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This site could have been solely a “Death of Superman” blog, you realize.

§ February 8th, 2023 § Filed under death of superman, obituary § 7 Comments

So reading digital comics paid off…by getting a special print edition as a prize! I subscribe to DC Universe Infinite, DC Comics’ online digital library, which comes in handy when I need a scan from a DC book not in my possession, or when I want to, say, reread a bunch of Animal Man without trying to figure out where my copies are in my currently-in-disarray Vast Comics Archives.

Specifically, I subscribe to the “Ultra” level, giving you wider access to DC’s library, along with special offers and freebies…like this free variant edition trade paperback of the 30th anniversary edition of Death of Superman with art by Ivan Reis:

And here’s the back cover…note, no UPC code or cover price:

Inside the front cover, which I didn’t scan here because doing so would likely screw up the book, is a text introduction thanking recipients of this item for being DC Universe Infinite Subscribers, ballyhooing that this edition is exclusive to said subscribers, how great the digital service is, etc.

The book itself contains, in case you can’t see it on the second scan above, the original “Death of Superman” story from the ’90s, plus the Newstime magazine one-shot (the in-universe Newsweek/Time news magazine), and the Day of Doom mini from the early 2000s. There are also several pages at the back, including images of the original art, photos of related promotional material and merchandise, sketches, and even a nice clear shot of the editorial whiteboard used to plan out the story (that I posted blurry pics of way back when, pulled from a DVD extra feature).

For some reason I was under the impression that this was going to be a variant for the recently-released 30th Anniversary Death of Superman Special. But this is nice too.

• • •

On a sad note, Pat, AKA “Jungle Kitty” of the Star-Trek-Especially-William Shatner “Look at His Butt” podcast, passed away recently. I have been a fan of the show since it first came to my attention back in 2006, even appearing as a guest on one episode. As such I always had a special place in my heart for this show and JK and her partner in Trek-crime Lene, and it’s hard to imagine that we won’t be getting any more of their shared discussion on the franchise.

It honestly was one of those cases where you tuned into the show and it sounded like you were just having a friendly and funny chat with your friends about stuff you really liked. I wrote a more extensive tribute to her and the show that Lene will be reading on the next, and likely final, episode of the podcast, so I won’t repeat it all here. But I can definitely say I’ll miss hearing her voice and her passion for all things Trek.

So long, JK.

Maybe I was thinking about Twitter a little bit when I wrote that last line.

§ November 18th, 2022 § Filed under death of superman § 5 Comments

So let’s do a little more about the Death of Superman (which I write as I’m listening to the Longbox Heroes special Patreon-only Previews podcast as they cover the original solicitations for the event)….

Wayne wonders

“Question for everyone, young and old: was it ever, ever explained how it came to be that Doomsday was buried in a field in Ohio?”

Well, coming the older-end of the spectrum, I’ll take a shot at answering this the lazy way, i.e. Wikipedia-ing it and looking at digital comics on the DC Universe app. I have all the relevant Doomsday appearances, but it’s late and my back hurts and I don’t want to go digging through boxes, so Wiki ahoy and all that. And the answer there is after being finally defeated on some alien world, his “dead” body was shot into space where it eventually ended up on Earth. So, basically, it just happened to show up on the one world where a surviving Kryptonian would also live.

I don’t know if there was more to it than that ever revealed…like, maybe there was some ancient Kryptonian presence on Earth thousands of years ago, and even in his inert “death” state Doomsday sensed it and subtly guiding the capsule he’s in towards the planet. If someone out there remembers a specific explanation, please pipe up, but I don’t recall.

• • •

DK sez

“Those post Man-of-Steel Superman books really do hold up decades later, the 10 years after the Crisis was a DC Renaissance for sure.”

and on a related note, Nicholas sez

“30 years (ugh) later, I still really like the majority of Death/Funeral/Reign – re-reading it now, it’s such a bananas story, and I think it’s amazing how much they focused on Lois’/the Kent’s grief.”

I mentioned at the beginning of this post that I was listening to the Longbox Heroes boys talking about the push for the original Death of Whatshisname. In the course of their discussion they noted the interviews with the event’s creative teams where they pushed this as a “story,” not a collection of pin-ups or shallow guest-appearance machines, stuff like that. And that was certainly the case, that while the focus was on the action and making sure y’all knew how much of a threat Doomsday was, there was enormous focus on how other characters in the book reacted to the goings-on, which only ramped up as the story entered the “Funeral for a Friend” phase that followed.

It was a big ol’ stunt, sure, but it was a stunt flavored heavily with characterization and with inclusion of guest-stars that make sense (like, of course the Justice League would show up, this is a Justice League-type problem). Tack on the almost movie serial-esque feeling to the proceedings (which really drove the “Reign of the Supermen” part of the story later on) you had yourselves some good comic-bookin’, a creative peak in that period of Super-books that DC continued to try to replicate, not just in those titles but elsewhere across the line. I mean, “The Death of Clark Kent,” c’mon son.

