Rare (and not so rare) DC Universe Logo UPC Variants
It seems you people can't get enough of the DCU Logo UPC Variants so here comes an amazing guide by expert collector Steve Horn. Thanks a lot, Steve!
ADDITIONAL KEY CONTRIBUTORS: Trey Kenyon, Ben Stein (who maintains the illustrated DCU Checklist), Topher (who wrote the article that began it all), everyone who has posted their pickups on G+ and the Comprehensive List of DC Universe Logo UPC Variants thread on CGC and its key contributors (Capt Kirk and revat).
Almost immediately after the release of the DC Universe article, there were requests for a list of the rarest DC Universe (DCU) variants. The article has brought both new sellers and new buyers into the market. Pricing seems to be all over the map due to a dearth of information of what are common finds and what DCUs are hard to find. There are over 500 DC Universe comics so producing this ranking has been a daunting, time-consuming task. I have attempted to get it right, but the more I worked on it, I realized that criticism and controversy are inevitable.
Within hours of publishing, someone is going to show their 5 copies of Azrael #22 and talk to their LCS owner who knows a guy who has Impulse #10. This is truly the comic book version of the “observer effect” where just observing a situation actually changes the situation. Conversely, if we never published this article, these “ghost” DCUs would remain in longboxes unnoticed. My personal interest is having more of these scarce DCUs see the light of day. If more copies of Robin #12 turn up, I will be happy to no longer be the sole owner. This is truly a labor of DC fanboy love, not some attempt to drive up demand and prices.
Although scarcity has been determined through exhaustive research and analysis of multiple sources and too many man-hours to count, any list like this is going to include some subjectivity. I have attempted to explain the relative rankings, but acknowledge that there will be healthy debate and differing opinions. Some of those opinions will likely focus on rarity vs. price. Let’s just acknowledge that rarity does not equal price. An article on the most valuable DCUs is another article for another day. We will get there.
Do You Believe in Ghost DCUs?
Several comics have been identified as having DC Universe variants, but there is no evidence that these actually exist.
- Adventures of Superman #530
- Impulse #10
- Steel #23
- Superman #95
- Superman #117
- Superman: Man of Steel #49
One of a Kind (For Now!)
Only one copy is known to exist of the following comics. In the past year, I have discovered the first six in the list. The recent discovery of these DCUs makes it seem more reasonable that some or all of the ghost DCUs do actually exist. Isn’t it crazy to think that the rarest Superman comic could be Superman #113?
- Adventures of Superman #521
- Flash #100 (newsstand cover)
- Flash #116
- Robin #12
- Robin #30
- Superman #113
- Adventures of Superman #531
- Looney Tunes #15
Are there more undiscovered DC Universe variants still out there? Probably. It does seem odd that there are single issues missing in some series runs. The gaps make sense in some cases. For instance, Robin does not have a #29 DCU, but no series has a May 1996 DCU. On the other hand, I could see a Batman #513 turning up in that weird month of December 1994.
AZRAEL #22 – Like Impulse #10 and Steel #23, Azrael #22 had been on the CGC comprehensive list of DCUs for years without any other supporting evidence that it existed. A few months ago, one turned up in an auction lot, confirming its existence.
SUPERMAN #97 – I made the first find of this DCU earlier this year and thought it would remain in the “One of A Kind” category. Within two weeks, someone else turned up two copies. Since then, no others have been found.
MAN OF STEEL #20 (2nd print) – Unlike some of its fellow Doomsday/Death of Superman/Funeral for a Friend issues like Man of Steel #18, #19, Superman 77 (3rd print), etc., I have not even been able to trace a copy of MOS #20 to the 2-packs where the others originated. We think this stands alone as the single hardest to find DCU of 1992 and 1993.
Very Hard to Find DCUs
It’s nearly impossible to rank these in any order so they are listed alphabetically by title:
Action Comics #686 2nd print, 705, 706, 718.
Adventures of Superman (AOS) #499 3rd print, 518, 519. Some may wonder AOS #498 (4th print) does not make the cut. The simple answer is that compared to the others, #498 is easier to find. This is likely due to its inclusion in at least 3 different Toys R’ Us two-packs as well as the Death of Superman 16-issue Collector Pack, compared to the single two-pack that included #499.
Batman #524. Though arguments can be made for #516 or #517, there is no doubt that this Scarecrow cover is more difficult to find than either.
Batman: Shadow of the Bat #38. I have only seen a single photo of this book. This might actually belong in the “One Of A Kind” Category. If other copies emerge, the demand would be crazy. Stelfreeze Joker cover w/ “The Mask” flair? I’d personally pay triple digits for a copy.
