Wednesday, August 10, 2022

The Comic, "Variant," Mess That C2E2 Wrought

The Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo just happened and the event itself was a good time, by all accounts. That's not what everyone in the comic-sphere is discussing at the moment. A company by the name of Black Flag had an old, "Ultimate Fallout," #4 reprint (the first appearance of Miles Morales) variant laying around so they stapled a new acetate cover to it. Then they got this bootleg cover of sorts graded by CGC as an official thing and solid it at C2E2 to a bunch of vendors and popular, "Influencers," in bulk. This made it hard for other folks to get the thing and a perfect storm of controversy erupted. The talking points are...

1. Black Flag basically mutilated their original comic by stapling on a plastic cover that makes the whole thing ugly and has a grammar typo (it reads, "In God We In Trust,") yet CGC graded it with a universal label as if it is its own unique comic.

2. Marvel did not approve the alterations to the comic beyond the initial variant cover so it is essentially counterfeit in the eyes of Marvel, is being reported by folks as not legitimate on eBay, yet got graded as if it were legitimate.

3. Some folks were claiming that influencers and vendors were cutting the line for copies of the comic and the popular app Whatnot actually was involved in getting them access. I actually have a friend who wishes to remain anonymous and they attended C2E2. They filled me in on what they witnessed of this debacle. They say those people had pre-paid for the comics and were picking up their bulk orders, but were not skipping the line according to what my friend witnessed. Also, Whatnot itself had nothing to do with it, it was just some sellers who are popular on Whatnot that took the initiative to order a bunch of copies in advance. Apparently, the Whatnot app staff/owners were as caught off guard by all of this as anyone else.

4. Black Flag raised the price on the comic once people started flooding the booth trying to get it, hearing it was, "Hot," from those vendors and influencers on Instagram/Whatnot/etc. They started charging even more because everyone suddenly wanted this controversial comic and it sold out quickly because--as mentioned--a bunch of people had bought copies in bulk.

5. Black Flag has said they are going to do this whole stapled-on-acetate-cover again at an upcoming convention and has outright announced they will have two lines. A line for people they deem big enough, "Influencers," who can buy 10 copies of their new comic at once to then resell, and a line where normal folks can buy a single comic. This has rubbed people the wrong way that Black Flag is outright selling stuff to resellers for the purpose of reselling as some folks view comic reselling and speculation as a plague upon the industry. I like to buy and sell comics for fun as the ones I, "Flip," help pay for my personal collection, so my feeling on speculation and reselling are not that negative, but intentionally playing to speculators is just a losing game that results in a bubble waiting to pop--look at the comic crash of the 1990s.

Fans are pissed, CGC is embarrassed, Marvel is upset, Black Flag is unrepentant, and things are probably only going to get crazier at this rate.

1 comment:

  1. On eBay, buyers have purchased and currently bidding $20k+ for raw copies for essentially an acrylic afterthought, a gimmic to boost sales to feed the speculators appetite.
    Weʻre witnessing another unsustainable bubble. Thinking of jumping in…listen to that voice in the back of your mind, itʻs your voice of reason.