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Marvel is issuing the 500th Fantastic Four comic in July. Combing the numbering systems of all three volumes, this anniversary issue will have two versions: a regular and the foil-cover special edition (priced at $3.50 and $4.99 respectively.) Double-sized with deleted scenes, creator commentary, outtakes, the Dr. Doom showdown with our FF heroes – all part of Marvel’s billing of this “director’s cut” comic book. They, of course, allude to plans to have anniversary editions for other titles as well.

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Seems harmless doesn’t it? Collectors always enjoy behind-the-scenes exposure to the creators and their world. Or is this just another gimmick? Jim Lee’s X-Men #1 was five different covers that fit together to form one large picture – seemed like a great idea at the time. What about deluxe editions, foil covers, holograms, die-cut, photo variants – are they also on the way?

In the recent article in Wizard (issue # 143) Mike Doran, Marvel’s marketing and communication manager, discussed the issue and says similar special editions may be planned “But will be done on a smart basis.” Collectors may not be so sure.

The popularity of DVDs has proved that there is interest in the creation of the product, insight into the creator’s decisions and inspirations, so why have a regular edition? If Marvel was sincere that the event deserves a special tribute, then do it right – we don’t need the gimmicky, collector version. But, truth be told, this may be the sign, the Silver Surfer #50 of this decade, which opens the floodgates.

I don’t mean to be so apprehensive, but a $5 cover price doesn’t scare me as much as a foil-embossed Avengers #360 or a poly-bagged, green collector’s edition Spider-Man. Everybody wants to improve the bottom line, but no one needs to see variants of every issue that ends in a zero. I hope that I’m wrong. I enjoy the Batman #612 second printing with Jim Lee’s pencil art, but don’t expect me to buy five variations every month.

So, okay Marvel, you going to get my five bucks – this time. Be on notice though, we fanboys are watching you.


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