• • •

JohnJ returns with

“Mike, someday would you write about how your store did with the ‘Marriage of Lois and Clark’ I really over-ordered on that, hoping for the same type of press coverage the ‘Death’ storyline got. It turned out to get next to none which I blame on the ‘Lois and Clark’ tv series having their wedding episode at the same time.”

Yeah, we overdid it just a little too, in that we still have plenty left over afterwards. But it still sold as a back issue, so our overstock did eventually dwindle. Not disappear entirely, mind you…when I left the old store there were still plenty in the backroom awaiting their day in the sun, but certainly fewer than what we started with. Even now, when I get copies of those in stock at my shop, they tend to sell fairly quickly (though “event” books with gimmick covers are an easier sell now than they were when shelves were just overwhelmed with them).

That was a real problem for a while, second-guessing yourself on orders and on whether or not this event would be the one to get real-world attention. It did feel like the Supes/Lois wedding would have been a big deal, but if there was media attention, it wasn’t a patch on the Death of Superman. That’s why I just order what I think I can sell, and don’t speculate on whether or not some late-night talk show is suddenly going to promote the book the day before release. Can’t predict it, can’t count on it.

“Also, how weird is it that Bendis’s big idea of revealing Superman and Clark Kent as the same guy really fizzled since he did next to nothing with the premise. It’s part of the reason why I finally stopped reading most Superman comics after having read them for several years.”

I said before it’s funny they went this route so soon after the New 52 Superman made the same reveal (after the long-time-coming Superman-telling-Jimmy-he’s-Clark story that I wish had been done with, like, the Real Superman Drawn by Curt Swan).

Also funny, I just took in a collection Thursday afternoon that had a lot of the Bendis Superman in it, and I got to thinking about how both the Byrne run and the Bendis run started with a six-part Man of Steel mini, followed by a short run on the books themselves before those Big Name Creators bounced. I thought it was funny that Bendis was all “okay, Superman reveals he’s Clark Kent, bye y’all” and stuck everyone else with that plot twist. Anyway, they’ve done a little here and there with the idea, though it’s weird seeing him in Clark Kent clothes…which to be fair, is weird to characters in the comic, too. Maybe now that the whole “Superman on Warworld for the Last, What, Eight Years” story is over, we can get more work done on the whole exposed dual identity thing, and what that fully means for everyone involved.

Eventually there’s going to be a story where the secret ID is made secret again, which I hope will be an in-story thing and not just another reboot/relaunch. Frankly, with both Superman and Batman having biological sons running around in the DC Universe, I still feel like it’s only a matter of time before everything gets rebooted back to the previous status quo anyway. I mean, it’s all working now, but all it takes is someone higher up the food chain at Warner Bros. taking a look at what DC’s doing and telling them to knock it off. I don’t htink it’s likely, as Jon and Damian have embedded themselves quite well into DC’s output, but you never know. Wouldn’t be the first time someone took something that was working and fixed it ’til it broke.

Come to think of it, that’s a pretty morbid cover on that trade.

§ November 16th, 2022 § Filed under death of superman § 7 Comments

JohnJ jams in

“Important thing about the 1992 Death of Superman story was its coverage on the Today Show and other news sources. There was a lot of interest by strangers but they were the kind of a-holes who thought that meant it was the very last copy of Superman ever to be published. I sold a hell of a lot more copies of the quickly collected $4.95 paperback than I did of Superman #75.”

I wish I kept note at the time, though I suppose the answers are somewhere in the piles of old invoices I inherited from the old store that I keep meaning to data-mine. But I *do* recall we ordered 10x the number we usually did on Superman, which was quite the risk given that Superman sales weren’t terribly strong for us at the time and if this stunt flopped, we’d be eating a lot of polybags and armbands.

SPOILER: 10x our regular numbers wasn’t nearly enough, and 100x would have been closer to what we could have used. Why I wish I had better recall of sales of the time was that I do not recall exactly how well that quick ‘n’ cheap Death of Superman trade sold. Yes, it sold very well, $4.95 being a shockingly low price point for such a high demand storyline, but did we sell more of it than we did of the actual issue #75 in which they dood the death? I’m thinking maybe we did, if not within the initial sales rush period of the storyline, but certainly as the years wore on and the book remained available.

I can’t remember if I noted this here or on Twitter or, God help us, on LiveJournal, but I realized at some point that while later reorders of the Death of Superman book were, like, 12th printing or whatever, the follow-up cheapie Funeral for a Friend trade had first printings coming in our reorders for years afterwards. There must have been a huge initial print run on that thing.

