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[Rant] Life During Quarantine: Another Side-Effect of Variants

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So, stuck inside Saturday night, and a Facebook group I’m in has had some listings from a local-region shop as they sell some stuff to make up for being stuck closed.

And I saw one listing for four issues from a local creator, signed. As a spin-off series, it prompted me to check to see if the series it spun off from was available.

I figured…I really shouldn’t be spending MORE MONEY this weekend, with payday STILL a few days off…but I’m feeling depressed, frustrated, discontent, and willing for a little bit of non-retail "retail therapy."

A quick bit of online-sleuthing and I located the publisher website, and there’s a bundle of the "main" series. For less than cover price, so with shipping, wouldn’t be horrendous. Ok…

Double-checking the spin-off series…first issue is sold-out. Ok, back to that Facebook listing (viewing on the phone since the computer was loading slowly) and happened to notice…wait. That cover for #1 doesn’t look quite right.

Looking between the phone screen and computer screen…aha!

The Facebook listing is for the first four issues, yes…but they’re the variant covers!

NOT what I want. With very few, rare exceptions, I don’t want variant covers. I want to buy the actual/main/regular/real/non-variant covers for stuff!

So, what momentarily flared, the idea of splurging and buying this set of 4 issues from a comic shop owner, while simultaneously ordering 11 issues of a main series from the publisher itself quickly fizzled.

Stuff like this, I’m an all-or-nothing kinda guy. If it’s ALL in front of me, able to buy all at once, no hassling with numerous other sources across an extended period of time to gradually hunt down and piece together a full run/set, I’m far more willing to splurge and be liberal with my spending.

Even when I’m planning until that day to specifically NOT buy the stuff.

So…thanks to them being variants…I’m not buying the set of 4 issues.

Certainly no need to buy the 5th issue someway right now, without those 4.

And without these, no extra/driven desire for that main series.

Because of 4 variants, I’m not buying 15-16 issues that otherwise would virtually guarantee I’d be buying subsequent issues of both series, whenever they’d be put out.

But variants drive sales, right?

Variants entice purchases, right?

Variants are fun for the buyer, right?

right?

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The Weekly Haul: Week of March 18, 2020

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And here we are…a weekly haul post for the 2nd week in a row. I’d planned on waiting a couple weeks, to be able to finish out March and then switch to monthly posts.

Buuuuut…as of this typing (on Sunday, March 22nd) the governor has just issued the "stay at home" order closing all non-essential businesses, which means (presumably) no new comics until at least April 8th (the order goes to the 7th, I believe, but the 8th is the first Wednesday after that).

So this IS the final one for March.

On with it…

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New issue of the ongoing Usagi Yojimbo and the 4th (of 5!) issue of the Power Rangers/TMNT crossover mini (if this is anything like the Batman crossovers, we’re in for at least 2 more!). And speaking of the caped crusader, Batman #91.

And that’s it for new issues.

Then we have the premiere of the classic Justice League of America in Brave and the Bold as a facsimile/replica edition…and DC Dollar Comics reprints of the ’80s Justice League and 1997’s JLA.

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And along with the usual Comic Shop News, we get the 2020 Spring Preview.

All in all, nothing all that special. Just…usual.

And rather anti-climactic for the mandatory state-issued pause in business.

I’m pretty sure the preview’s gonna fall apart as we inch into Spring with a pandemic lockdown.

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The Weekly Haul: Weeks of 2/19, 2/26, 3/4, and 3/11/2020

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Another month, another "weekly" haul-update. I actually had planned on doing this post earlier in the week, but figured if I was gonna be behind and play catchup, might as well make it another 4-week post to match the last one.

But in a real rarity for me (and this blog!) of late, I actually had two full single-issue posts earlier in the week.

  1. First, I had my first non-Ultraverse ’90s Revisited post in ages, covering Uncanny X-Men #303.
  2. Then I had a (late to post, having written a couple weeks ago) review of the "new" comic TMNT: Jennika #1 (from the Week of February 26, below)…my first review of a newer-than-2010 comic in 14 months or so!

Anyway…onto the point of this post you’re reading…my documenting for myself (at least) what I’ve picked up in the way of new comics for the last few New Comic Day Wednesdays.


Week of February 19, 2020

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New post-#100 TMNT; new Spawn (we’re 6 issues in past the big #300!); and third/last American Jesus for this round. 3-issue mini originally, and this followup is also a 3-issue thing. Maybe we’ll get a new paperback with all 6 issues?

DC Dollar Comics brought a New Teen Titans reprint; and Marvel had some sort of (FREE!!!) Wolverine thing. I won’t turn down free Wolverine, even though I hate the "new logo" and refused to spend $7.99 on a #1 issue.

And since it was a relatively small week, I opted to splurge on the $9.99 DC: Crimes of Passion giant-issue; having developed a bit of a sub-collection of the squarebound not-quite-TPBs DC issues that actually go on the shelf.

(*come to think of it, if they’re not gonna do out-and-out trade paperbacks monthly as anthologies, why can’t publishers just do squarebound COMICS that contain the materials of single-issue titles as anthologies and see which sell BETTER? I’d gladly pay $9.99 for one of these with 4-5 X-books’ content rather than $3.99 apiece for 20-page batches of infographics + a few pages of stories!)

Finally for the week, having snagged Marvel Two-in-One Annual #2 a week or two before, I’d ordered the Avengers Annual to cap off that arc, and check off another "minor grail" for myself.

And as almost-always…the weekly Comic Shop News.


Week of February 26, 2020

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The final week of February finally brought the first issue of TMNT: Jennika. I don’t know that I was looking forward to it, exactly, but I think it was late and I’d begun to "wonder" about it. See my review (linked above), though, for the issue in and of itself.

Usagi Yojimbo Color Classics #2 brings another (color) installment of early UY. While I understand the TMNT Color Classics to have rather limited material to pull from (especially as they focused specifically on Eastman/Lairdcentric TMNT) I a really hoping that this UYCC is an indefinite ONGOING thing that lasts for a lotta years. I’ll happily keep buying both this and the "new" ongoing.

I don’t even remember now why I’d wound up grabbing Dark Horse‘s The Little Mermaid mini, but I think this was the final issue? OCD/completist since I had the earlier issues. I’ve yet to READ any of them to determine if they’re a new adaptation of the film, or some sort of re-imagining, or what. But congratulations to Dark Horse: this is what CAN happen when something is put out that is NOT over-hyped, NOT sold on the quantity of variant covers, NOT some huge event, NOT begun with an over-priced first issue, etc.!

New issue of Hellblazer, which is yet another that I (sadly) need to catch up on reading before I have to kick myself for not just waiting for collected editions. Or perhaps to just decide TO wait for the collected editions and take my hit now.

Then the week’s "facsimile"/"replica" editions: Wolverine #1 and The Flash #123 (easy to remember as 1-2-3!). Though I already have an original edition of Wolverine, I’m glad to keep supporting these reprints! And the Flash issue is a great addition as well as what it is. (Though I did discover a day or two after buying it that I had a Millennium Edition reprint of the issue. I prefer this new one for being closer to what the original would look like…but the ME reprints are a good bit of nostalgia to me some 20 years later!)


