In a break with past Marvel policy, Marvel COO Bill Jemas has announced that Marvel will be printing a Marvel Must Have edition containing the first issue of its upcoming Captain America miniseries, Truth: Red, White and Black, on spec and will release it November 27th, one week after Truth #1 is released. Marvel is ordering 15,000 copies of the Must Have prior to receiving any orders from retailers. In addition to the first issue of Truth, the Marvel Must Have will reprint Captain America #1 (Marvel Knights) and The Ultimates #1 in a $3.99 collection.
Truth #1 was already getting special treatment from Marvel in an effort to have sales more closely match demand on a product with lots of civilian potential due to media coverage. Marvel had launched its PR blitz prior to retailer order cut-off (see 'Marvel Gears Up PR Earlier for Black Cap'), with some success (see 'Top U.S. Newspaper Covers Marvel Cap Series'). This was a highly unusual step by public relations conventional wisdom, which would advocate a single blitz around the time of the product's release. Marvel's goal was to give retailers an indication of the size of the demand for the book before they ordered. In fact, the final reorder cutoff on the first issue is October 31, over a week away. Apparently it was felt that an additional step was needed to avoid sell-outs followed by a 3-4 week period when no product was available, which has happened on a number of past Marvel books with media attention.
In the announcement, Jemas also released a lengthy defense of Marvel's no-overprint policy (see 'Marvel's Bill Jemas 'Tells the Truth about Over-Production''), stressing repeatedly that many retailers like the policy. This follows Jemas' sharp response to Heidi MacDonald at Marvel's last press conference (see 'Jemas Bristles at 'DC-Promulgated Lie'') for her statement in a recent Comic Buyers Guide that most retailers oppose Marvel's no-overprint policy. The shift in Marvel's overprint policy, however slight, coupled with the statements at the press conference and in this recent 'Open Letter' indicate that the charge that Marvel is unresponsive to retailers is not one that the company is willing to let stand. At the very least, the company is taking unprecedented steps to indicate that it's trying to overcome the out-of-stock problems that have plagued its biggest PR successes in recent years and coupling those steps with an offensive to convince retailers that it's listening to their concerns.