The Pulse of COMC – Superheroes

Welcome to ‘The Pulse of COMC’ , a monthly blog series where we give members of the COMC Team a platform to be heard on topics ranging from trading cards and sports  to pop culture and everything in between! In our last blog, we talked sports and asked our team their thoughts on our beloved local Seattle Mariners. This time around we’re turning our focus to pop culture. With Avengers: Endgame setting all kinds of records last month, we figured now is the perfect time to ask our team members about their favorite Superheroes and movies!

Who is your favorite superhero of all time? Why?

“I’m going with The Joker for my favorite super hero. Come on, man! No one tops the Joker! Exclamation point.”Joseph H.

“The Dark Knight himself, Batman. Bruce’s my favorite because with the exception for his intellect and martial arts training, he’s an average Joe Everyman. Anyone could’ve taken up the cape and cowl and cleaned up their city and I love that optimism.”Stephan L.

The Punisher. A man dedicated to his convictions, refuses to give up and always protects the people. While his methods are unconventional, he always looks out for innocents and ends the problem. While he doesn’t boast any “super” powers, he still dedicates his life to fighting against tyrants, evil-doers and the lowly street level criminals.” – Paul D.

Spider-Man” – Verne. S.

Viscous Verne SiebertJames G. (You should watch the three links to see why!)

“My favorite superhero of all time is Captain Planet. Why? Because he’s going to bring pollution down to zero.” – Chad T.

“I only have two heroes in life, and one of them is Scott Summers, AKA: Cyclops, leader of the X-Men, Ruler of Utopia, and Savior of Mutantkind. Ok, that last one may have been pushing it, but he deserves it after the 20 years of hatchet jobs and character assassination that FOX has pulled.  In the comics Scott has become an incredibly militant and badass leader that has sacrificed everything just to keep the mutant population alive and safe. 

Considering everything he has been through, its amazing hes turned out so well. The death of his parents, legit brain damage, years of abuse in an orphanage, being forced to murder his sketchy father figure, the deaths of two wives *though to be fair i guess it was kind of the same wife twice…*, and being hated by the general population during most of his life. He is a true hero and someone every mutant should look up to and every human should fear..uhm…respect. CYCLOPS WAS RIGHT!”  – Jason M.

“Reading Marvel comics as a kid – and I’ve always preferred Marvel over DC — my favorites were always Fantastic Four and Spider-Man. Watching Marvel movies as an adult, I really enjoy the classic good-guy stoicism of Captain America, even if he never gets the funniest lines. Having said that, however, my most common recurring thought after any Avengers movie is always “I wish there had been more Black Widow.”  So she’s probably my current favorite.”Steve W.

Do you have a favorite Marvel Cinematic Universe or Superhero movie? Why is it better than the rest?

The Hulk directed by Ang Lee is my favorite movie. Reasons? Being the first foray into a CGI Hulk as his own presence, Ang brought a unique and passionate vision to the project. I have been watching and waiting since I was a wee lad reading comics and watching their live action counterparts on TV since the seventies and that movie finally gave me what, to that point, I had only been able to picture (poorly) in my mind. Extremely well-acted by the entire cast and with CGI innovations in “real motion” motion capture it is still top dog for me!”Joseph H.

“As a huge history buff, and a military brat – I’m a huge fan of Captain America and thus my favorite so far has been Captain America Civil War. It’s a great continuation of Winter Soldier, and really propelled what’s come since while not being as cookie-cutter as some others in the MCU.” – Stephan L.

“Avengers: Infinity War is my favorite, as I am a big fan of Thanos in the comics and the original Infinity Gauntlet story arc. It’s comforting to think the heroes will always win and exciting when they finally meet someone who can put an end to that. Without danger there is no bravery. I am hoping that Endgame will give me a new favorite!”Paul D.

Thor: Ragnarok”Verne S.
 
“Unpopular but spicy take:  I’m not a fan of any of the MCU films, with the Deadpool movies as the only exception. I have not watched all 20 some odd films in the saga, but after watching about a half dozen, I just couldn’t keep going on watching some of my beloved comic book and video game characters of the 90’s placed into seemingly generic albeit high budget action films. 
 
That being said, my favorite superhero movie(s) of all time is The Dark Knight trilogy. Batman was never my favorite superhero growing up, but these three films, especially the first Dark Knight, really opened my imagination. Christopher Nolan did an incredible job creating an immersive story told with a much different tone than Batman films in the past. – James G.  
 