Week of March 4, 2020

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March starts off with a bit of a whimper, with "only" 5 issues…two of those (40%!!!) being reprints. Mystery in Space is not honestly one I’d really care for or likely even be all that interested in from a bargain bin. But as said above…I’m happy to "support" these sorts of reprints, as I find far more VALUE in them than modern comics. And of course, $1 comics can hardly be beat as "new" comics, such as the DC Dollar Comics: Swamp Thing issue, reprinting an Alan Moore story.

Having heard a lotta good stuff about King‘s Vision series and Mister Miracle; and despite having bought the entirety of the latter without having yet read it…on the strength of 85 issues of Batman, I figured I’d give Strange Adventures a try. My primary complaint is the "dual" covers that could easily have been flip-book covers or doubled-up covers and gotten a similar effect withOUT making me have to choose one OVER the other. That’ll likely be the primary deciding factor in my picking up #2-onward…how cheesed-off am I at the nature of the existence of "basic" variants for this title?

Speaking of Batman… I’ve repeatedly pointed out (or meant to) my dropping the title with the end of King‘s run. Multiple reasons, varaints, likely pending reboot/relaunch, Something Generation with DC, and then over-hype and speculator/scalper crap with #89. BUT while out of state visiting a friend recently, happened across a copy (first print) of #89. For cover price. Despite all the hype and apparent sell-outs and over-priced flippage and such. I was NOT going to buy it in and of itself, though, even for cover price…not to leave a gap of 3 issues. So I checked. They also had issues 86-88. So in one fell swoop, I was able to catch up on the title (which I already had 1-85!) and as of then was fully caught up. So I emailed the local shop and added it back to my pulls beginning with this 90th issue, figuring fine…I’ll buy Batman and keep the run going, and so I can take stuff in for myself without having to "hunt" or play the "speculator game."

Finally, we’re getting to the tail-end of the TMNT Urban Legends run, reprinting the old Image TMNT series. I had two issues from later in the run that I bought back around 2000 or so; I’m not sure offhand but pretty sure at least ONE of those has now been reprinted in color in this series, and if this issue isn’t the other, then the next issue should be. And then we’ll get the first-time-ever published ending to the series (though how that jibes with a fan-produced ending, I don’t know, and that’s not a game I’m getting into on ridiculously-limited-edition completionist stuff).


Week of March 11, 2020

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And now we’re caught up to the current (as of this typing) week’s haul. And I’ve been halfway waiting for something like this to happen…here, it finally did.

Nothing but reprints for me.

Two DC Dollar Comic reprints of key Robin issues: the death of Jason Todd, and the first issue of the first TIm Drake mini-series. (More fitting would have been to reprint the final chapter of Lonely Place of Dying, where Tim first-ever dons the Robin costume) but for $1, whatever. And of course, I have both of the original issues and I’m still happy to buy these reprints, if only to "support" the reprints program. While I likely would have passed on Robin #1 as such, I still, repeatedly-to-be-said, would somewhat prefer these be done ALL as facsimile/replica editions. More on that below!

The definite gem of the week for me is the facsimile/replica edition of Detective Comics #38, the first appearance of the original Robin (Dick Grayson). I don’t recall now if there’s been a reprint in these recent replicas of #27, but this really makes me want one to go with it. Of the two, I think this is most appealing for me as such a fan of Robin.

Finally, we have a Thor replica/facsimile edition that again…I’ll buy to support the program, even if not every single individual issue is of specific singular interest or significance to me .

And Comic Shop News shows off some DC thing with the multiverse and maybe generations. I barely care at this point, with my only real interest in "new" DC being these reprints, and even Marvel isn’t getting me with non-reprint stuff (even though I SHOULD be an easy mark for their Marvels X and other upcoming Marvels stuff…I refuse to go in on the $4.99 pricing!)


Anyway…there we go. Another month in my "new comics" buying. I’ve bought some other stuff in the time, but those have been non-Wednesday purchases, stuff I consider to be "off" from the standard/regular/weekly "hauls."

As to my earlier-mentioned "idea" on the reprints:

For DC Dollar Comics, have a plain-color blank cover of some appropriate color; either say, standard black for all, or white for all, or something appropriate to the title/cover’s look. And have a small-ish image of the actual original cover (logos, pricing, blurbs, and all!) Whether it’s a small centered image, or nearly-full-size but with a distinct "border" for the flat color base.

Then for actual replica/facsimile editions, do as they’ve been doing with having then look as close to the original as possible.

I just don’t like the way the DCDC reprints are some weird mutant hybrid of original and new appearances. Familiar art, but the new DCDC trade dress, and weird numbers/number-placement on stuff. Like it more or less tells you what it’s reprinting, and yet you still almost have to know to be sure. Reprinting a New Teen Titans #2 with the new trade dress and a #1 on the cover.


This almost works out better doing these posts like this than feeling like QUITE so random/arbitrary as actual weekly things…especially buying so few comics every week.

Maybe I should try to aim for doing one more for March for the 18th and 25th…and then adjust to The Weekly Hauls and just go by month. Hm.

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The Weekly Haul: Weeks of 1/22, 1/29, 2/5, and 2/12/2020

Well…so much for those intentions of actually keeping up with these posts week-to-week!

Two or so weeks, and then nothing for the last 4 (almost 5!) weeks. Go figure.

Well, let’s jump in and look at the main hauls for the past 4 Wednesdays ahead of this week’s new stuff for the 19th.


Week of January 22, 2020

January 22nd had several interesting books, as well as a "lingering habit" I’m having a bit more trouble breaking than expected.

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New Hellblazer; I enjoyed the one-shot and first couple issues well enough…and definitely want to support the title as something as close to the old Vertigo version as we’re gonna get.

DC Dollar Comics are $1, so…yeah.

Superman #19 because I kept thinking I’d actually READ the reveal stuff, but it turns out I am just so against it and think it’s stupid, repetitive, unneeded, and totally NOT what I’m interested or looking for in Superman comics. C’est la vie.

IDW‘s color reprints of the old Image TMNT title has–I think–finally caught up to the two issues I got back in 1999/2000 or so. Which means it’s time for me to dig everything out, catch up on reading and prepare for the endgame of the title with the never-before-released ending.

Ghostbusters Year One was an interesting enough premise…and it seemed a small-ish week, so I bit. Guess what I’ve yet to read, though?

And the second issue (of 3, I believe) of American Jesus, following Millar‘s Chosen from back in the day. As of this writing, I believe the 3rd/final issue is due out this week, so looks like I’ll be reading the entire thing in one go as single issues where I could have simply waited for a collected edition.


Week of January 29, 2020

Final week of January was an interesting one for me…and a rare situation I’ve not had in probably more years than I care to consider.

I did not go to the comic shop. My parents had errands to run, one of which put them literally about 5 feet from Comic Heaven, so I was able to message ahead for issues I was interested in to be pulled (in addition to regular pulls), and Mom was able to go in and get my issues for me!

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We had the debut of IDW‘s color reprint series of Usagi Yojimbo in Usagi Yojimbo Color Classics #1. I’m hoping this is a rather indefinite series that will simply run on and on and on. It’s certainly worthy of it, reprinting a strong, long-running/STILL-RUNNING series but in color so it’s both reprint and new. And I’d much rather buy it than most other $3.99 books, and though I have most of the series in collected volumes I’m happy to get the this way to read individually in much smaller bite-size doses!

