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15 Marvel Collectibles That Are Worth A Fortune (And 15 That Are Too Embarrassing)

One man's trash is another man's treasure, or so they say. In some cases, one man's nostalgia is his fortune. It is astounding how seemingly banal items that one might have collected for pennies would go on to be worth several hundred thousand dollars. Time truly is the greatest appreciator of all.

And nothing has stood the test of time quite like Marvel Comics. Established in 1931 as Timely Comics, Marvel Comics truly emerged in 1961 to become a name now eponymous for great heroes and even greater tales. Spider-Man, Wolverine, and Mr. Fantastic are just a few of many Marvel heroes who have entered the pantheon of great heroes alongside Odysseus, Gilgamesh, and Beowulf.

Today we will be looking at a list of seemingly ordinary items. But like the heroes which grace the pages of a comic book, there is more than meets the eye to these items. Some of them belong to a small number that exist, others mark the debut of a hero we have welcomed into our collective culture. All of them, however, hold an important significance not just to comic book lovers but to all of us who love a story.

Without further ado, here are 15 Marvel collectibles which are now worth a fortune and another 15 which should have been left in the discard pile.

30 Worth A Fortune: Marvel Comics #1 ($330,000)

If we are going to start talking about Marvel then we have to start from the beginning. That beginning is the inaugural issue of Marvel Comics. You can expect the first edition of any popular comic series to fetch a pretty penny, but imagine the monetary and sentimental value that this particular issue retains.

Marvel Comics #1 is the launching point for the stories that have entered into our collective mythology of the modern era.

This 1939 debut issue introduces the world to still relevant characters including the Human Torch and Namor the Sub-mariner. It's no surprise that a mint condition issue of Marvel Comics #1 can fetch a price as high as $330,000 USD. From humble beginnings came our generation's greatest heroes.

29 Just Embarrassing: Bonebreaker Action Figure

You would be totally forgiven if you have forgotten about Bonebreaker, or did not know who he was. Possessing the perplexing super-power of being half-man, half-tank, Bonebreaker's whole existence just leads to so many questions. How does he go to the bathroom? Why is his torso as big as a tank? Was his father a human and mother a tank?

Thankfully, this is a character that is unlikely to show up in any X-Men movies anytime soon so really we do not need to think too much about him. Unless your friend has this action figure in his collection, then we just have to ask; why?

28 Worth A Fortune: 2013 San Diego Comic-Con Spider-Man Minifigure

If you were one of the 300 or so lucky raffle winners at the 2013 San Diego Comic-Con to win this little Spider-Man Lego mini-figure, then I hope you hung on to it. Any limited release item, particularly found at these comic expos, can end up being worth quite a lot.

This particular figure is in the ballpark of being worth $2000, notably for its exquisite look and attention to every little detail.

You'd be hard pressed to find another Spider-Man mini-figure that looks this good. Take note of the finely painted blue mesh on Spidey's suit and you will see why this figure is so sought after.

27 Embarrassing: Wolfsbane Furry Action Figure

And back to the topic of silly action figures, we have Wolfsbane. Of course, this could be Wolfsbane or it could be the action figure equivalent of dropping a lollipop on a bed of cat hair. All kidding aside, Wolfsbane is actually a pretty neat, somewhat obscure X-Men character. Being able to transform into a werewolf is pretty handy as far as powers go, it's just too bad it has to look this stupid in this case. Our furry friend here would even make the most diehard X-Men fans look silly having this on their bookshelf.

26 Worth A Fortune: Original Kresge Packaged Spider-Man

The Amazing Spider-Man may not look so amazing in his vintage, Kresge packaged form but you can't doubt his appeal has only grown over time. You may not like Tobey Maguire's outing as Spider-Man but it set the stage for the comic book movie craze we live in today.  Spider-Man's immense popularity is reflected in the fact that this particular figure has sold in auction for a whopping $1,431. If you have one of these lying around in the attic, your spidey senses should be telling you to go make some cash.

25 Embarrassing: Astral Doctor Strange

Even the Sorcerer Supreme himself would not see the magic in having something like this in his collection. The whole point of this figure is to capture Dr. Strange's likeness as he transcends the corporeal, physical plane of existence via his astral projection. It's a really cool idea on paper but it doesn't really translate well to an action figure, a physical object. They might as well have just left the box empty for added realism. Points for trying I suppose.

