by Glen Weldon
Hi, America. Why don't you sit down? We need to talk to you.
Don't worry about the groceries. We'll put them away. You just sit over there in that empty chair in the center of the room, okay? The one facing us. Right.
Now, we know you're surprised to see us here. I mean, you come back from the store and here we all are, crowded into your living room like this. (Gary had to go get some extra chairs up from your basement; hope that's okay.)
The reason we're here today, America, is because we love you. We do; all of us in this room care about you very much, and we want you to get help. We're here to tell you that you need to get help.
You need to stop buying the Obama-Meets-Spider-Man comic book.
After the jump: The first step is admitting you have a problem.
Look, you don't have to pretend with us. Okay? We know you're buying it. The issue only came out three weeks ago, and comic shops still can't keep it on the shelves. On Monday, Marvel announced that it has already gone into a pretty much unprecedented fifth printing.
We know you're buying up multiple copies. We know you're squirreling some away while you go on buying and selling other copies on Ebay for 10 times the cover price, or more.
America? Can we tell you something? You need to stop.
You're only hurting yourself. And comic books too, eventually.
Oh, sure, it seems fun now. Yes, your local comics shop is making money off this whole thing. Marvel's making money, too, and your Ebay store is in the black for the first time since you discovered Webkinz.
But here's the thing: You're taking advantage of people.
People who assume — mistakenly — that because they can't find a copy of this comic on store shelves rightnowthisminute, they will never be able to find one.
People who believe — mistakenly — that all comics intrinsically increase in value with age, so if they can just hold on to the book long enough, they'll ensure themselves a nice, fat, spandex-clad 401k.
But as you well know, America, for any given comic book to be worth anything at all in five, 10, 20 or 50 years' time, it has to be rare.
As in: Not common.
And at this rate, with Marvel churning out reprint after reprint, with thousands of credulous buyers continuing to scarf up copies to either sell or stash, the only way that people who're paying more than cover price for this book will ever get a decent return on their investment will be when they use it to paper the spare bedroom.
What's that, America? Caveat emptor, you say? A fair price is whatever the market will bear?
You said that before, you know. Do you remember? We do.
Back in the '90s? When you started buying up all those Death of Superman comics, convinced they'd be worth something someday?
You remember what happened then? The comics companies started slavishly catering to speculators like you by glutting the market. They'd release the same issue of a given comic with two, maybe three different cover treatments — silver foil, or holograms, or "limited edition" sketches; any kind of collector-bait was fair game.
And what did you do, America? That's right: You bought them all up by the metric ton, certain that you'd hit upon the perfect investment, convinced that the law of supply and demand had been suddenly, miraculously, repealed.
Remember what happened when you finally woke up and realized that a cruddy comic in an exclusive limited-edition foil jacket was still a cruddy comic?
Yep: Sales plummeted, many comics shops folded, and the funnybook publishing industry all but crashed completely.
That was when you hit rock bottom, America. We don't want to see that happen to you again. We care too much.
And that's why this gentleman with the goatee and pince-nez is here with us today. You were probably wondering.
This is Dr. Steve. Dr. Steve's going to take you to a place where you can clear your head and really, you know, work on yourself.
We'll all be here for you when you get back, and then we'll ....
Yes, you're going to have to leave that signed, limited-edition variant-cover Death of Captain America here.
One day at a time, America. One day at a time.