Life among the back-issue bins!

Rummaging through a pile of old books and magazines the other day,
I happened across this:

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It’s a copy of the now-defunct comics / sci-fi / toys / trading cards magazine Wizard, from all the way back in February 1994! There’s all manner of crazy, brilliant (or just eye-rollingly bad) stuff in it, giving a very intriguing insight into how different the geography of the pop-cultural landscape was all those eons ago…. twenty-three years ago, by my calculations! Since we know how fun pointless trivia is – and while I prepare the next season of Cosmos: Old School for your delectation – I though I’d share with you the highlights of my dalliance into the wonderful world of Wizard:

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* Green Lantern #50: Oh no! Hal Jordan has gone nuts, killed the Green Lantern Corps, absorbed all the energy from the Central Power Battery…. aaaaand flipped the bird at 30 years of consistent characterisation and DC continuity. The full page ad proclaims ‘An era ends here!’…. Well, considering they’d already killed off Superman, broken Batman’s back, and replaced Bats with a lunatic in Iron Man armour by that point,
they ain’t far wrong….

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* Marvel debuts yet another edgy ‘90’s character: Nightwatch! Uh, guys, you do realise he is clearly, blatantly and incontrovertibly a complete rip off of Todd McFarlane’s Spawn? Changing the colour scheme and giving him high-tech gloves REALLY doesn’t make it any less obvious. Sorry, boys, try again.

* Kenner expands its new Aliens action Figure line with a whole menagerie of gimmicky zoological monstrosities: the Panther alien, Killer crab alien, Razorback alien, Tarantula alien, Rhino alien, Mantis alien, Snake alien and the Queen face-hugger! What? No Screeching cockatoo alien? Bah. Slackers.

* The main comic companies extant in February 1994? AC Comics, Archie Comics, Bongo Comics (The Siiiimp-soooons…..), Caliber Press, Continuity comics, Dark Horse Comics (Hellboy, Monkeyman and O’Brien, other awesome stuff), DC Comics, Defiant, Express Publications, Fantagraphics Books, Image Comics (T n’ A capital of the universe, at that point, unfortunately), Kitchen Sink Press, Lightning Comics, Malibu Comics, Marvel Comics, Northstar (creators of Klownshock: Freak show! Gotta get me a copy a’ that!), Now Comics, Rip-off Press, Topps Comics…. and Valiant. Phew. Quite a few of those companies are not around today….

* Out now on Genesis and Game Gear: Robocop 3! Now with SIX whole levels of side-scrolling action!

*What’s So Hot Right Now? #1/2 issues and Ashcans! What’s an ashcan, you may ask? Why, a black-and-white, larger-than-normal, autographed prototype of an upcoming ‘in-demand’ comic. So name because of their generally disposable nature once the final retail version shows up– No, no, wait! They’re supposed to be collectible! Don’t–
Ah, geez. Too late.

* The cost, circa 1994, of a mint-condition copy of the very first Fantastic Four
comic from the 1960’s? $9,800.

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* Among the competitions in Wizard #30 was the above – wherein you could win Kevin Eastman’s 1969 Chevrolet Camaro, all done up with artwork by comic artist Simon Bisley (It’s Death-metal Bumblebee!) I’d imagine there would have been quite a few
entries for that….

* Behold the bleeding edge of trading card ‘technology’: UV coating, Spectra-etch (your guess is as good as mine), 3D holograms, Thermo-foil, uncut card sheets and the all-powerful Chromium! Guaranteed to not become passé for, oh, I’d say
about five minutes….

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* The top ten ‘must have’ comics of early 1994 were…. 1) Moon Knight #56, 2) Daredevil #319, 3) Wolverine #75 (with hologram card! Woo hoo!), 4) Moon Knight #55, 5) Daredevil #320, 6) Daredevil: Man without fear #1 (wow, lots of DD in this list!), 7) Ninjak #1, 8) Prime #2, 9) Avengers West Coast #102 (‘When Avengers Collide!’, the cover screams), and 10) Green Lantern #46. Would I actually read any of them today?
Ehhh, probably not.

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