THE MANY FACES OF SUPERMAN #75

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.

Promise.

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 is the full-color memorial poster drawn by Dan Jurgens and Brett Breeding.

Apparently Jurgens and Breeding had proposed another version of this poster that was used by a magazine called Comics Values Monthly not once but twice as an insert.  Here’s what that looked like.

I like this poster quite a bit.  Not as much as the image that was ultimately used but it is still a neat looking piece of Jurgens and Breeding art.

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.

Next…the stamps.

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?

Sigh.

Finally…

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…

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16 Responses to THE MANY FACES OF SUPERMAN #75

  1. Ben says:

    really cool, thanks for scanning this stuff

  2. BubbaShelby says:

    Thanks for sharing – in all these years this is the first time I’ve ever seen all the stuff inside the bag.

    I, as many others, had no idea that this issue would sell out in seconds. So I didn’t make a point of having it added to my pull list. I didn’t line up for it on release day so I didn’t get it. A classmate of mine said he had a few copies on hold and would sell me one for cover price, but once he learned of the hype he upped the price to $50, which I declined.

    That Christmas I got a copy from my parents; I still have no clue where they found it or how much they paid for it, but it was an awesome surprise. Of course I still have it; having had one bagged copy, I never opened it to see what was inside, waiting instead for the second printing to read the actual comic.

  3. John says:

    I hope (and assume) you guys will also be going over the edition of “Newstime” that came out at the time. That was one of my favorite “Doomsday” tie-ins.

  4. Alan Leach says:

    Mike, I don’t know if you know this but there were actually two binders, when they originally put out the doomsday card set they also put out a binder that was all black with the red bleeding S. I still have mine in the original plastic shrink-wrap. It was only a two inch binder so it would only hold the one set. The return of superman binder was meant to hold both sets and even came in a collector set with a box of the return cards. the platinum edition was a dealer incentive one for every hundred copies of each cover ordered, think about that for a minute, must be cool to have one.

  5. John, Yes we will be. Just re-read it as a matter of fact.

    Alan, Could you take a picture of that binder and send it to me? I would love to see what it looks like.

  6. Douglas Meacham says:

    Mike, I can send you a scan of one of the additional Newsstand issues (Roman numeral 4) if you want.

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  11. pepiopi says:

    What does the “2” mean under the 1993 on the cover of the newsstand edition?

  12. J V says:

    I don’t know if anyone’s still reading here, but there are a couple of things I’d like to see corrected, if there’s interest.

    First, the regular edition is called the “Regular” edition, not the “newsstand” edition. There are, in fact, both newsstand AND Direct market versions of the Regular edition.

    Second, this wasn’t the first time there was a “Collector’s Edition” of a book published. In fact, independent books (like Hepcat, and Ex-Mutants, for example), and X-Men #1 also came with a “Collector’s Edition”…the difference with Superman #75, and it isn’t that much of a difference…is that it came with multiple additional items, as you mention, and not just a card (as X-Force #1 and the X-Cutioner’s Song…ugh…had.)

    Third, the Platinum edition was a “one per store” exclusive.

    Also, the “2” that pepiopi asks about refers to the numbered storytelling that DC was doing with Superman in those days, since they were publishing 5 titles for him at the time, so readers could follow along in order.

  13. Thanks for the corrections/clarifications. I will update this as soon as I can. I will be leaving the thing about it being one of the first special editions. I thought the sentence was pretty clear that it was one of the first in the original text but I can take another run at it for clarity sake.

  14. So I was thinking about it some more and realized why I used the terms “newsstand” and “collector’s edition”. While it is true that the tattered cape cover was released to both newsstands and comic shops Previews listed the bagged comic as the “Collector’s Edition” and the regular cover as the “Newsstand Edition”. I’d have to dig into my back issues but I am pretty sure that was how DC referred to them in the next issues boxes as well. I figure if it’s good enough for Previews it’s good enough for this article.

  15. George Amaru says:

    Hi Mike,
    I believe you’re correct. Even though I believe the tattered cape cover was available through the DM, I seem to remember it always being referred to as the “Newsstand Edition,” by pretty much everyone who ever mentioned it for any reason. (DC, Previews, Wizard, etc.)

  16. Derek says:

    Used to have a single issue. Long gone. I have the story in the 2007 Omnibus and 75 Years HC. Do I plunk down the money for the bagged edition like I just did for AoS #500? That one had an extended story! These are things that will probably just end up in the closet.

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