TMNT seems like a whole new book again, though I haven’t decided if that’s good or not. It’s got good art, though, and it IS TMNT. I’m VERY glad that IDW has at LEAST had the sense to NOT repeatedly renumber this series. As a whole new continuity kicked off in 2011, it obviously more than deserved its #1 then–new title, creative team, publisher, continuity/universe–but it’s been refreshing that it did NOT renumber after the events of #50, and yet again did not renumber after the events of #100…both of which saw seismic shifts in the story that then played out across quite a number of issues eventually growing familiar. Even if the property was NOT a personal "exception" on stuff, I definitely am glad to "support" the title for the numbering. And here’s another way to look at it: #100 is a mere 1/3 of Spawn, which has a brand going back to the early 1990s!

Criminal is on #12 already which means I’m probably about 8 issues behind on reading again. As I understand, the "back matter" of the title adds reading-time (aka "value") to its price, as well as unique material one only gets that way and not in a collected volume. (Leaving the collected volumes to collect the actual Criminal STORY).

Then for Marvel and DC, reiterating the fairly steady point of late wherein I’m not much interested in their NEW content but am glad to buy even extra-priced gimmickey REPRINTS of old material. Starting to seem like Marvel has some new replica edition out practically every week! I’m ok with that, though, as long as they don’t "double up". That said, they may HAVE for this week, in which case I’ve "missed" a replica edition. But AS a replica edition, not like it’s some "hot new" comic being speculated on or sporting umpteen different tiered variant covers, so I may eventually get around to it. I’m amused at the "old style" 3-D gimmick and though $8 is a bit overpriced for an issue, I’ll accept it as a rare/occasional gimmick. It’s not like it’s a trial issue of some new series, a premiere of a new series, and since it’s nostalgic (for me) material, so be it. Finally, apparently Black Canary’s modern costume’s debut is worthy of a reprint edition. For $1, though, I won’t complain much.


Week of February 5, 2020

…and another week of "indy" comics for new stuff and reprints for Marvel and DC! And contrary to my language above (*left in for my writing on each week based on the photo and memory rather than all 4 weeks as a whole) I "made up" that missed replica edition from Marvel here.

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As I repeat ad nauseum…the Ninja Turtles are a MAJOR "exception" for me in comics. I’ll tolerate far more with that property than any other property. Ditto on pricing, variants, etc. Though my patience has been tried a bit more lately, it’s that "exception" that overrides my blanket condemnation of Boom! Studios as a publisher (*See my 4-year-old grudge over MMPR #0 and variants) and "allows" me to buy something with their logo on it in MMPR/TMNT #3.

Then the newest issue of the ongoing/new content/main Usagi Yojimbo title from IDW. Just a week apart from the Color Classics issue. I definitely hope they keep these titles separate–with "only" 2 titles, it makes absolutely NO SENSE to me to cluster them on a single week, especially with the publisher having output all the other weeks of a month. That clustering is another factor that drives (people like me) to drop stuff. Expensive as comics are, one can rationalize/justify them when the per-week expenses are kept down…but even one or two "extra" issues can either blow a budget OR call attention to a budget one’s regularly exceeding and promote sticker shock, which in turn promotes dropping of titles.

I’m woefully behind on GI Joe: A Real American Hero to the point I’ve been considering letting it lapse. Of course, I tell myself I’m just one good binge-read away from catching up. However, I think I let a bit of another "exception" creep in these days with the title…that is, even when IDW started it, they kicked off with #155 1/2 as a "#0"-type issue and their first "proper" issue that usually would have been a #1 was actually #156. And they’re a good 114 issues into this run. First, 114 issues without a renumbering; second, 114 issues on a numbering from a previous series that had ended a decade and a half earlier!

Then Marvel‘s other replica edition in a Fantastic Four annual. An extra $1 to the cover price but it IS an extra-sized issue, and an annual, and a far superior value time-wise on reading than MODERN annuals full of full-page and double-page splash panels and few words and other "cheats" to pad out an issue’s page-count while reducing the time it takes to read any given issue. Like the DC Green Lantern replica edition, I really dig these sorts of reprints where they’re close enough to the original to be able to slot them in as that original without much problem (and for $4-$5 instead of $50-$1000s). There’s something to DC‘s Dollar Comics line–the trade dress, I think–that seems a bit "off" to me. It’s like they do this weird hybrid of taking the look of the original, but changing it to not be "overly-close" to the look of the original and to carry the "branding" of the DC Collar Comics. So they’re sort of iconic and yet not…at the same time.

Moving beyond the week’s new-printed comics…my first "grail of the year" acquisition!

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It "only" took me a bit over 20 years to get this foil edition of Wolverine #145. Back in (October?) 1999, when Mom went to the comic shop for me to get the issue, she got the "regular" non-foil edition ($2.99 vs. this edition’s $3.99). Once I went back and tried to track down this edition, I’ve either not found it whatsoever, or it’s been astronomically priced. EVEN the ONLINE regulars have not had the thing in-stock, and I’ve not found it at any shops in-person nor at any conventions where I’ve looked.

I "discovered" a new (to me) online selling site (online fleamarket of sorts) and someone had it on offer for $8 or so. With shipping, it hardly cost me 3 modern Marvel comics that (thanks to variants, over-frequent shipping, generic covers, generic stories to be undone in a year and/or by short-term creative directions, etc) made it a real steal for what it is!

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Of course, it’s a definite "wall book" for me!


Week of February 12, 2020

And here we come to the "finally caught up"…for a day, or so.

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Again with "supporting" some format, I am definitely very much behind stuff like what these Dawn of X volumes appear to be: 6-issue collections…but not of individual titles. These volumes are collecting sequential issues of ALL 6 TITLES that made up the Dawn of X "initiative" following HoX/PoX last year. This one has the #1 issues of all 6 titles in an "anthology" format. $24.99 for 6 issues that were $4.99 apiece. So even though I already did get X-Men #1 last year, that still means that I’ve basically paid $30 for all 6 total…breaking even, even WITH that issue being doubled-up with this collection.

DC Dollar Comics reprinting the first appearance of Cassandra Cain; and a replica edition of the first issue of the Claremont/Miller Wolverine mini-series. Sorta interesting that in paying $3.99 for this edition, that’s 16 times what I paid for the copy of the original that I own.

The Vampirella magazine is a replica edition as well–I believe this is the first 3 issues now reprinted like this.

And while I really haven’t had or taken the time to read cover-to-cover any of the TwoMorrows magazines, I do find it’s often one or two (or a few) articles that are of particular interest. And really, if I spend 20 minutes on an issue, it’s certainly matched the time-"value" of virtually any modern $3.99-$7.99-$9.99 comic!

Sort of goes to show how much I’ve managed to cut back lately that I actually had NO NEW COMICS ISSUES (content-wise) for the week. Nothing but REPRINTS and a magazine ABOUT comics (creators)!

While checking out, I glanced over at the display case with "priced" significant back issues, and recognized something I’ve only seen digitally or as reprints: the Marvel Two-in-One Annual #2.