24 Worth A Fortune: Original Kresge Captain

Spider-Man isn't the only classic Marvel hero fetching a price on the action figure market. Everyone's favorite patriot is a dream item for any collector.

Now you can stand for value by paying around $1000 to have him in your collection.

The first edition of this first Avenger was released in 1973 and his popularity has only grown over time. Fun fact: the original 1973 figure was missing his white sleeves and red gloves to save some money during production!

23 Embarrassing: Invisible Woman

Just when you thought we were done talking about how bad of an idea invisible action figures are, here we go again. At least Doctor Strange's astral figure did not look like a double jointed contortionist's act gone wrong like poor Sue Storm looks like here. Not to mention her really bizarre looking proportions that would make even a Barbie doll look healthy. I'm hoping that, someday, people realize that invisible action figures never look as cool as you might think they do.

22 Worth A Fortune: Avengers #1

In September of 1963, Earth's mightiest heroes, The Avengers, assembled for the first time and the rest is history. We know The Avengers now as the most lucrative film franchise to exist, but before that The Avengers #1 was groundbreaking for bringing together all of these great heroes onto the same page.

It is no surprise to anyone that this monumental issue, in mint condition, sold at auction for an incredible $274,850.

Watching Ant-Man, The Wasp, Thor, Hulk and Iron Man collide head-on with Loki would've been too much awesomeness to contain into a single issue. It's no hyperbole to say The Avengers has given us some of the greatest heroes of our time.

21 Embarrassing: Aunt "May"

Wow, I didn't know Gary Busey had an action figure! Oh, wait that's not Gary Busey! That's Peter Parker's own Aunt May! At least it is supposed to be Aunt May. Along the production line, there must have been someone to look at this and think to themselves "close enough". Aunt May is supposed to be a warm, maternal figure for our young Spider-Man. This figure, however, does not exactly scream maternal. The only thing this figure scream is uncomfortable stares and shifty smiles thanks to the Gary Busey face.

20 Worth A Fortune: Tony Stark Metallic Freddy Funko

Now, I love collecting Funko Pop figures as much as every other nerd does but at some point, this turns into an addiction. Considering this rare Tony Stark Metallic Freddy Funko vinyl figure exclusive to the 2012 San Diego Comic-Con can go for a cool $3500, it makes me wonder who is actually buying these. It also makes me wonder how many people have had to pawn off their TV's or their mother's antique furniture in order to add this to their Funko collection.

19 Embarrassing: Marvel Sleeping Wearable Sleeping Bag

Just imagine how cool you would be going about your daily life wearing a full-size Marvel sleeping bag. Stuck in a lunch lineup? Trigger your inner Hulk and start throwing a tantrum while yelling "SMASH SMASH SMASH". Getting beat up by bullies? Throw on your lame Spider-Man onesie for the real Peter Parker Experience.

Or, you could dress up in normal people clothes and not wear something that will instantly make you dork of the year at your workplace.

18 Worth A Fortune: Spider-Man Metallic Funko Pop

Woo! Yet another limited edition San Diego Comic-Con Funko Pop that is here to relieve you that cashing weighing down your wallet. So shiny, so chrome. Funko Pop dolls are incredible because they don't actually do anything. They don't have movable limbs, they don't really have any action and they don't even bobble!

This lovely metallic Spider-Man figure is only going to run you about $800 if you can find someone willing to sell it to you for that "cheap". Not too shabby considering some of the other items on this list...

17 Embarrassing: Thor Dumbbell And Alarm Clock

How many of you have thought to yourself "I want to go to the gym more but I just don't have the time"? Well here is your perfect alarm clock! Released to promote the first Thor movie, this dumbbell shaped alarm clock actually requires bicep curls for it to turn off. All in a great attempt to get geeks as jacked as the god of thunder himself, except that it has a tendency to roll off your night table. They truly put the "dumb" into dumbbell with this one.

16 Worth A Fortune: Amazing Fantasy #15

Featuring the comic book debut of Stan Lee's favorite creation, your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, Amazing Fantasy #15 is a fiery-hot collector's item. As mentioned before, the debut issue of any character goes for a lucrative price, and that price is even more lucrative when said character is the face of Marvel.

