Marvel Tales covers: McFarlane & Zeck’s Punisher

At some point during the Marvel Tales publishing history, someone must have decided to put some actual effort into selling the title, possibly figuring out that the time for HCs and TPBs was coming and that people were perhaps no longer attracted to a facsimile of the original issue under the Marvel Tales brand.

To the question of how to change a reprint product to make it more attractive, the answer was ‘slap a new cover on it‘. To the question of how to make it sell a bit more, they went with ‘throw in some great effin' covers‘.

The result was, for brief periods of time (sorry, Ron Lim and 90's Marshall Rogers fans), remarkable. I will focus in two main cover runs, as the ones that might be a safe investment:

  • Marvel Tales #223-239 … Todd McFarlane covers
  • Marvel Tales #209-222 … Mike Zeck Punisher covers

With Amazing Spider-Man being a tremendous success, it didn't take a genius to know that people were eating up Todd McFarlane's Spider-Man art. Starting around the 200's, Marvel Tales had become an unofficial tie-in to whatever was hot in the rest of the Marvel Universe, so someone had the financially great idea of reprinting all X-Men team-ups with Todd McFarlane covers on them. Honestly, how did this not work much better?

Right before those covers, though, starting with Marvel Tales #209 and taking us all the way to Marvel Tales #222, we get reprints of most of the meetings between Spider-Man and the Punisher, including his first appearance. This time they got Mike Zeck (illustrator of the Punisher mini-series which pushed the character into the strastophere) to illustrate the covers. If you are a fan of the Punisher, you simply have no excuse not to get them:

And a couple of personal favorites as an extra: three great covers by Sam Kieth and one by Moebius. I know … Moebius, doing a cover for Marvel Tales, why? It happened, deal with it!

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