Top 50 Preview or Ads

If you read my stuff then you how much I love to collect and discover appearances that fall outside the realm of typical comic collecting. Not only does collecting these types of appearances offer quite a challenge but they tend to inspire real debate amongst those who collect. This is just as important as collecting the books because it further develops the hobby by expanding interest and the scope of what is and is not important to the collecting community as well as the individual. This will likely be my final article concerning these types of comics.

This list comprises what I believe to be the most important preview/ad books. Some are valuable, some are not and some are really undervalued.

If I missed anything you think should make the list please let me know!

Action Comics 12

This puppy is the holy grail of a preview in a comic. Personally I see the first published image of a character as his/her first appearance. This is clearly the first time we see Batman anywhere.

Detective Comics 15

Much like the book above this forgettable issue of Detective Comics has an AD for Action Comics 1! Is it the earliest known published Superman image?

Thanks to Loan Llywd from the G+ Group for this one!

Agents 6, Capes 3

Even though the Walking Dead has a controversial ad from Diamond Previews which predates these Image books, they are still extremely important if you collect this sort of thing. When Image first began previewing upcoming series at the end of certain comics, no one really cared but these book really sparked the early debate over what a first appearance is and where it can happen. They both have extremely low print runs so if you see one grab it!

Diamond Previews ( January 2012 )

Diamond is an industry publication which list all upcoming merchandise available for retailers. But each month certain comics are previewed in various ways. Some comics get a preview of the original, uncolored art of a book and others get a full preview which often show the cover and first few pages of the book. As a result some of these publications are now desirable because they often become first appearances or they matter to the die-hard completionist. The market is almost always going to place more value on the comic itself and that makes sense because you are buying the full story. But certain issues of Diamond should not be overlooked as they are often destroyed and the amount published is significantly smaller than any actual comic. Sometimes they ofter original content ( see Goon ) and other times the previews are actually loose comics themselves ( see Preacher ). The market has slowly caught on as certain issues are now nearly impossible to track down due to the size. Thee are tough to store and keep in high grade.

Malibu Sun 13 and Malibu Sun 13 Error

This book is extremely tough to find in NM. It was another industry ad book for Malibu which people just didn’t collect at the time. It is Spawn’s first cover and has become one of the hardest Spawn appearance to find other than the printing error.

New Mutants 86

Cable’s most valuable comic book will always be New Mutants 87. Why? It’s a great cover produced by a legend and a hack. Unfortunately the hack is the co-creator of Deadpool so we can never really get rid of the guy. Cable was at one time the most popular mutant in comics and then he wasn’t thanks to misuse and mediocre content. Now Cable is set to appear in Deadpool 2 and thanks to one line from Ryan Reynolds’s post credit sequence, Cable is back! Because this little panel at the end of NM 86 doesn’t actually put Cable in the story it is essentially a 1 panel preview of the most important aspect of NM 87. Instead of Marvel telling us Cable is coming they simply used Cable’s image to tell us what’s coming.

Notable issues: Marvel Age 82, Marvel Age 102, Diamond Previews April 1991 ( First X-Force cover / Deadpool black and white art )

Superman Adventures 4

A few years ago everyone was telling you that the next Harley Quinn was Livewire. But other than her costume there’s just not much to Livewire. She has a small sampling of appearances and those are of little substance. The funny thing is, her first holds value which is a testament to the quality of the cover. One month earlier the same cover appeared via preview in black and white.

Note: If issue 5 is the first appearance Livewire then why does it say, “ this time with a new cause” in the preview description? I thought it was kind of odd, the wording suggests she appeared before issue 4 or 5.

