CultureHead Magazine

Courtesy of and
Courtesy of and

Being a newcomer to comics and trying to enter Marvel or DC comics universes is an incredibly frustrating experience. The off-chance that someone sees a Marvel movie and wants to follow up with the actual comic book series is rare. 

However, what exactly are Marvel and DC comics doing to entice new readers to their comics? Their current marketing tactics are unrewarding and off-putting to new readers. There are so many issues with simply buying a comic book that it’s not surprising that potential fans just won’t. In an industry that competes with TV, movies, and video games, they need to do a lot better to make their product accessible to fans. If we put ourselves into the shoes of a potential reader, you’ll see the many roadblocks they face. 

For example, Marvel has dove into their latest event. King In Black, a story about Knull, The God of the Symbiotes, invading Earth. A casual fan might assume that simply reading issues #1-#5 will give you the entire story. That’s not the case. You’ll want to read the latest Venom volume, which consists of over 30 issues, The Venom Annual, and two Web Of Venom one-shots. In these stories, there’s another event that ties into King of Black, called Absolute Carnage. This smaller event ties in many other characters and even older issues from the Carnage mythos. Along with having its own batch of tie-ins, of course. 

So to get a fundamental understanding of this vast marvel event, you already need to dedicate yourself to an entire backlog of comics. Now, the odds of your local comic shop having all of those? Those odds are as rare as you even having a comic shop to go to. The pandemic has had a devastating impact on non-essential business and comic shops were already a rare commodity as it is. By the way, this is all just for the intro. Here’s the checklist for the actual event: 

How Marvel and DC Comics play Gatekeeper to New Fans CultureHead Magazine

These crossover events are just a way to push for more sales from their current readers. However, these tactics ultimately alienate any potential new ones. These events are always advertised as “world-changing”  in the Marvel and DC comics universes, and things will never be the same. I can assure you they will return to their status quo. 

They produce new #1s issue in an attempt to lure fans with potential collector’s value. DC Comics has rebooted their entire universe over five times, with an effort to make things accessible, but what they do is just make things more confusing. Especially when they create major plot holes in their own continuity. 

There’s another issue with this concept. If you think you should purchase one of these comics, it may be for collection or maybe for potential investment. You’re only setting yourself up for an expensive disappointment. There are 16 variant covers of King In Black #1. With the struggles it takes to sell a single issue, it’s bizarre to see a company oversaturate their own market like this. Of course, when there’s a milestone issue like Venom #200 aka Venom #35. They’ll return to the original numbering just to capitalize on the achievement, and I’ll guarantee there will be plenty of variant covers. 

How Marvel and DC Comics play Gatekeeper to New Fans CultureHead Magazine
Venom #200 or, #35 Courtesy of Marvel

 The final and most significant issue is the most obvious. It’s the price. Comic books are expensive. 

King in Black #1 is $5.99. The tie-ins will range from $2.99 to $3.99. Imagine you wanted to buy those 16 variant covers for $5.99 each. You would already be spending almost 100 dollars on just the first issue. You’ll find yourself spending 3.99 on average for any single comic book. While it may seem like a low cost, more often than not, you’re probably interested in more than one superhero, and some more popular characters have multiple titles.

DC Comics currently has over 10 series featuring Batman out right now. That’s over 40 bucks on The Dark Knight if you’re really committed, and you don’t have billionaire playboy money either. So what’s a new fan to do? Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if they just watch a video recap on youtube. 

It’s easier to google this information than to go out and read it for yourself. It’s easier to watch the next Batman movie than to read up on the current arc of any of his recent comic books. The Big Two, you aren’t making this easy for yourselves, your fans, and especially not for any new ones. Something has to change.

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