The questions started off constructive, with one retailer complaining that Secret Empire Omega had a #1 on the cover, and this confused customers because there is no #2 coming. Many retailers in the audience agreed. The same retailer said that one-shots should have ONE-SHOT emblazoned on it. This was met with applause by most of the room. Tom Brevoort was open to this. He said he “wanted to give retailers the best tools possible.”
Another retailer was concerned that the return of the original Wolverine might confuse readers with a marketplace already crowded with X-23 an Old Man Logan.
One retailer had a problem with Legacy’s numbering. Calling himself a lifelong Hulk fan, he was miffed that Hulk is starting with #709. “Why isn’t he getting an issue #700?” Tom said they tried to use a consistent methodology. The Hulk’s numbering started with the numbering of Tales to Astonish, but Stan didn’t include the original first six issues of Hulk from back in the day. Since the renumbering happened after what would have been #700, unfortunately Hulk is missing that big, key anniversary issue. Tom added, “It’s bad for the Hulk, but great for a bunch of other characters. The count is just against the Hulk, which it always is.”
The crowd became charged when a retailer got up and asked “What’s the purpose of making us order the regular edition before being able to order the lenticular?” This was met with THUNDEROUS applause. Retailers are not happy about Marvel’s ordering structure for the special lenticular covers. The retailer continued, “As of now, I probably will not order of any of the November Legacy books.” The room was firmly behind this retailer.
And that’s when things got weird.
This same retailer continued into a rant blasting Marvel on their recent changes to their most popular characters, complaining that when kids come into his shop after seeing an Avengers movie, they can’t find the Avengers in the comics. He complained about Captain America being black, Thor being a woman and Iceman being gay. “Iceman, a character we all love, now he’s gay. It don’t make sense. Why don’t you make new characters? Don’t make changes to the old characters that we love.” This was met with a smattering of applause. Nick Lowe countered with “We do all kinds of different characters. We do all kinds of different stuff.” The retailer continued, “Then don’t mess with the old characters. The old characters are solid.” Nick Lowe politely interjected here, saying “Sir, they’ve been doing this at Marvel for years. Thor became a frog.” This retailer was particularly irked that Iceman was now gay. He came back to that over and over in his rant about Marvel’s changes. “I got kids coming into my shop and you got Iceman kissing dudes.” I didn’t catch the retailer’s name, but let’s just call him Bigoted Santa Claus, because he, well, looks like Santa Claus, and has an obvious dislike for black people and homosexuals. After Bigoted Santa Claus’s continued tirade about Iceman being gay and Captain America being black, Nick Lowe countered that “There are Marvel characters for every kind of fan.”
Another retailer took up Bigoted Santa Claus’s charge and continued to loudly blast Marvel for “Black Cap,” “Female Thor” and “Homo Iceman.” Marvel promptly shut down the panel at this point.
You know, maybe it’s not Marvel’s story changes but these retailers’ backwards attitudes that are driving Marvel sales from their particular stores.