For $20.

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Now, this thing has seen better days. It’s creased, worn, beaten…overall in pretty crummy condition. As much as I’m all FOR buying umpteen duplicates of an issue as "convenience copies" from 25-cent bins, generally this condition would get even a 25-cent comic left in the box.

Except this is an issue I’ve been interested in for 22-some years or so. And with last year having broken my "$10 or less" thing for single issues, I’m now willing to pay more than $10 for a single issue…IF it meets certain criteria (that might be accumulated "in the moment"). In this case: it’s THE issue. It’s one I’ve known of and been interested in for over 20 years (over half my life!). At $20…that’s "only" 5 modern $3.99 issues, or 4 modern $4.99 #1 issues…or 2.5 modern $7.99 #1 issues. And let me tell y’all, I’m far happier with having this book than I’d be to have a random Fallen Angels #1, Darth Vader (since 2015, vol. 3) #1 and Wolverine vol. (what are we up to? 8? 9?) #1.

As I am NOT a collector to resell, but collector to HAVE…I’m MORE than happy to have this in this condition!

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And it fits quite well on "the wall" with other similar type issues. Older keys, just lacking in that "NM+" grading condition and such. But it has sentimental value for me for its content and notoriety and memories it brings up…and that puts it on a level that FEW (if any?) modern (2005-present, let’s say?) comics attain.

So…there we go. Four weeks of new-comics-days’ hauls, plus 2 "grails" acquired. Factor in that huge Spawn acquisition in early January and it’s been a much more productive back-issue year than new-issue.

I also–for the week of February 12–resisted the temptation to buy the Superman: Heroes (late!) issue dealing with (MORE) of the ditching-of-the-secret-identity crap. A $5.99 issue that reinforces how 20-year-old non-quarter-bin comics for $4 and $5 and $6 are an EXCELLENT value by comparison…at least to me.

And after the speculation and speculators and whatnot blow over, I would not be surprised to find the issue (the main, non-variant regular basic un-special cover) available in $1 bins this spring/later this year at conventions.

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The Alien/Predator Shelves as of 2/8/2020

I posted a couple weeks ago about discovering the Alien Collection toys from Lanard.

I had not initially bought the APC vehicle, but did wind up going back for that. I also purchased a $10 MegaConstrux egg thing shaped like an Alien egg that came with a packet of slime/ooze with pieces to build two "minifigure" Xenomorphs.

I also came across a couple online listings for classic Kenner Aliens figures, and got a "regular-sized" Alien Queen as well as a Gorilla Alien and a Bull Alien.

All together, my once rather sparse shelf filled up fast to the point of nearly overflowing. Such that I may end up moving the Predators off just to have a little more room for the Aliens…but time will tell!

Anyway, though I’ve shown off the collection in the past, here’s the most up-to-date version of my Aliens/Predator shelves!

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The figures and such get the top of the shelving unit for the maximum amount of space and to accommodate the rather large size of the Queens.

While I’m pretty sure I’m missing a couple books, I do at least have most of the Alien/Aliens line of novels, and most of the Predator ones, though I’m missing the Dark Hors Press (DH Press) novels as well as the most recent anthology and film adaptations.

Though for the moment Mage Knight and MechWarrior: Dark Age still share the shelf…a major MW acquisition last year means that series is going to have to get its own space…which will also allow a little more space for the Alien/Aliens books and such.

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The graphic novels have their own space on a different, larger bookcase to allow for the size of the Library Editions (and even the regular-sized graphic novel editions).

Adding purchases from the latter part of last year in, there’s no longer room for the films to all share the shelf, so I had to move the individual Alien films and a couple misc. items elsehwere. (Perhaps they’ll help replace MechWarrior on the novels’ shelf?)

As it is, I left the Alien Anthology blu-ray set and the newer films.

I’m not sure if Dark Horse is going to continue their full-size collections of the older Aliens material, so I’m not at all in any hurry to replace the omnibii.with those…though I’d prefer the newer format. Time will tell!

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The Alien Collection Haul 1/27/2020

I’d known Walmart was clearing a LOTTA stuff out. And I’d been a bit annoyed that they’d so quickly cleared out the Primal Clash line that had so quickly captured my attention. All the more when they apparently got rid of all of the Lanard branded stuff I’d come to recognize.

Last night, though, simply checking for the black-suited Superman figure from Spin Master, I noticed some new stuff in the Walmart toy aisle that I had not seen before.

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Some things bearing a remarkable resemblance to Aliens. As in Xenomorphs. But no…that couldn’t be…could it???

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Xenomorph SwarmAlien Queen…ok, maybe. But what the heck were these brightly-colored things???

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"Alien Collection," apparently. OK. But really?!?

These things have nothing on NECA and their high-end $25+/each highly detailed line.

But what these DO have?

NOSTALGIA!

I started to walk on by. Brightly-colored xenomorphs? Just this past weekend I’d yet again lamented (to myself, of course) the bright-colored "arcade"-coloring from the old Aliens vs. Predator game and how not-fond I am of the bright colors.

And then it struck me.

One of my earliest memories of the Aliens franchise. What I now know were the Kenner toys. That Mom took one look at and would not buy. And yet I wound up getting into the property anyway via the novelizations of the third movie and the Dark Horse comics and eventually the movies themselves.

And the price of these things…

$20 for the Alien Queen. $15 for the APC and Power Loader sets; and a mere $10 for each of the 3 Xenomorph Swarm boxes (with an Alien and a Colonial Marine plus accessories). I’ll almost certainly get more as time goes on…these things are just too cool to pass up and army-build, particularly the Xenomorphs!

I passed on the APC as I’m not much of a vehicles guy when it comes to toys, and I know I can at least make room for the Xenos on and around my shelves, a vehicle might be needlessly bulky and take up more space that could be better-taken by another Alien or two. Of course, I might change my mind later…I also had the fact of grabbing five sets where I hadn’t even known these existed when I walked into Walmart.

Anyway…here’s my initial haul, showing the sets I got (front and back) as well as the Alien "profile" cards closer-up.


Alien Queen

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Front of the package…

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Back of the package…

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"profile" of the Queen…

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A handy-dandy chart showing the life-cycle of the Xenomorphs.


The Power Loader

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Front of the package…

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Back of the package…


Runner Alien 

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From the front…

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Back of the box…

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…and the "profile."


Alien Warrior

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Front…

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Back…

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Profile.


Alien Drone

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The front…

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The back…

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The profile.


As I touched on above…these are fairly reminiscent of the old Kenner line of Aliens figures. Though like the books from Titan the last few years, it seems the brand has moved back to the Alien designation moreso than the plural.

Though as a casual but very interested fan, it’s easy enough to just go with the Aliens title. If you’re reading this, you’d know what I’m talking about OR not really care, I suspect.

While the Primal Clash line was basically one wave and done (that I could tell) I really hope that these are NOT all that get put out for this line. I’d LOVE to see some "army-builder" packs of the various Xenomorphs, even if they were just different colors swapped around the existing molds.

I’m looking forward to getting the time to sit down and get all of these unboxed, and certainly go from there!