Amazing Fantasy #15 sold for a truly amazing $454,100 at auction, not too bad for a nerdy orphan from Queens.

With Spidey finally getting to join the Avengers on screen, and gamers getting the incredible Spider-Man game on PS4, we owe a lot to Amazing Fantasy #15.

15 Embarrassing: Beach Spider-Man

Another thing we owe to Amazing Fantasy #15 is this confusing mess of a Spider-Man action figure. I guess superheroes need vacations too but is the mask really that necessary for a day at the beach? I mean not only is that going to give little Peter Parker some really awkward tan lines but its also inevitable that sand is going to get stuck absolutely everywhere in there. It's as if Spider-Man left the Avengers and went to go join Baywatch instead.

14 Worth A Fortune: Stan Lee Action Figure

And now to wash out the bad taste of that beach Spider-Man figure with an action figure that is truly excelsior! That's right, Stan "The Man" Lee the man responsible for endless late nights reading comic books and watching superhero movies himself immortalized in action figure form. As the Greek gods live forever both through their stories and countless marble tributes, so too does Stan Lee.

Only 1000 of these limited edition figures have been created, so if you want to get your hands on one you will have to be prepared to pay for it.

But who would not want to own a rare collectible item commemorating one of the greatest storytellers of our time?

13 Embarrassing: The Punisher and His "Power Pistol"

We are living through a resurgence of The Punisher lately with Jon Bernthal playing Frank Castle with grit and a proper stiff upper lip. So it's unfortunate that we have to remember The Punisher's unfortunate history as a figure. The gimmick behind the Shape Shifting Punisher Power Pistol was that it could transform into a little toy pistol by putting Castle into a...compromising position. Kids love having two toys in one, but I don't think parents liked their kids playing with a little man with various protruding hardware.

12 Worth A Fortune: Marvel Legends Silver Luke Cage

The Punisher isn't the only Marvel hero to come back to life on our Netflix queue. Of course, the difference here is that Luke Cage doesn't fold himself like origami. This, In fact, this Marvel Legends Silver Shirt Luke Cage is actually worth quite a bit of money. Around $2000, in the box, to be exact. Considering the original retail price was $7.99, it's safe to say this would have been a great investment. Sure this particular figure has 34 points of articulation but unfortunately, none of them involve any hidden weapons like The Punisher's did.

11 Embarrassment: Banshee

There is no limit to the cool factor of the X-men roster. Wolverine, Magneto, Gambit, and Juggernaut are just a few of these timeless characters that are forever etched into our collective conscious. And then there is Banshee. Known for his superior powers of being able to scream at a very, very high pitch, Banshee isn't exactly the James Dean of the X-men universe. Sure this action figure might seem lame with its horribly yellow cape but it redeems itself by having an actual built-in whistle that you can blow into! Nope, nevermind it is just lame.


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Marvel Cards Craze: Everything you need to know about the superhero exclusive card set

The effects of the sports card boom are sending aftershocks still being felt by the market today. If you’re going to go beyond traditional sports, you’re going to see a wide variety of cards becoming more in demand by collectors. Some enthusiasts swear by their love for wrestling cards, which is fueled by nostalgia for the likes of Hulk Hogan and The Rock. Prices of Pokemon cards are soaring, especially those gem-mint First Edition Charizard cards. Another card set that’s slowly making an impact on the market is something that makes a lot of sense – Marvel cards.

In a nutshell, these cards feature popular characters from the Marvel Universe, such as Spider-Man, Captain America, and Wolverine. These characters, and many more, are heavily featured in Impel’s 1990 Marvel Universe Series 1, which is the product everyone is avidly collecting. We take a dive below to understand the demand for these cards, their potential, and how to capitalize on them.


Impel and their groundbreaking Marvel card product

During the late 80s, trading cards experienced a surge in demand due to the popularity of major sports in the United States, such as Basketball and Baseball. At the same time, comic book characters were also gaining a following of dedicated fans during this period, thanks to the success of Tim Burton’s first Batman film. These worlds intersected when card company Impel released Marvel Universe Series 1 in 1990.

