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Marvel Did Not Approve Ultimate Fallout #4 Acetate Covers At C2E2

It's Black Flag Ultimate Fallout #4 Acetate C2E2 drama time. But let's step back a little. A comic book store can get an exclusive-to-them retailer cover of a comic book being published by Marvel or DC, by ordering a minimum of 3000 copies. They pay the full wholesale price, plus artist costs, and they can be sold for a premium or used for promotional purposes. Other publishers list smaller print runs as options, but it can still be a hefty upfront fee. And some stores can be stuck with them for a long time.

Comic book store Black Flag Comics has been doing something different in a very entrepreneurial fashion. They regularly commission a number of exclusive variant covers to comics, often drawn by friend-of-the-store Clayton Crain. A while ago, they commissioned an exclusive retailer variant by Crain for the Ultimate Fallout #4 facsimile that Marvel put out last year, reprinting the first appearance of Miles Morales. A CGC 9.8 slabbed copy recently sold for $36 on eBay, which is basically the cost of the slab. The juice seemed to have gone out of that one.

So what did Black Flag do? They created a new acetate cover and stapled it over the top of the remaining 750 copies of the unsold comic they had in stock. And made it a patriotic thing, with the cover stamp saying USA, the United States flag, the words In God We InTrust, and citing it as an Infinite Black Publishing production. Then sold it as a retailer variant exclusive at last weekend's C2E2 show in Chicago for $85 each.The Fallout From Ultimate Fallout And Black Flag At C2E2

And they have been making bank. Initially, there were complaints from the collectors who stood in line when the show opened after other retailers/Instagrammers/influencers/whatnot sellers could walk up and buy a hundred copies at a time for $85 each. And then, Black Flag upped the price of the remaining copies to $100 each and still sold out. But copies of this new version of the comic have sold on eBay for up to $350 each, with a 9.9 CGC graded version selling for up to $2000. A now-deleted-but-reposted-to-YouTube video explanation by Black Flag stated that they allowed those retailers to pay in advance towards the production process.

The Fallout From Ultimate Fallout And Black Flag At C2E2

But concern about how the comic was sold soon turned to curiosity about how it was made. Today, Bleeding Cool has been able to confirm that Marvel Comics did not approve Black Flag's addition of an acetate cover as a further variant, and it is also not something they would permit. I am sure David Gabriel SVP Print, Sales & Marketing at Marvel, is having fascinating conversations with Black Flag Comics right about now, while stopping copycat moves from other retailers. While retailer-exclusive covers have been popular in the market, publishers have to approve them for branding and taste issues, and to avoid possible controversies. Opening it up to anyone to amend covers in this way, and then sell them, is something Marvel will not allow.

CGC has also been criticised for grading this comic without noting that a) it is not an official variant cover and has been altered and b) the original grade of the cover must have been damaged by having a new cover stapled into it. CGC user captainzombie asked "I am baffled how CGC would grade these considering that there are 4 staples on this vs. the normal 2" and if this would be a precedent.

CGC has issued an official response "with an explanation of our thought process behind the grade assignments. We treated them as we would any other variant cover that's attached with an extra set of staples after the book was printed, and at times these books included the original cover as well. There is a precedent for acetate covers being attached to a printed book, and then graded by CGC. An example is Stray Dogs #1 from last year. An acetate variant cover was attached with an extra set of staples, to which CGC assigned a Universal grade and a notation of "acetate cover" on the label. The extra set of staples were part of the manufacturing process of attaching the acetate cover, and not considered a defect." However, collectors on their board seem not happy with that response as it didn't address the fact that it was the store rather than the publisher who made the alteration.

Black Flag also confirmed they had created two more acetate covers for Boston Fan EXPO this weekend, Ghost Rider on Friday, and Deadpool on Saturday, with 100 copies in one line for  people who want one copy each, at over $100 each and another line for retailers/resellers/influencers.. And then a non-acetate Venom cover for the Sunday that Black Flag said they had been sitting on for two years that no one has seen, being released for the show.

Let's see what they actually have on sale at Boston, shall we? Does anyone want a job lot in second-hand acetate? And will there be more fallout for Ultimate Fallout? What about retailers who do this kind of thing with Frank Cho cover prints?

Ultimate Fallout #4 Acetate Covers Cause C2E2 Ructions - Boston Next?

It won't end here. There's more to come. Bleeding Cool has approached Marvel, Black Flag and Clayton Crain for comment.


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Rich JohnstonAbout Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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