Annihilation Conquest 6

When naysayers come at you for collecting previews they are gonna do so in many ways. I say trust your eyes collectors. This book is a great example of why you cannot use the market to prove that a preview is not a first appearance. No one cared about this comic until Marvel announced their riskiest film yet – The GOTG. Well it turned out to be one of their biggest hits and the team remains popular to this day. That team consisted of characters that made up the comic version of GOTG from Abnett’s 2008 series. Only Marvel could take a walking tree who had less than a handful of comic appearance and make him one of the most beloved characters in comic film history. Star-Lord, Drax, Rocket Raccoon? No one cared. But now we all seem to care a great deal. Issue 1 of the GOTG 2008 comic series still holds value but the events which lead up to the formation of the team happened in the six issue mini, Annihilation Conquest. At the conclusion of that issue we see the team begin to form and wear their new bluish costumes as seen at the end of the film. The final page of the comic is an ad for the all new team and it’s a book collectors still want. It’s also one where the market often reflects it as a first appearance.

Don’t trust the market comic lovers. Do your research and you will be rewarded.

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen 5

At the time this comic was produced DC decided to pull it in fear of litigation from Marvel over an ad for douche. Yup, you read that right. Series writer Moore later responded to this in a way only he could, via sequential art in Top 10. Issues were destroyed but some got out and it’s quite valuable today.

Preacher Preview ( Diamond Previews Insert 1994 )

There are other key Preacher preview and ad books: DC Direct Currents 85, Absolute Vertigo, Flux 1, to name a few but this one is the grail. Diamond did an in depth interview with the series creators and inserted a preview of issue 1. It remains the first appearance of Preacher in comic form and is quite valuable. I have a feeling that value is only going to rise with the release of season 2. Owning the combination of the two books is the way to go here.

DC DIRECT Currents 10

Sandman is easily one of the best comic series ever produced by any company. From start to finish Gaiman’s epic run is probably still the best thing he has ever done. DC released their own preview book in comic form. It is a flimsy publication but holds up well it was bagged and boarded. Too bad most people tossed them or did not bag and board. Other characters make their earliest appearances here via preview; Doomsday, King Shark etc. but this issue is the one to own.

Marvel Requirer 11

This satirical Marvel Supplement was a newsprint throw away and I can’t imagine many have survived. Predating Marvel Age 97 it is Darkhawk’s first cover appearance. This comic makes my list because there’s a strong cult following for Darkhawk.

Bonus! Diamond Nov 1990 has a full page AD for Darkhawk and Published the black and white prototype art above a few months earlier.

Diamond Previews August 2003

This image of the Walking Dead 1 cover is now highly coveted by fans. It is the first time Rick appears anywhere and I believe the copyright notice at the bottom held some legal ramification for the series creators.

Dark Horse Insider 37

Though and image of the series star appears in a brief ad in issue 34, Masamune Shirow’s Ghost in the Shell makes its American comics debut in this Dark Horse industry resource.

Justice League Europe 33, Detective Comics 639, Superman 62

Sonic the Hedgehog’s preview comic appeared in other publications including issues of Electronic Gaming Monthly, the Sonic game cart and Disney Adventures ( also the first Darkwing Duck! ). This same preview appears in Detective Comics 639 and Superman 62.

Rust 1 and Rust 1 ( Special Limited Edition )

This one saw some serious market action and in my opinion helped to give ads some validity for collectors. It’s possible this Black and White ad for Spawn appears in other comics from this publisher but none are as tough to find as this special edition.

Iron Fist 13

Sabretooth remains one of Wolverine’s most iconic villains. For serious fans you are gonna want to own a copy of issue 13 as he is shown in shadow via ad.

DC Releases 21

Booster Gold used to be some D-List hero no one cared about. My how times have changed! Booster is getting his own movie. He first appeared on the cover of this DC publication.

Daredevil 115/Thor 223/Marvel Premiere 19

All three of these Bronze Age books publish the cover to The Incredible Hulk 181 prior to the release of Wolverine’s second appearance. Because Wolverine’s first appearance is in IH 180 these books should not be considered the first appearance of Wolverine.

Omega Men 2

In some cases comics would preview the cover to the next issue at the conclusion of the monthly comic. At the conclusion of Omega Men 2 we get the cover to issue 3, the first appearance of Lobo.

