Marvel's controversial "Comics For Comics" program is back, true believers. Now, the program -- which is not sanctioned by Diamond -- has invited retailers to strip covers from theoretically unsold Flashpoint titles from DC Comics and exchange them for a rare Marvel variant comic. Which is to say, Marvel is literally offering stores an incentive to destroy their competition for profit, and receive a comic that is valued as an object rather than a story delivery system.

Stripped covers from first printings of 50 select #1 Flashpoint tie-ins submitted by late August will earn participating retailers one free Fear Itself #6 variant illustrated by Ed McGuinness. On top of that, qualifying retailers will also have access to a special, unspecified Marvel sale.From Marvel's official press release:

"In these tough economic times, feel it's our duty to help," explained David Gabriel, Marvel Senior Vice President of Publishing, Sales and Circulation. "After the overwhelmingly positive response to our Comics For Comics programs, through which we received tens of thousands of covers, we're excited to provide retailers with the chance to help their stores through selling an ultra-rare variant."

Marvel's initial Comics for Comics initiative struck me as an almost comedic means of asserting financial as well as pop culture dominance over its closest competition, especially because it hinged on a Da Ali G Show Deadpool parody cover by J. Scott Campbell. This time around the program seems to have taken a more serious tone with an irony-free variant cover and an almost emotional pitch that emphasizes helping stores in a troubled economy. It will be interesting to see how this approach will fare in comparison to its predecessor. Considering a signed and graded copy of the Siege #3 Deadpool variant currently clocks in at $32 (with seven days left to bid) on eBay, retailers will want to balance the risks and rewards of participating carefully.

You can see the full McGuinness variant cover for Fear Itself #6 below:

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