Ultimate Fallout #4 (2011) Direct and Newsstand

The first appearance of Miles Morales in Marvel comics occurred in Ultimate Fallout #4 in 2011. Two direct edition versions of the book and one newsstand were produced as first printings. Two additional direct editions of the book were produced as second printings in 2011. There are a total of five editions from 2011. Reprints from years after 2011 also exist, and will probably continue to be produced as anniversary editions or other needs arise.

Ultimate Fallout #4 (2011) – 1st printing, direct edition and newsstand edition

Direct edition barcodes have 5 digits on the right (top) edge, specifically 00411, which indicates issue number 004, cover 1, printing 1.

Newsstand edition barcodes have 2 digits on the right (top) edge, specifically 18, which indicates that this is the 18th issue in the newsstand system associated with the Black Panther title (shown at the bottom of the newsstand edition). Rather than create a new title in the newsstand system, particularly for short series like Ultimate Fallout, Marvel reused another title already in the system. In this case, Black Panther was a Marvel title in the newsstand system, but the Black Panther series from 2009 stopped at issue #12. Having the newsstand system record any returns as “Black Panther #18” gave Marvel a unique identifier for Ultimate Fallout #4 without having to add Ultimate Fallout as a title, since there were only 6 issues. Keeping that method, the newsstand edition of Ultimate Fallout #3 is coded as “Black Panther #17” and the newsstand edition of Ultimate Fallout #5 is coded as “Black Panther #19”.

The other editions of Ultimate Fallout #4 are direct editions.

A 1:25 ratio variant for Ultimate Fallout #4 is also a first printing direct edition. The 5-digit issue code is 00421, indicating issue 004, 2nd cover, 1st printing. There is not a newsstand edition for this variant.

Ultimate Fallout #4 – first printing, retailer incentive variant

It should be noted that the retailer inventive variant appeared in Marvel $5 back issue bags in the Five Below discount stores during 2016, so it is clear that the 1:25 ratio for retailer ordering is not necessarily a representation of how many were printed. Publishers do not print all ratio variants to the exact ratio, the ratio is for the retailers to obtain a copy. Publishers may print extra for any reason, such as file copies, overage for damages, convention sales, artist comp copies, to get a volume discount from the printing company, or any other purpose. It is impossible to know a ratio variant’s print run using only the ratio. Additional copies often do exist, beyond what a retailer was specifically required to do to get the book.

The second printings of Ultimate Fallout #4 show Miles Morales’ face, either as a “maskless” reprint of the regular first printing, or as a clear face image on the variant second printing. Both of the second printing covers are noted as “Marvel 2nd Printing Variant”.

Ultimate Fallout #4 second printings – both are direct editions showing Miles Morales’ face

An interesting note is that the direct edition barcodes for the second printings actually indicate they are the 3rd and 4th covers of the first printing. Marvel was inconsistent in its use of the barcode standards, so it is unclear if the second printings were printed later or printed at the same time and held back for later sales after the first printings sold out.

The 5-digit issue codes for the second printings are 00431 and 00441, indicating issue 004, 3rd cover, 1st printing (00431) and issue 004, 4th cover, 1st printing (00441). If these were correctly-coded as second printings, they should have 5-digit issue codes of 00412 and 00422.

A reprint of Ultimate Fallout #4 was produced in 2019.

Reprint of Ultimate Fallout #4 from 2019, eight years after the first printing

Returning to the comparison of the 1st printing, 1st cover, direct and newsstand editions, it should be noted that more than 1,000 copies of the direct edition sold on Ebay.com during June 2020, with an average price of $1,030 for CGC 9.8 graded copies of the direct edition. Raw (ungraded) copies of the direct edition averaged $300.

Two copies of the newsstand edition were sold in June 2020. A single raw (ungraded) copy was not noted in the auction title as newsstand, was described as 9.2 condition (not professionally graded), and sold for $960.

A CGC 9.8 newsstand edition sold on June 28, 2020, for $8,100.

Let’s Get Started!

Welcome to Newsstand101.com – DirectEdition101.com

This website has been created to provide visual help for identifying the differences between Direct editions and Newsstand editions of comic books.

2023 UPDATE – the following video has been created for an introduction.

Since about 1993, both Newsstand and Direct Edition barcodes have a left side with 12 numbers. The presence of barcodes is not enough to identify which is which. Many listings for direct edition comics from the 1990s to the present are incorrectly described as newsstand. Both editions have 12 digits on the left side.

