Let’s not delay, let’s open up some packs and see what I got! This time we’re going to look at the middle column, let’s hope the sketch card is in there.
Pack 13: Galactus, Psylocke, Hulk, Dazzler, Cannonball, The Hulk (Avengers chase set)
Pack 14: The Thing, Emma Frost, Nova, Ka-Zar, Rogue, She-Thing (Heroines chase set)
Pack 15: The Beetle, Elektra, The Punisher, Dr. Octopus, Dead Girl, Kingpin
Pack 16: Human Torch, Spider-Woman, J. Jonah Jameson, Howard the Duck, Thor (Avengers chase set)
Pack 17: Galactus, Psylocke, Hulk, Cannonball, Nov, Ka-Zar
Pack 18: The Thing, Emma Frost, The Beetle, Rogue, Dr. Octopus, Dead Girl
Pack 19: Elektra, The Punisher, Wolverine, Kingpin, Beast, Hawkeye (Avengers chase set)
Pack 20: Dr. Spectrum, Quasar, Sabretooth, The Watcher, Valkyrie, Machine Man, Human Torch (Fantastic Four Movie set)
Pack 21: Nick Fury, Iron Man, Magneto, Northstar, Destiny, Invisible Woman (Heroines chase set)
Pack 22: Cyclops, Shanna, Cloak, Bullseye, Storm, Hulk (Hulk chase set)
Pack 23: Archangel, Nightcrawler, Moondragon, Mole Man, Quicksilver, Sentinel
Pack 24: Lady Deathstroke, Venom, Human Torch, Enchantress, Morbius, Captain America (Avengers chase set)
Wouldn’t you know it, there is no sketch card in this stack; I guess that will have to wait until the last post. These packs started out well with the first few packs being completely new, but slumped with the next few packs being all duplicates. The middle of the stack had the best cards, with the Fantastic Four movie card and the Hulk chase card. The Fantastic Four card is pretty cool, as it has a piece of costume worn by Johnny Storm on the card. That means there’s a piece of costume worn by Captain America on the card by association and that’s pretty neat. Also, after this stack I am just 2 cards short of completing the base set.
Speaking of the base set, I want to highlight some of the really bad art on the cards, and one example of a really great card. Take a look at these cards:
Up at the top you see two different cards with the same art. The first is just called “Masterpieces 2” and is basically an ad for the set. This isn’t that unusual, but usually these cards are checklists or art from the display box. This set decided to not use anything like that and re-hashed the art for the Iron Man card. That’s just plain lazy.
The Sub-Mariner and Firestar cards suffer from really poor line work. Looking closely, they look like they were inked with a ballpoint pen and makes them just look cheap. Black Queen looks like it was lifted from a Napoleon Dynamite’s Deviant Art page. The face looks amateurish and I’m guessing the artist spent a long time making the boobs look as close to water balloons as possible. Up close, it looks to be colored with colored pencils, which again just smacks of cheapness. Shadowcat is wearing some sort outfit from Starlight Express that I don’t remember her ever wearing in the comics. And poor Thor just looks… bad. The coloring isn’t that great, the art isn’t so hot, and the line work sucks. This was in 2008, long before he had his own movie but he still deserves better.
Now let’s look at these cards, whose art isn’t that bad.
That is not Nick Fury. I hate to break it to everyone, but Nick Fury only has one eye and doesn’t wear the Punisher’s outfit. That’s not a bad rendition of The Punisher, but Nick Fury looks like this:
Enchantress is also just wrong. This looks a lot like Scarlet Witch in green instead of red. Granted, Enchantress is an Asgardian that can change her looks, but she almost always looks like this:
The Jean Grey card isn’t wrong, it’s just a curious choice. Jean Grey is a powerful telepath and telekinetic X-Man, but here she’s doing SCIENCE. That’s cool, I guess but I would have rather seen her throwing something with her mind.
But it’s not all bad, there’s some really solid art on these cards from some really good artists. Here’s my favorite so far:
That’s an awesome card, and it captures Venom very well. When Spider-Man had the symbiote suit that would eventually become Venom, there were some great internal struggle scenes where he fought to keep his sanity. This encapsulates those struggles very well and makes you stop and look and the card for longer than five seconds.
For me, the gold standard for art on cards belongs to the 1994 Marvel Masterpieces set in which every card was painted by the Hildebrandt brothers. There were 140 cards to that set, and 19 chase cards. This set also came with a parallel chase set in which each card had a gold-foil signature version of it as well. This was also the first unopened box of cards I ever purchased. It was $20 clearance at my local Kay-Bee Toys and I still remember the stack of cards I had after I opened all the packs.
My favorite set of all time belongs to the 1994 Marvel Universe set. It had an absolutely huge base set of 200 cards, some of which were 9-card scenes that looked really cool in a protective sleeve. The cards that weren’t of the scenes had a pretty good rating of each character- things like power, speed, intelligence- that was canon as a kid for settling debates on who would win in a fight. It also had some really cool chase card sets- some were foil, some were 3D holograms, but the coolest were the “Suspended Animation” cards that were printed on clear plastic.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to tell how much these cards are worth nowadays. The best bet is still eBay, but doing a quick search shows a lot of these cards not selling. The only things that do seem to sell are unopened boxes, probably because people like me are still reclaiming their childhoods. I did see recently someone selling a huge collection (even bigger than mine) for $35,000. While it was an impressive collection, I know no one will pay that and it’s worth maybe a tenth of that if you get lucky. Years ago Wizard magazine used to have a price guide for cards, but they stopped that many years before they folded as a magazine.
My next post will be the last for this project, but if you like what you’ve been reading leave a comment. I’ll take any excuse to buy more cards.
*Catch JVG’s 3rd Installment, Packs 25-36 on Thursday 1/16 only on waxcracker.com