Now as JohnJ says, Real World Media pushed the general public into comic shops seeking that issue, though I perhaps had a more positive experience with some of these new customers than JohnJ seemed to. We had a ton of people come through the shop that day, with a giant line out of the door that, as I recall, former coworker Rob had to stand at to regulate customer entry. And yes, while we did have many pushy and annoying people come through (one particular person I still remember, and of course she was the one featured in the full-color photo of the local paper covering the event), most people were cool about the whole thing. I do remember a very nice elderly couple coming in for the Death of Superman storyline (not just #75, but they were in from the beginning of the storyline) and kept following the books for years. And we picked up several other regulars due to the event as well. I still get people telling me that it was the Death of Superman that got them into collecting.

The belief that this would be “the last ever Superman comic” was rather prevalent, despite our attempts to inform everyone otherwise. The day #75 came out, we smart-alecky employees made a window display of many previous Deaths of Superman to sort of drive home the point. And, as I’m sure many of you readers who’d been around a bit, I heard for a decade or more afterward surprise from folks not in the comics scene that Superman comics were still coming out. “I thought he died!” they’d exclaim, and I’m pretty sure they weren’t being facetious. I’d said that I thought it was an unusual promotional move to convince everyone one of your most famous characters was going away forever. To be fair, I haven’t had anyone mention that to me lately.

• • •

Ray Cornwall stalks in with

“Silly question- what if DC sold a new version of the bagged issue? Would that sell? Is there a market for such a gimmick?”

Given how the two comics they did release — the 30th anniversary special with new stories, and a reprint of the non-deluxe Superman #75 — a full-on reissue of the original bagged edition of #75 probably wouldn’t have been a huge deal. As I’ve said, these books are only selling fair-to-middling for me as is, and even the bagged version of the 30th anniversary special is hardly flying off the shelf (though it is selling better than I thought it would).

So while there is a market for gimmick covers still, I suspect the Superman thing being mostly callbacks to a 30-year-old story instead of a New Hot Thing dampened enthusiasm. “Yes, yes, we’ve seen all that…whattaya got that’s new?”

• • •

Okay, I’ll move on to the next batch of Death of Superman responses Friday. Thanks for reading, everyone, and as always for your great comments. They’re much appreciated.

I was in my early 20s when I sold the original…sigh.

§ November 14th, 2022 § Filed under death of superman, obituary § 12 Comments

So I briefly mentioned the release of the Death of Superman 30th anniversary comics last week, and wanted to dive into the topic just a tad bit more now that I’ve actually read the thing. “What, Mike talking about the Death of Superman? The devil you say!”

As I’d noted, I picked up the bagged version of the book, which featured this cover inside:

Boy, really pushing that “multiverse” thing. “Hey Marvel, we were here first!” Also, the back cover features the full image that’s on the foldout-cover variant of this comic. And yes, there is indeed a black armband inside, so you can…mourn the death of a fictional character who didn’t really die 30 years and had come back immediately anyway.

The lead story is by Dan Jurgens and Brett Breeding, and pretty much retells the events of the original story, mixed in with a l”current time” plot involving the return of Doomsday…or is it? It’s…fine, perfunctory and polished and giving you pretty much what you’d want from a “30th Anniversary of the Death of Superman” story.

A few things of note:

One, Superman’s cuffs, a design leftover from all the misguided fiddling with the man’s costume over the last decade, and left off more often than not in recent comics, are totally back with a vengeance:

Given we get an editorial note that the story takes place in “the not-too distant past” maybe this is just during a period before Supes dumped the cuffs (or at least stopped wearing them as often). In conclusion, they still look terrible. Thank you for coming to my TED talk.

Two, it takes place before Jon Kent was aged into young adulthood, so a lot of this story is in the context of telling Young Jon all about this event in his parents’ lives that apparently he’d somehow never heard of ’til today. Which seems…unlikely. I mean, I get Supes and Lois not wanting to tell him about it ’til he was older, but, like, Superman is the most famous hero in the DCU, and Jon almost certainly looked up his dad on Lexipedia to see what it said about him. And you think Lexipedia isn’t going to have a long, lurid and loving description of Superman’s apparent death at the hands of Doomsday? C’mon, son.

Three, there sure is a lot of dialogue being shouted at Superman from the sidelines during his big battle. I mean, I guess that’s realistic an’ all, but all I could think of was “all these dummies are in huge danger.”

Four, speaking of the fight, like in the original ’90s comics, the number of panels per page during the fight decreases as it moves long, ending in a series of splash pages. Nice callback.

Five, it’s also an appreciated throwback to How Superman Comics Used to Be. I miss seeing these particular versions of the characters, with their specific personalities, and using supporting characters (like Terrible Turpin) that we hadn’t seen in a bit. Post-Crisis/Early ’90s Superman had a specific look to them, and it’s hard not to contrast them with the Superman books DC is currently producing.

