Here at The Outhouse, we're taking a stand against five dollar comics. Right now, comic book publishers are testing the waters by releasing "special" books - books that are part of a super-mega-crossover event, or have a gimmicky cover, or contain extra pages of story, at $4.99. But if people buy too many of these, regular books will slowly move into that price point, and $5.99 will become the new "special" price point. This is the way price increases work.
To combat this, The Outhouse is suggesting a simple solution: stop buying five dollar comics. It doesn't matter why the comic is priced at $5, whether it's justified by extra content, or whether you can get it at a discount from an online retailer. If comic book publishers see that $4.99 books sell well, they will make more $4.99 books. This is basic capitalism.
So don't buy them.
To help you out, your good friend Jude Terror will suggest five books every week that you can get for less than five dollars. Sometimes, they'll be new series that are launching, and sometimes they'll be long-running books with a track record of quality. Sometimes, I'll have had a chance to read them first, or we may have reviews by other Outhouse writers, but not always. These suggestions are based on the price point, creative teams, and track record of the properties and publishers.
I'll try to pick at least one comic each from Marvel and DC so that you don't experience too much Big Two withdrawal when participating in this resolution. Also, I should not that creator-owned books that cost five bucks or more are exempt, as long as there's a good reason for the cost (such as the double-sized issue of Mice Templar out today). Our goal here is to thwart corporate greed, not hurt creators.
Check out my five suggestions this week, and post your own in the comments.
And remember - RESIST THE TEMPTATION!
Five Comics for Less Than Five Bucks:
Marvel Comics: Ms Marvel #9 - $2.99
by C. WIllow Wilson and Adrian Alphona
Not only is Ms. Marvel one of the most entertaining books Marvel is publishing right now, but it's one of the few books they put out at $2.99, and it's so popular the first issue is getting a SEVENTH printing. We recently learned where Kamala Khan's powers may come from, and she has a new companion - the inhuman Lockjaw! I haven't read this issue yet because Marvel doesn't send us review copies, but I've read every issue previously and I highly recommend this book.
Titan Comics: Doctor Who: The 12th Doctor #1 - $3.99
by Robbie Morrison and Dave Taylor
Who doesn't like Doctor Who? Do you really need convincing on this one?
DC Comics: Trinity of Sin #1 - $2.99
by J. M. DeMatteis and Yvel Guichet
The Phantom Stranger, the Question, and Pandora are forced to put aside their differences and team up in this new series. Will it be any good? Who knows, but with DC gearing up for another Crisis, the idea of bringing back the pre-Nu52 universe in some fashion actually a remote possibility combined with Pandora's role in the creation of the Nu52 making this a potentially important title, and Dan Didio nowhere in sight on this title, it's worth a try at the $2.99 price point
Valiant Entertainment: Q2 - The Return of Quantum and Woody #1 - $3.99
by Christopher Priest and M.D. Bright
The original creative team returns to Quantum and Woody! Valiant has been winning over fans with a cohesive superhero universe done right for a few years now by putting top tier talent on books and letting the creators do their thing. I'm sure we'll have a review of this later this week, but if you're a current reader of The Flying V or a new one interested in what they have to offer, here's as good a place as any to start.
BOOM! Studios: Wild's End #2 - $3.99
by Dan Abnett and I.N.J. Culbard
Who doesn't love talking animals? It worked so well in the enormously popular Guardians of the Galaxy movie, which was based partially on the stories originally written by Wild's End writer Dan Abnett and his former heterosexual lifemate, Andy Lanning. Granted, the anthropomorphic animals in Wild's End are a lot more... British than Rocket Racoon. Wild's End #1 introduced an alien menace that's incinerating the charming residents of a old-timey animal village in the first issue, and it's got me hooked for the whole six issue mini. If you haven't read Wild's End #1 yet, pick up a copy of that while you're at the store buying issue #2.
Holding the Line at $2.99:
$3.99 comics are preferable to $4.99 comics, but even better are comics priced at $2.99. Once we've stemmed the tide of price gouging, we can work on pushing back to this more reasonable price point. For now, we'll simply applaud the publishers who still offer new comics at $2.99. This week, DC easily holds onto the top spot with twelve comics at $2.99. Coming in at a distant second, Image has three, and one at $3.50. Marvel, Dynamite, and Bongo Comics each have one $2.99 comic in stores this week.
The Original Manifesto:
This is the manifesto originally published in the first 555 column. We'll reprint it each week, just to get you all riled up again to fight against the menace of five dollar comics:
In case you're not aware, both Marvel and DC are testing the waters for $4.99 comic books. Marvel recently upped the price to $4.99 on their weekly Death of Wolverine mini, and DC quickly followed suit by announcing that their own Wolverine comic, Batman, would also cost $4.99, though thanks to the efforts of Batman creative team Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo, that hike lasted only one issue (out this week). Marvel's Avengers and X-Men: Axis #1, out this week, is also $4.99. While apologists claim these price hikes are justified because these are "special" comics that feature bonus material or extra pages or are part of a universe-shatterring super-mega-crossover event, history makes it quite clear that if people buy "special" comics for $4.99, the industry will soon raise the price of regular books to $4.99. Then "special" books will start costing $5.99. And so on. This is the way it's worked since the dawn of comic book price increases.
The only way to break this cycle is to vote with your wallet. And we're not talking about the kind of voting with your wallet where you talk about voting with your wallet on the internet and go and buy the fucking comics anyway. No, this is the kind of voting with your wallet where you refuse to buy comics for $4.99, regardless of whether they have extra pages, or 3D covers, or meaningless character deaths, or even if you can get them from an online discount site for 40% off. Just don't buy them at that price point, and Marvel and DC won't sell them.
$4.99 is too expensive for a comic. That's five bucks for something that takes you ten minutes to read. Twenty if we're being generous and you went to school in America after 1995. When you can get a paperback novel that takes you hours to read for the same price, or a Netflix subscription that lets you watch UNLIMITED movies for less than ten bucks, there is no justifiable reason to pay five dollars for a comic book.
So don't do it. If you have to read it, wait for a second printing to come out or for the digital price to drop. If a Marvel or DC comic has a $4.99 price tag, you don't buy it. That's the only way this will work. Because if publishers see that $4.99 comics don't sell, they won't sell $4.99 comics.
I'm going to call creator-owned books exempt from this, at least for now. We're not looking to hurt creators, who might legitimately need to price books higher to cover costs. When Marvel and DC price books at $4.99, it has nothing to do with cost, and everything to do with how much money they can squeeze out of their readers. Capitalism at it's finest. We want to send the clear message to corporate publishers that we won't accept another price hike.
Got it? Pretty simple, right? If a corporate comic costs more than $3.99, buy something else.
I'm going to repeat the above diatribe every week until you get it. And I'm also going to offer you some alternatives - a selection of comics coming out this week that I think offer a great value for $3.99 or lower. If you were planning to buy a $4.99 comic this week, save a dollar or more and buy one of these: