Remembering the Worst Era of Comic Books With a Groupon


Unlike normal people, I tend to buy really stupid shit. I don’t mean impulse goods, like a phone charger for the car or an extra Snickers at the supermarket. I mean stupid shit, like an original R.O.B. the Robot or a Psychedelic Eye Pez dispenser- which is a hand holding an eyeball attached to a dispenser with “Mod Pez” written on the side.

When people see my eclectic collection, they often ask why I choose to spend my money on such useless things. To me they aren’t useless; they are a summation of pop culture through my own twisted point of view. I spent $250 on that Pez; it’s one of the rarest in existence because in the 1960’s nobody wanted to buy a freaky eyeball hand that came with “flower” flavored candy. I am that dispenser, for better or worse.

Last weekend there was a Groupon for “60 Marvel or DC Comics.” I bought a comic bundle on Groupon once before that turned out to be all useless garbage from the early 2000’s that not even a sadist could read. That made me wary of this deal, but I read in the description that it contained comics from the 1980’s until today.

Here’s a brief comic book history lesson. In the 1980’s until the early 1990’s comic books were booming, with Marvel and DC shoveling out as many titles as they could to appease the demand. People saw how much value came from 1960’s Spiderman and Fantastic Four books, so they bought everything released thinking that it would be the next big money maker. When people started to realize that these new books were essentially worthless, they stopped buying them, causing the great comic book collapse of the mid-90s. Marvel wasn’t always Disney’s little cash cow; it went bankrupt in 1996.    

My newest weird obsession is comics from this era, right before the bubble burst. They are usually terribly drawn, rushed and make little sense in the way of story. The infamous Rob Liefeld, one of the worst working artists to succeed in comic books, was everywhere. He had a weekly X-men book that had women as twisted monsters that always managed to have their butts or bosoms in frame . This Groupon gave me a glimpse of that gritty iceberg.

Turns out, there were a lot of comics released over a three decade period, some of them not as bad as they were forgettable. “Legion ‘89” was a gritty update of the classic Legion of Superheroes that I immediately forgot existed after I stopped reading. “Final Night 57,” “Muties Toy Soldiers” and “Wolverine Victims Gambit,” or “Wolverine Gambit Victims” (the title is written weird), are just some of the thousands of comic books that creators poured their souls into only to be forgotten.

At this time in comics, writers were tasked with coming up with the new big sensation, and they were willing to throw everything at the wall until something stuck. “Dragon’s Claws” and “Hardware” were characters I never would have known even existed without splurging on this stupid Groupon. Silver Surfer fought a guy named Cap’n Reptyll whose first line in the book “I was dead until I got better.”

90s’ comics didn’t differentiate themselves with good story or likable characters, they used cover gimmicks.  Holographic stickers, shiny buttons or just really hard plasticard were some of the many dumb ways comics tried to appeal to a collector’s market. “Robin II” had a holographic card that the Joker’s holding that makes the Boy Wonder appear to be choking on his own cape. My favorite from this set had to be “Eclipso The Darkness Within” which came with a plastic purple gem attached to the cover. Eclipso is a D-list shapeshifter in the DC Universe that nobody knows, so they decided that the best way to attract readers was through an angry face with an eyeball made in China.  

Can you tell where the gem went? Photo: DC Comics

I’m glad I paid for this experience; in order to appreciate where you are, you have to know how you got there. But if anybody wants an issue of Supergirl from 2001, I’ll be glad to get it off my hands.    



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