It’s more fun to play the variants way.

§ September 13th, 2021 § Filed under variant covers § 8 Comments

John asked

“What about Superman The Man of Steel #30, the vinyl cling/’colorform[®]’ cover. Would that make it the ultimate variant cover? Apologies if this has already been mentioned. I’ve been following the site and haven’t seen it. Keep up the great work!”

Ah, yes, what about Superman: The Man of Steel #30 indeed? Let us take a gander at this comic, cover dated February 1994, released December 1993:

Here is the front of the “collector’s edition,” sealed in a polybag:

The back cover, showing the Colorforms® er, “vinyl clings” that John mentioned:

Here’s a better look at them, without the printing on the polybag:

And here’s what the cover looks like out of the polybag, front:

And back:

And for comparison, here is the “regular” edition of the issue, AKA the “newsstand” edition (though pictured is the one sold through comic shops, as per the “direct sales” tag in the UPC):

Now I just totally stole all these images from the eBays, because 1) my own copy of the collector’s edition, still with the polybag (neatly trimmed open along the top so I could pull it out and read it) and clings, is currently inaccessible due to some current house rearranging-type stuff, and 2) I don’t currently have a working scanner at home and haven’t quite made the time, or loosened up the cash, to get a new one, so, hence, the liberating of scans from elsewhere.

And as John noted…the Collector’s Edition sort of is the Ultimate Variant Cover, as you make whatever design you want affixing your clings however you’d like, removing them and moving them around. If you’re not familiar with Colorforms® and similar toys, these aren’t stickers as such, but rather, as we keep saying, “vinyl clings” (hey, don’t blame me, the quotation marks are on the packaging) that are reusable and can stick to the slick, thick cover of the comic, then peel ’em off and move ’em around as you see fit. And when you lay the comic flat and opened, you get that nice shot of Metropolis on that wraparound cover by Jon Bogdanove and Dennis Janke, which makes for a nice playfield for your clings.

It’s a very clever gimmick…and yes, we’re straddling the line between “gimmick cover” and “variant cover” here, but the gimmick is a “Do-It-Yerself” cover as noted on the polybag, so I think we’re…er, covered. Now, I was going to say this was a unique gimmick, as I couldn’t recall anyone attempting such a weird thing again, However, a quick Googling reveals that writin’-about-funnybooks pal Brian Cronin just talked about this very comic only a few months ago, so, um, oops, sorry Brian, hope I’m not stepping on any virtual toes here. But he noted that DC itself repeated the gimmick for the Worlds Collide Milestone/DC crossover event which I didn’t remember (I mean, I remembered the crossover, not the clings). Anyway, read Brian’s article as he goes deeper into the history of Colorforms® and the reasons why gimmick covers such as this were so prevalent in the ’90s.

I remember this selling pretty well for us at the time…Superman sales were still pretty strong post-Death of, even in those ’90s crash days. But this particular edition with the clings was just odd enough to attract extra attention, and it continued to be a good back issue seller for years afterwards. Even now, when I get a copy in, it tends to go out again in relatively short order. I’m not even sure if I have one in stock right now.

What’s great is that, as I recall, the slick cover stock used for Man of Steel #30 is identical, or close enough, to the “cardstock variants” DC is currently burdening offering on nearly all of their current releases. Thus, imagine having this Lobo cling:

…just leaping in on, oh, say, this cover:

Or God help us, this:

being used on this:

The possibilities are endless. Everything (or at least everything with the proper paper type as a cover) is a variant now. I HOPE YOU’RE HAPPY, JOHN.

Now, my secret shame: I never played with the clings on my own copy of Man of Steel #30. Not sure why…not like I’m planning on reselling any of my Superman comics, no reason to worry if everything’s in “mint” or not. And I’ve played with this sort of toy as a kid…I was the proud owner of the 1974 Evel Knievel Colorforms® set, after all:

…and I do still have my Swamp Thing Presto Magix Totally Not Colorforms® set. Hey, that’s an idea…Evel and Lobo racing their respective cycles while Superman goes toe to toe with Arcane and his Un-Men, all over the streets of Metropolis! Okay, now I have good reason to regain access to my Superman boxes and dig out that issue! GREATEST SUPERHERO BATTLE EVER, HERE WE COME.

8 Responses to “It’s more fun to play the variants way.”

  • Brian Cronin says:

    How DARE you! Having the only article about this vinyl cling issue of Superman: Man of Steel posted in 2021 was the only thing I ever wanted and now it’s RUINED.

    Seriously, though, they really should bring this gimmick back, right?

  • King of the Moon says:

    New scanner is on it’s way. Estimated delivery Sept 18

  • Thelonious_Nick says:

    I’m impressed the “vinyl cling” issue was only a buck more than the regular issue.

    And yes, this is an awesome gimmick that should be repeated. Much more fun than your usual variant covers that give you choice A, B, or C of your hero in an “iconic” context-free pose.

  • BRR says:

    Add a Batman “vinyl cling” set and most of the ingredients are there to reproduce Swamp Thing 53.

  • Chris V says:

    What is wrong with Zatanna on that cover?
    It’s a very lovely cover, except that Zatanna’s face looks like it’s carved from wood.
    Is that the very special issue where Zatanna turned herself in to a mannequin?

    I see that the newsstand variant of Man of Steel #30 goes for more than the collector’s edition today.

  • Mike Loughlin says:

    I have the Worlds Collide issue. IIRC, The vinyl clings included Superman, Superboy, Steel, Hardware, Icon & Rocket, Static, and members of the Blood Syndicate, as well as sound effects and other random items. The characters were presented whole, not as heads & torsos with detachable limbs. Posability was sacrificed for quantity, but you could make a decent cover of heroes flying toward each other.

  • Snark Shark says:

    Chris V: “What is wrong with Zatanna on that cover”

    Yeah, she looks a little _Anime Faced”, I. E. too cutsey.

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