MORE POLYBAGGING on Ultimate Spider-Man #160

Marvel has just announced that the upcoming climax of the Death of Spider-Man story in Ultimate Spider-Man #160 will hit comic shops on June 22, and that it will be polybagged. It won't be available at newstands, and it won't be overprinted. What does this mean? Obviously, the push on Fantastic Four #587 was successful, and I think this is an attempt to push people to retail stores, and drum up an event in mainstream media. Savvy, longtime fans will immediately be reminded of a time when stunts like this were successful in the short term and lead to the near collapse of the industry in the long term. Yes, that did happen, but you could take heart in the critical difference that Fantastic Four #587 was actually very good, and Ultimate Spider-Man #160 by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley, will likely be as well.

So while I understand being upset about these silly trends from the past, I also understand that good content is sometimes not enough, and if Marvel has to use any means necessary to juice their sales, I can't fault them. Luckily those of you with a collectors mindset who don't want to break the seal will be able to see the two covers. Oh yes, there's a variant too. As you can see from the images below, it is red and black, where the regular cover is black and red. That makes it worth more money. That is, if you check inside the polybag, which you can't do because that will ruin the value. The value, it should be noted, is nearly non-existant as soon as the newspapers stop covering this "death", which will be in about a week or so after the issue hits.

But, like I said, the story's been good for a decade, so I'm looking forward to that part.


  1. Why bother with the polybag if they’re just going to ruin it in the mass media anyways?  Seems like an awful waste of plastic.  Also, those covers reveal nothing about the story, which makes the polybag such a dumb gimmick if you ask me.

    That said, I know a lot of folks are excited by this, so I hope the story is good for them.

  2. Can we get a retroactively polybagged issue of the death of Captain America?

  3. Throw in an couple of trading cards and I’m sold

  4. Every time they release a press release like this I always see the “no overprint” and scratch my head, because that’s been Marvel’s policy for a few years now on most of its books.

  5. I don’t doubt the story will be good. It would take a monumental balls up from Bendis for it to fail.

    And like Josh I don’t begrudge Marvel for doing their level best to leverage as much coverage and sales out of the event as possible. I just wish it wasn’t necessary.

  6. i really hate the idea of Polybagging, because of the 90s. Marketing stunts are ok for short term gain, but if every event turns into this…thats not good. For FF #587 my shop marked up every copy to $14.95, causing me to tell my shop owner where he could go, and making me never set foot in his store again. Couldn’t find a copy anywhere and had to wait till the 2nd printing to read the story. All the shops told me they suspected Marvel cut the print run on it too and none of them had their entire orders fullfilled…creating a bigger demand? I felt really burned by Marvel since they created that environment and helped destroy a relationship with a shop i actually liked.

    So yeah thats good for the industry.

    btw…those are really sweet covers though.  

  7. Will it be available day and date lik the rest of the ultimate books have been?

  8. I’m going to invest in the polybag industry.

  9. @stuclach –invest in oil or corn…same difference. 

    what does “no overprint” mean? They will only hit the black once? or they will only print to pre-orders?

  10. The real reason that Marvel is keeping their books at 3.99 is to pay for all that extra plastic used in these things.

  11. Hmm this seems to be confirming my suspicion that I won’t be wanting to read any more marvel books after I read usm 160.

  12. I really don’t want to support this but they are doing this with the one issue I can’t skip.

  13. @wallythegreenmonster  They’re not going to print more than the orders they receive, creating a demand for a second printing, making the first printing more rare, and therefore, the theory goes, valuable.

  14. @josh  –yeah thats what i figured. kinda bizarre philosophy since that means they will be printing a very unevenly specific number of books which would in theory wreak havoc on a print run…seems like it would cost more or cause lots of waste. 

    “overprinting” is also a commercial printing technique so that threw me. 

  15. I think the polybags are just kind of amusing, a fun throwback, and at worst totally inoffensive.  No one is forcing you to buy 2+ copies or preventing you from just tearing the bag open and throwing it out.  For me, it’s just a fun little bonus to the presentation, adding to the air of very important secrets contained in the book.  The only thing that gives me pause is @wallythegreenmonster’s story of retailers marking these up, but hopefully even that serves the useful purpose of designating certain retailers as untrustworthy douchebags.

