It’s time for another edition of Comics Disassembled, in which I write about ten things I liked or didn’t like from the week of comics. Normally this would be led by the ComiXology news, but I wrote several thousand words about that yesterday, so if you want my thoughts on that, head there. Let’s get into the week that was, though, led by a magical and cursed resurrection of a much desired reprint.
1. JLA/Avengers, Back in Action!
A hearty congratulations and how dare you to everyone involved with bringing George Pérez and Kurt Busiek’s JLA/Avengers crossover back in print, as the Hero Initiative, Marvel and DC teamed up to ensure this long out-of-print book is available again in March while Pérez is still with us. Proceeds from sales from this new, super-sized, and filled with 64 additional pages version are going to either benefit Pérez’s family or the Hero Initiative, depending on who you ask, which is a very good thing.
The opening might sound weird to you, as this sounds very much like a congratulations type situation, not a how dare you one. And I’m of the belief that it’s more the former than the latter. It’s amazing that after 14 years and what I am sure have been a whole host of disagreements between Marvel and DC over reprinting this tome, that they managed to make it happen this quickly. From the sound of it, it being for Pérez helped push it across the finish line, but that it was Marie Javins and the Hero Initiative – an organization Pérez has long played a role in – that fought for this rerelease. That’s amazing.
The how dare you comes in because of the number of copies that are being printed: 7,000. Given that most shops I talked to reported a deluge of calls, texts, and emails requesting a copy and that there are roughly 3,000 total comic shops in the direct market — it seems like an almost unprecedented amount of interest, to be honest — a smidge over two copies per store will more than likely fail at filling the demand. There was a lot of frustration related to this, and natural concerns over how speculators will jump on this, as previous collections of the book sell for $400 or more on eBay already. With a finite amount, that concern is legitimate, and shops being upset over the limited opportunity to order this release is understandable, especially considering how easy of a sell it is. It’s clear this is not enough, and it’s bizarre that the number is so low. I reached out to the Hero Initiative to see if they had any insight, but as of now, they have not responded. (Update: Graeme McMillan revealed in his newsletter that the combination of supply chain issues and Perez’s necessary timeframe was a major driver of this number. That’s an extremely understandable reason for the number. Great reporting by Graeme too. Subscribe to his newsletter!)
That said, I’d describe this reprint happening in any capacity as a minor miracle. I’m guessing the options for this release were 7,000 copies or zero, given how little Marvel and DC seemingly want to play with each other. It’s also possible that the publishers underestimated demand, as previous editions of the collections were relatively insignificant (they were the 85th and 97th most ordered books in the direct market the years they arrived). Maybe they thought the current interest would match those previous releases? The final option for why the number was so low is DC and Marvel would prefer to keep a larger print as one they can profit from later. I’m not sure which it is. But I do know this: I’m happy it’s happening, especially considering the joy it brought Pérez. That’s why I’m leaning more towards this being a good thing, even if it is a flawed one. Fingers crossed they up the print total so shops can match demand, that way this can be unequivocally a positive result. That would be ideal.
2. Marie Javins, Being a Boss
Before we move on from this new item, I do want to underline how amazing it is that Marie Javins pushed so hard to make this happen. It’s easy to lose the good in the bad of these stories, even if this one has a whole lot of good in it. And the fact that Javins fought so hard to make sure this happened despite what I have to imagine were a nearly unprecedented amount of obstacles in her way is, as I noted before, a minor miracle. And that phrasing might not even be correct! That suggests randomness! This wasn’t random. This happened because the editorial head for one of the Big Two battled to make it happen, and that’s incredible.
The comic industry could use more people like Marie Javins. There’s a reason she’s one of those people in comics whom everyone likes, and her own employees talk about being willing to follow her through fire because of that. She’s an inspiration and a badass, and I’m glad she managed to make this happen regardless of the size of the print run in the end.