Today I am finally getting around to an entry I meant to post nearly two weeks ago but wasn’t able to because there were delays in scanning and/or photographing the materials I needed to be as complete as I could be with the subject matter. That is all behind me now and at last I can present the various editions of Superman #75.
In addition to being the issue where Superman died Superman #75 was also one of the first instances of a comic book being released in more than one edition at the time of publication. While it is true that Spider-Man #1 (1990) had multiple editions and X-Men #1 (1991) had five different covers and X-Force #1 (1991) came bagged with one of five different trading cards (collect them all, kids) Superman #75 did all of that and even upped the ante with the idea of a specific, collector’s edition of the book. From a marketing standpoint it was a pretty neat idea and it was a way for DC to have their cake and eat it too. While there were definitely going to be people flipping open the phone book and seeing if there was a comic shop nearby after hearing or reading about the death in the media there were going to be other people that either couldn’t get to the shop, didn’t have one in their area or just didn’t care enough to be bothered to track one down. Also this was a time where comics had a decent representation on newsstands and spinner racks and while the collector’s edition of Superman #75 probably would have sold in those venues it was a safer bet to have a more standard version for the newsstands and leave the collector’s edition to the specialty stores. DC would go even further by putting together an ultra rare variant of the book for retailers but I will get to that in a minute. For the moment let’s focus on what I and many others call the Newsstand version of Superman #75.
If I have my facts straight the Newsstand edition was the reason Superman #75 sold over three million copies. This makes sense when you consider the fact that this was the edition that went into multiple printing. As Jeffrey pointed out in our coverage of the issue over at From Crisis to Crisis there were at least four printings of this version with Roman numerals and slight color variations in the logo to separate them. I would love to show you scans of the various printings but I don’t have all of them and with this particular entry I wanted everything I posted to be from my own collection.
Beyond all of that I like this cover quite a bit. The tattered cape “billowing” in the wind as Lois, Jimmy and Perry look on from the background makes for a powerful image.
Next on the agenda the Platinum Edition of Superman #75.
This version of the issue was a retailer incentive that was sent exclusively to comic shops. I don’t know if you had to order a certain number of copies to get one (or more) but it is certainly the rarest of the various editions. I have no idea if the book itself is different and as much as I want to be thorough in my coverage of this material I only have one copy of this so that will be a mystery for the moment. What I do know is that the back cover looks different from the other two editions or at least it looks different through the clearer parts of the back of the bag. Instead of having the ad that both the Newsstand and Collector’s Edition had it looks as if they carried the tombstone effect I am about to discuss all the way around, which is interesting.
Frankly I am shocked I even have one.
Finally there is the Collector’s Edition of Superman #75.
For a moment let’s ignore the fact that this comic came out in 1992 and thus was part and parcel of the late eighties/early nineties speculator boom and bust. Ignore that collector’s editions and variant covers would become the scape goats of why the industry collapsed. Ignore all of the people that bust on the nineties as a decade when it comes to comics. Instead, imagine you are sixteen years old, a die hard Superman fan and you have just picked up your copy of Superman #75, a book you have been looking forward to and dreading for several months.
The fact that I was sixteen years old in November 1992, was (and still am) a die hard Superman fan and had been looking forward to and dreading the release of Superman #75 is purely coincidental.
In that not at all kind of way.
Anyway, while this edition of Superman #75 could be considered an attempt to grab a few extra bucks from the comic and non-comic reading audience I really don’t care. If DC wanted to make some money off this book more power to them. The price of the book or whether or not this edition was designed to cash in on the hype didn’t matter to me at the time. When I saw that bleeding (or weeping if you will) S symbol in 1992 it had a major impact on me. It is a simple but effective image that suddenly made everything real.
In case you were curious here is what the back of the sealed edition looked like.
If you choose to open a sealed copy of this book (which frankly you should because I am pretty sure that bag isn’t acid free and right now it is having a field day with the paper inside) you had several bits of business to sort through. First up is the copy of Superman #75 itself.
I always dug that this was supposed to look like a tombstone. It might be a tad morbid but again it is effective in establishing that Superman is actually going to die. I feel a little silly admitting to this but it only just occurred to me that the area at the bottom of the cover that has the title, number, cover date, cover price and the DC bullet is meant to look like Superman’s belt. It is subtle but after I saw it I couldn’t un-see it.
The back cover looked a lot like this.
Next up…the armband.
The armband was a nice touch. I wore mine to school the next day until about third period when I came across a rather unflattering drawing of me wearing it and back then I didn’t possess the “don’t give a crap” attitude I have today. Not that it was an easy thing to wear. I finally had safety pin the thing to my shirt sleeve.
To me this is the most puzzling part of the collector’s edition. Then again I have never been a big stamp person. The artwork is interesting especially the stamp drawn by Bogdanove (which is a variation of the art used for the cover to the first several printings of the Death of Superman trade paperback) but I am still a bit confused as to why they included it.
I mean…stamps. Why stamps? It makes no sense.
Next…the trading card.
It should bother me that this is nothing but a straight up advertisement for the Doomsday: The Death of Superman trading card set but it doesn’t. I like comic book related trading cards, especially from this time period, so maybe I like seeing ads for them as well. In the end it really doesn’t matte. As an aside it would be years until I would get my hands on a set so but eventually I would find one at a reasonable price as well as a rather cool binder designed to hold both this set and the Reign of the Supermen cards. I’ll be posting pictures of that binder in the future.
Looking at the front of the card I now feel even sillier that I never noticed the bottom part of the cover was supposed to be Superman’s belt. It is pretty much right there, isn’t it?
Right after the poster this is my favorite part of the collector’s edition. Not only did they include an obituary and not only do they make it look like a photocopy of any article someone tore out of the newspaper but someone, Roger Stern I am assuming from the by-line, actually wrote a pretty thorough mock obituary. It is the attention to detail that makes it special. Having an obituary added to the willing suspension of disbelief of the story and allowed the reader to buy into the fact that Superman had died.
And there you have it. The various incarnations of Superman #75 not including the collected editions. At some point I will track down the second, third and I believe fourth printings of the Newsstand cover but for the moment this is what I have and I hoped you enjoyed seeing it posted here.
Next time: The final two newspaper clipping covering the release of Superman #75.
More to follow…