Amazing Spider-Man 359

Same as Omega Men 2, this Spider-Man issue ends up being the first appearance of Carnage
( previewing the cover to 361 )

Alex Ross Wizard Special

This Wizard offering features industry great, Alex Ross and expounds upon his magnificent career. Wizard was adept at showing in great detail the artistic process of comic legends. This issue features Ross’s work on the Batman: Harley Quinn one-shot which introduced her to the DCU. It previews all stages of the cover art.

Silver Surfer 43

The first appearance of the Infinity Gauntlet is a big deal right? Well after Avengers 3 it will be most recognized comic object known to man. The cover to Surfer 44 is previewed at the conclusion.

Comic Buyers Guide 545 and Amazing Heroes 45

So if Gobbledygook has a TMNT issue 1 ad which says, “ on sale now” and issue one came out in late 1984 how is this not the first appearance of the Turtles with a date of April 1984?

Gobbledygook 1

With a publication date of 1984 but no month of release listed, the first publication from Mirage has become one of the most sought after TMNT comics ever made. For those who argue against the value of books with ads I submit this as an example to the contrary.

New Age Comics 1

This collection of previews largely goes unnoticed by collectors but it’s the first published appearance of the TMNT in color and you guessed it, via ad on the back. It predates Grimjack 26.


With Captain Marvel set to enter the next Marvel film phase all Danver’s books are getting hot. Here we have the first published cover for Mrs. Marvel 1 and a pin up making this book her first! Oh and it’s also the first appearance of Captain Britain.


Marvel used to hold contests where people could submit their ideas for heroes. I bet those folks didn’t know that Marvel would takes some of those designs and blatantly rip them off. You are going to have to be the judge on Wolverine though. At the very least Marvel owes this guy some money.

Comic Reader 216 & Amazing Heroes 40

Predating Comic Collector 3, this informative industry publication is the earliest known appearance of Dick Grayson as Nightwing. Other issues to look for: DC Releases 2 ( 1984 ) and Comic Collector 3.

Dreamwalker 0

Eric Powell’s The Goon has a wicked fan following. It had a healthy Dark Horse run and remains one of the few indie properties fans want to see on the big screen. First appearing here in a sequential short, the cover to issue 1 of the expensive Avatar series is previewed.

Other notable books: Avatar Illustrated 2, Krystale 1 ( the only other appearance of the Goon Prototype. I believe the advertisement art for Best Cellars is unique to Krystale 1 )

Wizard Magazine 148a, 148b

It’s really tough for companies to create modern heroes that become hug hits. Well Marvel did it with X-23. Since 2003 a slow and steady build has produced a fan favorite successor to Logan’s as Wolverine. That is no easy task. Now she is primed to be a part of Wolverine’s next film Logan. If she ever takes over the role of Wolverine, Nyx 3 will reach dizzying heights. But when she first appeared it wa to little fanfare. Unlike today where new characters are previewed everywhere, Laura was hardly spoken about anywhere. The series she debuted in was discussed sparingly and in this particular issue ( which predates Nyx 3) we get the only image of X-23 to appear anywhere prior to her first comics book appearance.

New England Comics Newsletter 14

You can’t love comics without enjoying arguably the best in superhero parodies. The first printing of issue 1 is a true comic collectible but the Tick appeared earlier in newsletters from N.E.C. and they are quite rare.

Note: Technically one could put this in the same category as DC Comics Presents 26 ( which I have not included on this list ). The newsletter ( like DCP 26 ) contains an original story, not one that was later a part of issue 1 or a regular series. Because of it’s rarity and the fact that unlike DCP 26 it is not even a comic I decided it must be a part of this list.

Amazing Heroes 157

Not only does the Crow make his sequential debut here but this issue is filled with other tasty treats. This issue predates Caliber Presents 1 and publishes sequential art direcly from the Crow’s first comic appearance.

