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Bought it For the Cover: Amazing Spider-Man #54

I don’t know how "regular" a "feature" this’ll be, but decided this was an appropriate sort of post to do. If you’ve been reading this blog for any amount of time, you’ll know that I have a definitely dislike of most "variant covers." And thanks TO variants, I’ve largely felt that covers are near-meaningless now because any issue that SHOULD have an "iconic" cover has it FURTHER diluted from 2-3 covers every. single. issue. to umpteen extra covers such that there are more covers than there used to be for TWO YEARS OR MORE of any given single title. The "heat" is on the VARIANT, the CHASE, etc. Making the "regular" or "NON-variant" something "common" or "less than" or "basic" or "undesirable" or whatever.

But for Bought it For the Cover I want to highlight an issue that I bought for the cover–only, it’s the REGULAR cover.

Today, it’s The Amazing Spider-Man (vol. whatever…6? 8? 12?*) #54…ostensibly the penultimate chapter of Last Remains.

(*at this point I just figure EVERY Marvel title is at LEAST half-a-dozen volumes in, with all the reboots. Maybe sarcastic, maybe tongue-in-cheek, maybe just snarky or whatever.)


This was an issue that grabbed my attention seeing the cover. It may be fairly generic–"just" a closeup of Spidey’s face…but rather than white eyepieces, we see a reflection of his hands as he’s shooting webbing out at the city, preparing to swing out.

spiderman_050_1994_stockimageAnd there was just something "familiar" to me about the image, that turned out to be that it’s Mark Bagley art! I’m most familiar with Bagley thanks to his stints on Ultimate Spider-Man, but apparently also on Amazing back during the ’90s.

Anyway, the image grabbed my attention, maybe also reminding me of Spider-Man #50 with a holographic/foil/shiny cover in the ’90s.

(As you’ll notice by the image being present here, I pulled the image of the aforementioned Spider-Man #50 for comparison!)

While not quite as zoomed-in/close-up, should be pretty obvious on the similarities. Prior to googling the old cover, though, I was thinking the holographic eyepieces were simply reflective…I totally forgot about (Kraven?) being visible…but having something "reflected" in the eyepieces certainly lends itself to why I "automatically" or "subconsciously" drew the comparison seeing the issue on the rack.

And being such a fan of ’90s comics–especially ’90s Marvel and DC (as well as Malibu‘s Ultraverse, and Image and such)…it was definitely the nostalgia that helped prompt me into buying the issue even though I knew it was not an opening chapter of a story; it’s by a writer whose work I’ve really not much cared for, and is the 54th issue in a run I’d NOT bought ANY issues from prior.

But that’s actually all the more the IMPACT I want to call attention to, of this simple, basic, "A", "###11", non-variant, cover.

54 issues in, zero context to the story, no particular hype that I was aware of over this issue (plenty for the NEXT issue, though with the newly-coined "webhead" cover), latter chapter of a story, not a writer I care to follow. TOTALLY the ART of the COVER prompting me to pay the $3.99.

No advance hype for this cover reaching me, I wasn’t aware it was gonna be out, I wasn’t looking for it, and even though it caught my attention, I wasn’t even going to BUY it.

But I wound up doing so.

And thanks to this REGULAR cover, I wound up getting the entire Last Remains arc and two issues of epilogue/fallout after the official story itself.


Ultraverse Revisited: Rune Month Coupons and Covers Combined


The 11 Ultraverse books in October 1993 were all part of a "Rune Month" promotion. Buy all 11 titles, collect the coupon each contained, and mail away for a standalone Rune #0 comic (and a bonus The Solution #0 as well).

Each of the 11 titles were presented as "flip books," that is–you had the main cover, but if you turned the book over–"flipped" it–you had a different cover, with the pages printed such that when you’d read from this side, everything was properly oriented as if it was a different issue…but it was still the same physical product. If you own two copies of these issues, you could file them separately as if they were two different comics.

BUT, you did NOT NEED to buy two separate products to get "both covers," unlike stuff in 2018!

rune_0a   rune_0k

The first and final chapters of the Rune stuff had their own "standalone" covers…the main difference being the text on each. THE STONES ARE CAST… followed by …AND DEATH WALKS THE EARTH.

