Spider-Man/Obama Update

After reading Wednesday on-line about comic shops around the country having lines of people waiting to get inside and purchase the Obama cover issue of Amazing Spider Man (just like Christmas!), it looks as if a little of the craziness has died down.  After reaching peaks of close to the $100 mark on E-bay, the variant copy of the issue has settled back down into the $60-$70 range.  What’s more surprising to me is that the regular cover of the issue — by an artist you might have heard of, the legendary  Spidey artist John Romita, Sr. — is fetching $20 bids itself.


None of this is going to last, of course.  The frenzy over this issue exceeded that of Captain America’s “death” a short while back — it reminds me more of the reaction to the Superman “death” issue back in 1992.  In that case, the issue in question commanded near the same prices on the day of its release — only to sink back down a few months later (a copy now can be had for $10-$20, if not less).  The print run on this issue just won’t sustain this type of price — unless it turns out that a large number of copies were purchased by non-comic fans just looking for a piece of American history, and those people end up sitting on the book forever, don’t take care of it, or simply throw it away in a few years when they realize “It’s just a comic book” (though none of this takes into account the drop in price that would come if these copies flood the market from disillusioned purchasers if Obama ends up giving us more of the same we expect from Washington).

There’s also a controversy that’s developed from this issue, between Image Comics’ own Erik Larsen (who featured Obama on a cover and in a story of his Savage Dragon title) and Amazing Spider-Man editor Steve Wacker, the details of which can be found here and here.

As a writer, I can see Larsen’s point — but in the world of comic books, true originality is few and far between.  The opportunity to make sales drives pretty much every decision made in the business today, and one wonders if Larsen’s “betrayal” by Marvel would have been soothed if the sales numbers of the two issues had been reversed, and it had been his own issue with Obama that had sold with anything close to the numbers we’ve seen on the Spider-Man tale.

FWIW, Amazing Spider-Man #583 is onto a third printing, so anyone who wants the book solely to say they have it, don’t pay the sticker on E-Bay, but pick up a later printing from your local comic store.


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