Deadworld 10 Bloody Variant

A pin up on the back of this comic is all it takes to be considered the first published appearance of the Crow. There are two version of this cover as there were for many issues of this series. I recommend the bloody variant.

Comics Journal 85


Marvel released images of the black costume in varying previews throughout these publication with the earliest being Comics Journal 85.

I have experienced first hand the never ending debate over the first appearance of the black costume. There are many key books and even a pretty bad ass prototype from Marvel Age 12. This one predates them all.

Other issues to look for; Amazing heroes 35, 37, 44


Marvel Age 12 ( Black Costume Prototype )

Avenging Spider-Man 8, Spidey Summer Sampler

Avenging 9 is the market gem, labeling it as the first appearance of Danvers as Captain Marvel. But this isn’t necessarily true. The first time we ever see her as the Captain is on the COVER of this summer sampler. I believe it to be a massively undervalued comic. Then the cover to 9 was previewed at the end of Avenging 8.

DC Spotlight

The Watchmen is one of the most critically acclaimed comic series ever produced. The series continues to hold value and with the recent events in the DC Rebirth event, the Watchmen are primed for a big explosion thanks to Geoff Johns. This free preview book is rare and the first appearance of Moore’s legendary series.

Comics Interview 1

Lobo remains a popular DC character despite some seriously poor developmental choices implemented during the New 52. Have no fear, the main man is coming back in in his most popular form! When he was first introduced there was little to like but this interview with Omega Men’s writer Kieth Giffen, gave us an interesting tidbit; the preliminary sketch cover preview for Omega Men 3!

DC Comic Sampler 3

It appears that this issue predates Swamp Thing 25 and certainly predates 37 making it the first appearance of John Constantine.

House of Mystery Annual 1

Izombie has turned out to be a relatively popular TV show and it was first previewed here.

If you read this far, thank you!!!

Honorable Mentions

  • Mondo 3 ( Enormous Preview )
  • Green Wake 9 ( Peter Panzerfaust preview )
  • Dark Horse Insider 6 ( first appearance of Ash )
  • Dark Horse Insider 7 ( First appearance of Ash on a cover )
  • Diamond March 2012 ( Fables Cover )
  • Codename Knockout 12 ( first art images of Fables lead characters )
  • Marvel Age 25 ( 2nd Rocket Raccoon )
  • Amazing Heroes Preview 5 ( First GWAR comic strip )
  • Caliber Rounds ( no known date ) first Crow, predates Deadworld 10 Credit to Jon Z for discovering this a while back!
  • Marvel Mix Tape SDCC 2012 ( Captain Marvel Preview ) Thanks Sean Dunn!
  • Diamond Previews March 1992 ( Spawn Cover ) Predates Spawn 1 Credit to Justin Brar on this one!
  • Marvel Mix Tape 2011 Convention issue ( Earliest known publication of Flash as Venom )
  • Marvel Age 97
  • Comics Journal 58 ( Elektra cover predates first comic appearance )


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  • William Hild

    Great list! I’ll have to remember a bunch of these when digging.
    The DC Spotlight also has the 1st F. Miller Dark Knight I think? (in addition to Watchmen)

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      It “kind of” does. There is a short interview with Frank Miller, where he talks about it in vague detail. The interview has two drawings of Batman. It is not the old Batman we now know. It’s a normal average Batman. He does have the “new” DKR bat symbol on his chest. The short fat bat design. I think it’s cool but in contrast, the final page of book has a full page, full color image of the entire Watchman team.

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    That’s a hell of a list! Lots of hard work, thank you for sharing!

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    Great research, Topher. On the topic of Spawn, I found another publication that has a pre-Spawn #1 ad: Comic Buyer’s Guide Price Guide, April-June 1992 #10 (Vol. 3, #2). This issue previewed comics coming out in April, May and June, so it probably was published in March 1992. It has a nice full page b/w splash ad on page one. Let me know if you want me to send you some pictures of the ad and the indica page.