1990 Impel Marvel Universe Trading Cards 5

The first set featured a classic base card design using the work of prominent comic book artists at that time, like Ron Frenz and Mark Bagley. It consisted of a 162-base card list, with several holograms acting as the chase product from this set. Also included in these set are cards that depict famous battles, teams, and team-ups featuring everyone’s favorite wall-crawler, Spider-Man. Moreover, Impel’s inaugural product contains the first-ever card that features Stan Lee, the mind behind majority of Marvel’s greatest characters.

30 years after its release, trading cards from Marvel Universe Series 1 are becoming more sought after by collectors and investors alike. The blend of beloved characters, amazing comic-inspired designs, and a lot of nostalgia makes these cards a must-own, not only for card collectors, but for pop culture enthusiasts and comic book fans as well.


The value of Impel’s Marvel Universe Series 1 cards in the market

The surge of demand for these cards can be attributed to several factors. First, is the popularity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which has affected the value of comic books and trading cards featuring these beloved characters. The latter, in particular, are considered the rookie cards of these Marvel heroes and villains, making them a hot commodity in the card industry.

The nostalgia factor also plays a huge role in the popularity of these cards. Just like Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant’s rookie cards, owning these characters in card form is a highlight for fans, especially if they’re encased in a slab. This reason alone has driven the value of graded Marvel cards right through the roof.

Image 1 - 1990 Impel Marvel Universe Series 1, Stan Lee, #161, Mint/Centered/PSA 10?

Take Stan Lee’s PSA 10 Marvel Universe Series 1 card. A copy was sold on eBay for $3,777 less than two months ago. Another PSA 10 slab featuring Wolverine also fetched $2,072 just last week. These two cards show the potential of this product to reach this kind of value in the market. A quick scan through eBay reveals just how deep the growing interest has been.


Important tips to remember before buying

While the reward for these cards seems exhilarating, there are a couple of risks to be aware of. First is the condition of these 30-year old cards. Getting a box of these in the market doesn’t guarantee a gem-mint grade when you send them over to PSA or BGS. More often than not, they’ll have dinged corners, scratched surfaces, or an off-centered design when you get them. This makes absolute sense because of the age of these Marvel cards and the quality of their material after such a long time, so definitely factor that in when looking to purchase.

Another factor to consider is the population of these cards. While there isn’t an official count, it’s safe to assume Impel produced a lot during the product’s initial release. Apart from getting a card that’s in mint condition, you’ll also have to think about its value once the graded population starts rising.

Barring these two reasons aside, the sense of fulfillment and excitement in hunting these Marvel cards is more than enough for people to invest in them. If you feel the need to purchase one from this set, or a whole box even, there are a lot of options out there in the market. Just be cautious with your purchases and you can end up with your target Marvel card in no time at all.

Marvel Cards

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The Top 12 Marvel Rookie Cards to Scoop Up on eBay

When you search eBay for “Marvel rookie PSA” cards, you might be as surprised as I was to discover that most of the popular cards that come up are all from the very same set.

I did some digging, and as it turns out, the first of four sets from Impel (and SkyBox as they later became), happens to contain the inaugural “rookie” cards of all your favorite Marvel superheroes and villains. That should make things easy, right? Let’s get into it.

The 1990 set has a 162-card checklist. The first half is dedicated to individual hero cards, while the second half includes several subsets. There are even six cards labeled "rookies" that could prove to be a play if you’re a Ghost Rider or Guardians of the Galaxy fan. 

You could flip a high-grade version of pretty much any card from this set because they’re all quite rare. And since it’s the de facto Marvel rookie release, you can bet there are a lot of collectors out there trying to piece together the whole thing.

Here are a few of the favorites, listed in the order they appear in the set:

Shop 1990 Impel Marvel Universe Series I Boxes!Sours:
1996 Marvel Masterpieces : the most valuable - expensive - legendary non-sports trading cards?

Marvel Trading Cards: 15 Greats From Marvel Universe I

Comic fans who came of age in the '90s can all agree on one thing: trading cards were a big deal. Independent of the comics that inspired them, superhero trading cards became massively popular in their own right as fans young and old tried to track down every card from every set. Companies like Impel, Fleer and Skybox turning out set after set in the '90s, with Marvel's sets -- which were packed with original art and inventive stats -- remaining insanely memorable.