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Super-Blog Team-Up/The ’90s Revisited: Shiny Covers

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Welcome to Wednesday…and another Super-Blog Team-Up! Where a number of comics blogs and podcasts come together at a shared time and a shared topic. We have that shared topic…but everyone picks a specific topic that fits within that group topic, and makes it their own!

I was invited into this group several years ago, and it’s been a great group to be part of–not only for the specific SBTU posts and episodes, but simply the great community the group has.

This time out, we’re looking at the topic of Chromium: The Era of Excess. That is, the gimmicks and such most seen in the ’90s and onward following the Golden, Silver, and Bronze Ages of comics.

My contribution is below…and at the bottom of this post (feel free to just skip to that!) is a list of the other participants and their posts this time around!


Prologue

I’d had some grand plans for this post. Even a large, detailed outline. Laying out some thoughts and my definitions of the Chromium Age, the Era of Excess; ways that Excess could be seen, and so on. A broad overview of gimmicks–from publicity/attention stunts to cover gimmicks to other stuff; as well as compare/contrasting ’90s gimmicks with modern variants. Perhaps I’ll eventually get to more of that, but it’s not happening this time.

From the moment of seeing the topic, I wanted to look at many of the comics that embodied this era of excess…namely, the shiny, flashy, attention-grabbing physical gimmicks of ’90s comics.

And of course, while I recognize much of the distaste that can be had for such things…I have–particularly over the last 10+ years–come to really enjoy these flashy, gimmicky comics of the ’90s. I relish purchasing them primarily from bargain-bins…these $3 and $4 and $5+ cover price comics that had these prices over 20 years ago–that I can get for that same price if not merely one shiny 25-cent-piece. And especially over this last decade or so, I’ve amassed quite a collection of such comics, their shiny-ness often jumping out at me from bargain bins, and especially the 25-cent bins.

This is by NO MEANS an EXHAUSTIVE list. There are many issues not even slightly touched on here: both known to me…and probably more unknown than I even show below. Particularly glaring to me as I write this is the Robin III mini-series with its polybagged lenticular covers–I have multiple copies of the issues somewhere but could not find them in a timely fashion to include in this post. Ditto the X-Men: Fatal Attractions issues–though I have an old image from scanning the covers myself and combining them with photos of the holograms such that I’m happy to use that in context here.

The following are presented in little order. While I begin with showing some tamer, more basic “enhancements” to covers, the various enhancements were developed over time and used at various times over the years by a number of different publishers. I’ve clustered them in some broader categories, though there’s surely plenty of room for argument and hair-splitting such that I only claim these as my own terms–particularly in context of this specific post–though you’ll definitely find other descriptions, definitions, and terms for certain enhancements elsewhere.

I also use a fair bit of slang that I’m sure I take for granted, but may not actually be defined or the clearest in general. If in doubt, feel free to post a question asking for clarification!

Despite the many examples I have to show–that I gathered up physically in-person to photograph–there are many, Many, MANY issues that fit in all of these categories that I simply did not collate in time for this piece, could not find in time for this piece, do not myself own, OR do not know about.

“Gatefold” covers are also not included here, though to me, the most prominent example of one of those is probably 1991’s X-Men #1, in its (in)famous “deluxe edition.”

But for now, instead of focusing on what is not or will not be covered (pun intended) here…let’s get into a brief overview of “shiny covers” as found on comics in the 1990s!


Extra Colors

Especially in the early days of comics, printing in color wasn’t an extremely advanced thing, I don’t think–not being an expert on printing presses and such, especially in terms of books/magazines/comics. There’s the notion of the “four color process” that I recall, wherein there was a limited color range made up of four basic colors.

So for comics to–even on the covers–have an extra color not usually seen in general, it would be fairly attention-grabbing.

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Pulling a simple 3-issue sample, there’s Stryfe’s Strike File, Superboy #50, and X-Men #41.

These have an “extra color” with silver or gold ink prominently in the logos, making them stand out from the “usual” issues…and this photo doesn’t really do them justice compared to seeing the effect in-person.

I see this as a sort of “basic” “low level” “gimmick” where other than the visual color, the rest of the comic is pretty much as any other issue.


Paper Overlays

Another simple gimmick/”enhancement” for comics was having this extra piece on top of the covers themselves. It wasn’t exactly the cover, but it enhances the thing overall.

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The Protectors one sets the thing apart with the brightly-colored paper to help draw attention to the issue, standing in contrast to the usual colors one would expect on a comic’s cover. The Justice League America #70 has a bright red overlay proclaiming Superman is dead. The mourning after begins here!

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It–like the Protectors issue–allows this extra information/promotion copy without taking away from the actual image of the cover itself, which is full and intact beneath and very much a standalone image!

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And the full-cover overlay on the 71st issue allows for one to NOT be “spoiled” merely by seeing the image at the shop…though one would probably be spoiled when going to read the issue itself.

But it seems a relatively simple and cheap thing to have this extra exterior “insert” (I know that’s NOT the word I’m looking for) as part of the publishing process while “enhancing” the otherwise normal/usual covers.

Batman #497–the issue where Bane breaks Batman’s back–also had one of the half-cover overlays proclaiming You thought it could never happen…the breaking of the Batman. Unfortunately, that’s another issue I couldn’t locate in my accumulation in time for this piece. Though I did do a ’90s Revisited post on the issue some time back.

Similar to this, I recall a couple of Spider-Man comics in the later-’90s that had two different covers attached–with some of the copies having one cover on “top” and the rest having the other. Essentially “variant covers” but BOTH covers came with every copy of every issue…a neat thing that I intend to cover some other time.


Polybagged Comics

There’s actually quite a bit of variety here, though I’ve got these issues grouped together. My emphasis here is the polybagging of the issues–that is, they come sealed in a  plastic bag/covering, and in order to actually access their content–reading the issue, seeing interior art, getting at any trading card, poster, or whatever other goodies are included–means you have to cut open the bag and make the comic “worthless!”

I say that last part tongue-in-cheek because I remember even as a kid feeling it was rather ridiculous. I used to joke with a friend that someone ought to just put a cover onto a bunch of blank pages, polybag it, and put it out to see if anyone would notice. Or include some coupon to get the “real” thing if you actually DID open it!

To me, the general point of polybags was that these comics came with a trading card or such, hence the bag–the bag was not the comic, it was just a way to include extras without them having to be bound into the comics themselves.

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The Mighty Magnor #1 can be opened out like one of those pop-up children’s books where moving stuff around results in a multi-level display that folds back up into the typical comic size. The bag would seem to protect it prior to one opening it up into its unique oversized glory.

The Captain Glory, Legionnaires, and X-Force issues come with a trading card. The X-Force #1 is especially egregious, even by contemporary 2020 standards: it’s the exact same comic, the exact same cover, the exact same bag…but there are 5 DIFFERENT trading cards. One would have to buy 5 copies of the issue minimum to get them all and ostensibly a sixth if they felt even slitting the bag to remove the issue to read meant they’d destroyed the issue.

Ren & Stimpy #1 is bagged both for a “scratch-and-stink” thing I believe, and you can juuuust make out under the bag that the reader will be scolded for destroying the comic now that it’s out of the bag.