And I’ll drop the numbered item conceit here and note that one of the things I’ve wondered about re: Superman continuity, given the reboots and revamps we’ve had over the last decade or so, was the canonicity of the Death of Superman. I mean, there were references here and there and then eventually a confirmation that it did happen, but never did find out the exact details. Like, was Australian Son of Luthor But Actually Luthor’s Brain in a Younger Body a thing that happened in the New 52 universe, y’know, like that.

Well, this special pretty much establishes that the Death of Superman happened more or less as seen in the comics from 30 years ago, in whatever passes for current DC continuity nowadays. There are other stories in this special that are set in the Superman milieu circa the early ’90s, like a Steel story by Louise Simonson and Jon Bogdanove. And we get some Ma and Pa Kent, though I think the “current” versions of them are portrayed a bit younger than the grandparent-ish types we got when Byrne rebooted everything. I don’t know, maybe something like what happened in this comic also happened to them. (Or maybe Dr. Manhattan did something when they came back in Doomsday Clock, but don’t get me started.)

I’m sure there’s more to say, but I’ll probably get to it when I address some of your comments from the last post (and probably this post) in my next entry. Oh, did I mention that the bagged version has a white backing board inserted inside that makes the package too big to fit on anything but the top shelf of my new comic racks? That’s annoying.

• • •

There are two voices for Batman that I hear in my head when reading the comics. There’s Adam West, who tends to pop into my head when I’m looking at some of the Silver Age stuff. And then there’s Kevin Conroy, the man who became the Batman to generations of fans. No offense to other great voice artists who’ve taken on the role, but whenever I’d watch one of those direct-to-DVD DC cartoons and it wasn’t Conroy in the Batman role, it just sounded…off to me. He embodied the character in a way so few others have.

We lost him too soon, dying recently at the age of 66. A tragic loss, and my condolences to his family, his friends, and his nearly-endless array of fans. So long, Kevin..

The Redeath of Superman.

§ November 11th, 2022 § Filed under death of superman § 8 Comments

“Death of Superman” nostalgia seems primarily focused around “I used to have one of those black-bagged comics, what’re they worth?” and not so much “I want to read more stories about the Death of Superman,” it seems. I’m selling…okay on this new 30th Anniversary DoS special, particularly, and surprisingly given the price point, on the bagged edition. But, even though I have no reason to think this, and I know it’s not something that was going to happen, I can’t help but compare to when I sold the original version and we had a line down the block of people waiting to get into the shop.

Anyway, haven’t had a chance to read it yet myself (and yes, I got the bagged one), but I’ll have a more extensive report on it shortly. At least I get to extend the life of this ol’ blog category a bit longer.

Huh, wonder why DC skipped the 30th anniversary of Green Lantern: Emerald Dawn?

§ August 1st, 2022 § Filed under death of superman, variant covers § 11 Comments

[NOTE: I’ll get back to Multiverse Talk shortly, but I wanted to address this topic before the news got too old!]

Just when I thought I was out…they pull me back in! Yes, it’s time for your regular Death of Superman post, here on your official home of Death of Superman Talk, Progressive Ruin dot edu backslash deedeedeedeathofsupes. And yes, it’ll be a little bit of a Variant Cover-Age post, so I’ll finally be returning to that subject as well.

So, what’s this all about, Mr. and Mrs. John Q. Smith from Anytown, USA? It’s about this long the new Death of Superman 30th Anniversary Special that DC will be releasing this coming November, featuring the original creative teams doing a number of stories for this 80-page giant.

And will there be variant covers? Well, of course there will be variant covers. Most importantly, there will be a new black-bagged edition, just like the original back in ye olden tymes, complete with armband:

Which brings us to a more earthly concern: cost. DC seems to have been occasionally testing the waters with a $10.99 price point over the last year or two on their squarebound 80-page giant things. Mostly they stick with $9.99, but once in a while a $10.99 one would slip out there.

These Death of Superman 30th Anniversary Specials will run $10.99 a pop. Which may get quite expensive for some folks as some of the variants they’ve shown us so far look pretty neat and I’m sure even at that price point I’ll be selling multiple copies. In fact, I guarantee I’ll be selling multiple copies because I’ve already been getting preorders.

However, the black-bagged edition…hoo boy. Those are…going to cost you a little more. My planned price for these is $15, but based on the wholesale cost, I wouldn’t blame stores for going for $20 or so. And I’m wondering if there will be some measure of scarcity on these, either via retailer reluctance to put so much money into this event, or just straight up production issues leading to allocations. I mean, I don’t expect the latter, but in case I’m wrong about the first part and retailers do go all in on this comic, production could be overwhelmed. I mean, I don’t know, we’ll see I suppose.

Anyway, my guess is that the black-bagged version will be underordered, hit with huge demand outstripping retailer anticipation, and suddenly we’ll be seeing them for sale online at $50 or more.

I also feel like right now is probably not the time to be putting out an $11 comic, but hey, we’ll see if anyone still has money this fall.