While the comic trading card game has faded considerably, Marvel's sets still evoke a major sense of nostalgia for generations of comic book fans, serving as a literal snapshot of a period in Marvel's history. That's why we want to revisit the series that started the trend -- 1990's Marvel Universe Series I. These are the cards with the flashiest art, the kookiest stats, the most random characters and the weirdest costumes.

15 Power Man

As hot as Luke Cage might be right now thanks to his Netflix series and role in the 2017's "Defenders," Power Man was definitely an obscure choice back when this card came out in 1990. Cage has been a mainstay of the Marvel Universe for the last 10 years thanks to Brian Michael Bendis drafting him to the Avengers, but the character spent big chunks of the '80s and '90s languishing in limbo. At this point in his history, Cage hadn't been seen since his series "Power Man and Iron Fist" ended in 1986. His next solo series, simply titled "Cage," wouldn't arrive for another two years. Yet here's Luke in an early Mark Bagley illustration, in all of his badass blouse and tiara glory.

The back of Power Man's card reveals that Luke's real name (Carl Lucas) had not been made canon at the time, either. The quick bio on the back, though, could double as the logline for his Netflix series. And you'll recognize one of those "arch-enemies" as well, as Diamondback jumped from the comics page and onto the TV screen as part of Netflix's "Luke Cage."

14 Shadowcat

Kitty Pryde and her dragon pal Lockheed land on this list thanks to the art of the legendary Art Adams. In addition to Shadowcat, Adams turned in art for plenty of other cards in the first two Marvel Universe series sets, with his detailed art adding a real sense of depth and quality to a small canvas. Adams actually drew his card art way, way larger than the cards themselves; this piece of Adams art for Marvel Universe Series II is over a foot long!

Shadowcat's stats hit all the highlights of her character: she's a teenager, she's got a ton of discarded codenames, really dislikes the White Queen and is mature beyond her years. At this point in her history, Kitty had settled on the name Shadowcat and made a home in the UK with Excalibur. Maybe it speaks to the success of her team, but Kitty's win percentage stat is noticeably higher than Luke Cage's. Now there's something fans can really debate.

13 Aunt May

Come on, you can't talk about the 1990 series without talking about the Aunt May card. Yep, dear old Aunt May got her very own trading card in this set -- presumably the most sought after card of the whole lot. But come on, Aunt May deserves a card; after all, she's appeared in almost as many comics as Spider-Man (and even survived an engagement to Doctor Octopus).

The stats on the back of Aunt May's card really make this one worth tracking down. This set had a sense of humor, and it really comes through here. Since fight stats don't really make sense for Spider-Man's elderly aunt, the back instead reveals that May has baked almost a thousand pies and recovered from almost two dozen life-threatening illnesses. The stat about the wrinkles on her face, though, maybe goes too far!

12 Cosmic Spider-Man

"Look, up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's -- Superman! No, wait, it's Spider-Man?"

Yep the wall-crawler briefly earned the ability to fly along with a bunch of other cosmic powers thanks to the Enigma Force. The 1990 series wasn't content to just turn out one card per hero like later sets; instead, alternate versions of some heroes scored cards of their own -- including Cosmic Spider-Man. This card was also depicting incredibly recent events as Spider-Man gained a cosmic upgrade in December 1989's "Spectacular Spider-Man" #158

It's also worth pointing to some of the information on the back of this card, which labels it "Cosmic Spider-Man." Apparently Peter Parker fought 31 battles over the course of three months. Also apparently, not even unparalleled cosmic strength kept him from losing eight of those skirmishes! That's a big deal, seeing as how the "did you know" segment says this version of Spidey was the strongest super hero in the Marvel Universe.

11 Wolverine (Patch)

Wolverine also got more than a few cards in this set, the most interesting of which was this card, depicting the loner's Patch persona. A little while earlier, Wolverine's first ongoing solo series launched and took the clawed Canadian out of his comfort zone and into the seedy island nation of Madripoor. As the X-Men were believed dead at the time, Logan adopted the Patch persona as his cover. This all-black getup with black eye makeup was what he wore while he was out doing was he did best.