And the Incredible Hulk issue is a Marvel Milestones reprint with some goodies included (and I only recently acquired it myself so have yet to open it up to get at the stuff).

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Here are some more comics with mainly trading cards included, though Hardware and Blood Syndicate  also include poster pieces that can be combined with the other two premiere Milestone #1s (Static and Icon) to form a huge 16-panel image. The Fantastic Four issue includes an animation “cel” from the animated series…a neat little promo.

If you grew up in the ’90s and think back…you may realize that NOT included here are two key Superman issues: the infamous Superman #75 black-bagged “death issue,” and Adventures of Superman #500 and its white-bagged edition. Those are topics for elsewhere and elsewhen!


Glow-in-the-Dark Covers

Glow-in-the-dark covers are relatively self-explanatory. These have an extra element bonded to the cover that–when exposed to light for a bit of time will then give off a glow when the surrounding environment goes appropriately dark. Of course, this likely means holding them up to a light, and then flipping the light switch to “off” and enjoying the effect for a few moments.

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I believe this Ghost Rider issue was one of the earliest “gimmick covers”–at the least, I have a bit of deja-vu on having read something about that. The price of the issue was relatively unaffected despite the bonus effect…though that definitely cannot be said for MOST “gimmick” or “enhanced” covers! I’ve yet to actually read this issue or the Spectre issue. Green Lantern #50 and Superman #123 show the characters’ new costumes…

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And here’s a shot of the issues taken in the dark/no flash. This copy of the Green Lantern issue is rather beat up and not my original…and is obviously a bit worse for wear.


Foil Stamped Covers

I’m considering “foil stamping” its own thing in that it’s a bit of foiling “stamped” on the cover, typically isolated to the comic’s title logo and used rather sparingly. In good light at the right angles, it gives off a nice, reflective look–as foil does–but the bulk of the cover is still “normal” colors.

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There are many MANY of these comics out there, ’90s to present. I had these four handy (and the rest of the Rogue mini but figured one issue serves the point, and an issue of Shadowhawk I’d mis-sorted and hadn’t realized til these 4 issues were re-buried as I took photos for this post). A bunch of Ultraverse #1s have such editions where the only difference between them and the regular edition is a foil stamping on the logo.


Foil Covers

These covers go beyond the limited foil “stamping” to have the foil either making up the bulk of the cover or the entire cover.

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Some of these have foil as a background “color” while others use it for good effect to accentuate stuff…while some just…are.

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Photos don’t really do these covers much justice as the effect is much more noticeable “live” in-person when you see it.


Prismatic Foil Covers

These are much like the “plain foil,” but have more of a prismatic or patterned effect to the way they reflect light back at the viewer.

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The Green Arrow #100 is technically more of a prismatic foil stamping but got sorted here, so here it is. Along with this #100 issue, similar “trade dress” with the prismatic foil “stamping” can be found on Superman #100, Flash #100, and Wonder Woman #100, also out around the same time, and not pictured here.

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Closer up of the shiny effect on the Venom issue…

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and on the Fantastic Four issue.

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These three 30th anniversary Spider-Man issues plus Venom #1 have long been a “set” to me. I got all four when they first came out, and they’ve been a set in that regard at least since then for me.

They all have the same “webbing” pattern visible in the foil.

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Here’s a closer-up on the Amazing Spider-Man issue (this copy I got signed by Mark Bagley last year!). Marvel got away with this 4-issue anniversary extravaganza as a 30th-anniversary despite the hologram series as these were the anniversary of Amazing Spider-Man #1 rather than just the first appearance of the character. Plus, they were big round numbers #375, #200, #100…and in Venom‘s case, #1.

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The main 2099 #1s are another sub-set with a particular pattern within the foiling making up probably my favorite trade-dress for a series of titles. Though Ghost Rider was somewhat spoiled by being a much shinier/reflective foil.


Embossed Covers

Embossed covers are also straight-forward. They’re typically thicker/cardstock paper with embossing. That is, there’s a bit of a raised surface or texture, whether applied to the entire cover or just a logo or such. Think those old crayon-rubbings on paper where you put a sheet of blank paper over something, rub the crayon (or pencil) or whatever and see an image come through.

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Here are several full-color embossed covers, and then two printings of a Fantastic Four single-color embossed cover. The former have the embossed logos, while the latter have the entire cover embossed. Catwoman is embossed throughout.

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The Fantastic Four covers are both the same issue and same “image”…but two different printings. Different color for different printing, allowing one to have the same embossing, same image, but see at a glance that it’s a different printing.


Foil-Embossed Covers

For these, you have the embossing, but that’s combined with foiling. The points of embossing are foil, or is within a field of foil.

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These are a mix of depth and degree of foiling/embossing and shiny-ness; from logos-only to the rest of the cover.

The Magneto #0 issue doubles as a mail-away comic if I recall correctly–another thing of the ’90s but not a focus of this post.

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Still more with foil and embossing. The Avengers title had 4 of these covers in the year they were put out, if I’m recalling correctly; basically quarterly, so you’d have an extra-expensive issue with the “bonus” of the fancy foil-embossed cover followed by 2 “regular” covers, then another foil-embossed and so on. The Action Comics issue is in today’s terms a “variant,” as there were “Collector’s Edition” and “Newsstand Edition” covers; a topic for another time.

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Here’s a closer-up of the Avengers cover.


Die-Cut Covers

Die-cut covers have very specific parts cut out–using a die–typically with another image underneath. I suppose these could be considered die-cut overlays, but in the sense of most of what I’ve seen, they tend to be more so a cover revealing a hint of something beneath, which might be more of a first page.

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In the case of these issues–Wolverine #50, Sabretooth #1, and three of the four Reign of the Supermen launch issues–the cover IS the top, and they reveal part of an image underneath.

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…such as the Man of Steel issue. It works as a cover showing off Steel’s version of the “S” shield…but when you open the cover you see a full-panel/page image of Steel…but no cover dress, as it’s not the cover itself (but works WITH the cover).

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While Sabretooth‘s cover allows a hint of something beneath, and opens on quite the beautiful image of the feral villain.

I believe this came out about the same time as the first Deadpool #1, also a villain mini-series, though that one was simply embossed, if I recall correctly. (It is not pictured in this post)


Die-Cut Foil/Die-Cut Embossed Covers

Perhaps getting more to the sense of excess, we move here into the die-cut effect used in conjunction with embossing and/or foil to make up a cover.

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The Punisher War Zone cover has embossing along with the die-cut, though one might not even know it just looking at the cover…it’s a subtle touch. The Ghost Rider and Shadowhawk covers have a foil sheet under the die-cut rather than foil stamping.

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Batman #500 is a multiple-part mashup of “enhancements.” The die-cut for the top layer of the cover, foil cover underneath with embossing for the logo…and it’s a sort of overlay that on opening “reveals” the true cover underneath. PLUS it’s an extra-sized, extra-priced anniversary issue.


Hologram Covers

Hologram covers were covers featuring a “hologram” image. These varied in quality and size, and were presented in a number of ways. Primarily, they were approximately trading-card-sized images affixed to the cover; but some were larger, some smaller, and in the case of Malibu, the entire cover for several Ultraverse #1 issues!

