When all new comic books were solicited for Wednesday sale date in the direct market, and a system was instigated where comic book stores received comic books on the Monday or Tuesday before, Diamond Comic Distributors ran a Secret Shopper system that comic book stores paid a few bucks into, that ensured that no one was beating the on-sale date but making that week's comic books available earlier. And for the most part, it seemed to work. And it stopped local stores having to run a Red Queen's Race by beating each other to on-sale date. Back the Wild West of comic book distribution this kind of thing saw rival distributors shipping comic books by air from one part of the country to another to gain an extra p[recious 24 hours for one store to beat its neighbours to the punch – so suddenly everyone had to do it, spending vast sums of money to end up in the same place as each other.
Diamond Comic Distributors suspended the programme during the pandemic and DC Comics decided to do their own version of this beat-the-date by moving the on-sale date of their own comics to the Tuesday – and their new distributors UCS and Lunar, former from DC's biggest customers Midtown Comics and DCBS began shipping that week's comic books even earlier, arriving in some cases the Thursday before, though Friday and Saturday and more common.
Neither UCS and Lunar have any kind of monitor of whether or not comic book stores are sticking to street dates and, as we said, Diamond has suspended theirs – and now wouldn't cover DC Comics anyway. Which is how a Bleeding Cool reader was able to pop into their local comic book store on a Sunday and pick up a number of DC Comics titles technically unavailable until Tuesday.
Whether that be Batman #97…
…Harley Quinn #75…
… or the Death Metal Guidebook.
Maybe DC Comics needs to instigate a news system? Or do they have bigger things to worry about right now?