  16. This is… not forward-thinking behavior, but it could be worse. Let’s not surrender to despair until the hologram makes its reappearance.

  17. They can do whatever they want to make the sales numbers go up, as long as the story is good, it goes un-spoiled (for me specifically.  Bugger the rest a ya’lls), and I get my copy (again, selfish).

  18. @Jimski  –not just holograms, those weird refractive covers (like Robin III)….but really we will still be ok as long as they don’t bring POGS back….then the industry is officially FUBAR.

  19. I actually got quite upset over the whole Fantastic Four death event, from the bagging to the new release spoiling the death. Looking back on it, i seemed very childish, but i guess i just want this medium to move forward with it’s thinking. Regardless, I agrre with you Josh that this is a buiness decision that seems to work for them and if it’s how they make money, then that’s the way they do business.

    My question is though, if they do kill Spider-Man in this book, and take the Human Torch route and release this in a press release, will people think that Marvel Killed Spider-Man proper, and caring to read past that and see it’s the Ultimate Spider-Man?

    Also, it would have been neat to see a blue and a red polybag, asking readers to choose between the red pill cover and the blue pill cover.

  20. @Wallythegreenmonster: I hate that people who dont even read comics go and buy these books, with no intintion of ever reading them, thinking that they will make a fortune on them 40-50 years done the road. While people like you and I who have been reading USM since the beginning are left out not getting a copy and having to have the story spoiled on the internet.

  21. So, anyone thinkin’ that if they do kill Pete, it’s goin to rock over to Jessica, keep the numbering, and go all Ultimate Spider-Woman on us?  I’ve thought for a long time that that (<– always love it when you get those double words, its like bonus points for bad writing) could be a cool story option, and then here comes the Death of (Ultimate) Spider-Man arc and Bendis is bein’ all “Have I ever LIED TO YOU!?!?” about it.

  22. @supertrackmonkey  –that was my main question about the “demand” i could find several copies of the previous FF titles and subsequent ones in that run any time i want. I prob still can, but that one issue everyone bought…pretty obvious people were doubling up or speculators were coming in. It wasn’t the monthly readers which made it scarce thats for sure. 

  23. So, the few people that normally but this book on the newstands…screw ’em, huh? Nice one, Marvel.

  24. @supertrackmonkey  Yeah, it really sucks when publishers manage to get people to buy comics that normally wouldn’t.


  25. @supertrackmonkey  Just pre order it and you will always get a copy of USM? Tell your comics shop to hold you a copy.

  26. Andy Lanning on inks, too.

  27. What’s wrong wth holograms anyway? Fatal Attractions has some of the best holograms eva!

  28. So did Star-Trek TNG, those actors looked totally real.
    I may have to buy this, even though I’ve never read an issue.  Is “Death of” only in the Ultimate universe?  If not, Franklin Richards is gonna need some serious therapy, when Uncle dies, followed shortly by replacement Uncle, that could put a kid with powers over the edge.  Happened to me once.
    Great comments on this thread, btw.  Multiple chuckles.

  29. @PhantomPhrenemy  Yeah, the “Death of…” storyline is in the Ultimate Universe where there is no Franklin Richards.

  30. @supertrackmonkey  & wallythegreenmonster. I can’t thinnk of any comic shops i know that wouldnt set aside a copy for a regular customer. You have 2 months to ask for it. If you arent a regular customert, than to the store you arent any different from the people off the street. I get that many people who arent reading the book may want it. It is historic. The death of superman may not be worth much money anymore, but it is still historic and made a big impact on comics, as did cap, batman and probably the torch as well. as much as i love this book i am hoping its a real, death. one that ends the title and the universe as a line of books. Going out on top, with 160 issues that have been pretty solid is a remarkable achievement.

  31. @abstractgeek  –you can’t put aside what you don’t have in stock. In my area, every shop told me they got shorted on their shipments, so people who pre-ordred got shafted. Other shops marked up the issue by $11 bucks…all because of a contrived marketing gimmick and self created short supply. Nice way to treat your loyal readers, and a better way to convince them that buying floppies is not fun, its a job. Frankly the FF craziness almost pushed me out of buying singles altogether. 