But back to the comic itself…when I first heard about the bagged edition, my first thought was that, in a few years, I’ll have people coming into the shop to sell their copies of this anniversary issue, thinking it’s the original, and wondering why I won’t pay Big Money for it. (Not that the original generally trends to be that much, but I go into that here.) The new version does have that anniversary logo on the bottom of the front cover, so that might help a little, maybe.

What I’m most interested in is the continuity nonsense around the Death of Superman event itself as presented in this new comic. After some minor references here in there to the event having happened in Superman’s past in the post-New 52 universe (weird to think that a Superman that supposed had only been around five years was dead a good chunk of that time), it’s nice to have a straight-up, absolute, post-Rebirth, post-whatever the last thing was, confirmation that Superman kicked the bucket in DC’s cobbled-together current continuity. (Oh, and I forgot Death of Superman: The Wake, a digital-first comic which also addressed this storyline…have it, haven’t had a chance to read it so I don’t know what it adds. Will report back.)

One point I’m surprised has actually been addressed by Chief Superman-Deather Dan Jurgens is Australian Luthor, who was the extant version of ol’ Lexie when this story originally went down. (I kinda explain Australian Luthor in this list of Luthors from, egads, 2005). Anyway, Jurgens’ response? Not in the new stories, no space to explain what was up with that “new” Luthor. Also not included: Matrix Supergirl.

Speaking of continuity, I’m going to need to spend some time comparing the original Funeral for a Friend poster to this new rendition Ivan Reis and Danny Miki for a variant cover:

At first glance, the new variant does appear to include many elements of the very snapshot-of-DC-in-the-1990s-ishness original, which is appreciated. I mean, Legion ’92-3 is in there! Agent Liberty! Hawkman in his red outfit! Still can’t find Bloodwynd, though…gotta be in there somewhere.

Another neat variant coming is this Francesco Mattina Doomsday cover, which apparently is die-cut:

and that looks pretty neat.

There’s also going to be a reprint of the original Death of Superman comic, Superman #75, which will include new interviews with the creative team. I haven’t found a cover image for that yet.

Like I noted above, I’m already getting orders placed for these books. My personal guess for the 30th anniversary edition is that the vast majority of requests will be for the black-bagged version, even if some of the other covers (not all of which are readily out there yet) are pretty nice. I personally might want that Funeral cover and the bagged edition. Hey, I’m the guy doing the orders at my shop, so why not. Regardless, I hope this turns out to be more an original Superman #75 sales situation, and not an Adventures of Superman #500 one.

Also, have I mentioned it’s weird that I’m selling the 30th anniversary edition of something that I sold originally? Because it’s definitely an eye-opener.

Pretty sure all Canadians speak just like Bob and Doug McKenzie.

§ May 20th, 2022 § Filed under death of superman § 6 Comments

As I’m processing back issues during the course of my day, I’ll occasionally snap pics of panels or covers or whathaveyou that amuse me for posting to social media.

Anyway, I was playing around with a stack of sealed black-bagged Superman #75s (of which I now have (cough) plenty), when the above caught my eye for some reason. I just pictured someone at DC telling the printer in Canada “okay, we need like 300,000 copies of Superman’s obituary and we need ’em good and fast” and the printer was all “whatever, hoser” before churning out tens of thousands of obituaries for a fictional character who ended up not being dead that long anyway.

It’s also hard to imagine the reaction of whoever it was making those armbands. “Wait, you want what?”

Most hard to imagine of all was the fact that you got all this stuff for only $2.50 American. So, those of you who dared to break the seal on this thing, did you wear the armband? Did you stick the stamps on anything? Did you hang that poster of Superman’s funeral procession on your wall, like a weirdo?

And did you notice that the poster packed with the comic featured the Batman characters, while the separately-sold poster did not (aside from Nightwing), due to some licensing hoohar that also affected DC’s trading card program?

Anyway, it was time for my legally-required Death of Superman post. Sorry, it’s the law, my hands are tied.

Do they even still buy physical textbooks in college, or is it all digital?

§ January 3rd, 2022 § Filed under collecting, death of superman, retailing, variant covers § 4 Comments

So I recently found out that the Roku Channel, which is a free streaming service available on, of all things, the Roku streaming device, features a series called Slugfest. It’s a number of short episodes devoted to the back-and-forth between DC and Marvel Comics over the last eight decades or so. (Yes, I know it wasn’t technically “Marvel Comics” early on, nor was DC technically “DC,” but you know what I mean.) Each episode is only a few minutes long, with a mix of vintage video/images and actor reenactments. (Most interesting is Brandon Routh playing a young Jack Kirby…I mean, he’s got the eyebrows, but he’s gotta be at least a foot taller than Kirby ever was; and Ray Wise as older Jack Kirby is about as perfect a casting as you can imagine.)

