvel does not expect them to, BUT this makes the guy at the counter look at his DC shelf, at vital ordering time of DC’s new launch.

    lets say the guy has 7 FP titles, maybe he order heavy on one that customers did not like.DC has the 52, which does not look like characters or stories from FP carry over into the 52 launch. This may trigger the guy to say” maybe I should not be over excited in my ordering of the new #1’s “.

  23. I usually ignore this kind of silliness, but this whole “us against them” is just SO childish.

    Wow, the comic industry is facing so many challenges,(they tell us) and instead of working with DC to expand both of their markets against competition from gaming, movies, online entertainment and so on, Marvel is doing this to DC?

  24. Alot of people blame Joe Q and Tom Brevoort from time to time (myself included) about stuff that they don’t like about Marvel but wouldn’t David Gabriel be the more appropriate person to complain about? Variant covers, these childish anti-competition moves, and $3.99 price points would be more his territory than Quesada and Brevoort’s right?

  25. So if Marvel wants to offer a creative solution for retailers to take advantage of, who cares?

    Because there’s no business justification for it. The variant issue isn’t worth the effort required to send in the covers. If Marvel wants to offer dealers sales on anything, the covers gimmick isn’t a justification. The only reason I see for the move is that DC Editorial is seen as being moderately desperate to boost sales, so Marvel Editorial, being in a relatively better situation, decided to try to embarrass the people at DC: “Ha, ha! You’re in trouble. We’re not. We can make fun of you and you can’t make fun of us.”

    Actually, they could. Start a contest to come up with the best epithets to describe the Marvel people behind the move, and announce winners. I doubt the people at Marvel would find that funny, however.

    There is an issue about storylines promising big changes being rendered irrelevant by DC’s reboot-relaunch, but a reader could make the same complaint about 90 percent or so of the Marvel and DC universe titles. An illusion of change policy renders practically all changes illusory.

    The ill will generated by the gimmick will probably more than cancel out any benefits Marvel realizes from the gimmick.


  26. “Start a contest to come up with the best epithets to describe the Marvel people behind the move, and announce winners.”

    My suggestion:
    Someone care to draw up a quick sketch of Tom and Joe in pasties and fishnets, tossing their tassels as retailers stuff Flashpoint covers in their garters?

  27. I think this is great. I’ve never had any use for DC, their characters are boring as hell. All they do is make movies on Batman and Superman. Thinking outside the box for DC is making a Jonah Hex movie. They suck so bad it’s comical. So thank you Marvel for spiking the ball. Freaking hilarious.

  28. Marvel did this to THEMSELVES in 2010. They offered a variant on a bunch of their own books.

    So for all the people who are yelling about how crappy it is for them to be doing this to DC, well, they already did it to DC once, and then to themselves.

    It must be successful, otherwise they wouldn’t be doing it a 3rd time.

    And for those who don’t believe that Marvel offered up some of their own books for a similar deal, here is the link:


  29. Between this and slapping “STILL #575!” or whatever on their Previews catalog (which was hilarious as most of those series had been relaunched or renumbered multiple times, and one of them was Cap and Bucky, three issues into a retitling after ANOTHER Cap relaunch) all I have to say is:

    Stay classy, Marvel.

  30. And for those who don’t believe that Marvel offered up some of their own books for a similar deal, here is the link:

    The two offers were different. Note the self-congratulatory text from the Marvels for Marvel PR:

    “We’ve received positive reactions from the retailer community, but also found many retailers saying they simply don’t have copies of those books to return,” explained David Gabriel, Marvel Senior Vice President of Publishing, Sales and Circulation. “After reviewing retailer feedback, we decided to expand the program to include more titles and allow more retailers to participate. The WOLVERINE #1 DEADPOOL VARIANT already has fans buzzing, so we’d like for every retailer to reap the rewards.”

    Marvel also attached conditions on the number of copies per issue returned that aren’t in the current returns gimmick. Marvel’s current offer simply slammed DC; the offer you referred to was presented as a gift to some retailers who might happen to have unsold Marvel comics.


  31. To be fair, Brad, Marvel Movies maybe introducing Marvel ideas to a larger audience — but we’ve yet to see any of that translate into increased comics sales. The Thor movie made over $400 million, yet there’s been no leap in the Thor comics sales. Marvel (and DC, to be fair) continually has the inability to produce comics that a movies audience will buy.

    And Marvel Movies doesn’t have anything to do with the publishing side from a day-to-day. It’s its own entity and has to pull its own weight, in the greater scheme of Marvel Entertainment/Disney. This means Marvel Publishing must also pull its own weight as its own division — except its editors are more interested in cheap shots against competitors and perpetuating that decades long “Marvel vs DC” thing, instead of creating something positive for the greater good of comics as a whole.

    Just imagine it, Brad — if Disney, one day, did pull the plug on Marvel Publishing, and just kept the Movies/TV/Animation side going, because Marvel Publishing were continually failing to make their stories accessible to new readers/moviegoers and so not capitalising on their movie output. Perhaps Marvel Publishing should focus on righting that massive oversight instead of schoolyard games.

    Okay, that pull-the-plug thing is just a scenario. But like I say, this is not Marvel Publishing like in the old days, pre-Disney. Every cent they produce now is answerable to Disney.

