ISSUE #57: From the Ashes
What’s goin’ on, CBSI? I sincerely hope you’ve all had a fantastic week and that you are gearing up for Summer movie season and the upcoming Convention season, as well. There is quite a bit to prepare and be excited for. We’re back this week for another Cover Tunes' round of cheap covers after a look back at some of the stupendous artwork that graced the covers of Gold Key books in the Silver and Bronze ages, last week. With the Dark Phoenix film looming, I thought we’d take a closer look at some affordable covers through the eras for our girl Jean.
Say what you will about the 2006 third installment of the original X-Men film franchise, X-Men: The Last Stand. While it may in fact be the “stinker” of that trilogy – to the tune of Fox’s lighthearted jab at itself in X-Men: Apocalypse about “Third [movies] always being the worst.” – and though it may not have followed the source material very well, from a simple entertainment perspective, it is really not nearly as bad as everyone makes it out to be. However, Fox is tossing out its second attempt at this story arc in just a little over two weeks from now.
Whether it ends up being downright poor or rather satisfying, we will still get to see an on-screen version of what many consider to be the best story arc ever written for comics. I am very excited about that prospect. However, even if it fails to deliver on our lofty expectations, just the trailers alone already point to a film that far exceeds that original third film back in 2006. For those who just ended Game of Thrones, Sophie Turner has grown exponentially as an actress and I, for one, am hoping for grand things from this Dark Phoenix movie on June 7th.
The original source material for the Dark Phoenix Saga in Uncanny X-Men #129-#138 (although, some would argue that #101-#108 are part of it, too) is near-and-dear to fans’ hearts and is oft-considered to be one the high points in sequential storytelling. Claremont and Byrne were at the pinnacle of their game and the popularity endures to this day. Keys from X-Men #101 through #142 have skyrocketed and a few of them are now borderline blue chip keys and have become nearly unreachable in high grade for many collectors. I expect this trend to continue whether this film is good or bad. Original run X-Men comic values seem to be immune to film performance.
NOTE: If you’re so inclined, for a few other Phoenix covers I’ve chosen in the past, please click over to Cover Tunes #3 and Cover Tunes #37. Without further diatribes, though, let’s dive in to a few new ones, shall we?
PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – June, 2009
ARTIST: Marko Djurdjevic
Had to get one Marvel Girl cover in here and what a good one it is. This was technically a variant, but it was a regularly priced 70th Anniversary “B” cover upon release, so it flies. I love this entire run of covers with the bare white backdrops. Djurdjevic is a weird one in that a few of his covers are worth a ton (see the Ultimate Fallout #4B 1:25 variant) while others languish in dollar bin oblivion. I personally love his style, but realize it is a little “smooth” for some people’s tastes. There is an odd delicate strength in this cover that I love. It also feels a bit Alex Ross-ish which is one of my weak spots. This “Legacy” subtitle was really a continuation of the 1991 X-Men series’ from #208 to #275. This particular one is a $2-$3 snag and worth it all day long.
PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – June, 1977
ARTIST: Dave Cockrum
Actually titled, “The All-New, All-Different X-Men,” this issue has superb pencils especially on Jean Grey and Colossus. I particularly am taken by the liquidity of the entire composition. The cover is albeit a bit busy as so many of these Bronze Age X-Men issues are, but these were the days of telling a story on a cover rather than just having them be portraits. Uncanny X-Men #101 and #135 are the obvious stand-outs from a cover perspective, but #101 has rightfully become a monster key and #135 is pretty pricey, too (tough to get even a decent copy for less than $50, these days). This #105 is a sweet way to get a fantastic cover from Cockrum (one of the Bronze Age masters) within one of the best story arcs of all time in a fairly cheap manner.
As I’d mentioned earlier in the introduction, the entire Uncanny run from Giant-Size #1 through #142 are moving up and up rather rapidly as collectors view almost every one of these issues like keys, but this is one of the few that can still be had for $15-$20-ish in mid-grade. Of course, like the rest of them, as the grades go up, their values exponentially rise. With Disney’s acquisition of the X-men franchise, I expect these to continue to go up and stay there. Get any and all of them now while you still have the opportunity.
PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – September, 2017
ARTIST: Jim Lee
PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – September, 2017
ARTIST: Jim Lee
Have we forgotten about this pair so soon? Well, they are not at all new images. These were lifted from the X-Men trading card set that was my childhood X-bible and used as regularly priced “B” variants during the Autumn of 2017. I loved this set of covers as they were re-imagined / re-colored 1990’s masterpieces. In the card set itself, the fronts were images by Lee with stats, history and first appearance info on the backs. It was an epic set that is now monetarily worthless. However, it was worth a fortune to me and, luckily, I still have the set my father bought for me back in 1991.
Jim Lee’s art on the relaunch of X-Men in 1991 was a thing of wonder to many of us as it catapulted comic book art into a new stratosphere and to this day, the work still stands up pretty well. It does look albeit very “90’s,” but I am a firm believer in judging things within their proper time-frame. And when judged against his contemporaries, few could argue that anyone was better. There is a drama and dynamic quality to Lee’s work that has really never quite been duplicated, though many have tried.
These two covers (and the entire set of them, really) are all languishing in dollar bins, now. With the enormous influx of variant covers from all companies, little runs like this get lost in the shuffle pretty quickly; especially when they are not rare or incentivized. No matter how you slice it, though, if you appreciate good comic book art, it’s hard to argue that these NEED to be in your collection.
PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – February, 1987
ARTIST: Walt Simonson
There are a myriad of covers with a similar feel to this one from this Copper Age era, but few as expert as this one. Simonson throws a very “80’s” cover at us, here, but it is sexy and fierce. Keeping in mind the limitations of coloring of the day, I’d love to see this cover reimagined with modern coloring capabilities like those Jim Lee covers featured above. With that said, I also love the nostalgia of this look in comics. The 80’s had some really awful covers, but it also has some classics that are still worth hunting down. In this one, I specifically admire the design element of Cyclops’ eye beam perpendicularly blasting across the cover as well as the fact that there is some negative space that Simonson didn’t feel overwhelmingly compelled to fill up with superfluous clutter. Dollar bins at an LCS near you.
PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – September, 2013
ARTIST: Jorge Molina
Okay, not gonna’ lie… I hate the trade dress on these types of books (Civil War is another clunker for me). As such, no matter how great the art is, it rarely stands out against the HUUUUUUUUGE title dress. Except, in this case, it does. I love this Molina cover. An artist we very rarely talk about, there is a lot of nuance in this cover. I am particularly drawn to the glare off of the left side of the body given that it is tilted toward the Phoenix fire. This depiction just feels different to me and I like that it’s not just cookie-cutter Phoenix. So many of her covers look identical to each other. This one is a dollar bin dig away.
Here we are, again, at the end of yet another week. I hope you enjoyed it. Please, sound off in the comments and let me know some of your favorites. Until next week, be well, thanks for reading and happy hunting.