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The ’90s Revisited: Spider-Man Team-Up #7 (featuring the Thunderbolts)

Old Scores

Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artists: Sal Buscema, Dick Giordano
Lettering: Comicraft’s Team Dave
Colors: Tom Smith
Cover: Steve Lightle, Mark McNabb
Assistant Editor: Glenn Greenberg
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Published by: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $2.99
Cover Date: June 1997

I remember the hype around the whole Heroes Reborn thing. After the Onslaught event (which began as an X-Men “event” and spread to the wider Marvel Universe), the Fantastic Four and the more prominent Avengers (specifically Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man) were shunted to another universe and “our” Marvel Universe was left without its heroes–just mutants more hated and feared than ever before.

And I remember learning of some new super-hero group, the Thunderbolts. Without researching and lacking 100% memory, I want to say they first appeared in an issue of The Incredible Hulk, and were going to be seen around the Marvel Universe, filling in a bit of the void left by the other heroes’ disappearance. Then I learned they were getting their own series. Cool…an actual brand-new super-hero group. And of course, thanks to (most probably Wizard) I was “spoiled” as to their Great, Dark Secret–though it would be a few months after Heroes Return when Hawkeye left the Avengers to go insert himself as leader of the Thunderbolts that I started buying their title–I actually, truly followed Hawkeye FROM the pages of Busiek‘s Avengers to Busiek‘s Thunderbolts.

So though I was aware of them, it was a good way into the run that I started with Thunderbolts–it’s only been in the years since that I’ve gradually been acquiring their earlier appearances–the Hulk issue(s?), and even the early issues of their own series. And when I saw this issue in a bargain-bin recently, it hit on some interesting buttons for me, just from the cover and concept.

For one thing…it’s a ’90s bargain-bin issue…to me, you can hardly go wrong getting a ’90s comic for only 25-cents (or less, even, with the right bargains or bulk-purchases!). For another, this is an early appearance of the Thunderbolts (I believe their own #1 is cover-dated May 1997, this is cover-dated June ’97). So this would be within the earliest concept of the Thunderbolts characters–before they were “outed” to the world for actually being the Masters of Evil (not really a spoiler, it’s been 15+ years AND it’s detailed within this very issue). And as a bonus, ’90s Spider-Man long before any talk of One More Day or a Brand New Day (and as I found out reading this, no talk of clones, either!)

I often lament contemporary comics’ high prices–hating the $3.99 price point and wishing for the previously-lamented $2.99-from-$2.50-or-less as $2.99 by comparison is much preferable. And here, this comic from 15 years ago is carrying a $2.99 cover price…but it’s a 38-paged issue (easily $4.99 or $5.99 and an “Annual” at that, these days!). Reasonably-priced at $2.99 with the extra pages, putting it well enough in line with $2 cover prices for 20-22 pages at the time.

The story itself is at once simple and cliched as well as nicely layered. When a guard at a warehouse is killed, a survivor sees a figure making a getaway that can only be Spider-Man! The mayor’s office reaches out to the Thunderbolts, to track Spidey down and bring him in for questioning…a task some on the team are all-too-thrilled to take on. The ‘bolts split into three groups to take on different aspects of their task–looking into the crime site, specifically searching for Spidey, and keeping an eye on a potential target-site. Continue reading

Robin II vs. My Little Pony Collector’s Sets

robiniilogo

I happened to notice that yesterday saw the release of the new My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic series from IDW.

I’d heard about it before, but it came back on my radar when I was researching what exactly a “Ghost Variant” was, and that led to several discussion forums as well as Bleeding Cool, which pointed out there were a BUNCH of variant covers, all for ONE issue…including some sort of package/boxed-set of several of the “main” covers.

It seems MLP is not the first to do such a collector’s set…and I found a different one FAR more to my own interest. No MLP for me:

robiniideluxecollectorssetsideGo back to 1991, and apparently DC Comics put out a collector’s set to collect all the Robin II: The Joker’s Wild variants including the standard (or in those days, “Newsstand edition”) covers.