    Better to spend that creative energy here, no? Better to let the quality of the works they produce silently speak for them, yes?

    If they had the latter, they wouldn’t need to feel so insecure about DC or any other publisher.

  32. Also, Brad (I’m not picking on you, I promise), like you say — that’s where the money is for Marvel, the movies.

    But not the comics/publishing side.

    So, if Disney think like that too, would you happy if Disney decided one day to stop the publishing side?

    Would Brevoort and all be happy about that too? If not, wouldn’t it be more productive for them to create comics that bring in new readers (and so increase flow/sales to the comics market)?

    And although competitors, it would be more sporting for Marvel to at least acknowledge DC’s efforts positively, or offer something as good themselves — something that is contributing to the greater good and health of comics/readership *comics-industry-wide*. At least DC is acknowledging, by their relaunch, that they needed to change or die.

    Frankly, if Marvel are happy with a shrinking comics market, more power to them. I don’t think Disney would feel the same way.

  33. @Jon – no, not nitpicking at all, those are great points — let me re-frame what I was saying: I don’t see why the movies have to create new comics readers. It would be great, don’t get me wrong, but why is it a necessity? Clearly, people are buying t-shirts, action figures, etc., so comics should be on that list, but why must it be immediate and direct? In fact, the lack of new Thor readers seems, to me, a huge red flag that there is not this huge giant pool of new comics readers that DC is betting everything on. I wish the movies would save comics, but they’re not. So what next? If these three movies this summer haven’t done it, it’s time to think of new solutions.

    I def. agree that a publishing arm could be seen, in a doomsday scenario, as unnecessary, but I really don’t think anyone is thinking that in terms of relative costs and numbers. The movies making all the money are being carefully based on the comics, so I think Disney — as they said in the beginning — realizes that this is their idea farm, and they don’t want to mess with it. And they haven’t.

    DC though is another story — could that kind of ultimatum over an unsuccessful line have been the catalyst for the New 52? Or a pre-emptive strike? I just find it frustrating that DC seems to be taking the exact opposite approach — making their comics more new-reader-friendly in hopes of making big-$ movies. Why they don’t just copy Marvel, I will never understand. The Cap movie is so great, all because it deals with two audiences at the same time: the summer movie-goer and the hardcore comic fan — at the same time. Not separate, but equal.

  34. I’ve spent all of my comic book related disdain available for this fiscal quarter on the DC reboot, so I no longer have the capacity to be annoyed about a minor marketing ploy like this.

  35. I don’t really see a problem here. Retailers order on a non-returnable basis, so if they have comics sitting around collecting dust, it’s better to get a variant you CAN sell rather than sit on a ton of books you CAN’T sell. It’s just about weighing the potential revenue of a single variant versus the revenue from deep discounting the stack of books you’d need to destroy to get the variant.

    And if you think nobody else does crap like this, you have your head in the sand.

    This comparison is off-base: “Can you imagine a music label acting consistently like this towards another label? Or one movie studio to another? Remember how Random House always talks smack about HarperCollins? No, you don’t, because book publishing is a real industry run by adults.” Marvel and DC are not just publishers or studios, they’re brands. Brands always take shots at each other. Yes, Pepsi and Coke do it, et al. Nobody pays attention to who publishes a book or puts out a record unless it’s a specialized label… doesn’t anyone remember the East Coast-West Coast rapper feud? That was over branding and labels and resulted in people getting killed. Who owned or housed the labels and brands was irrelevant… they could’ve been owned by the same company for all anyone knew. People just picked a side and ran with it. This is no different… except nobody has died yet.. that we know of.

    Marvel and DC are brands at war for your money. All is fair. And this gimmick is not only one of the least offensive tactics, but it actually helps retailers if they’re in such a position where they’re better off with one Marvel variant than 50 DC regulars. But I don’t think Marvel is going to get as much retailer support for this one as they did for the last one… and it has nothing to do with any supposed ill-will from the rabble. It’s all about the content.

    The biggest surprise here is that anyone has bothered to even raise an eyebrow at this.

    Carry on.

  36. What I would like to know is how many retailers have taken Marvel up on these offers and how many of the variants were sent out to responding retailers.

    Is this a slimy business practice? Maybe. What if it were say… Betty Crocker asking for torn up Duncan Hines boxes or Sports Illustrated asking for torn up ESPN magazines would as many people be making a gripe? And if it doesn’t really involve you why make a fuss?

  37. This is a grossly disgusting waste of resources, and frankly, just plain disgusting in general. Thanks Marvel, you’ve set the bar lower.

  38. So it wouldn’t affect DC’s bottom line because all the books have already been paid for by the retailer to the publisher (through Diamond). So really the retailers would just be hurting their own sales for the sake of the incentive.


  39. if you look at the books that came before this one, (deadpool siege variant, wolverine deadpool variant) these books are the most sought after books on ebay and have gone for $800 plus when cgc’d or cgc ss. SOOOOOOOOO someone wants these books. yes YOUR comic shop are ordering these books cause theres a good number on cgc census.

    maybe DC will start thinking outside the box as well. and can they please start making sketch covers for original art. marvel is making a killing with that

  40. DC should turn around and offer something unbelievably super-sweet for any retailers who send in 50 torn off covers of “Fear Itself #6”