The other 9 covers could "combine" to form a singular poster-sized image. These connecting covers presumably made it cheaper–commission one image, use it across 9 covers–PLUS it serves as a definite "bonus" for bothering to collect all the issues.


I present the image here with the gutters, to show the individual covers…


…and here with the gutter removed to show the singular intended image.

The coupon for ordering Rune #0 / The Solution #0 was presented as a 4-page insert in the middle of each comic. The pages are shown below:




Inside front…


Inside back…


…and the back, with the coupon itself. On these, you could make a photocopy of the coupon, rather than having to pull the insert or cut anything out of the comic itself.

With the coupons, shipping/handling was "only" $5…for TWO comics! Sure, this was 1993, but especially in 2018, that does NOT seem bad at all!

For the Rune issue at least, it was also non-essential and truly "bonus," as the content itself, the 33 pages of story, were serialized across the month’s 11 issues in 3-page chunks.

Bothering to order Rune # 0 itself was simply like ordering a "collected edition" that compiled the 11 segments into a single issue that could be read alone rather than digging 11 other comics back out to re-read or such.

Of course, The Solution #0 is a different matter…but I guess in this regard, that is the true bonus. Collect the coupons for Rune, but since you already read Rune #0 in 3-page chunks if you wanted to, the second #0 issue would be all new content rather than "just" "reprinting" something already read.

As I recall, the actual package that came included a standalone poster of the 9-part Rune image/#0 cover, and possibly a couple other things. When I presumably cover the issue as its own standalone piece whenever I get to the January 1994 Ultraverse issues, I’ll most likely mention (if not show) what I have filed with my original copy.


Flashback Friday 6/1: The Life of Walt

It’s been a few years now since the last time I did any, but for a number of years–thanks to a combination of Facebook, an active social life, taking loads of photos, and simply enjoying playing around with the imagery, creating logos, etc–I created a number of comic cover-style images, on the premise of one cover, one month of my life.

I’d started in 2006 or so, thinking it was a one-off sorta thing…and with Marvel‘s lead-up to Civil War with the Road to Civil War banner, and heading toward my final summer as a college (graduate) student, I did an image with a Road to Final Summer banner, and chose the numbering based on my first (full) month of grad school.

Later, I worked my way backwards to encompass my undergrad years, and since I’d already numbered based on grad school, numbered my undergrad years as a sequence–figuring with the Marvel philosophy of "rebooting" numbering for major changes.

As such, ultimately, I figured if my life was a comic series, there’d be a 225-ish issue run for my early years through high school; a 61-issue run for going off to college, and the series would meander a bit after college, before a new series focusing on grad school. That run would then drop any mention of being a student and just continue on.

Had I kept up with that, it’d be somewhere in the 150s or so at present. Maybe someday I’ll backtrack again to fill in the gap. For now, here is a small selection of some of my favorite "covers," or at least more significant. You’ll see how I modeled stuff after "real life" comics in design, numbering, etc.!

I used the name The Third Option from a Neil Gaiman/The Sandman quote: "Sometimes you wake up. Sometimes the fall kills you. And sometimes…when you fall, you fly."


Here’s the first issue of the "relaunch" as I headed off to college…much as seemed "reasonable" at the time (before the "seasonal" or "annual" relaunching began in earnest), the long-running series of my life would relaunch under the BGSU Student designation.


Here we jump to the "end" of "the college years," where the main series kicks off a several-issue "wrap-up"–Chapter One taking place here in the "main series," Chapters Two through Four would be a 3-issue mini-series of the story title Leaving Chapman & BGSU (a separate mini to allow stuff involving friends and such, rather than strictly a focus on my life…but still involving me, self-centered as that may sound).


The story would then wrap up in the fourth Annual–with the important, key event of the actual diploma arriving, and closing the door on a hugely important four-year period!


In the immediate "aftermath" of graduating and leaving BGSU…since the series would continue its numbering but the main ‘character’ was no longer a student, taking a cue from Deathstroke: The Terminator and its morph to Deathstroke: The Hunted around Zero Hour, I tacked Alumni over the Student and went from there.