Batman & Robin Adventures #1. November 1995 only includes eight DCUs, including this one. Two others from that month, Detective #691 and Batman #524, also are VHTF. A few others from November 1995 just missed inclusion among the VHTF.
Batman Adventures #18. Like Shadow of the Bat #38, I have only seen a photo.
Catwoman #19. This one was just discovered in January. I subsequently purchased one from Mile High in late February. My general rule for DCU scarcity is that if Mile High has one for sale, it’s probably not rare. However, searches this year have not turned up another copy. I could easily see this being identified as being more or less rare after the publication of this article. I have included it in this VHTF list to try to get a better gauge on the scarcity.
Detective Comics #680, 682 (newsstand cover), 685, 691. Detective #680 is from December 1994, a month which includes four other books in this article: Action #705, AOS #518, Robin #12 and Wonder Woman #92. The only other known DCUs produced in December ‘94 were the Animaniacs Holiday Special and Flash #96. Flash #96 is easily found in the Terminal Velocity Collector Set.
Green Lantern #70. There are 29 Green Lantern DCUs, but the DCU run of this series is relatively easy to complete. DC released four different Green Lantern Collector Sets/Packs, along with at least two different two-packs. In fact, there are only 5 or 6 GL DCUs that were not packaged in sets/packs. However, GL #70 is almost impossible to find. There are at least 3 copies, if not more.
Justice League America #107. The popularity of JLA was fading by 1996 and would soon give way to the Morrison run. For some reason, JLA #107 is incredibly difficult to find, even compared to later JLA DCUs such as #108 and #112.
Legionnaires #25. Legionnaires #16, with its AH! Cover, gets all the DCU love. But July 1994 DCUs like #16 are pretty easy to find. This May 1995 Legionnaires issue is a doozy. The combined scarcity of supply and scarcity of demand likely makes this issue more difficult to find than it actually is. Let’s face it, LOSH doesn’t get a lot of love so how many sellers are going to lug this series to cons or bother to list it individually on eBay? This is definitely one that you have to dig for. Case in point: I found my copy in the clearance bin at Half Price Books with a 25 cent sticker on the back.
Power of Shazam (POS) #4. This one is the potential sleeper in the bunch, with its Mary Marvel cover painted by Jerry Ordway. This came in a 10-pack of DCUs in mid-1995, along with Flash #102, Superboy #16, Action #710 and six other books. One would think availability would be the same for these 10 books, but POS #4 seems to fly under the radar. This one could suffer from the same syndrome as Legionnaires #25 – only found in the blowout bins and no one is really looking.
Robin #4, 14 (newsstand cover). DC released a Batman Troika Collector Set that included four embossed DCU versions of Robin #14, Batman #515, Shadow of the Bat #35, and Detective #682. The embossed versions are not hard to find individually and the Troika Collector Set pops up periodically. On the other hand, the same issues that have the newsstand cover with the DC Universe logo are hard to find, especially Robin #14 and Detective #682. Batman #515 was released in a two-pack, which probably explains why it is relatively easier to find.
Showcase ‘94 #3. DC released 20 pack bricks of comics to warehouse clubs beginning in the early 1990s. Occasionally, there were 16-pack bricks in the same month. Starting in January 1994, these 20-packs began consisting almost entirely of DC Universe variants. No 16 or 20-pack has ever been found for March 1994, though the 20 DCUs that exist for that month certainly provide a clue that such a pack might have existed. Along with Showcase ‘94 #3, the VHTF Batman Adventures #18 and Robin #4 also are from March 1994.
Superman #109. This one is likely to be controversial because there are a few HTF Superman (1987 series) issues to pick from. However, I personally have never seen this one for sale online or in the wild.
Superman: Man of Steel #42. Two DC Universe variants of this issue exist, the stickered version and the non-stickered version. Neither one shows up very often. I have had to settle for the version with a printed DC Universe sticker placed over the barcode in the UPC box.
Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? #1. This was a short-lived DC Comics spin-off of the video game franchise. The DC Universe variant may have only been included in a two-pack of issues #1 and #2. I admittedly lack much data on this one but do not remember ever seeing it.
Wonder Woman #92, 95, 106. I have seen #92 for sale only once and never seen #95 or #106 for sale. Between the Bolland art, Joker covers from #96 and #97, and the 1st Artemis appearance (#90), even the easier to find Wonder Woman DCUs are in demand.
Hard to Find DCUs
Action Comics #715
Animaniacs #4, #6
Adventures of Superman #532, Annual #8. A Superman Collector’s Set including Action #725, Man of Steel #60, Superman #116, Superboy Annual #3, Superman Annual #8 and AOS Annual #8 was solicited for sale in March 1997. Though there were several other Collector Sets released after this one, this “The Bottle City” / ”Elseworlds: Legends of the Dead Earth” Collector Set is unusually rare. I have only been able to identify five sets sold through eBay over the past five years. The individual regular issues separate from the entire set can be found pretty easily though. The Annuals? Nearly impossible. They arguably belong in the VHTF category. Feel free to argue about it.
