Let me explain. In the early 1990s there were nearly 10,000 independent comic book shops in this country. After a huge speculator’s boom, fueled by Wizard Magazine and Image Comics, among others, there came a huge bust, and more than half of the comic shops closed their doors.
This meant that there were thousands of stores, suddenly out of business, looking to salvage what they could of their mostly-worthless inventory. It was easy to cash in on the truly rare books, but in most cases, 99% of a store’s stock was in books that had little or no value. A couple of enterprising companies bought up their unsold comics for pennies on the dollar, and repackaged them as low-priced collector sets. You may have seen them in department stores or in Toys R Us.
However, the supply far exceeded the demand, and several of these repackaged “collectible” comics were shoved in the back of warehouses, where they sat for long, long periods of time.
Which is what our Cool Comics are this week. A load of these collector sets, each containing two comics from the 1980s or early 1990s, plus a vintage trading card, have turned up at Dollar Tree. These are bundled together as “Superhero Comic Book Spectacular” and the package is a cheesily-printed sealed bag. For a buck, you get two comics that are decades old. Some of them are very, very good, while some are awful. Some of the books are loose, while some have been bagged and boarded.
With two books in each package, odds are that at least one of them will be awful. You’re going to see a lot of Rob Liefield in the mix here. But there are gems buried in this grab-bag. I picked up several packages just for the hell of it.
I was able to find the first two issues of “WARP,” the very first book published by First Comics way back in 1983. This comic, based on a stage play that counted Stuart Gordon (director of “Reanimator” and “From Beyond”) and Neal Adams (comic book legend) among its creators, sported incredible art from Frank Brunner, and some of the earliest work of writer, Peter Gillis. These books are a bit of a lost classic.
I also found an issue of “Northguard” a Canadian book with early work by Bernie Mirault. There was the first issue of “WildStar,” a great superhero book by Al Gordon and Jerry Ordway, and the first issue of “Trencher,” an offbeat Image book by Keith Giffen. I even found a black-and-white comic called “Escape Velocity” that had somehow escaped my notice until now.
There’s some real crap in here, too. I think I wound up with four copies of “YoungBlood #0,” one of the worst of the hackneyed Image comics with some of the worst artwork ever published that was attributed to a professional artist. The oddball unauthorized biography of the Image crew, published by schlock-meister Todd Loren, is a curiosity, but it’s not bad enough to be much fun, and it’s not good enough to waste time on.
Marvel and DC comics are in short supply here. I found one Marvel title, an X-MEN tie-in, and one DC book, an issue of “Who’s Who.”
I found these at the Kanawha City Dollar Tree. I’m sure they’ll turn up at other Dollar Tree stores, and the assortment is sure to vary. If you enjoy the thrill of the hunt, you might get a kick out of the Superhero Comic Book Spectacular. Heck, they’re only a buck.
Oh, one more bonus: All of the trading cards I’ve seen so far are base set cards from the 1985 Topps set based on “The Goonies.” Big fun for fans of that movie.