I bring it up because Episode 8 of the series, “World Without a Superman,” brings us back to our old friend, Superman #75:

Yes, longtime readers of this site have heard me go on and on about this particular event, from my experiencing the madness from behind the counter at the comic shop I worked at back then, to the aftermarket life the book enjoyed (for varying values of “enjoyed”) in the decades since. Well, if you’re new around here, this here link will catch you up on all those ramblings.

And of course I have touched upon the Death of Superman madness in this very series of Variant Cover-age posts, mostly just talking about the “platinum editions.” But it occurs to me, I haven’t really talked much about the more common black-bagged version in this context. Not that I haven’t spoken about it at length in the past, but I feel like it should at least be brought up, especially in reference to that Slugfest episode.

To give you a little context, the Superman family of books (Action, Superman, Adventures of Superman, and Superman: The Man of Steel) were selling relatively well, at least for us, at the time. They effectively functioned as a weekly Superman comic, with each issue of each series coming out on separate weeks, storylines and subplots flowing from one to the other. It was very effective serialized storytelling. Also, keep in mind we were still riding the wave of the comics book of the late 1980s/early 1990s, so lots of comics were selling very well.

When it came time to order Superman #75, the actual Death of Superman issue, we ordered high. We’d already bumped up numbers on the preceding issues featuring the story leading up to the Big One, but on #75 itself, we ordered something like ten times what we’d normally order on the Superman comic. We were, we thought, taking something of a chance on this event book. It would do well, surely, but well enough to sell us out of 10x normal Superman orders? We’ll see.

Oh, and by the way, when I’m saying “we ordered” and “we thought,” I mean “Ralph ordered,” as my former boss was placing all the numbers, and I was but a lowly employee.

Anyway, as you all know, it came out, lines around the block, stores could’ve sold lots more than they ordered, et cetera et cetera so on and so forth. And the variant sealed in the black bag with all the goodies, the one we ordered the heaviest numbers, was the one in primary demand. Not to say the “standard” edition:

…didn’t also sell, because it sure did. And when the reprints hit, we sold lots of those, too. Needless to say, there were tons of copies of this sold. About 3 million copies altogether, according to the Slugfest episode.

And yes, here we come to the reason for this post. There’s a scene, a reenactment with actors portraying Superman writer Louise Simonson and a friend of hers, just hanging out at home. It had been noted that the Superman creative team were under a Non-Disclosure Agreement regarding the eventual resolution of the Death of Superman storyline (spoiler: he comes back). The scene, going entirely from my memory, was something like this:

FRIEND: “My son is buying lots of copies of this comic. When he gets more money, he’s going to buy more. These are going to put him through college someday.”


And the narrator (Kevin Smith, naturally) makes sure to tell us “the comic only goes for about five bucks now.”

Mmmmm…I beg to differ.

A while back I wrote about the fact that most people who bought the Death of Superman books were not comic collectors, were mostly folks from outside the hobby who picked up an issue out of curiosity or “investment,” who had literally no idea how to properly store or care for a comic book. The vast majority of comic collections I see from around this period, even from folks who bought the bags and boards and Mylar™ and such, are not in Near Mint, or even Fine or better, condition.

In the nearly 30 years since Superman #75 came out, I’d imagine most copies held by non-collectors were not stored well, or even just straight-up discarded once their passing interest in the comic faded. Plus, I suspect attempts to sell the book later to recoup on their investment resulted in some disappointing offers. “Wait, it’s not worth thousands?” It’s probably even worse for the folks who bought copies from opportunistic scalpers, selling them for a hundred dollars a pop the weekend after release (as I heard about locally, and probably wasn’t uncommon elsewhere).

End result: probably not as many minty-mint copies of any version of Superman #75 out there as you may think. It’s not uncommon, but it’s less likely now that you’ll walk into a store with a ready stack of them for sale.

I only ever see one or two at a time of the black-bagged version, and almost never see copies of the standard #75, or even its many reprints. And while I’ll buy the mint copies (or at least cleanly-opened copies with the extras perserved) from collections, I have seen plenty of copies that are just trashed and that I’ve passed on purchasing. As such, it is my belief that a nice copy can still fetch a premium price…and actually does, as I’ve sold more than a few in my shop. And by “premium” I definitely mean more than five bucks.

A quick look at the eBays shows copies of the black-bagged edition selling for, on average, between $10 and $30. Yes, to be fair, I did see a sealed copy sell for $5, but that seemed like an outlier. A couple of the standard editions did sell for about $6 to $8, so that’s a little closer to the show’s assertion. A check of currently-offered copies at Hipcomic don’t show much variation, though they do seem to have a lot more of the reprints than eBay did. (I’m not bringing up “professionally graded” sales, as that’s its own super-distorted marketplace.)