Batman #516, #517.
Batman Adventures #36. BA #12 has a cameo on the cover. Can you spot it?
Flash #94, #101, #109, #110, #117. Flash #117 is sometimes identified as the HTF of the Flash series but I have seen it too many times on eBay to consider it any harder than the other four. Flash #94 is the only 1994 DCU that is not from March or December that remains hard to find, as it was not included in the September 1994 20-pack. I have had the DCU Flash run completed for a while. Based on memory and the mini-census that I have built, #101, #109 and #110 do not seem plentiful either.
Green Lantern #64, 68. There seems to be a push to label a lot of the GL DCUs as rare. As mentioned earlier, that just is not the case due to the numerous collector sets and packs. Besides #70, the only other GL issues that were not included in sets/packs were #64, #68 and #80. GL #80 just doesn’t seem to be too difficult to find. I may even be pushing it to include #64 and #68 as HTF.
Justice League America #86. March 1994 strikes again. Maybe there was a 16-pack and a 20-pack that month? That could explain Showcase ‘94 #3, Batman Adventures #18, Robin #4 and this book being more difficult to find than the other sixteen March 1994 DCUs.
Nightwing #1, #2. I’m tempted to put Nightwing #2 in the VHTF category and leave Nightwing #1 here. Yet the devil on my other shoulder is saying “Don’t you think these were released in some not-yet-discovered 2-pack and therefore the distribution should be equal?”
Superboy Annual 3. See the comments regarding Adventures of Superman Annual #8. Before I finally got my hands on the “The Bottle City” / “Elseworlds: Legends of the Dead Earth” Collector Set, the only copy I had was from an Italian eBay seller. A good argument can probably also be made for #2 (March 1994!), #30 and #32 as also being HTF in this series, though they do pop up on eBay and in the wild on occasion.
Superman #77 3rd print, 96, 98, Annual 8. #77 is another HTF in the Funeral For A Friend arc. #96 and #98 could arguably be placed in the VHTF category.
There are hundreds of DCUs between hard to find and easy to find. Some are on the precipice of those extremes. Just over the past few months, there are two DCUs that I previously would have put in HTF but now seem to barely miss the mark. For a long time, I thought Superman #100 was practically a ghost. Then Topher and Trey each found one and some others popped up, so I can’t quite put it in HTF. Adventures of Superman #524 was similar, but now seems more plentiful than Superman #100.
Easy to Find
- Anything from 1994, with the March and December exceptions noted previously. I have noticed that August 1994 tends to be a bit more challenging than some other 1994 months, but nowhere approaching March or December levels.
- Action Comics #712-#714, #722, #723
- Adventures of Superman #520, #525-#528, #536
- Azrael #15, #16
- Batman #520-#522, #529, #533-#535
- Batman and Robin Adventures #3, #8
- Batman: Shadow of the Bat, with the exception of #38 and #52. All other DCUs were included in widely distributed sets/packs.
- Batman Chronicles #4 and Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #63. Included in the Contagion Collector Set and KnightsEnd Collector Set #2, respectively.
- Catwoman #31, #32, #36. All three included in collector sets.
- Detective Comics #687-#689, 695-#704
- Final Night mini-series and Final Night: Parallax
- Flash #95-#100 (Holofoil cover).
- Most issues of Green Lantern, with the exceptions noted previously. Finding these is like kissing your sister.
- Impulse DCUs, with the obvious exception of #10, if it actually exists.
- Justice League America #97, #112
- Justice League Task Force #20
- Legionnaires #29
- Power of Shazam #2. It just seems to appear everywhere. I can’t explain it.
- Almost every issue of Robin. Robin #8 is particularly annoying in its ubiquity. Besides the ghost Robin DCUs and VHTF Robin DCUs, Robin #22 is the only Robin issue not in a set/pack.
- Steel #14, 17.
- Superman #99, #114-#116, #118. If you look for Superman #118, you’ll begin to think the DC Universe is easier to find than the newsstand.
- Superman: Man of Steel #45-#48, #58-#60
- Superman: Man of Tomorrow #1
- Superman: The Wedding Album (standard cover). The Event of the Century or at least that’s how it was marketed. QVC included the DCU version in a set that they sold. Yes, QVC! The white embossed Wedding Album DCU is relatively easy as well. However, the DC Universe logo is on the back cover, which can make it more challenging to identify.
- Wonder Woman #101