Celebrating the Unpopular Arts

Someone Else’s Love: A Collector’s Frustration

Here’s a collector’s frustration that, for me, is partly hypothetical, partly (mildly) experienced.

Two of my favourite series as an early collector were Alpha Flight and The New Warriors. With both of these series, when I started reading them I obsessively collected every appearance I could of each of the characters.

So, here’s where trouble steps in for a collector like me:
there’s a Firestar story in Marvel Comics Presents #82-84, so obviously I’ll want it, right?

No problem, right?

Only, Marvel Comics Presents #82-84 are part of Weapon X.

Oh, look. There she is in the corner, just to tease me.

Suddenly, their value on the collector’s market has shot way up – but not for the reason I wanted them for in the first place.

The other problem is, those issues are some of the few Marvel Comics Presents stories that get reprinted – but only the Weapon X part. So, what if I want the Firestar story?

I get frustration! The actual issues are too expensive, and the reprints don’t have the part I want. All because of something completely unrelated to what I want to read!

It’s not fair, I tells ya!

(By the way: I collected the Weapon X issues of Marvel Comics Presents as they came out, for Weapon X, so that one didn’t affect me.)

Here’s a realer version, and it’s what reminded me to write this:

We’ve mentioned Infinity, Inc recently.

This is what a Infinity Inc looks like.

I started collecting the series a couple of years ago when I found a decent run at a charity sale. I’ve been doing an okay job of filling in the run, but now I’ve discovered that I can’t get issue 14. I have #13, and #15, but not #14.

What’s so amazing about this issue that Infinity, Inc collectors love it more than any other, making it unfindable?


However, it has early Todd MacFarlane art – possibly his first for DC – which makes it near unattainable for me. I don’t care about Todd MacFarlane; don’t hate him, don’t love him, just think he’s okay. So now I’ve got a gap in my run because of an artist I’m just not that into.

(After a bit of research, I found it’s been reprinted in a trade called DC Through the 80’s #2: The Experiments, and there’s a piece of paper right behind me saying it’s on its way as a belated Christmas Present. So that’s also solved.)

Those are the two most obvious examples for me, and they’ve been solved, but I have to think there are others – a back-up story in a key issue of Detective Comics, maybe. Somebody else who wants a different story in the Weapon X run from Marvel Comics Presents. You all must’ve run into this.

So, what’s your bugbear ‘I can’t get this for the wrong reasons’ issue?


  1. Edo Bosnar

    I’m not a collector at all, and avoid getting single issues as much as possible (i.e., if there’s a collected HC or tpb of something I want to read, that’s what I go for).
    That said, one thing I noticed is that those preview inserts that DC did quite often in the early 1980s tend to jack up the price of individual issues which may confound collectors trying to assemble complete runs of a given series.
    For example, DC Comics Presents #26 is usually priced at hundreds of dollars due to the preview insert that features the first appearance of the New Teen Titans. Similarly, Brave & the Bold #200 (which is one of those rare single issues I’d like to have because of the main story) is also incredibly expensive because of the preview of Batman & the Outsiders – with the first appearance of GeoForce, Katana, etc.

    1. Le Messor

      Hah! I’m on the other side of those two examples; I have the reprints because of The New Teen Titans and The Outsiders (I don’t care about the ‘Batman and’ part of that, though.)

      That said, I also have a series of Brave And The Bold omnibi which include #200. But I’ve noticed that about the preview inserts, too.

  2. I have much the same feeling about Todd McFarlane. Fortunately i got the Infinity Inc. run back in the day.
    Mark Evanier made a similar point about collecting back in the 1980s: the most valuable Frank Miller issue at the time was DD 158. It’s not a standout in any way so nobody made any effort to collect it — but once he became FRANK MILLER, ICONIC DAREDEVIL CREATOR it became a holy grail.
    Same principle as those inserts Edo mentioned above. B&B 200 was indeed a good main story by Mike Barr.

    1. Le Messor

      That’s like the first Jim Lee issue of Uncanny X-Men, I think the one with Wolverine, Black Widow, and Captain America in WWII. (As opposed to the Classic X-Men issue mentioned below.)

      1. Greg Burgas

        Jim Lee’s first Uncanny X-Men issue was #248, not the Wolverine/Black Widow/Cap one. That one might be even more annoying, because it was a random issue in the middle of the “death of Storm” story, so it’s not like there was any reason to pick it up if you weren’t getting X-Men … until Lee blew up a year later or so.