  • MZircher

    Thanks Topher. Whether people agree that these are important or not it’s still a ton of great info. Appreciate you putting it altogether in one place.

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    Dang that’s amazing stuff

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    As speculators, we are always trying to find the pattern. I think the pattern to a good preview is this: when a character has a large following and very few keys books, or over printed key books, it will make a desirable preview.
    The Crow has 4 issues in the first series for fans to collect. Once you have all four, what then? That’s why Deadworld 10 sells well.
    The Spawn previews sell great because Spawn’s official 1st appearance is almost worthless due to over printing.
    Watchmen’s first appearance is in issue one. For the legion of Watchmen fans, that makes only ONE book to own, and most have owned it since 1986. This is why Spotlight 1 is selling so well.
    People who argue about previews need to think more about context and less about some blanket rule that should apply across the board. There are more collectors now than ever. There is room for all these books to have importance.

    • Topher

      This is a perfect way to approach collecting these sort of things and it requires research. Today Marvel has it’s own previews book and many, many things get preview pages printed which devalues the issues they appear in. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t some golden nuggets in there too like the issue that prints black and white pages of Empire of the dead prior to issue 1’s release or the Marvel Preview book with NYX 3’s cover. You have summed up the best reasons to invest any time in these sort of books.

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    Absolutely awesome & valuable article…I’ll be bookmarking this one for future reference! I recently purchased a huge bunch of old retailer guides and the like at auction, and was hoping to find a list like this as I sort through it. Especially in the early 90s there were so many comic collector price guides, Wizard wannabes, & company promos.
    Re Livewire: I’d assume the reference is to her tv appearances, as they (DC) seemed to consider the comics as continuation of the Batman & Superman animated series and were pretty consistant in keeping continuity vetween the two intact.

  • Khoi Cakes

    Great article Topher!

  • accustomfigures

    Very cool article right hey-ump!

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    ver very well done Topher

  • Wicked28

    Pretty incredible research. Awesome work! I was always a fan of The 5 page Chew preview in Walking Dead 61!

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    Appreciate the obvious time and effort that went into preparing this, but almost everything on here is pretty hard to swallow or take very seriously.

    • Topher

      Care to expand on that statement? I give some pretty good reasons why these books have merit but I’m not seeing your argument against.

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        Comics are first and foremost a visual storytelling medium. Presumably, that’s what we like most, first and foremost about them. That’s why first issues, first (full) appearances, origins, etc are generally the most sought after.

        Basically the exact opposite of what ads or previews are or represent.

        • Topher

          I thought that’s what you might say.

          The problem is that there are too many examples to the contrary. Just look at what fuels the market right now. If the narrative were so important there would be a vast number of books that aren’t worth squat right now that would instantly vault to the top. People want rare variants and covers most. Then we encapsulate them so they can never be read. That’s the market we live in and there’s nothing wrong with that.

          Look, I wish the important story was most prized by buyers but it just isn’t the truth. Most often the narrative is for your PC bud. Even the books I recommend and speculate on often can’t come close to the 1:500 Dell’Otto variant or the Catwoman 51’s of the world. Ads and previews are relevant for the same reasons as other collectibles. Some are super rare, some publish versions of art that cannot be found elsewhere, some even contain the stories you make your argument with and some are the first published image of the property. That’s important both in terms of market value and when discussing the historical significance of the character. If your personal preference is to pass because they don’t meet your standard that’s cool. I cannot begrudge your there. But don’t tell me books like this aren’t viable to the completest, speculator or die-hard fan.

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    Great article. Could possibly change the way collect . I do have the wizard Alex Ross special. I have loned it out to everyone I’ve loned my kingdom come tpb to. I might retire it to a bag and board.

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    Avatar Illustrated 1 came out in June/98 and even has the Goon on the lower left cover…..FYI.

  • Bryan

    Amazing Heroes #202 has a two images including a “full figure illustration” and a write-up talking about Spawn (“Spawn, Todd McFarlane’s new character, coming in May). Have you looked into that one?

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