Back in ’91, the set retailed for $30 (USD).

21 years after the fact, I scored the (at time of my purchase) unopened set for a mere $3 (for those of you keeping track, that’s $1 LESS than most Marvels and essentially the same as virtually any other single “new” issue available at present).

I may have known this thing existed, but it was never in the forefront of my mind to track down. But seeing it right there for $3 in a 90%-off bin? It’s an awesome score!

And since even at $3 it would seem a shame (and waste) to leave the thing in its shrink-wrap, I opened it.

Let’s explore what this set contained.

First off, this is apparently #6,000 out of 25,000 such sets. Cool…a nice, round number.

robinii06000

The way this was packaged, I actually envisioned having a slipcase to put other comics in, figuring the case alone was worth the $3…but get the label off, and I found a beautiful sparkly logo underneath:

robiniideluxecollectorssetslipcasefront

Once I slid the comics out (they were themselves shrinkwrapped as a package-within-the-package) I found this rather cool sketch/foil/shiney cover (one of the supposed backing boards the set contained):

robiniicomicsfront

Continue reading

Captain America #1 Again and Again and Again…

How many #1s does one series need? Without even counting spin-offs and mini-series and such…we’re now up to 6 Captain America #1s that I have been alive for…and only 2 that I was not.

Let’s go back through time…

Last week’s 2012 #1:

captainamerica2012

Last year’s 2011 #1:

captainamerica2011

Jump back six years to 2005’s #1:

captainamerica2005

Three years before that, 2002’s #1:

captainamerica2002

Four years before that, 1997’s #1:

captainamerica1998

A year before that, 1996’s #1:

captainamerica1996

29 years before that, 1968’s #100 serving as a #1:

captainamerica1968

And 27 years before that, 1941’s #1:

captainamerica1941

Post-Thanksgiving Hardcovers

avxhardcoverfrontI got a text from Amazon over the weekend that my book was on the vehicle to be delivered. Unfortunately, they decided to leave it at the apartment office, so I had to wait until Monday morning to pick it up.

This is the second copy of this AvX hardcover Amazon‘s sent me–the first arrived with the bottom corners dented in (damaged) presumably during shipping. Given the pricing of this book, I wasn’t about to accept damaged product for something new.

This copy has some minor stuff to it, but frankly, I’m not gonna worry about it. Where the prior instance was more than I’d accept, this one’s no worse than grabbing a copy off the shelf at a comic shop–I don’t need some “9.8” grade book…I just don’t want something obviously damaged (at least not new when I didn’t administer the damage through my own use).

spacemanfront

I wasn’t expecting Spaceman for another week or two at least–just got an email a little over a week ago about this and it said 4-6 weeks, so I figured 2-3 weeks more likely.

But here it is–it was also left at the apartment office with my AvX book.

I don’t remember truly “noticing” Spaceman when it was being put out in single-issue format from Vertigo.

But it was one of the books being offered as a “giveaway” or whatever at Goodreads, and I’ve been trying to put my name in the hat for all the DC giveaways, figuring what the heck…not losing anything but a few moments of my time doing so, and with stuff like the New 52 hardcovers and whatnot, “any win” would be a bonus.

spacemanpriceSo one book that I honestly didn’t even have any interest in, and I wound up “winning” it–but looking at the back cover, reading the basic premise and flipping through it (and realizing it’s Vertigo!) I’m looking forward to actually reading this. And as said…didn’t cost ME anything but a few moments to put my name in.

Cost THEM almost $10 to ship it to me…sorta wonder why they didn’t use a media mail option, but I won’t complain.

avxhardcoversideJust over a year ago, I posted a comparison of three 18/19-issue collected volumes with questionable pricing.

This AvX volume can join that set with the same question: why not price stuff on a standard? If a standard-trim paperback with 18-19 issues has a cover price of $40, why is one hardback with 18-19 issues $65 and another with 19-20 issues $75?