This one’s from a few months after graduation, on a rather sunny day with one of my best friends.


Continuing on, a few months later, I got my first-ever (and thus far, only "solo") apartment, that I would spend a number of months in on a short-term "college town" lease.


Toward what would become the end of my time living in the city of Bowling Green, I visited the campus of Kent State University for the first time, having been accepted into a graduate program. Several friends went with me, and I recall our (in particular) finding/wandering the student center, its plaza, and the university library.


And here, almost literally, I closed the door on by time as a student and resident associated with Bowling Green, taking this photo as my last sight of the apartment I’d lived in for more than half a year.


Starting at Kent State, I only knew friends from before my time at the school, and playing off the Identity Crisis #1 cover, I "staged" this image of a photo in a frame–I have no idea what I intended with the "laying down the past" part, at least in association with the photo–one of my best friends since the start of freshman year at BGSU, and to this day nearly 18 years later! The photo itself–in the frame–is from the start of our sophomore year. I suppose that might be the "laying down the past"–laying down the old photos, the past, and embracing the new experiences–as I quickly got "plugged in" and involved at the university.


Again, jumping to the end–here, I modeled my final month as a university student after Marvel‘s The End books…I believe this one specifically modeled after X-Men: The End.

I was one of these "weird" ones that did not relish graduation, and was actually quite annoyed to have been "tricked" into graduating a semester earlier than intended…though the details of that are a personal story.


Here’s one of my favorite "selfie" images, taken in a lobby at a friend’s wedding in 2008. No filter or such–that image is genuine/raw–sitting o a bench with two large mirrors facing each other.

Back to trends of comics–a "running backup" story across several titles at the time. Based on the obvious ploy of conning people into buying more stuff for something that isn’t even necessarily the primary focus of a series, or "rewarding" those who do follow a bunch.

I believe I modeled this off the Hostile Takeover that ran across the Superman books during the Exile story that was going on back in 1989 when I first got into comics…and perhaps also a bit after some story DC did across its annuals with either the story itself or a series of stories were added to annuals…Private Lives or some such; I don’t recall as of this writing.


Jumping ahead again, here’s one of me with my dad…one of my favorites, and one of maybe three or four photos I have thus far of the two of us…something I do need to correct sooner than not!


Moving along, this "special" issue was a case of timing–right around Free Comic Book Day, one of my best friends did this sketch and sent it to me–I believe he’d been experimenting with his then-new iPad. I modified the image slightly, I believe, and added the cover dress. I still use the image as an ‘avatar’ in some contexts online!


After attending Gen Con with a couple friends, the "painting bug" finally bit, and I spent the remainder of one month gathering supplies, and then nearly two full months getting a bunch of Warmachine miniatures painted. This is a look at the majority of those minis…and unfortunately, it’s been almost seven years since that painting blitz, and I’ve yet to get back to painting minis again, despite wanting to. Then again, the time I’ve spent on this blog sorta supplants time that "could" otherwise be spent on painting…and life was also a lot simpler seven years ago.


A very special one-shot, once-in-a-lifetime experience for me came in the spring of 2012, attending the Pittsburgh Comic Con with a friend, meeting a couple of our other friends there. Had a great time at the convention, and icing on the cake was getting to meet (albeit for just a few seconds) Stan Lee and get a photo with him!


At the end of that year (and coinciding with what would be the 100th "issue"), I got to visit one of my best friends in Alabama, and shortly after getting back, saw The Hobbit (the first one) with several friends. I also got to see the Superman exhibit at the Cleveland Airport.


Finally (for now), a "selfie" from one of my longer beard phases and a hat that once belonged to my grandfather (who introduced me to comics!).

I’ve occasionally "experimented" with different "looks" when I’ve eventually gotten around to major trimmings or shaving. I haven’t been without facial hair since the start of February 2006, but I often vary the length and full beard versus the "goatee" or "circle beard" or whatever technical term there is for it.

