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Musing on Marvel Monthly Mailing: Subscriptions in Today’s World

A friend was talking to me about ordering a Marvel subscription for a niece, which has prompted some other thinking for me on the subject OF Marvel and actual subscriptions (like, you pay in one chunk, and then on a regular basis across the next X number of months receive so many issues by mail without ever having to seek out or visit a comic shop).

So I did a bit of poking around–and I do have some questions (but not such that I want to contact them via Live Chat Support or such, as I feel it’s stuff that SHOULD be OBVIOUS withOUT someone having to go through extra steps to know/have answers!)


Firstly…It’s been years since I truly considered the notion of the "classic" mail-order subscription to a comic title. For nearly a quarter-century I’ve had the near-weekly routine of visiting a comics specialty shop (aka "comic shop" aka "Local Comic Shop" aka "LCS") and browsing the current week’s new selections, if not having stuff pre-ordered on a "pull list" or "subscription" in that sense.

In short…it’s something I for one totally take for granted.

Seeing this page hit me, though: save 40% off $3.99/issue?!? That’s $2.40/issue…a hekuva lot better than the $3.99-$4.99-$5.99 price points Marvel has on everything.

BUT…you’re paying lump-sum up front, so while $20 might get you 4-5 single issues this week at the LCS to "try," if you want to "try" 4-5 series you’re over $100, sight unseen, via subscriptions…and on the hook for an entire run.


But look! New(-ish) titles! Some have already started, at least one hasn’t (that I’m personally aware of), others…I haven’t the foggiest, thanks to all the renumbering shenanigans lately.

On the static subscription page at Marvel‘s website, though…there’s nothing obvious at this point as to where in a series you’ll be started/starting, nor which ‘version’ of a series. Captain Marvel? What is Marvel up to now–5th series? 6th? In hardly a decade? So yeah, you’d have a subscription to something called Captain Marvel but might you be getting, say, #17, a couple more, then #1-8 or 9? Would the subscriptions department even properly carry your subscription over to the "proper" title, or would they take your Captain Marvel subscription and simply funnel you over to Ms. Marvel or such? (Not saying one title is bad, but if I order/paid for one title, getting a completely different title would be disappointing at the least).


And I’m honestly shocked at the presence of Spider-Man: The Clone Conspiracy appearing here–if one is diligent enough to follow stuff enough to know about the event and that they’d "need" it along with any other subscriptions, I’d surmise that they can find a comic shop and/or would be inclined to go through something like Discount Comic Book Service or such.

To say nothing of the fact that it is a mini-series consisting of 6 issues.

Yes, the copy specifies that it is a 6 issue subscription… but once the first issue has shipped, shouldn’t this have expired an no longer been part of the subscriptions page/site?

After all, it says right there that the last issue processed was #3–meaning that at best your subscription would start with #4! So if you pay $19.46 for a 6-issue subscription right now, you’d begin with #4, receiving 3 issues. Then what? Would you just receive 3 issues of some arbitrary mini-series or followup/event? Would they send you several issues of The Amazing Spider-Man? Issue a refund?


Then there’s the matter of Marvel‘s constant renumbering for their "seasonal model" they’ve adopted.

When it often seems like a stretch for something to "make it" even 12 issues, and even if it is a success, getting renumbered after (often seemingly) little more than 12 issues, that would seem (to me) to play havoc with the notion OF the 12-issue subscription model.

I’ve personally lost track of how many Deadpool and All-New or Estraordinary or Uncanny or Whatever X-Men titles there are, have been, and are coming up and which iteration they are.

(At least in the 1990s, even with ~9 titles in the X-"family," there was Uncanny and "Adjectiveless" X-Men, then stuff clearly indicating other teams/characters (Wolverine, or Cable, or X-Factor or such)

With three out of eight titles including All-New, Extraordinary, and Uncanny X-Men along with ’92, I would guess that might be a little off-putting to someone who is not steeped in the week to week  of comics in general nor "continuity."


When a series has been cancelled–the solicitation provided weeks/months in advance–shouldn’t its entry be removed or at least "frozen" on the page?

Additionally, shouldn’t something be posted about what to do if you ordered a 12-month/12-issue subscription and received less than 12, as to what series you’ll be receiving as a "replacement" or what steps to take for a refund?

It also seems highly insular…someone just wants to get their kid or a family member "a subscription" to a comic series, as a Christmas gift or birthday gift or such, and (Marvel particularly as I’m going off stuff from their site) has so many titles that one somewhat would have to GUESS at what they’re ordering.

Combined with some advisement from someone like me–I know that Marvel does all this renumbering crap, so I can’t even think of what TO suggest be ordered, outside of perhaps one of the titles based on whatever iteration of whichever animated series…though that would almost seem "token" if not "insulting" to kids nowadays (and by "kids" I realize I’m now old enough to consider college students "kids").

While not exactly a same-fruit to same-fruit comparison…I also just considered this: why not offer "pre-orders" directly on collected volumes/graphic novels? If people are going to "wait for the trade" anyway, and it’s so darned important to pre-order, then take ’em directly and make sure they stack up to whatever finances are required to pay the creative team and still profit acceptably and such. If you can refund subscription remainders on perhaps 6+ issues, why not just take pre-orders on twice or thrice yearly collections OF six or so issues, and be able to offer refunds if there aren’t high enough sales to justify getting to the fullness of the "next" book?

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