While they haven't commented publicly on the issue, a number of recent $2.99-priced Marvel Comics titles have had a reduced page count of 20 pages of story from the previously-standard 22 pages. This change mirrors DC's recent decision to reduce the price of many of their $3.99 comics to $2.99 and trim those books to 20 pages of story.

Note that this doesn't apply for $3.99-priced Marvel titles; those all seem to still run at 22-24 pages. However, the following recent Marvel books (including titles released today) have contained 20 story pages at the $2.99 price point:

Shipping April 27: FF #2, Incredible Hulks #627, Power Man and Iron Fist #4, Venom #2

Shipping May 4: Herc #2, Heroes For Hire #6

Shipping May 11: Fear Itself: Youth in Revolt #1, FF #3, Incredible Hulks #628, Journey Into Mystery #623, X-Men Legacy #248For what it's worth, no $3.99 book that I could tell (and I buy a lot of titles) had this reduced page count, and these are the only ones so far to feature it, all starting in the last week of April. A Marvel spokesman declined to comment on the issue, and I can understand why this isn't something Marvel would want to advertise, since there's no immediate candy coating like the price reduction DC offered from $3.99 to $2.99 when they lowered their page count.

Prices on Marvel books appear to be staying at their current level, they're just reducing the page counts on the smaller titles to cut costs. It's likely an economic necessity facilitated by DC opening the possibility floodgates, but there's really no happy way to break this news to fans. So they just released them.

Interestingly, these titles won't count as different from solicitation, since Previews only lists the page counts including ads. I honestly wouldn't have noticed if the last issue of FF hadn't been 20 pages, leading me to check out other books that week to see if anything else had that count. Nothing from previous weeks or previous issues of those titles, had less than 22 pages, so this seems to be being slowly phased in, since other titles (like last week's Avengers Academy, X-Men: Prelude to Schism and Fear Itself: Spider-Man) are still 22 pages at $2.99.

Whether this change is simply an option for a certain subset of titles or the new standard remains to be seen.