“The best superhero movie ever is Superman 2. Why? It brings a very human element to Kal-El, his growing feelings for Lois Lane and his willingness to remove what makes him special for her. Meanwhile, Earth faces its greatest threat to date in the form of General Zod, Ursa, and Non, hardened criminals who gain the same powers Superman possesses. The fight in Metropolis, to this day, still holds up due to the emphasis on realistic character concerns and reactions to situations. Superman realizes he can’t continue endangering the city in his quest to defeat the villains and makes sure his adopted home is protected by moving the battle to his Fortress of Solitude, where he uses his mind to win the day. Superman 2 shows that even the strongest force in the universe ultimately needs knowledge to reign supreme.” – Chad T.
 
“The best MCU films in order:

1. Winter Soldier
2+3. Guardians 1 + 2 *cant pick between them*
4. Doctor Strange
5. Black Panther or Ragnarok”Jason M.

“Although there are several MCU movies that I could rave about, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is still my favorite.  The chemistry between Cap, Black Widow, and The Falcon is pitch perfect, and the 70’s-era political thriller vibe is an inspired setting for this story. After the over-the-top intergalactic Battle of New York in the first Avengers movie, it was almost a relief to see Marvel scale things back and give us just a great human-based action movie.  (That elevator fight scene still wows me every time I see it.)”Steve W.

The Good Word: A Well Designed Mail Day

By James Good

For the last three plus years at COMC I’ve seen every single tweet, Instagram picture, and Facebook post that we’ve been  tagged in. My absolute favorite posts that we get repeatedly see are our customer’s Mailday pictures, where they show their followers all of the items that they recently received in their latest COMC shipment. We routinely reshare these on our instagram page and twitter accounts, so be sure to keep tagging us in your #Maildays!

Seeing all of our customer’s incoming items for their personal collection inspired me to share some of the contents of an incoming COMC package of my own. While there are plenty of not so exciting items in that package that simply fill the gaps of my Mitch Haniger player collection, there are bunch of other items that have been inspired by my latest inspiration for collecting: buying cards based on unique card design.

I think that card design is a very low priority for a lot of collectors, as we’ve grown accustom to cards designed around sticker autos and recycled designs, among other visually unappealing decisions. Most prospectors don’t even consider card design when stashing away players in hopes of a later payday. The truth is that the card design for the majority of modern cards is very underwhelming. I’m not going to publicly shame any manufacturers, because with so many sets being printed these days, poor design choices were bound to happen. Just like without the bad moments in life we wouldn’t appreciate the good ones, without bad card design, we couldn’t appreciate good card design.

The 2008 Topps Factory Set Mickey Mantle Chrome Refractor Reprints set is the perfect example of the modernization of a reprint done right. There isn’t an overload of numbered parallels, and the design is simply a clean replica of the original on a modern chrome cardstock. The 1952 Mantle RC has been reprinted time-and-time again over the years, most having some sort of poor design choice shoehorned in. Topps got it right in 2008, and in the 2006 Topps ’52 set where they swapped the background color of this iconic card in a creative re-imagining. I’ll probably never own the real thing, so these reprints fill the void in my collection.

One rookie card that I am fortunate enough to own is a PSA 9 2007 Bowman Chrome – Prospects Tim Lincecum Gold Autograph #’d 31/50. As I talked about in one of the earlier installments of The Good Word , I love manufactured patch cards. These three are among my latest pick ups that fit the qualifications of well designed cards. Lincecum’s unconventional pitching delivery might have shortened his career, but it did produce a wealth of great trading cards along the way. I’m a sucker for the stars and stripes, so the 2010 Topps – Jumbo Packs Manufactured Hat Logo Relic on the right ranks highly on my well-designed sets list.

 

Which leads me to this 1912 Player’s Countries Arms & Flags Tobacco Card #4. I am not much of a vintage collector, much to the chagrin of my colleague Rich Klein, who two years ago at a National Sports Collector’s Convention took my 1960’s football card knowledge to task. I think that anytime you can buy something that’s over 100 years old for $0.50, you probably should, and this card was no exception. Even being 107 years old with a bit of paper loss, it still checks all the boxes for a well designed card.

As a kid growing up in the 90’s, nothing stuck with me more than the roller coast ride that was the 1995 ‘Refuse to Lose‘ Seattle Mariners. During that period of time, I opened so many packs of 1995 Score in search of the Gold Rush parallel of my favorite Mariners and 1996 Upper Deck Collector’s Choice looking for Gold Facsimile Signatures and You Crash the Game cards. I was never able to pull these two, but thanks to COMC, my hundreds of dollars of summer jobs and allowance money was not wasted in vein.