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Robin II featured one of the earlier egregious use of variants that I’m aware of. Not only was there a hologram on the covers, you had different cover images…but all with the same hologram per issue! However, the quantity of covers declined with each issue. #1 had 4 hologram covers, #2 had 3, #3 had 2, and #4 just had 1. (And all 4 issues also had a newsstand edition/variant with no hologram!)

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There was actually a slip-cased box set for the Robin II mini that I’d picked up that came with one of each cover in a fancy box…definitely a novelty piece in my entire collection!

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The box set also included actual trading cards of each hologram image as stand-alone things…pretty neat inclusion!

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For the 30th anniversary of Spider-Man’s first appearance, there were these larger hologram images on respective issues of Amazing Spider-Man, Spectacular Spider-Man, Web of Spider-Man, and (adjectiveless) Spider-Man. These were possibly my earliest real introduction to such covers, as a friend had at least a couple of these (if not all four) prior to my even discovering other “enhanced” covers or even the black-bagged Superman #75.

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Here are 6 “silver hologram” covers of Malibu‘s Ultraverse #1 issues. I believe there were also gold hologram editions–same image and effect, but with a gold instead of silver tint (though the latter three look slightly gold-ish due to the lighting and camera angle for this photo). Unpictured is an Ultraforce #1 that is gold…and I’ve yet to acquire Prime #1 in either silver or gold (though I’d prefer gold to go with these rather than trying to hunt 7 gold to have 8 match). Mantra and Prototype are basically hologram images of the regular edition covers while the others differ from the non-hologram covers.

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Probably my favorite hologram covers were those used for the X-Men 30th-anniversary crossover event/story Fatal Attractions. Prior to these, other hologram covers seemed to be layered images with depth…while these felt like you were looking through a portal into an actual truly 3-dimensional object (namely a statue of the character).

I’ve recycled the above image from my ’90s Revisited series covering the event; I’d scanned the covers and taken photos of the holograms that I then pasted over the actual photo of the covers to show the depth of the holograms.

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Here are several varied hologram images on covers. I suppose the Resurrection Man one might be more of a lenticular thing but looked like a damaged hologram when I first grouped these.

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This Web of Spider-Man #125 is one of at least two of these holo-disc covers…the other being Spectacular Spider-Man #225. If you lay the book flat and shine a bright light on it, you can essentially look down into a circular well of a view and see Spidey sorta move as you turn the cover. Think the Pensieve from Harry Potter except you don’t fall into it.

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The Silver Surfer #100 isn’t a particularly impressive hologram image…but it sure is pretty and shiny!


Other Covers

These are some covers that don’t exactly have their own categories; I’ve clustered them together for being a bit outside of a singular category or being a “set” (see below).

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The Bloodstrike #1 issue “Rub the Blood” doesn’t–in the case of the physical copy I have onhand–work. A quick Googling suggests the blood should disappear when rubbed, but didn’t always work…so I don’t feel bad for not trying hard to get something to happen. I’d half thought it’d change color or brighten, but c’est la vie. The Guardians of the Galaxy issue with Galactus has a foil-like effect, perhaps a bit prismatic-ish, but something to its coloring and texture seems to be something else, hence separating it out.

The Amazing Spider-Man #388 has a textured foiling so isn’t really a straight up foil but isn’t what I tend to think of as embossed, though I suppose it might technically be embossed. The physical texture is a bit too “fine” for what I’d consider embossing.

Bloodshot #1 and Turok, Dinosaur Hunter #1 are some sort of foil/chromium thing with the fancy part affixed to the cardstock covers themselves. I recall Bloodshot being “the” buzz-issue the day my mom took a friend and me to get Superman #75 at Comics and Collectibles in November 1992. And over the years I’ve learned that Turok was apparently a bit of a bomb. But that’ another than that’s a topic for some other post in itself!

Finally, Force Works is another issue with a pop-up/pop-out cover.

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While still not really doing it justice, here’s a closer-up look at the Guardians issue…

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And the Amazing Spider-Man issue.

While looking at this title and in this “other” section…I should mention the embossed/die-cut/overlay of #400, which is another that I couldn’t find/dig out in time for this post, though I have at least one copy of it that I got at time of release. (It and #360 with the hologram apparently are much more expensive books these days than I ever realized!)


Acetate Covers

I haven’t seen many of these covers from the ’90s, though DC recently did a whole month of acetate covers. That being 2019, though, puts ’em 20 years outside the ’90s that I’m looking at!

These were covers that have a transparent/partly-transparent sheet over another cover/image where the two collectively make up the cover.

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Marvels is the series I think of for acetate covers…though obviously the Tales of the Marvels: Wonder Years used the cover format, as well as Ruins (not pictured) and several other special issues–a Tales to Astonish issue, Tales of Suspense, Inner Demons, and apparently a Tales of the Marvels: Blockbuster issue. (all not pictured, either).

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Here’s a look at Marvels #2 with the acetate opened, showing the full cover beneath (and you can see much of the cover of #1 through the acetate part!

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While the Marvels and such covers used just the clear layer to put a logo over a “virgin art” cover…these got a lot more fancy and colorful with most of the image on the surface layer, and background coloring coming through from the secondary piece under it.


Chromium Covers

And here we get to the covers that inspired the naming of the age/era. Golden Age…Silver Age…Bronze Age…and what’s another metallic name? Chromium!

These covers were typically a thinner sheet of metallic/foil-like material and raised surfaces maybe akin to embossing, and you could often see a pattern of dots from the inside of the cover. I believe with the exception of Superman #82, all the chromium covers I’m aware of were wrap-around full-chromium. The Superman issue is a sort of cardstock with a front stub that the chromium sheet is attached to. It’s also the only DC comic I’m aware of in this format. Maybe they didn’t do it right and just didn’t do it again?

I should also note that somehow I never remembered–until deep into writing up this post–Ninjak #1 which may actually (once remembered) be one of my favorite chromium covers–and so do not have it in my specific mini-collection of chromium covers and thus it is not pictured here.

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I’m pretty confident that X-O Manowar #0 was the first chromium cover I was aware of. As I’m recalling, it was actually my Dad who picked out my first copy–it caught his eye. It was followed shortly by Superman #82 collector’s edition. And then bookending the original Age of Apocalypse event/saga, X-Men: Alpha and X-Men: Omega sported these wraparound chromium covers.

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Valiant got into these in a big way with the aforementioned X-O Manowar and Ninjak; also #0 issues for Bloodshot and Shadowman; and first issues for (at least) Geomancer and Psi-Lords.

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Marvel also got into doing these covers in a big way. There were at least these 9 issues. I only recently–maybe in the last 5 weeks or so–became aware of this Sabretooth special issue (or at least this chromium cover edition if there was a non-fancy version). And it was only shortly before that I discovered the Fantastic Four 2099 #1 was a chromium cover; or that the Double Edge issue I had with the “death” of Nick Fury was a bookend issue and that the first part also had a chromium cover.

On the subject of Marvel and chromium covers…they apparently also did a series of Marvel Collector’s Edition reprint issues of various X-Men issues, and I think also Spider-Man; these being quite rare, and part of a handful of reasonable-ish “grail” issues for me (though having so many “cheap” chromium issues, it’s a double-edged sword for me. As with many other things…that’s a subject for another post!)

