Sunday, December 14, 2014

Journey Into Mystery Boxes

Remember when I would occasionally blog about comic books?

Remember when I would occasionally blog..?

I promised to show off some of the goods I picked up at JC's Things a few weeks back, but before I get to bragging about decades-old crayons and Dolly Parton Christmas albums [spoilers], I wanna gab a bit about one of my many weaknesses. There are a number of Kryptonites in my life, but none as enticing and dangerous-to-my-wallet as the comic book grab-box. My local comic shop never has a shortage of them, and it seems like I fall victim to their siren song more often than not.

Let's see you try and resist 50 different comics for a mere $11.99, though.

I've mentioned before that I'm a total sucker for mystery packs and grab-bags, blind-box toys and random packs of trading cards. The idea of opening a package, not entirely knowing what treasures could lurk within, is so appealing to me. There's the risk of discovering nothing worthwhile, the contents within could all be a total wash. It's a gamble, I know, but that thrill of anticipation and uncertainty before digging in is what always draws me back.

Enough yammering on, it's time to get to the comics.


Titles and publishers always vary in these grab-boxes, and so does the initial release-date for books. I've picked up several that featured books from the '70s and '80s, but this particular one didn't date back quite that far. The earliest issue included is cover-dated November 1993, and a majority of the books included are from the last several years.

Marvel Comics made up the bulk of the box, one single issue over half its contents, at twenty-six books. DC was a distant second at sixteen, and the remainder was comprised of several small publishers, including Dynamite, Dark Horse and Valiant. That's about par for the course with the boxes I've purchased in the past.

The real risk is acquiring duplicate copies, books I'd picked up in the past either as monthly purchases or something dug out during my frequent dollar-bin splurges. It's unlikely that I'd ever find a box that didn't contain at least a couple dupes included, and this one was no exception. Of the fifty books lurking inside, I already owned seventeen of them. Not the best turn-out, but the extras make for good trade fodder or little extras in my giveaways.


My definition of best is pretty unique, because I doubt most collectors would consider mid-'90s DC titles like Extreme Justice or The Book of Fate as great finds. I would never argue that these were top-quality books, but that particular era of comics was when I really started getting into them, so I have a total nostalgic fondness for anything released at that time. Bonus points if they featured C- or D-list characters like Maxima, Guy Gardner or Speedball.

I've not-so-secretly admired third-tier heroes more than their ultra-popular contemporaries since I was a kid, and it's a trend I don't see bucking any time soon. Further evidence of this can be found at my long defunct Tumblr account -- Grade-Z Heroes.


Sovereign Seven issue number one, dated April 1995, wins this superlative with ease.

Somehow, in some strange turn of events, I've already owned several copies of this particular comic, despite having no strong positive feelings for the works of Chris Claremont. I can appreciate, and even enjoy at times, his work on Marvel's The Uncanny X-Men title for so many years, but there's almost nothing else in his body of work that I admire. One of the few creator-owned books to sorta' reside in the proper DC Universe, it featured a team of original characters and a very unique interpretation of Darkseid, ruler of Apokolips and one of the most powerful villains in comic history.

I'm not sure what compelled me to pick it up fresh off the stands when it was originally released, but we'll chalk it up to the wildly fluctuating hormones and moods of a recently teenaged Trash Man. I mean, seriously, look how hot their team-leader, Cascade, is.

Ignore the part where her code-name is a brand of detergent.


It certainly wasn't the best grab-box I could have scored, but it contained enough small gems and old favorites to justify pissing away twelve-bucks. There were a handful of really solid books, the type of stuff I'm looking forward to reading and sorting away into my collection. A few to throw in with a large stack of trade-in material, and a few that I'm hoping to share with friends sometime in the New Year.


  1. Cool! If i was still doing comics i would dream of having one with all 70s Marvel and DC along with anything Whitman, Gold Key, Harvey, Archie or Red Circle.

  2. I'm intrigued by the art on that Bob the Galactic Bum cover. It has such quality draftsmanship for the '90s.

    1. That would be the work of Carlos Ezquerra, co-creator of Judge Dredd, Strontium Dog, and known for his other various works for 2000 AD. Bob, the Galactic Bum was one of his few American comic works, since he only ever seemed to collaborate with European-based peers like John Wagner, Garth Ennis, and Alan Grant. Totally underrated and under-appreciated here in the States.

  3. I too, have a weakness for mystery boxes. Sure, you're bound to get some stuff that's crap, but there's always the chance for gold too..

    Sovereign, I fell for that trap too. I was a fan of Claremont's work on X-men, so I figured that would have to be great too. Yeah, not so much. Maybe it got better after the first issue, but I never got the chance to find out.