Maybe another time I’ll show off some more images from these. as a whole, I’ve done over 200…but no need to bore anyone with more than these. I already feel overly self-indulgent…but being at a loss for a blog topic to end the week with, and having just pulled thousands of photos and saved images off my phone, I had these handily accessible and figured they’d make a good "flashback" for a Friday.

Age of Ultron: Return of the Shiny

chromiums01I got suckered.

Nothing more than an old trick from the 1990s, Marvel.

But I got suckered in on buying Age of Ultron #1 for a rather shiny cardstock cover.

Somewhere this week I saw the issue referenced as a “chromium” cover…and that seemed to be the STANDARD cover (i.e. NOT a 1:10 or other ratioed VARIANT). With a certain fondness for bargain-bin chromium lately…I decided ok, fine…I was determined NOT to buy into Age of Ultron…but for no true increase in cover price but a nice, shiny cover?

Well, turned out the darned thing’s more what I’d consider “foil embossed,” as chromium suggests to me that the cover itself is the metallic/foil stuff, where you can tell from the inside of the issue as well.

So I’m a bit disappointed there. But I may get a review written up this week, so I’ll save the extra comments for that.

The camera doesn’t catch the sheer shinyness of it all…but here’s the issue amidst a bunch of old 1990s chromium fun-ness!


Too many covers: Variants are an ANTI-selling point for me

toomanycoversbatman13to17I’ve long been frustrated with variant covers. They’re actually a turnoff to me, these days–comics that I would OTHERWISE try, if I know ahead of time or see in-person there are variants, I might avoid them. Case in point: this week’s Justice League of America #1.

There are over 50 covers for this issue–a standard US flag, all 50 states, and I’m not even sure what all else (Guam? Puerto Rico? Washington DC?). I actually picked up the sole remaining copy at the LCS this week with the Ohio cover, and thought about it. Ultimately, I decided: nope. Not giving in, on principle.

And because I’m not buying the first issue, I’m not going to try the second, and so on. One cover, one comic…yeah, I probably would’ve given it a try. But as with other series I’ve passed on a first issue due to variants: someone buying multiple copies will SURELY make up for me not only not buying any of this issue, but make up for my not buying any subsequent issues…right?

I’ve also long recalled with fondness several comics from the 1990s that came with TWO covers. You might still have a 50/50 split–half the printrun has Cover A on top, half the run has Cover B on top. But for someone like me–if I don’t like the top cover, I could pull it off and voila! Cover I want. Or even if I don’t have a problem with the “top” cover, I also HAVE the other covers.

The closest I have seen with this lately is with digital comics. From what I’ve observed, it seems that digital comics (specifically from Comixology) load with the “standard” cover. However, either as the very next page(s) or at the end of the issue, one might be treated to the other cover images associated with that issue.

I particularly noticed this recently with the Batman: Death of the Family arc. Along with each “main” or standard cover, after the issue’s content, each had several more pages–the issue’s variant covers.

I’m pretty sure I’ve noticed this with several Boom! issues and possibly also Valiant. Truly, for me this would be the way to go if I actually had an interest in the covers. (Though I suppose ideally, with the digital one would be able to select which cover to display in their app).

Combine variants with $3.99 and I’m even further put-off from purchasing the issue.

My attitude toward variants extends to actually avoiding certain news or entire sites. I don’t even bother with DC‘s The Source blog anymore, because I got frustrated with the endless posts touting the next VARIANT cover. See so-and-so’s pencils for [Series] #whatever Variant cover. See this artist’s extra-“rare” ratioed variant. Check out the awesome colors on the final version of such-and-such’s variant for whatever series.

Whenever I browse the latest solicitations, as soon as I start seeing all the “This issue will ship with multiple covers” declaration…I just start scanning on past. Maybe the story, or the start of a new arc would be something to get my attention with to try or give another try of the series…you lose me as soon as I see the variants as a “selling point.”

Granted if I held 100% to avoiding anything with variants, I’d have nothing to buy, so I attempt to turn a relatively blind eye to some titles; particularly the Valiant and TMNT books. However, I have specifically requested my pull list be fulfilled with whatever the Standard or “A” cover is; and I’ve started double-checking anyway to make sure that I do NOT wind up with any specifically marked AS a “variant cover.”

