Marvel Cancels Variant Sets
On Tuesday, Marvel sent out a notice to comic book retailers. The notice announced that three sets of planned theme variants would be canceled. The publisher’s planned themes included “Living Vampire”, “Dark Marvel”, and “Sneakers”. A total of 53 covers that were solicited are now no longer happening. The company made no announcement about whether the covers, or their themes, would be re-solicited. “Dark Marvel” themed covers would have come out in May and “Living Vampire” themed covers were planned for release in June. The “Sneakers” theme, the smallest of the planned themes, would also have been released in June by Marvel.
These cancellations come as the comic book industry continues to suffer from the COVID-19 crisis. While rival DC has made more inroads to a return to normal routine, Marvel has suffered setbacks. The publisher waited for Diamond to reopen before planning when they could begin shipping orders. In addition, several workers have been furloughed. Several comics have been suspended, with artists infamously told: “pencils down”.
This comes at a hard time for the publisher, and parent company Disney. The planned summer comics event, “Empyre”, was paused due to the pandemic just as it began. Disney’s planned big movie releases, such as Onward or Artemis Fowl, are now being sent straight to Disney+ instead of to theaters.
Are Speculators Partially to Blame?
Marvel’s themed covers, as well as those by DC, have been sales hits for the company. Past themes, such as the now-famous Hip Hop Covers, have been collected into artbooks. However, this comes with the downside of speculators snapping up copies. In addition, compulsive collectors are going out of their way to buy copies as well, to have a complete set. While these covers and customers have helped propel Marvel to the top of the sales charts month after month, it’s risky to the industry as a whole. Many still remember the speculation bubble of the 1990s, which nearly cratered the industry. While it is still yet to be seen if this would feed a similar bubble, perhaps Marvel would be better off with a variant cover fast, rather than indulging.