In a move announced last week that many observers (including myself) wrote off as an April Fools' prank, Dark Horse Comics confirmed Tuesday that it is, in fact, offering a special offer to retailers: Send in 20 covers to Marvel's Star Wars #1, and get an exclusive, Adam Hughes-drawn variant cover to the first issue of the new Barb Wire series.

One of the key reasons the ploy seemed like a prank the former publisher of Star Wars comics was pulling at the expense of the current one was that it mirrors a similar Marvel promotion from 2010, in which the publisher offered a rare Deadpool variant cover to Siege #3 in exchange for 50 stripped covers from Blackest Night tie-ins. That promotion was real and so is this one.

A Dark Horse press release quotes president and publisher Mike Richardson's explanation for the whole thing:

We have been and remain huge Star Wars fans and as such we wanted to do our best to help promote Marvel’s new series. No retailer who is a true Star Wars fan would destroy his or her own first issue, so what better way to pump sales than by offering a reward for ordering extra copies? Of course, we’re hoping that Marvel returns the favor by offering an exclusive Star Wars cover for every 20 Barb Wire covers it receives. Seems fair and what better combination exists in this or any galaxy than Star Wars and Barb Wire?

Perhaps that's an ingenious plan to send orders of Barb Wire into the stratosphere, but it seems unlikely Marvel will reciprocate.

For retailers interested in the offer, full details are available at Dark Horse's website.

For readers too young to remember Barb Wire, or for those who have simply forgotten her storied history, the bar owner and part-time bounty hunter starred in a couple of short-lived series in the mid-1990s. The comic was adapted into an astonishingly terrible 1996 movie that starred Pamela Anderson and was a strange stealth Casablanca remake. The comic sat on the shelf for nearly 20 years thereafter, and is roaring back this July.

Another announcement from the original April 1 release that announced the Star Wars-for-Barb Wire exchange involved a giveaway in which a fan would be given a live, 470-pound tiger in celebration of the new King Tiger miniseries, which starts in August. That one was a joke.