Another Reason to Own Your Art

Black Panther #16 (Storm)

Marvel’s latest “let’s sell comics as collectibles instead of stories” alternate-cover scheme is rather blatant in the way it’s cashing in. Jim Lee, who’s currently a higher-up at competitor DC comics, illustrated some trading cards for Marvel about 20 years ago. Now, they’re reprinting the work in July as a series of 29 variant covers on the following comics.

  • All-New Wolverine #22 (Archangel)
  • Amazing Spider-Man #30 (Bishop)
  • Avengers #9 (Mystique)
  • Black Panther #16 (Storm)
  • Cable #3 (Cable)
  • Captain America: Steve Rogers #19 (Gambit)
  • Champions #10 (Cyclops)
  • Daredevil #23 (Domino)
  • Deadpool #33 (Deadpool)
  • Defenders #3 (Shadow King)
  • Doctor Strange #23 (Mr. Sinister)
  • Generation X #4 (Jubilee)
  • Gwenpool, The Unbelievable #18 (White Queen)
  • Invincible Iron Man #9 (Colossus)
  • Iron Fist #5 (Sabretooth)
  • Jean Grey #4 (Dark Phoenix)
  • Mighty Thor #21 (Sentinel)
  • Ms. Marvel #20 (Lady Deathstrike)
  • Old Man Logan #26 (Professor X)
  • Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #2 (Psylocke)
  • The Punisher #14 (Forge)
  • Royals #5 (Magneto)
  • Spider-Man #18 (Shadowcat)
  • Thanos #9 (Strong Guy)
  • Uncanny Avengers #25 (Rogue)
  • Venom #152 (Polaris)
  • Weapon X #5 (Warpath)
  • X-Men Blue #7 (Jean Grey)
  • X-Men Gold #7 (Mojo)

They’re pitching it as promotion for the launch of a new Astonishing X-Men series. Given that, I was surprised to note that Jim Lee never worked on a title by that name. His books were Uncanny X-Men and (just plain) X-Men.

Jim Lee’s work was inked by Scott Williams, but the art has been recolored for these covers.

Leaving aside the tackiness of pulling something out of the archives in order to put a big name who’d never work with you on your solicitations, this is another example of Marvel having little vision beyond the traditional, shrinking direct comic market. This very 90s-style art, often using characters with little to no connection to the book’s content, will not sell to anyone but the die-hards. Yet their money, buying multiple covers, is what’s keeping comic shops, and publishers focused only on them, afloat.

One comment

  • My problem with treating these cards as covers is that Jim Lee drew them for __trading card size__. For a generation of readers and collectors who loved his stuff back at that time, these images are burned into our brains. I have a set of the cards I put together by buying an entire box of them. They look great.

    But when you blow them up to full cover size? They look like rushed sketches. They were drawn too small to be blown up to a full cover. No amount of fancy recoloring — and the colorists are pulling out every trick in the book, including way too many color holds — will fix those thick black lines.

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