Now that Marvel is back in the early '90's mindset and releasing 5 variant covers of every other issue, I'm starting to notice a nefarious plot developing. Every single variant cover released this week (too many to name) were automatically marked up to $19.99 and some $39.99 at my local shop. Do retailers really have the right to do this? In theory, if the book has a $3.99 cover price and shelf date, that price should be honored for that period of time, right?
It would seem to me that the variant covers are an incentive for the purchaser to find, not for the retailer to sell. A retailer couldn't sell you a pack of trading cards and then turn around and charge you more if you happen to get a chase card, so why should that theory apply to comics as well? Sure, you can see the variants before purchase, but the thrill of the "hunt" should be the sole motivation behind any sort of variant.
For example, I really loved the McNiven variant of SI #2. However, there's no way i'm going to fork over $16 more for the exact same story (weak as it was). If a brand new product says $3.99, I should be able to purchase it for $3.99, right?