The potential real cost of Marvel’s “Secret Invasion”

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Not that Marvel really needs any more hype about this but I was thinking about doing a review of my own about the new Secret Invasion story that started yesterday. However, I decided not to offer much in the way of a review because in several ways, my review would be very similar to what others around the Internets are saying.

Basically, I’m a big fan of Brian Bendis and glad he’s writing Secret Invasion. I liked the first issue of it so far, have a couple of concerns, but hope it will get even better as subsequent issues hit the stands. However, even though I mostly enjoyed Issue #1, regardless of its problems, the whole Secret Invasion story does have to contend with an even bigger problem I’m having with Marvel and DC of late: big “event” stories both publishers seem determined to do.

I know, you gotta do something to keep people reading and sell comics, but I sometimes wish that they wouldn’t make such a big deal about it. Every one of these “Universe Shattering” events like World War Hulk, Messiah Complex, House of M, Final Crisis and Civil War has a dramatic effect on the Marvel and DC Universes and a dramatic effect on how much the reader is willing to put up with.

Really, how many times can the Marvel and DC U survive all these events? It seems that the pieces are barely being put back together and then another major “event” comes along and takes it all down. Plus, how much can the reader be expected to follow this story when its spread across so many different comic titles and characters? And, with comics getting more and more expensive, how many times can you ask the reader to keep buying all these tie-in issues so you can tell a big “event” story like Secret Invasion?

I counted and so far, according to the list in Secret invasion #1, there are going to be 33 comics that tie-in or tell some part of the Secret Invasion story. And that only gets us through July! If each one has a cover price of $3.99 like Secret Invasion #1 does, that’s $131.67 to get you through July and Secret Invasion #4, X-Factor #33, She-Hulk #31 and the rest of the tie-in and one-shot issues.

To me, that seems like a rather large commitment that Marvel expects the reader to make. Although, I probably spend that much on comics in a month already, so I suppose its relative. Maybe that isn’t much money to you. However, I don’t think its just a cost in terms of dollars and sense, I think its potentially a cost in terms of readership.

At some point, and I’ve already heard some of the grumbling at recent conventions and elsewhere, readers are going to get weary of these kind of “events” and just want their favorite characters to have their own stories again so they can enjoy them. At a recent Con, for example, one fan even asked this directly during a Marvel panel, saying: “Can’t you just leave them alone for a bit?”

As someone who still prefers the feeling of printed paper in his hands and reads his comics that way, instead of online (and I’m even a Marvel Digital Comics subscriber and write for ComicMix, a site that publishes digital comics) I don’t want printed comics to go away any time soon. I also want Marvel and DC to be as successful as they can be so they can keep printing comics and bringing readers more and more great stories.

I feel for Marvel and DC (and all publishers who print comics), I really do. In a world where consumers are turning more and more to the Internets for entertainment, reading far fewer printed publications and where a comic book that sells 60 or 70 thousand copies is considered a major hit, they have to be a bit nervous.

I just hope this nervousness and desire to boost sales by pushing more “event” stories doesn’t drive readers away more than it brings them in. That would truly be a shame.

For actual reviews of Secret Invasion #1, check out the ones at Comic Book Resources and ComicMix.

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