Marvel Salutes the Troops

Captain America ... dead?

Over the weekend, Stock Advisor pick Marvel Entertainment (NYSE: MVL  ) released 1 million copies of The New Avengers: Spirit of America, which features the star-spangled hero making a videotaped appeal before his death to his super-powered teammates for the protection of a soldier and her brother from a terrorist group.

Want more than that? Buy the comic.

Oh, wait, you can't. Marvel's latest entry in the decades-long saga of Captain America, whose career began on the front lines against the armies of Adolf Hitler and ended during Marvel's highly popular Civil War series, is its fifth comic book designed exclusively for the armed forces. Copies will only be available at U.S. military bases around the globe for free.

Brilliant move, Marvel.

Think about it. It's only a matter of time before collectors with friends and family in the services get copies they'll tidy up for auction. Those soldiers who don't sell get a nice salute and an instant collector's item. Those who do get a nice salute and a small profit. And Marvel pockets what could be several hundred thousand dollars in goodwill -- from just one comic book.

Of course, limited and collector's editions are nothing new. Disney (NYSE: DIS  ) thrives on them. So does Star Wars creator George Lucas. Heck, every producer of original content does. And retailers such as Best Buy (NYSE: BBY  ) , Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT  ) , and Target (NYSE: TGT  ) are always hungry for hot items that sell for a premium, especially during the holidays.

Marvel feeds this beast, too. Regularly. That's why these retailers and digital stores such as Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN  ) are selling many different DVD collections featuring last year's Spider-Man 3. It wants its share of the nearly $10 million in DVD sales that Spidey has already generated.

No, Captain America isn't back. But, then again, the collectors haven't yet rung the cash register on his latest appearance. When they do, the surrounding din could become too loud to ignore, even for a dead hero.

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