My Top 5 Gimmick Covers of the 90’s By Nick Lipe
I grew up in the 90’s, the heyday of gimmick covers, and I was in heaven. Being 8 years old in 91, I was the prime target for all the crazy covers that the companies were sending out by the dozen: holograms, chromiums, die cut, acetate, polybag, glow in the dark, etc. I was a sucker for all of these. So, for this blog entry I thought I would list 5 of my absolute favorites from this period.
As you can see, the contents were top secret! Things from Wolverine’s past were going to be revealed! With a cover looking like a top-secret dossier that wolverine had slashed through with his claws, this die-cut cover immediately caught my attention when I saw it at the grocery store newsstand. It may have even been the first Wolverine issue I got, and I read it so many times I had to buy another one because I had accidentally ripped the front cover slashes.
This issue and the following issues were some of the biggest of my childhood, with shocking moments aplenty. In this first part, featuring a killer Magneto hologram on the cover, Colossus betrays the X-Men and joins up with Magneto! I remember going to every grocery store in town that summer trying to get all the rest (X-Factor #92, X-Force #25, Excalibur #61, Wolverine #75, and X-Men #25) and just being blown away with moments like Magneto ripping out Wolverine’s adamantium, Xavier wiping Magneto’s mind, it was some wild stuff for my little mind to take in. And the holograms! Did I mention I love holograms on covers? There was no way I was missing these.
Amongst some of the first Spider-Man books I remember buying was this 4-issue set featuring, of course, hologram covers. This one with the excellent recreation of Amazing Fantasy #15 hologram, as well as a poster insert featuring Spider-Man 2099 for the first time just blew me away. I had to have all four, along with Spectacular Spider-Man #189, Web of Spider-Man #90, and Spider-Man #26. And thus, a lifelong love of Spider-Man was born.
One of my absolute favorite issues. I couldn’t tell you at all what happens in the issue outside of Superman and Lobo fighting, but this had one of the coolest gimmick covers ever: color forms of Lobo and Superman in various fighting poses and sound effects and such so that you could peel them out and stick them on the cover and build your own cover for the issue! How cool is that. I don’t know how many hours were spent peeling out the plastic Supes and Lobos and redesigning my cover battle scene. I don’t think I’ve ever seen them do a cover like this since, and I think it’s part of the fun that’s missing in some modern comics.
1) Superman #75
Black bag Death of Superman. Does it get any bigger as far as 90’s gimmick covers are concerned? I don’t need to remind you of how big a deal this issue was. People who had stopped collecting comics, or maybe hadn’t even bought a comic in years felt the need to rush out in droves to get this once in a lifetime issue! It made national news! Death of Superman! How could they do this!? Obviously, it didn’t last long, but this issue was a pivotal issue no matter what. And really, I still believe, an amazing conclusion to this storyline. But back to the gimmick: sealed in a black bag was the issue, along with all kinds of goodies (trading card, poster, stamps, Daily Planet Obituary & black mourning armband), this was the must have issue of the 90’s, for good or for bad.
Now of course, today we are treated to a million different variants for almost every issue of every comic that comes out, but there was nothing like the imaginative creations of the 90s that made these particular issues stand out that much more to the kids in the grocery stores begging their moms to buy them that brand new shiny comic, and they will always hold a special place in this collectors heart.