AvX is practically an “omnibus” itself–it has the entire 12-issue event series, the #0-issue/prologue, the “Versus” all-fight issues and even the previously digital-only “infinity” comics that were interspersed…then again, I guess this would have to contain AvX Consequences to be an Omnibus.

The Price Really Does Affect The Purchase

The price of a comic really does affect the purchase (or not-purchase), at least for me. As do variants.

Case #1: Judge Dredd (IDW) #1

Judge Dredd (IDW) #1For what little advertising I’ve seen, I recognize the “A” cover. As that’s the image that’s been most used–that I have seen–I don’t WANT some “variant” image–I want THE image on the cover. That’s what I may or may not have been “sold on,” so if I can’t get that standard, first, “A” cover, you’re gonna lose my sale.

But then there’s another thing: what if I get the cover I want, and more than just trying this because it’s a first issue, I actually LIKE it? If I get “into” another series–this is $3.99/issue. I am so sick of $3.99, I honestly do not have ANY desire to add more comics to my pull list at $3.99 per.

Case #2: Marvel NOW recent releases

Marvel Now coversAgain, I have no interest in variant covers–just give me one single standard cover.

But $3.99/issue?!? I think I saw where Fantastic Four #1 was $2.99, and Deadpool may have yet again fooled me and actually also be $2.99. But all the other relaunching books that’ve caught my eye–most notably X-Men Legacy and Iron Man–are $3.99. Couldn’t Marvel AT LEAST pull the drug-dealer bit and offer the first issue for a discounted cover price, and jump up for the next issue?

When DC relaunched FIFTY-TWO TITLES IN ONE MONTH, I went from buying “2 DCs” in August 2011 to buying 29 or so of the #1s in September, the ONLY $3.99 in the bunch was Action Comics #1 (and I immediately dropped Action Comics at #2 when the story ended 2 pages past the staples).

If Marvel’s NOW initiative was launching a bunch of books at $2.99 (hey, this sorta thing, why NOT use it as an “excuse” to re-brand the PRICE POINT and say “ok, y’all are getting sick of $3.99 so as part of these relaunches, we’ll give you at least a year of these books at $2.99!”). For $2.99 as the standard price and $3.99 as an exception…I’d’ve been much more inclined to try some of these titles.

As-is? Other than glancing at the new shelf for the Judge Dredd issue and putting it back, I paid no attention to any other releases, sticking instead to my pre-arranged pull list.

Case #3: The Bargain Bins

Try as I might, I haven’t been able to resist the bargain bins at my local comic shop. In addition to whatever “new stuff” I’m buying, I find the urge to at least flip through the back section of the bargain bins to see what’s been added–perhaps one day I’ll see that elusive Conan issue with Rune (from the Ultraverse) here, or a beat-up Uncanny X-Men 266 that I can read and have that won’t be re-sellable, or something on-par with that Thunderbolts #1 I got not too long ago.

And I’ve recently added better than 150 new issues to my ’90s X-collection, with some 2000s X-stuff thrown in–all for under 50-cents apiece, the vast majority for 22-25-cents. For $1.50, I got to read the 6-issue X-Men Forever mini-series from the early 2000s (this predated the Claremont series from several years ago)…spending more time reading that than $20 worth of new comics!

Why should I want to pay $3.99 for a bunch of comics when I can buy 14-16 issues’ worth of material for that same price? I can justify $4-5 on a dozen to 20 comics, no problem. But at $20 for 4-5 comics, I’m just LOOKING for an excuse to talk myself into dropping titles.

Black Friday? Remember Black September?

 

blackseptembercover01

Today is “Black Friday.” Which, as a comic fan, always reminds me of the Malibu/Ultraverse “event” when they relaunched a bunch of their series back in 1995: Black September.

From what I recall, for the month of September, 1995 all of the Ultraverse books shipped with all-black covers, with the logo/price/etc. being the only color.

There was an image on the back, which actually served as the front cover image for variant-printed editions of the issues.

But I didn’t even become aware of these variants until some years after the fact–I only ever saw the “standard editions” and went with those.