I also did a quick search of a couple of the larger online stores and didn’t even spot any (except for one store that had it for over $150, which is probably why they still have it). Hardly a scientifically thorough search, and for all I know they just had it and sold it before I looked.

The end result is…no, Superman #75, in either its black-bagged or standard edition, isn’t going to pay for anyone’s college. Even the platinum edition might only net you enough to pay for a couple of textbooks. But, I think the “five bucks” descriptor was bit of an underestimation. There’s still a market for these, just that the market value has normalized to meet actual demand, long after that initial rush and immediate scarcity drove some panic buying.

Now that white covered Adventures of Superman #500…if I got five bucks a pop on those, I’d be ecstatic.

Let me know if you’d seen any of those Superman #75s out for sale in your area. Are they going for premium pricing? Are stores stuck with a bunch and trying to unload them? (I’d rather you didn’t mention store names, in case they take offense to being held up as an example of “charging too much” or something.) I’d be interested to hear what’s going on with these across the marketplace now.

Isn’t platinum a little more whitish in color than that?

§ September 27th, 2021 § Filed under death of superman, variant covers § 3 Comments

The only platinum edition comic I personally own is, as should come as no surprise, this “Collector’s Edition” (no, really, it is, it says right at the top) of Swamp Thing #140 (March 1994):

In addition to having the silvery-ink sidebar, logo, and other cover highlights, this edition replaced the ad normally on the back cover with this Swampy image by Phil Hester:

You’ll have to forgive me, it’s been (urgh) about 27 years since I got my mitts on this particular variant, so I forget the exact details surrounding its release. I thought maybe it was a Vertigo anniversary thing, or commemorating some soft relaunch of the imprint, or something along those lines. But no, a little digging showed DC doing a number of platinum editions around this time, just signifying some new notable title launch or storyline or whatnot.

Generally distributed one per store, these platinum variants carried some secondary market value as I vaguely recall, though a look at eBay nowadays shows plenty of copies of most platinum editions available for sale, and mostly not very expensive at that. Someone’s got a Books of Magic #1 (May 1994) platinum edition up for a Buy It Now of five bucks, as I type this.

To be fair, there were a lot of platinum editions in the Vertigo line. I’d remembered that Books of Magic issue, and, oddly enough, the platinum edition for the slightly more obscure Extremist #1 (September 1993). But I forgot about this particularly nice-looking platinum Black Orchid #1 (September 1993).

Of course it wasn’t just the Vertigo titles that got this treatment, however. Check out this platinum cover for Milestone Media’s Hardware #1 (April 1993) that I don’t think ever knew existed:

And there was a platinum edition of Static #1 (June 1993) as well.

Most famously, though, and I don’t know why I didn’t put the Vertigo “platinum” trend at DC together with this in my head, were the Death of Superman-related “collector’s editions.” There was of course the actual Death of Superman issue, Superman #75 (January 1993), in a black bag that replaced the bloody “S” logo with a silvery one, and slapped the words “PLATINUM EDITION” along the bottom:

A search of copies on eBay showed plenty of graded ‘n’ slabbed copies out of the polybag*, and the front of the comic itself looks no different from the platinum one. However, the back covers feature a big white space and a serial number:

The Grand Comic Database entry states these were possibly numbered between 1,000 and 11,000, though there’s been no official confirmation from DC. This excerpt from a retailer letter I posted a couple of years back definitively states that it was a limited edition of 10,000. Also, you had to send in your business card and a copy of your resale certificate. Here, I’ll save you a click and just post the scan again:

Back in the old days, you had to work for your special platinum variants, they weren’t just handed out to stores willy-nilly!

DC later released a platinum edition of the white-bagged Adventures of Superman #500 (June 1993), which as you may remember kicked off the whole “Return of Superman” hoohar.

Black-bagged instead of white, silver non-bloody “S” logo on the front, “PLATINUM EDITION” along the bottom…don’t get it mixed up with the #75 above!

Unlike the actual cover of #75, which isn’t immediately apparent that it’s any different from the regular edition unitl you turn it over and see the serial number, ADV500 is instantly identifiable with its…whatever that color is cover instead of black:

I mean, is that “light mint?” What would you call that? Or is that just white in weird lighting? I honestly can’t tell, and it could just be my eyes. And it’s been so long since I’ve seen one in person I can’t tell you from memory.

Anyway, don’t think this one was serially numbered, at least as far as I can tell. And I think this was just sent out to folks who carried the comic, as perhaps DC didn’t want to further aggravate retailers already stuck with copies by making them jump through hoops to get…yet another copy.

I’m sure I missed mentioning a few…I wasn’t trying to be absolutely comprehensive here, but perhaps I can append a list later of all of DC’s platinum editions if necessary. But man, considering I didn’t even know about a couple of them is going to make it tricky to track down. And I didn’t even touch on platinum editions for other publishers. But it felt like such a weirdly DC thing I decided to just focus on them.