By comparison, the 1995 Score Gold Rush Parallel is inferior to the Platinum Team Set version. I really love the design on the Hitters Inc. subset, and not just because Albert Belle’s mean mug is a hidden gem. There were many iterations of Collector’s Choice ‘You Crash the Game’ contest across multiple sports, but the 1996 baseball version did it best with a bright orange and red foiled explosion design. Not only was it a great design, but it was a great concept that has stood the test of time. I know a certain 2019 Topps insert set with an awfully similar promotion.

If I were to rank Topps flagship designs, 1968 Topps would likely fall in the middle of the list. It’s not a bad design per say, it’s just not my style. I do love the rounded corners of the black border and white space between the player photo and border, but the textured brown outer border doesn’t work for me. That being said, this card jumps off the page to me because it features one of the best photos of any Mariner ever featured on a trading card.

Vogey looks larger-than-life in this pose, and the Safeco Field logo in the background is a nice finishing touch. It almost makes you forget that he has a career MLB batting average of .197, or that Safeco Field is now T-Mobile Park.This card screams “In Vogey We Trust” , that he’s our guy of the future, and that I’m willing to put in writing that he’ll hit 30 bombs whenever he’s given his first full year in the Bigs.

Last but not least, there hasn’t been a better non-sports set idea since the Map Relic Insert Sets from Upper Deck’s last two Goodwin Champions sets. These sets have checked all of the boxes I’m looking for when determining good card design:

  1. Make it unique
  2. Keep it simple
  3. Feature Great Photography

These cards do an perfect job encapsulating the points of interest they feature. The embedded map relic is a unique element that I don’t recall ever seeing on a card prior to these sets. My goal is to eventually collect all of the map relics of places that I’ve visited. Right now that list is at eight:

Niagara Falls, Statue of Liberty, Washington Monument, Capital HillGolden Gate Bridge, Freedom Tower, Mount Rainier, and Ruby Beach .

Ruby Beach holds a special place in my heart because it was one of the destinations along the first road trip that my fiancé and I went on almost four years ago. Traveling to the coast of Washington to be close to the water has been a recurring trend in our relationship. Later this year, we’ll get married near the beaches of Moclips, Washington, about 65 miles south of where the photo of this card was snapped.

Now it’s your turn! In the comments below, let us know some of your favorite cards from your most recent mailday!

Story Behind the Cards: Night of the Living Dead

Photo Credit: Johnny Martyr

(Editors Note: Please welcome Johnny Martyr to the COMC Blog! Being a Night of the Living Dead Enthusiast with the world’s largest NotLD trading card collection, Johnny wanted to share his collecting story and deep knowledge of the subject through the following guest blog. Johnny is a photojournalist has been collecting for 20 years, and has compiled a full checklist of all NotLD cards that can be found here.)

By Johnny Martyr

When did you first see George Romero’s classic horror film, Night of the Living Dead?  I was about five years old when I watched it through my fingers on a rented VHS tape in the early 1980’s.

Article after article has been written on why this unassuming little production, released 50 years ago, continues to have such a massive impact on the horror genre and independent movie making.  Trading card after trading card has been released for the last 25 years distilling all those reasons into a fun and enduring collectible.

In 1998, at age 17,  I discovered the horror convention scene and began journeying to meet cast/crew members from Night of the Living Dead, or NotLD as they called it.  That is when I met Bob Michelucci, designer at Imagine Inc who designed the first official NotLD trading card set in 1988 and produced sets through 1993.

Photo Credit: Johnny Martyr

The Imagine cards, today, are the bedrock of any respectable NotLD card collection and include some of the most expensive/desirable NotLD autograph cards like the Keith Wayne autographed green border and On Location cards.  Keith Wayne played the character Tom, who tried to make peace between lead Duane Jones (as Ben) and Karl Hardman (as universally despised, Harry Cooper.)  Mr. Wayne, regretfully, took his own life in 1995, before NotLD card collecting really took off or many cons took place, making these two cards very special to fans.

Complete, 79-card master sets of green border, 71 red border, alternative border silver foil cards and eight On Location Imagine cards, with all potential cast/crew signatures can sell for hundreds today.  Not bad for a a little movie out of Pittsburgh!

I bought my Keith Wayne and other rare autograph cards from Michelucci years ago but continued to fill out my sets with impossible-to-find Imagine cards until very recently.  Uncut sheets, unopened packs and original test wrappers are also popular among collectors.

If the Imagine cards are the bedrock to any NotLD card collection, Jim Cironella’s Living Dead Festival cards are the pièce de résistance.  While even entry level NotLD fans have at least a few Imagine cards, only die-hard fans are packing Living Dead Festival cards.