  3. Peter

    I don’t consider myself a “collector,” because I always buy stuff to actually read (or listen to, or watch, etc. – of course, this still means I have way too much stuff). I usually prefer whatever format is cheapest, except I don’t like reading stuff on a screen. For old comics, a lot of times digging around in back issue bins is pretty cost effective (I recently picked up the first 50 issues of Justice League/Justice League International for about 50 cents per issue – cheaper trade paperbacks or a massive, misprinted Omnibus hardcover) and/or the only way to find certain series (Thriller, 90s Hourman, etc). The only time this bit me was when I was trying to read the Ostrander/Mandrake Spectre run, and got most issues for $0.33 /- $1 but just couldn’t find #54 in any comic shop in a two hour radius. Turns out it’s the debut of the current incarnation of Mr. Terrific. I just wanted to read the story, though, and the latter half of the series has never even collected. I finally bit the bullet and bought it online for what seemed like an exorbitant sum of $17 back in 2020. Just checked and I can’t find any listings under $90!

    1. Le Messor

      I agree with getting the cheapest format (though I do buy to read, too. I dunno how that doesn’t make me a collector. It does make me not a speculator, though.)
      It sucks when a good run of a series you enjoy isn’t collected, and you can’t get it anywhere.

      What’s this about a misprinted Justice League omnibus? That may be how I end up reading Bronce Age Justice League Of America. (I think I have Justice League International, though, in various hardcovers.)

  4. mike loughlin

    When I was a kid, I bought every issue of Classic X-Men reprinting the Dark Phoenix Saga except one. I forget the issue number (39?), but it reprinted “Wolverine Fights Alone!” There were a few comics shops in a four town radius (it was the early ‘90s) but none of them had it. I found out years later that the back-up story was one of the first X-Men comics drawn by Jim Lee. I read the story years later in Essential X-Men v2, but I was annoyed that speculator nonsense interferes with my getting the complete story.

    1. Le Messor

      That sucks. I hope you don’t mind too much that you had to read it in B & W.

      I managed to get all the Classic X-Men with back-up stories – that’s part of how I read X-Men when I started collecting them; and there’s an omnibus now, too.

  5. Darthratzinger

    Todd McFarlane is overrated, but his early work on Infinity Inc. is really interesting when it comes to layouts and how he arranged the art on the pages (sorry, I don´t have the vocabulary to really explain it). I was very lucky by finding the entire Infinity Inc. series in the basement of a local Comic Book Shop in the mind-nineties for a D-Mark an issue (1 Dollar, half a Euro).

    1. Le Messor

      ‘Layouts’ is correct. Also, ‘composition’.
      They’re things I rarely notice, though, unless they make it harder to read an issue.

      Great that you found them so cheap!

      1. JHL

        It’s been quite awhile but as I recall McFarlane’s layout work in Infinity Inc sometimes did actually make the comics harder to read. It was interesting, and certainly creative, work but McFarlane would sometimes go really wild with it and figuring out how panels were supposed to be navigated could be an unintuitive chore.

    2. Edo Bosnar

      Off-topic, but: the dollar and euro have pretty much always had roughly equivalent values, with the dollar little stronger at times and the euro at others (like right now). So back in the 1990s – and I remember this well because everybody in Croatia always expressed prices in d-marks until the early ’00s when it was retired – a mark was usually around 50-60 US cents.

  6. Darthratzinger

    Oh, and the best story ever in Marvel Comics Presents was Panthers Quest with that beautiful Colan/Palmer artwork. When it was finally released in a TP I got rid of MCP on ebay. Most people bought the series for the Wolverine stories, I wanted the Tomb Of Dracula art-team.

    1. mike loughlin

      What a great story that was- visceral, complicated, harrowing- and with the unbeatable Colan/Palmer art team to boot! MCP was the home of a lot of forgettable junk, but there were some gems and interesting off-kilter material throughout much of its run. Weapon X obviously, but also Gerber Man-Thing, Sam Kieth Wolverine, Noccenti/Lightle Typhoid Mary, Gulacy on Shanna the She-Devil & Coldblood, early Jae Lee & Joe Mad, a random PAD Hulk story… good stuff!

      1. Le Messor

        I remember a random PAD Hulk story, but never where I read it, and it ended with the Hulk saying to Selene ‘It’s the 90s, and there’s a reason I won’t sleep with you,’ and he whispers it in her ear. The reader is supposed to infer what the reason is – but I’ve never got it.

        Is that the one?

        1. mike loughlin

          That was a cool story- and Brian Stelfreeze’s artistic debut- but was written by someone else. The PAD story, drawn by Jeff Purves, is in issue 26. It’s an Atlantis Attacks story, and it’s less amusing now than it was in the ‘80s due to taking place at off-brand SeaWorld and featuring an orca attack.

  7. John King

    In the UK there were 2 months of Marvel’s comics which weren’t distributed making them harder to find and more expensive than other issues.
    The XMen comics from those months were the second half of Days of Future Past and Kitty vs the Demon
    (while those have been reprinted in classic XMen, etc other titles from those months are harder to find)

  8. It is ultimately why I stopped buying comics back in the 1990s. Not only was it getting too damn expensive, but the crossovers made it brutal. BTW, the first Marvel book I DIDN”T buy was Spider-Man by Todd McFarlane after four or five issues. It looked OK, but the character was irritatingly unrecognizable to me. It was the book that dezombified my Marvel mania.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.