Plus, I got to show off my Swamp Thing comic.

* And yes, there’s perhaps some minor debate over the value of bagged comics and their opening or not opening thereof. I know the price guide allows for a bagged comic to be neatly opened and all contents retained to keep that high price and grade, but in the wild…man, sealed copies always sell for more than even the most neatly-opened copies. What can I tell you.

Spoilers mostly for “Clone Saga,” I guess.

§ February 17th, 2020 § Filed under death of superman, question time § 16 Comments

So in answer to my late-night lament that I was comin’ up empty for blogging material for today, Twitter pal Tim posted the following:

“You’re on a desert island, with only one of the following to read:

1. Age of Apocalypse
2. Clone Saga
3. Knightfall / Quest / End
4. Death / Return of Superman”

I responded to him briefly there, before realizing he was actually suggesting a blog post idea to me, because I’m a dummy with a 5-second attention span.

The idea of “Desert Island Comics” is one that’s been discussed plenty of times, I’m sure, but I don’t think I’ve ever really nailed down what would be my choices should I ever 1) be able to afford a cruise ship ticket, 2) actually slip my chain and get away from the shop long enough to take that cruise, and 3) survive whatever sufficient disaster would occur that would let me live and also let me get my comics to shore unwaterlogged.

Ideally my top choice would be “every Swamp Thing comic, with “every Groo comic” and “every Love and Rockets comic” tied for second place, though I supposed Tim’s postulated island reading would be restricted to specific storylines/events rather than the whole series enchilada. So…I guess the “American Gothic” storyline from Swamp Thing, because Alan Moore, Steve Bissette and John Totleben, and also early Constantine, and also it’s just rad.

BUT ALAS that’s not an option offered up by cruel, cruel Tim. What he does offer me are four iconic ’90s multi-title events, which, for the purposes of deserted island enjoyed, each have the virtue of containing many, many pages of comics with which one may occupy one’s time. But in terms of reading enjoyment…welllll, let’s look at them in order.

“Age of Apocalypse” was the alternate timeline/universe thingie involving the X-Men, which primarily resulted in all the X-books being put on hold briefly while mini-series featuring new versions of the X-characters existing in whatever this parallel reality was. In concept it’s an interesting idea, and I know people enjoyed it just fine, and it certain sold well…but I’m just generally not an X-Men guy. Nothing against them, really, but it’s just with very rare exceptions am I interested in reading any of their books. I mean, sure, I read it for a while in the ’80s, came back for Grant Morrison’s run, and I’ll still go to bat for the X-Men/Micronauts mini. But, aside from that, I just don’t have any interest.

Yeah yeah, I know, “but Hickman’s X-Men is really good!” I’m sure it is, and honestly I was tempted, but I’m so far behind on everything else I didn’t want to add too much new to the “will read eventually” pile.

Okay, next is the dreaded “Clone Saga,” in which it’s revealed that the clone of Spider-Man that popped up in the ’70s and supposedly died was in fact not dead, and has come back to make the then-current line of Spider-comics unnecessarily complicated. Oh, and it also turned out that it wasn’t the clone that supposedly “died” in that ’70s issue, but rather the real Spider-Man and we’ve been reading the adventures of the clone all this time since. Yup, the fans loved that little revelation. That plot twist got untwisted right quick, of course, but if I recall correctly it did such a number on the Spider-books that Marvel did their first of too many relaunches for Amazing Spider-Man, just to clear the stink of what had come before.

I know there are plenty of readers who grew up with the Clone Saga stuff and enjoy it plenty, but again, just not for me. My Spidery tastes are more Ditko-esque in quality, though I have a soft spot for late ’70s/early ’80s Spider-Men, which is my own earliest newsstand exposure to the character. Now as a Desert Island Comic contender, it has possibilities simply through the sheer number of titles and plot permuations to keep one occupied, but I don’t know how much I would actually enjoy it.

Now “Knightfall” etc., the Batman event where he’s put out of commission and a new fella with much less crimefighting restraint takes over, had my interest as it was coming out, at least for a bit. Another thing in concept that was interesting, with a point to make (“so you want Batman to be more violent? Here’s why you don’t want that”) but it just felt like it draaaaged. The “Knightfall” bit was fine, but just couldn’t get into the rest of the event. Didn’t help that I was just plain bored by Azrael. Just really couldn’t care less about him.

Some nice Kelley Jones work in there, though.

Which comes to the conclusion that probably surprises no one, that the whole “Death/Return of Superman” thing would be my Desert Island Comic choice. It still holds together, it’s a real faster-than-a-speeding-bullet progression of the serial particularly as we neared the climax of the “Return” segment. It is filled with a lot of great art and fun writing that very much entertained me as it was coming out, and still entertained me upon subsequent rereads. And in fact, just thinking about it again makes me want to dip into it one more time. Someone find me a deserted island for me to reread this!

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