Black September was a new beginning for the Ultraverse–the various titles existing before it all ended, and these new “# Infinity” issues served to launch several new series, most of which ultimately turned out to be essentially mini-series.

While I much prefer the original runs of the various Ultraverse books…I can’t deny that at the time, Black September was a Pretty Big Deal for me. Probably part of the significance was that September 1995 was also the first full month of my being in high school–so that was a new beginning for me, and these Ultraverse books I’d been following for a couple years were getting a new beginning.

Of course, I have a lot of different feelings on the whole thing looking back from 17 years later.

Black Friday…I’m too old to fight crowds for items at prices that really oughtta be considered false advertising. I’ll stick to reading and enjoying some comics.

A Day to Be Thankful

Not much to say, today, for now–except to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!

Amidst the stuff that SHOULD be “givens,” such as health, family, and friends; living in a country where (for now) I have freedom of faith and a number of other freedoms…

I’m thankful for the gift of the joy of reading. My parents always encouraged me to read, and never discouraged my reading–whatever I was reading.

thanksgivingwiththesuperheroes

Random Promo-ish comics

I recently bought a longbox of mostly X-books, which proved to be a significant step toward shoring up gaps in my 1990s’ X-books runs. I also snagged some promo-type comics.

Pretty sure I have the Bravura issue somewhere, and I think I found the Deathmate and Comics’ Greatest World Advance Comics editions this summer, but skinny as these were, grabbed them while I was filling the longbox.

promoissues01

I do kinda miss this sort of thing; and while I get sick and tired of the 3-7 page “previews” of comics in the backs of current issues, I wouldn’t mind a skinny preview issue every week or couple weeks…at least then it’d feel like its own thing, and I could read it (or not) without being fooled at the length of the issue.

Whatever else there is to say about Wizard…I often enjoyed the #0 issues (and even the send-away #1/2 issues).

promoissues02

The Defiant issue caught my attention–I may have read an issue of Warriors of Plasm, but mostly Defiant‘s caught my attention this summer as I’ve learned more about 1990s Valiant; figured learning of the comic universe’s origin can’t do much harm.

I also kinda miss these Ashcan comics, though I grabbed these since I was filling a longbox and their space is negligible.

promoissues03

One of these days I’m going to have to read up on X. Other than the Will to Power weekly $1 mini the one summer, Xwas the main Comics’ Greatest World character I was actually interested in.

X Marks the Spot

I recently bought a longbox of mostly X-books, which proved to be a significant step toward shoring up gaps in my 1990s’ X-books runs.

For the first time ever, I finally (FINALLY!) have all three issues of the Astonishing X-Men mini in one place at the same time. I got the first two issues back in 1999 when they came out. Unfortunately, the only comic shop I had access to when I first went off to college either didn’t get or sold out of #3.

I eventually got to read the final issue when I found a copy of the TPB of the mini. Sometime in the last several years I got a copy of #3. Unfortunately, I’d had #s 1-2 somewhere else and they’ve disappeared. Finding all 3 in the bargain bins for only $.75  total means I’ve still paid less than I’d’ve paid for the 3rd issue at cover price.

astonishingxmenissues

When I first bought The Search for Cyclops, I wound up with 2 issues of one cover style and 2 of the other. I now have a unified-looking complete mini.

Aside from other issues I have with variants, one of my main things is I like when (especially for a mini-series) the covers all look like they belong to the same series.

searchforcyclops

I remember Avengers Forever, and thus being interested in “the X-Men counterpart” when it started. But I actually only wound up with 2-3 issues of the series. Finally have the whole 6-issues series to read.

It’s slightly amusing now to know that–like Astonishing X-Men–there are multiple series of the exact same title that are completely unrelated, apparently used because they really liked the title…

xmenforeverissues01

xmenforeverissues02

I also realized this past Saturday that–quite without the intention of it–I had acquired the first appearance of Jublilee for a whopping 25-cents. Now if only I could be similarly lucky to find Uncanny X-Men #266 in a bargain-bin…

It Was Twenty Years Ago Today…

superman75baggedIt’s been 20 years since The Death of Superman. November 18/19/20–whatever the actual day was, we’re at the TWENTY-year mark!