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Over the years I’ve also come across several other chromium issues mostly in bargain bins, but a couple not.

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And here’s a look at the Bloodshot and Shadowman #0s at more of an angle with light to show just how bright and shiny they are. Though as another refrain: they look even better in person!


The Era of Excess

I think I’ve spotlighted about 160 issues here, and mentioned still others.

Yet this doesn’t do more than put a big dent in showing off the shiny covers produced in the ’90s. While I find many of these covers “fun” now and love grabbing them outta bargain bins or on deep discounts…it was a different thing back in the ’90s. I fell victim to the mindset of “having to” get both the “collector’s edition” AND the “newsstand” edition of issues with the two. Superman #75 being the first such issue. Then others like the Adventures of Superman #500, the four launches of the titles into Reign of the Supermen.

I haven’t really looked at price in this post–that’s for some other time. As I recall, in general the “collector’s edition” covers were usually more expensive than the “newsstand” edition–sometimes twice or more so. And even with the “option” for the “cheaper” edition…with MANY of these, you had no choice. You either bought this double/triple/whatever-priced shiny/fancy thing…or you didn’t get that issue.

However…for the most part, the covers were still more or less singular. If you didn’t have a choice and had to pay more…it was still an iconic (or at least recognizable!) cover. I know Fantastic Four #375 at a glance just for the shiny sparklies. Or X-O Manowar #0. Any of the Fatal Attractions hologram covers. Or the 2099 #1s. X-Men: Alpha and Omega. Those Avengers foil-embossed covers for the 30th anniversary. Superman #75, the launches into Reign of the Supermen.  And so on and so forth etc.

Others that had “collector’s edition” and “newsstand edition” (or non-“enhanced”) covers the two were often completely different images…some more recognizable than others. Superman #75 had a slate-gray tombstone look for the black-bagged edition; but it’s the newsstand edition–with the tattered cape fluttering on the wood pole–that is the iconic image. On the flip side, it’s the glow-in-the-dark version of Superman #123 that’s had a bunch of homage covers and seems (to me) to be “the” iconic image of that entire electric-blue era/costume for the character.

And the simple fact that I was able to pull together SO VERY MANY of these covers to photograph and share for this post shows (in small part) just how plentiful these were in the ’90s. That being said…I see them all as quite different from the modern “variant” covers. PARTICULARLY in quantity.

I don’t think I have EVER–comic store, dealer at a convention, whatever–seen boxes and boxes of “collector’s shiny edition” covers for sale. Maybe there are a bunch in bargain bins, but I’ve never seen them gathered together with an exclusive category/call-out…while I HAVE numerous times seen boxes and boxes of comics labeled “variants–$X price.”

Granted, you had all those Robin II variant regular-art covers with the same hologram affixed, plus the newsstand editions with no holograms. You had X-Force #1 where you had to buy 5 copies to get all 5 cards. Or X-Men #1 where you could buy 4 different covers that made up a single image…OR the “deluxe” edition gatefold cover with all 4 “panels” combined into the single image they were meant as…5 total covers to have ’em all. Or for its ongoing series, I believe Gen13 #1 had thirteen different covers. Slingers #1 had 4 different covers…and 4 different interiors!

But for the most part, IF you had “variants” in the ’90s…it was very much a 2-cover thing. Regular, and “enhanced.” OR–say, with several “platinum edition” covers or the Ultraverse limited foil and the full-cover holograms, for example–these particular “variants” were almost legendary and in no way “standard.” I got into the Ultraverse stuff in June 1993 when the line launched…but I think it was at least 2010 (17 years later!) before I ever saw one of the hologram issues in-person.

For at least the last 15 years with the ever-increasing quantity of variants, it seems that nearly every single issue of nearly every single series from nearly every publisher is put out with at minimum two different covers, and often 3 or more. I think recently I counted 30 different variants listed for an issue of Vengeance of Vampirella (from Dynamite, I think!). I’m pretty sure that there were more COVERS for that ONE ISSUE than there were pages of interior art! (And it was not even a first issue or any obviously-celebratory numbered issue!)

While I’ve yet to go through and do it, I’d be interested to see a list of comics being solicited in Previews in a single month of 2019 or 2020 that are NOT being published with variants. I’ve often wondered if it’d be easily-feasible to just collect comics withOUT variant covers.

Even where there were multiple shiny covers with one single series…the majority were never sequential…it was not every single issue nor every single series at once. (Granted, in the 2010s, DC has done several “gimmick months” where for that one month only, one issue per title only, there’s been some gimmick. Yet again, though….that’s another topic for another post).

Why I have such a problem with modern variants can be summed up with the following:

Just off the top of my head, on the Superman titles…(in terms of the ongoing series, not counting a number of quarterly giant-size specials in the late-’90s) you had collector’s & newsstand editions for:

  • Superman #s 75, 78, 82, 100, 150, and 166
  • Adventures of Superman  #s 500, 501, and 505
  • Action Comics #s 695
  • Superman: The Man of Steel #s 22, 30, 50

That’s 13 issues out of…I don’t know, let’s say ~400 issues (Superman 75-175, Adventures of Superman 500-600, Action Comics 694-800, Superman: The Man of Steel 1-130-something, and Superman: The Man of Tomorrow 1-15)

Right now, 2020, just going back to mid-2016’s Rebirth renumbering for Superman…Let’s say May 2016-January 2020 (44 months) there’s been Superman #s 1-45 and 1-19 or so. Let’s call it 65 issues. But with DC doing two covers for every single issue…that’s 130 covers for 65 issues in 44 months. That’s not getting into Action Comics and the oodles of covers for #1000 on top of it’s 70ish issues. Nor taking into account adjacent titles like Supergirl, Superwoman, Super Sons, or Batman/Superman.

The ’90s get a bad rap for being an age of speculation and excess…but for me, the 2010s (2010-2019) drastically put the ’90s to shame in terms of covers.

I will absolutely grant that the ’90s very much can be considered the “Chromium Age,” though!


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Don’t forget to check out the rest of this outing’s Super-Blog Team-Up posts! Find the group on Twitter at hashtags #SuperBlogTeamUp, #SBTU, and #SBTUChromium!

Super-Hero Satellite – 70s-80s Photo Covers

Chris is on Infinite Earths (Blog) – Adventures of Superman #500

Chris is on Infinite Earths (Podcast) – Episode 33: Team Titans #1 (1992)

Source material – Spider-Man Torment

ComicsComicsComics.blog – Daredevil 319-325 Fall from Grace

The Telltale Mind – Worlds Collide – The Intercompany Crossover

Between The Pages – Guerilla Marketing

Unspoken Issues – Darkhawk #25

Dave’s Comic Heroes Blog – Connected Covers gimmicks

When It Was Cool – Polybags It! The Blight of the Polybagged Comic Book

Pop Culture Retrorama – Glow in the Dark Covers

In My Not So Humble Opinion – It Came From the 1990s: Force Works #1

Black & White and Bronze Comics Blog – Spectacular Spider-Man Magazine 1968

DC In The 80s – Memorable DC “gimmicks

Comics In The Golden Age – Fawcett’s Mighty Midget comics


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