Newsstand UPC (Universal Product Codes) have 14 numbers. There are 12 on the left side, and a second group of barcode lines with 2 numbers on the right.

Direct Editions with barcodes have 17 numbers.  There are also 12 numbers on the left side, but the second group of barcode lines for a Direct Edition is wider, having 5 numbers on the right.

Direct Edition UPC boxes do not necessarily include barcodes.  Many Direct Edition comic books before the 1990s have artwork, white space, or a message in the UPC boxes, instead of any barcode lines.  If the barcode has 2 numbers on the right WITH a diagonal slash printed through the lines, it is an early Direct Edition (the slash means NOT newsstand).

Notice: all of the Newsstand barcodes have only 2 digits on the right side.

With practice, it is possible to easily identify Newsstand editions online, even with the smallest photos.  Look at these four comics described as Newsstand editions:

Three of the barcodes have “skinny lines” on the side for 2 digits.  One of these three barcodes is “wider” on the side for 5 digits. It is a Direct Edition even though the book is incorrectly described as “Newsstand”.

What does it matter?

Maybe it doesn’t.  Maybe there is no difference in the prices.  Maybe a collector doesn’t care if a comic is Direct Edition, Newsstand Edition, a reprint, a variant cover, or a coverless book, since the contents are the same for all of these types of comic books.

Maybe it does.  Maybe a collector has determined that their favorite books aren’t found in Newsstand Editions very often.  Maybe a collector has determined that they only want to collect Direct Editions.  Maybe the prices being paid for each type are different, and one is “worth more” in terms of resale value than the other.

The beginning. For decades from the 1930s to the 1970s there were no Direct Editions, and  all comic books were returnable if they did not sell.  By the late 1970s, enough comic book stores were ordering extra copies of comic books for publishers to offer a discount if the books could not be returned.  Without some difference between which comics were returnable and which comics were not, the publishers might receive returned copies of books that were originally purchased at a discount.  Direct Edition comics were created to easily determine which books were unreturnable.

The end. From the 1970s to the 2000s, there were few collectors who cared much about the differences between Direct Editions and Newsstand Editions.  The cancellation of the Newsstand Edition programs by Marvel and D.C. Comics in the 2010s caused more collectors to begin noticing the differences associated with finding later Newsstand Editions.  The differences have caused some confusion for those who think that a barcode automatically means “Newsstand”.  As shown earlier on this page, the barcode does mean “Newsstand” if there are 14 digits.  The barcode means “Direct” if there are 17 digits.

The graphic above is not intended to be exact. The general idea is that the introduction of Direct Editions in the late 1970s did not immediately make Newsstand Editions less common.  It was likely sometime in the 1980s when Newsstand became less common than Direct Editions, and the percentage of books printed as Newsstand became lower until the program was ended.

Is one better than the other?

It depends.

Some collectors prefer Direct Editions because they often have artwork in the UPC box or no UPC at all, instead of barcode lines that could be described as “ugly” or because the UPC box may obscure the artwork on the cover.

Compare Direct Edition (left) and Newsstand Edition (right) for Spawn #1:

On one hand, it is easy to understand how the barcode of the Newsstand Edition could “distract” from the artwork of the Spawn #1 cover.  On the other hand, collectors who prefer the Spawn #1 Newsstand Edition will also notice that the Newsstand is available for sale less often and the completed auction prices for Newsstands are higher than the completed auction prices for Direct Editions.

Direct Editions for Spawn #1 were ordered so heavily by comic book shops, Spawn #1 outsold each of the twelve issues of Amazing Spider-Man in 1992. Because Image was a new publisher, there were far fewer Newsstand Editions printed for Spawn #1 than Direct Editions for Spawn #1.

The back issue market for Spawn #1 has demonstrated a clear difference in the prices for Spawn #1 Newsstand and Spawn #1 Direct Edition, even if some collectors still do not make any distinction.

For the year of 2018, GPAnalysis.com reported 37 sales for CGC 9.8 Spawn #1 Newsstand with an average price of $349 and 657 sales for CGC 9.8 Spawn #1 Direct with an average price of $118.  Using only this sales information, Spawn #1 Direct sold about 18 times more often than Spawn #1 Newsstand with the price of the Newsstand being about 3 times the Direct.

Is that everything?

No, there is certainly more to know. The information above is useful most of the time, but a few titles, a few publishers, a few situations are different.  Future posts on this site will discuss more details and exceptions, but this post does cover the essential information about Newsstand and Direct Editions.