Quite hard to believe it’s been that long, but then, I have longboxes of comics that came out after that kinda prove it.

I remember first learning of the Man of Steel’s impending doom some morning from CNN’s Headline News (Michael Bailey dug the clip up on YouTube last year as part of his extensive coverage of the Death/Return of Superman).

superman75I’d just been getting “back into comics” after a bit of a hiatus that year. As we got closer to the release of the “Death Issue,” my primary local comic shop (Capp’s Comics) was taking reservations for the issue(s). From what I recall, you could order specifically just Superman #75, or the whole 6-issue story, and whatever quantity. Dad let me reserve a set, and I vaguely recall that he reserved a second as well.

Since we’d opted to pick stuff up at the end of the story instead of as the earlier issues of the arc were coming out, I blissfully went along October and early November ’92 getting other comics. I recall seeing and passing on Batman: The Vengeance of Bane in favor of Batman: Sword of Azrael #1, and I’m pretty sure Spider-Man 2099 #1 came out around this time. I also spotted Justice League America #69 with Doomsday on the cover, so picked that up. I vaguely recall reading it but having no real context (given it’s effectively chapter 2 of 7 or so).

superman75collectorseditionFinally, the day Superman #75 actually came out, I got sick at school–something that would have been mortifying if not for the extreme disappointment: being sick, I wasn’t going to get to go to the comic shop to pick up the issues. Thankfully, Dad went by himself to pick them up. I dug out the JLA issue, and had the full set.

That night, Dad let me get a head start with Superman: The Man of Steel #18, and then he joined in the reading–he in his chair, me sprawled on the floor. We read through entire story that night, and opened one of the bagged Superman #75s. I was rather entertained with all the cool goodies included in the bag–a poster, a promo card, stamps, an obituary for Clark Kent, and a black memorial armband (which Mom did not let me wear to school the next day).

superman75unbagged

deathofsupermantpbfrontA couple days later, Mom, my friend Zack, and I were part of a lengthy line at another comic shop that was releasing the issue then. As I recall now, there was a limit of one copy per customer, and word was the store had a good 700 copies or so, so there should be plenty for those in the initial line, at least.

As we filed through the store (you really could only look through the store in-passing as the line inched through) we got word of some OTHER new comic that was ALSO supposed to be a big deal: something called Bloodshot, #1. So I snagged a copy of that as well…though I never actually read the issue until a couple months ago).

superman75ivDespite getting multiple copies of the bagged edition of Superman #75, I was only able to get a copy of the 4th printing of the “newsstand edition” (aka “the standard/regular edition” to the bagged “variant” edition). I found a copy of the 3rd printing, which was at least a step closer to the original. I think I’d had an opportunity to get the first print for $5, but thought that was outrageous to the $1.25 cover price.

In the last couple years, though, I’ve found several first print copies in bargain bins…despite these recent purchases, still haven’t topped the cover price for the first print itself, total.

deathofsupermantpbback

Though Zack and I had begun to frequent Capp’s Comics, Comics & Collectibles, and the comics spinner rack at the Waldenbooks in the mall, I don’t recall going to the shop every single week until this point: going every week for the newest chapter of Funeral for a Friend was the start of “the weekly comics habit” for me.

A final note: I found it oddly amusing that–when the tpb collecting the entire story INCLUDING Superman #75 came out a few weeks later–where it showed cover images on the back, apparently the publisher did not even have access to first printings of its own issues, as several of the covers shown had the Roman numerals denoting the non-first printings. (And different coloring to the logo of the title.)

I have plenty of other thoughts related to this, but they go along with the time period in general, and I’m planning on touching on stuff more generally in coming months.

With this 20th anniversary, though…the next several years will be one continuous series of 20th anniversaries of some of the most important comics/comic-related things in my life.

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