Photo Credit: Johnny Martyr

These cares were printed in limited quantities in 2009 and 2013 and consist of just two and three base cards (respectively.)  But they were only distributed at the Living Dead Festival shows of those years, not sold by retailers anywhere.  The other catch is that the cards were created to be autographed by cast/crew who appeared at these shows.  So collecting all 36 or 63 (respectively) variations of card and autograph is an ambitious goal indeed, and often strictly the domain of friends of Image Ten (the production company behind Night of the Living Dead.)

Because most signatures on LDF cards are by extras and crew, they appeal to collectors who’ve already collected all the more common principal cast signatures.  It’s extremely rare to see a complete set on the market and its unclear just how many actually exist.  I own a complete set of 2009’s (all possible signatures on both card styles) and a third of a complete set of 2013’s (all possible signatures on one style card as well as some of the other two cards).  Lighting designer Joe Unitas, was still passing out 2013’s as of the last Living Dead Weekend show in 2018.

Photo Credit: Johnny Martyr

Speaking of Joe Unitas, a little sidetrack, if I may.  Joe is related to the famous Baltimore Colts quarterback, Johnny Unitas.  And Joe played some ball himself.  He actually appears in jersey #73 on the 1958 Baltimore Colts team photo Topps trading card!

But back to the NotLD card sets…

In 2012, Steve Kirkham of Unstoppable designed what is probably the most definitive NotLD trading card set.  The 36 base cards are easy and cheap to come by but some of the six promo and nine autograph cards are quite difficult to locate.  The rarest are the Tom Breygent variant promo card, the sketch promo card, Judith O’Dea single autograph card and the Marilyn Eastman and Karl Hardman cut autograph cards.  Unstoppable sketch cards are of course one of one and many great artists participated.  I’m always looking for more Ashleigh Poppelwell and Elfie Lebouleux.  Artist, Ted Dastick mixed dirt from the Evans City Cemetary where NotLD was shot, into the pigments for his sketch cards!

Photo Credit: Johnny Martyr

Fantasm Media is currently releasing a very rare, very attractive nine card set designed by Brian Steward.  The cards can only be found as random inserts with purchase of their commemorative magazine, 50 Years of Night.  These Fantasm cards are sure to become a hit among fans because they feature images that haven’t appeared on any other trading cards and require some serious legwork to obtain a complete set.

Full sets aside, Night of the Living Dead and its famous director, George Romero have appeared in numerous other non-sports sets.

Photo Credit: Johnny Martyr

A favorite of mine is the mega rare Bill Hinzman autograph card by Necroscope for their Terror Cards series.  Hinzman played that first zombie, or “ghoul” we see in the cemetery opening of Night of the Living Dead.  Hinzman passed away in 2012 but was a warm and encouraging actor who was a favorite at conventions.  I believe that only 50 of these cards were printed and all are hard signed.  It’s an attractively designed and desirable card, given Mr. Hinzman’s role in history as cinema’s first contemporary zombie!

Breygent’s Classic Vintage Sci-Fi & Horror Movie Poster Series II of 2010 featured a number of fun NotLD cards including a promo, many nice sketch cards and two autograph cards.  What I like about these is that they measure 3.5″x5″ which make the larger sketches and signatures look fantastic!

And, if you would really like to subject yourself to torture and drop some good money, there are the Donruss and Panini 2008, 2009 and 2011 George Romero Americana cards with their numerous parallels.  Some of the parallels are numbered a mere one of five and feature foil printing, an autograph and even a swatch of Romero’s clothing.

Photo Credit: Johnny Martyr

eThe 2008 Donruss Americana II is #248, and I have five of the seven parallels, including the autographed card, silver proof (one of 25) and silver proof foil (one of 25.)  In 2009, Panini took over the Americana line with Romero as card #52.  I have eight of twelve of these parallels and am looking very hard for a signature-only card.  I have the relic-only card and relic plus signature card.  For 2011, Panini released both a “regular” George Romero Americana, #57 and same lineup of parallels from 2009, but also a special Americana Celebrity Cuts autograph card.  This card is pretty desirable because it is in horizontal orientation and built around a hard autograph of just 75 copies, whereas the rest of the Americanas are sticker autographs with up to 99 copies.

You might have noticed, perhaps more so than most classic film trading cards, that NotLD trading cards seem to go hand-in-hand with autographs.  This, to me, is an important reason I’ve enjoyed collecting NotLD cards.  As I’ve counted, there have been no less than 28 different cast/crew members to sign trading cards.  In most cases, if they didn’t sign a card, they didn’t sign anything for the public at all.  So regardless of if your focus is on trading cards, autographs, or horror collectibles, Night of the Living Dead trading cards bring a lot to the table for everyone.

Thanks so much for reading!  Happy collecting and as George Romero said “STAY SCARED!”