I collect comic books for fun. I love to read ‘em. I love to organize ‘em. I love to catalog ‘em. I love putting them in bags to preserve them for future generations. I love trying to decide if I am going to keep all my new 52 comics together or if I am going to put all the Superman comics together. For me these are many of the joys of collecting comics.
There are lots of ways to build a collection; buying off the rack at the local comic shop, buying online, or at a comic convention. There is something very thrilling about being at a show going from dealer to dealer with my notebook searching through back issue bins for issues to fill holes in my collection.
In recent years I have come to really enjoy looking through comic sets. Comic sets are groups of comics that dealers put together to move a bunch of inventory at once. Sets that dealers sell are typically complete series with short runs, or a mini / maxi series. Some dealers pack up complete series that ran for a long time but those can be pretty expensive and not what I’m focused on. Most of the time the comics are not individually bagged and boarded. Instead multiple issues are stuffed into the largest comic bag the dealer has on hand so that they are snug and can be taped together on the outside to keep them all together. Sets are not put together for investment purposes. The condition of the comics is usually pretty good but they certainly are not being sold to eventually be graded.
The sets I’m looking at usually consist 10-20 comics that are being sold for $10-30. Over the last few years I’ve bought quite a few. I look for things that are from the late 70’s to mid 80’s, things I’d like to read. These are some of the sets I’ve picked up recently that I was really pleased to find.
Squadron Supreme – A Twelve Issue Limited Series
Comics in set – all twelve issues
Writer – Mark Gruenwald
Penciller(s) – Bob Hall 1-5, 8
Paul Ryan 6, 9-12
John Buscema 7 (breakdowns)
Jackson Guice 7 (finisher)
Inker(s) – John Beatty 1-3
Sam De La Rosa 4-6, 8-12
Keith Williams 6
Letter – Janice Chiang 1-5, 7, 10-12
John Workman 6
Rick Parker 8-9
Colorist – Christie Scheele 1-4, 6, 12
Mark Phillips 4
Bob Sharen 5
Michael Higgins 7
Max Scheele 8-11
Editor – Ralph Macchio
Editor in Chief – Jim Shooter
The Squadron Supreme limited series was Mark Gruenwald and Marvel’s answer to DCs “Watchmen”. It is a story of heros set in another universe with the Heros dealing with more mature themes. The series starts off during the aftermath of events where the an alien named Overmind has used mind control to take over the President of the United States, who is the alter ego of one of the Squadron. The United States declares war on the rest of the world and Overmind takes over the minds of world leaders.The story picks up with the world in chaos after the Squadron has defeated Overmind. The team decides that they are going to fix all the world’s problems after the damage they have caused.
Interesting fact: Mark Gruenwald was very proud of the series. He passed away in 1996, suddenly. He ashes were later mixed in the ink that was used to print the first trade paperback collection of Squadron Supreme.
Captain Carrot and the Amazing Zoo Crew
Comics in set – issues #1-9, 11 and preview from the New Teen Titans #16
Writer – Roy Thomas
Penciler – Scott Shaw
Inker – Bob Smith
Letter – Todd Klein
Colorist – Carl Gafford
Editor – Dick Giordano
Co-Creator – Gerry Conway
Captain Carrot, Pig Iron, Fastback, Alley-Kat-Abra, Rubberduck, and Yankee Poodle! Crime fighting Super Animals. In the early eighties DC started printing preview comics for new comic series as free inserts in an existing comic. The first preview comic was “The New Teen Titans” preview published in “DC Comics Presents” #26. “The New Teen Titans” premiered the following month. “Captain Carrot and the Amazing Zoo Crew” had a preview in “the New Teen Titans” #16.
The series takes place on an alternate Earth in the DC Multiverse. It features a world of anthropomorphized animals, some with super powers. The Zoo crew are not just animal versions of the Justice League, they are actually quite different. Captain Carrot is a Superman type character but he has to eat a carrot that has been irritated by a meteor fragment in order to use his powers. Rubber Duck is sort of like Aquaman because he is aquatic, but has powers like Plastic Man.
This was something my brother and I had several issues of when we were kids and it is near and dear to my heart. The series ran for 26 issues. In the set I got the first 9 issues, issue 11 and the preview Teen Titans issue for a few bucks. Not a bad hall.
Comics in set – issues # 1-14 and preview issue in The New Teen Titans 26
Writer – Marv Wolfman
Artist – Gene Colan
Inker – Bob Smith
Letter – John Costanza
Colorist – Michele Wolfman
Editor – Marv Wolfman
Co-editor – Ross Andru
While I was at the Baltimore Comic-Con 2017 I attended a panel that Mark Evanier and Marv Wolfman did together. The panel was just a conversation between the two creators and the way they worked it was that they interviewed each other. One of the questions that Mr. Evanier asked Marv Wolfman was other than the New Teen Titans what work of his was he most proud of. The answer he gave was “Tomb of Dracula” which he wrote for Marvel comics in the late seventies. Having never read “Tomb of Dracula” I decided then and there that I would start looking for issues.
Fast forward to Rhode Island Comic 2017. I was looking through a dealers set box and I came across “Night Force”. “Night Force” was published by DC and reunited the “Tomb of Dracula” creative team of Marv Wolfman and Gene Colon. By this time I had picked up several issues of Dracula and enjoyed them so I snatched this set up. The set contained all fourteen issues of the series and the preview comic that appeared in “The New Teen Titans”. Teen Titans contained several of these preview comics because it was DC Comics number one selling book and putting the preview comic in it got it front of more readers than any other comic they were publishing at the time.
All in all comics sets are a great way for a dealer to move a bunch of comics at once and for the customer to get something usually pretty fun to read. In this day and age when one of the primary focuses of the industry is on trade paperback collections buying comic sets gives the reader the best of both worlds, reading comics as they were meant to be published and getting a complete story. Convention season is starting up and I’ll certainly be on the look out for some new sets.
Finally I am going to wrap up with a mainstream comic book cover that would never get published today, Night Force #13.