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Dissecting a Dollar-Store Comic: Freex #1


I usually don’t pay much attention to comics in the "dollar stores" and such. Usually they’re just quarter-bin fodder, random stuff I’ve no interest in, or already have–and certainly not worth $1 or more…particularly when I’d be more interested in buying several at once. (Or often packages are more than $1, but contain several issues of which–at best–I only know what 2 of them are).

Today, I was at a Dollar Tree, and without looking for them, had one catch my eye…very obviously Freex #1, from back in July 1993.

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As a novelty thing, and not loading up with a bunch of other random stuff that would add up to a hefty price tag to get out of the store, I was all the more willing to buy this. Hey, just one single dollar, one single issue…and of course, this is half the price of what it would be at Half-Price Books… and there’s something enjoyable about coming across an issue like this completely unplanned and un-expected.

I was also just slightly curious about the "bonus" collector trading card pack and cards.

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Looking on the back of the pack, I saw the contents list, and my curiosity was piqued at the "How to Collect Comic Book Collectors Guide." I was pretty sure I’ve had/seen this in the past…if not this exact "brand," then certainly something similar. But for today’s mood…it was a curiosity and selling point for me…and definitely an "added value" to dropping a whole entire dollar on a vintage comic book I have at least half a dozen times over.

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I could tell despite all the stuff on the front of the package (basically just a sealed polybag) what this issue was–Freex #1, from the second month of Ultraverse launches! Adding (sentimental) "value" was seeing that the issue was itself still in original polybag with the Ultraverse Premiere #0 coupon…in this case, a "wild coupon" for the mail-away issue. The original trading card is also there.

While I’ve seen this #1 issue numerous times in bargain/used-comics bins, I’d guess that it’s at most a 50% find-rate with the bag, coupon, and card included. I have plenty of sentimental value attached to this, as I "nearly missed out" on the mail-away issue: I was able to use one of these "wild coupon" to make up for the one I was unable to obtain from an issue of Wizard Magazine (having collected all the others).

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I’m not at all impressed with the included trading cards. Some sort of Elvis card, which has no appeal to me–enjoy his music, but no interest in trading cards featuring the guy (or even musical artists in general). Some sort of "puzzle card" from this WWII Trading Cards set…worthless because I have no other cards, and it’s maybe only 1/9th of a single photo, meant to be assembled as a full set. I also have some personal "issue" with something like war being glorified in trading card format (or just commercialized, if not necessarily glorified).

I do remember VR Troopers (vaguely), but I’m far, far more a Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers guy, so not even enough interest to bother opening the pack for now. Far as I’m concerned, miscellaneous ephemera to be tossed aside for now…maybe it’ll wind up in the trash, maybe it’ll wind up in someone else’s hands… or perhaps it’ll just languish amidst other such ephemera in my possession.

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This How to Collect Comics thing is slightly larger than an actual comic, but smaller dimensionally than a magazine. The entire unit is newsprint, so nothing at all fancy nor particularly high quality. It’s very reminiscent of the old American Entertainment and Entertainment This Month catalogs, except I’d peg it as a far lesser quality than those…perhaps the nostalgia and sentimentality I hold regarding AE/ETM (one of the catalogs being a large part of my getting back into comics and being able to get "back issues" prior to discovering "comic shops").

I’m not too keen on stuff trying to offer "instruction" on collecting comics…and don’t much care for even these packs in the sense of trying to (continue to?) push the notion of any/all comics, by default, simply for existing being some sort of valuable item. Even as a sales tactic like this pack was, in a dollar store. I mean, if they’re willing to sell it such that I–as the end user, the customer–am "only" paying $1, then (to me) it’s highly obvious that the issue is not worth anything more than that dollar. At most.

I like these for the sense that some kid might get to access a random such comic without having a comic store, without having to "go digital," and being some random thing a parent may buy–after all, it’s "only $1" and all that.

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It’s certainly odd to me to consider that anyone would "need" some kind of guide like this, but then, I have 28 or so years’ experience to completely, thoroughly take stuff for granted, these elements of a comic cover. (Then again, I suppose at times whoever is sorting single issues at Half-Price Books could perhaps benefit at better understanding of subtitles and elements of comic titles/layouts).

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This is just some totally-filler, cheesey page. I almost hate to say it, but really…it’s just sad. Maybe it’s slightly humorous (at least, say, for a kid) it doesn’t hit me that way as a guy in his mid-30s.


All in all, for re-acquiring the issue, and having something to focus my attention and time on for as long as it took to take these photos, get them loaded for the post, write this post, and so on…it certainly made this well worth the $1 I spent.

This does have me rather interested in seeking out more dollar stores to check for this sort of pack and see if I can find any fun gems…as it was, I saw numerous copies of an issue of The Maxx, as well as Secret Weapons #1 from classic Valiant, and a couple Image issues from the early days…probably WildC.A.T.s or Youngblood though I couldn’t easily tell at a glance if the Youngblood was #1 or not.

Several years ago, I’d bought a pack of several comics like this simply because of a Batman poster…there’s a Superman one that exists that I’d love to find.

Despite this singular purchase being worth $1 to me on content and time spent involved with it, that is not a "natural default" for these, and many comics found this way I personally would consider to absolutely be quarter-bin fodder, and far from worth $1. But if one doesn’t have a comic shop nearby or access to back issues, and especially if there manages to be an issue or "bonus item" included of appeal to the individual…it’s absolutely worthwhile!

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