I have a pull list for all the Valiant titles…but even there, I don’t want the pullbox variants. I want the cover that’s used with general marketing; I want the cover that is shown in the “next issue” box or page, and I want the cover that is shown on the back of that month’s issues’ covers as a “checklist.”

I also like the consistency that USUALLY comes from sticking to the standard covers. I like my issues to look like they belong together. I don’t want “naked covers” with just an image (how do you tell what issue it is months or years later going back through a collection or trying to ID it in a longbox at the shop?) or fancy logo placement or stuff like that. I’m paying full price for the issue, so don’t “short” me on the colors, or give me an incomplete pencils-only cover or such. That sticks out like a sore thumb! If you want to show off pencils or black and white…make it the back cover or an inside cover or page!

I liked the way Devil’s Due handled early issues of their GI Joe series–you’d get a “bonus image” as the back cover of an issue. Often it seemed this “back cover image” would be SWAPPED for a 2nd print/variant…and I didn’t really have much of an issue with that.

Or back in 1995 (yeah, almost 18 years ago!) I remember some of the Age of Apocalypse 2nd printings having a faded out image with some of the background to draw more attention to the main character(s) or something to that effect–but the back cover was the original cover.

To a certain degree, I also don’t have as much problem with 2nd/3rd/etc. print variants in general; it’s a new edition, a new printing, so…can’t argue too much. I’m even more forgiving when there’s only some color alterations–maybe a white background’s black, or blue, or red; or maybe the cover’s logo changes color–this comes in handy for identifying a different printing at a glance (Superman #75 from 1992 with a green “Superman” logo is the 4th print, for example).

Below: a larger look at 21 covers for only 5 different issues of the current Batman title from DC: captured via screenshots as I read the digital issues.


“Packaging” is important, too!

It’s certainly not a new topic by any means. But it re-occurred to me today as I was leaving Borders just how much the “packaging” of a product (specifically book or comic/collected-volume) matters.

I went in planning to purchase The Zombie Survival Guide: Recorded Attacks with my 40%-off coupon of the weekend. The volume, however, seemed both too skinny for its retail price, and too small in dimensions overall–larger than, say, the Zombie Survival guide itself, but smaller than a standard (Marvel or DC) graphic novel. For $17 and flipping through and seeing it more flash than substance (more art than words) I actually decided I’ll hold off on it for now. Sure, it’s still on my want-list, but it can definitely wait.

I also noticed a couple of Marvel books in particular where the “Premiere Hardcover” was next to the TPB. With Captain America: The Man With No Face, the paperback is $15.99 while the hardback is $19.99. Now, I know as well as ANYone that $4 can be quite a bit. But these days, for the price of an average Marvel comic, I’ll pay the “upgrade fee” and get the hardcover when there’s so little difference in price! (when available/able, of course). But there’s something discouraging (for lack of better word) about seeing a nice hardcover with a paperback next to it…and realizing they’re practically the same price despite the price differences. (For that…I’d like to see the paperbacks go to a standard digest-size and be about half the price of the hardcovers.)

I happened across a Zombies anthology (different from the Living Dead anthology)…massive paperback. Granted, it’s all prose…but $20. And for page count, it DWARFS the average Marvel/IDW (and even DC) $20 paperbacks. For sheer size, it would certainly beat out a number of other books for the price.

I listened to a Comic Geek Speak podcast today where they talked about the TMNT Collected Volume One; the content’s good, obviously…but the packaging is very minimal…no text/pictures/description on the back, the spine is just text on a background, and the cover is simply a closeup of one of the Turtles’ faces…no logos, even on the cover.

Now, granted, in bookstores or even at home, the spine is probably what’s gonna be seen most…but still…it’s always nice when a book’s entirety just looks good as well as containing good quality content.

As a book person, I also prefer when things look good TOGETHER on the shelf…and for a series to look like a series…that is, a common trade dress and size. I have actually opted AGAINST buying books because they don’t fit with others or otherwise waited til I could get a different edition that WOULD fit. (I also specifically AVOID the extra-tall mass-market paperbacks…I mean, what’s the POINT of these? I suppose that’ll be a topic for another post).

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