  32. @wallythegreenmonster  wow, you must have some crappy shops around you! There was no shortage around me, one retailer started asking his regular customers if they wanted one held for them over a week in advance. Another local retailer was even telling the people who came in off the street because the heard of it on the news that if they were buying it as an investment, hed sell it to them, but he guaranteed it wouldnt be woth much money in the long run. need less to say, he had more than enough copies for his customers. I had heard about shortages, but again they were plentiful in my neck of the woods. I have heard rumors of marvel/Diamond pulling copies from small accounts to fill last minute orders for bigger accounts, but i also just as soon figure that many stoes lie about shortages as an excuse for just not anticipating demand, or worse the “shortages” are just copies theyd rather sell on ebay ay a higher price than let him hit the stands.

  33. also when they trade this they should bind a polybag around the pages for this issue so you have to tear it open to read the last chapter of the story, and you have to buy a second copy to keep mint.

  34. @abstractgeek  — not crappy shops, but small businesses. i’m sure its a combo of all your points. Considering the industry is built on the backs of small, independent “crappy” shops, who’s yearly income wouldn’t even register on Marvel/Disney’s corporate budgets, i see nothing gained from creating a fake marketing gimmick that denies copies of a comic to people who have cash in hand who want nothing more than to buy it, and enjoy it and get hooked on a hot new series (at cover price) Especially in a climate where comic readership dwindles each year…these types of gimmicks are total phyrric victories.

    They should have hyped it and printed twice as many to get all the new readers hooked. Have the variants be the rare polybagged store incentive collectibles for THOSE people. 

  35. The bag makes sense… they want to make sure that we’re genuinely surprised when we get to the last page and see Ultimate Human Torch getting swarm-killed by the Sinister Six as Peter locks the door to the Triskelion prison… I know I’ll be surprised! I’ll really miss Ultimate Torch.

  36. Poly bags are dumb, sure, but if they start throwing in worthless cards and holograms, I won’t complain.

  37. captamerica101 captamerica101 (@Autobot_Hunter) says:

    great. now, for the rest of my life, whenever i think of death, i will think of colored plastic bags

  38. This should have freebies. A torn piece of web? toe tag? Since the Daily Bugle is a website, instead of a printed piece they could set up an online obit. That id like. I thought the hidden signature on FF was a good idea. Comic book lottery tickets! You gotta open to win!

  39. Glow in the dark please. Thank you.

  40. So this pretty much spoils the story right? I mean at least with Fantastic Four you had a one in four chance of guessing who died. But with a storyarc called ‘DEATH OF SPIDER-MAN’ and you’re trying to hide the secret of the climax by polybagging it (and making it a big deal in the first place) then you know what’s gonna happen in it.

    I assume Spider-Man is going to die. 

  41. if you’re not concerned about collecting and just want to read the story then get a scan.

    if you’re a sucker and feel compelled to buy two copies, one for ripping and reading, then you’re wide open to be taken advantage of like this.

    me, i’ll be looking to grab two copies.

  42. It won’t be available on newsstands?

    The last issue of Ultimate Spider-Man I saw on a newsstand was issue… 3, maybe?

  43. My plan: Take it out of the polybag, quickly read the comic, and then I’ll put it into a ZIP-LOCK BAG! I’m sure it will retain some value.

    Actually, better plan! Get the comic during lunch. Take the comic out of the polybag. Take a ham sandwich out of a zip-lock bag.  Eat the ham sandwich while reading the comic.  When done with  both, put the comic into the zip-lock bag.  Comic protected, and over time will take on the delicious smell of ham!  (Note to self: Pick up a zip-lock bag, and a ham sandwich.)

  44. Your local comic shop should defo put one aside for you at cover , small or not its still a sale for them or will they ask you for  a subscription I guess maybe, these people who are buying for investment only who never read comics I think will be hard pushed to make the money they think they will, as it is impossible to grade the condition of a comic in a polybag. We all know to be worth the value it has to be at the very least 9.8. but you cant grade something you cant see right ?.assuming they keep them sealed which they have too lol .interesting this polybag thing, I doubt we will see any polybagged CGCs if we do now that would be very peculiar indeed, lol