And the back of the card shows you what his Patch disguise consisted of: an eye patch. Nope, he didn't cover up that incredibly distinctive haircut nor did he shave those attention-grabbing sideburns. Just an eye patch, please. The card also lists Roughhouse as one of his arch-enemies, which is a name that only readers of the late '80s "Wolverine" series will be familiar with; the guy's popped up in under 10 issues in the last 25 years. It's also worth pointing out that the card slaps a vague age on Logan.

10 She-Hulk

She-Hulk was actually riding high at this point in her career. She'd just come off back-to-back stints as a member of the Fantastic Four and then the Avengers, and her solo series, "Sensational She-Hulk," was in the early part of its lengthy run. You can kinda tell just how good Shulkie has it just looking at this card. She's not lifting anything or punching her way through a brick wall. No, Jennifer Walters is turning heads in a killer look and ride.

She-Hulk's stats also take on the irreverent tone of her fourth-wall breaking early '90s ongoing series. When asked about her arch-enemies, the card kinda shrugs and offers up "None of her enemies have been villainous enough to qualify as 'arch.'" There's also the nickname of "Big Green Mama," which is definitely not a moniker that has stuck with her into the 21st century (if, in fact, it was ever used to begin with). And that "Did You Know" bit is equally charming; instead of diving into a hidden aspect of Jen's origin, the blurb just boasts about her sweet ride.

9 Punisher

Punisher's a no-nonsense character, so he deserves a no-nonsense card. That's just what he got with this card that shows Frank Castle glowering at the viewer with his uzi smoking. This card came around the time of the Punisher's first great era; after debuting in the late '70s and getting his first limited series in the mid '80s, Castle's debut solo series was going strong at this point. It was going so strong, in fact, that a second title, "Punisher War Journal," was also launched.

And this right here is why Punisher is on this list. Just look at that "win percentage"! Aside from some "rookie" heroes with under a dozen battles to their name, Punisher's percentage is the highest of any hero in the set. This is probably because, unlike pretty much every other hero on the list, Punisher tends to win his battle, um, definitively. As in, with a hail of bullets. Still, an 89% puts him way higher than Wolverine. It's also worth pointing out that Marvel editor Tom Brevoort, who had a hand in writing these stats, has said that all the fight stats were "totally made up."

8 Storm

The X-Men were in a bit of a weird place when this series came out (more on that in a bit), so Storm's card isn't as up-to-date as all the others. At this time, Storm had actually been straight up dead -- and then revealed to have been de-aged back to adolescence. So instead of showing pre-teen Storm, this card instead shows her as she was a few years prior, back in her punk phase. Storm did have another card in the set, though, one that showed her all-black jumpsuit look from right before her "death."

We can also use this card to point out the... curious... stats used to describe female heroes' height and weight in pretty much every trading card set of the '90s. 5'11" and 127 lbs. for a superhero, especially one as trained and toned as Storm, just doesn't seem right, right?

7 Galactus

Here's the big guy himself, the devourer of worlds Galactus, shrunk down and barely contained on a tiny trading card. The image itself packs in a lot of Jack Kirby energy, from the crackle and energy lines in the background to the massive blocks of highly-stylized Kirby tech in the cosmic being's floating mobile space-lair.

A look at Galactus' stats reveals that he's the Punisher's villainous doppelganger. Yep, at 69%, Galactus' (admittedly not reflective of the stories themselves) "win percentage" easily outdoes every other super-villain in the set. When you're a massive, planet-eating force of nature, you're not that easy to take down. And since super-heroes always win, that means that every villain -- other than Galactus -- doesn't have much down in the win column. The other eye-catching stat here, though, is "planets devoured." That's the super-villain equivalent of Aunt May's "meals served," and it is excellent!

6 Mephisto

You can tell Mephisto's a super-villain because he's so comfortable in Hell that he sits in a stone throne like it's a La-Z-Boy. Right around the time this card was made, Mephisto went from being a cosmic nuisance of the Silver Surfer's to a dark nemesis of Daredevil, with a stretch of issues published in 1990 pitting him against the Man Without Fear. But this card isn't notable so much for the art as it is the stats.

First there's the "Other Names" section, which lists the always fun to say "Beelzebub." It also lists "The Devil," which is a name that's delightfully contradicted by some quasi-legalese speak in the "Did You Know" box...

Although thought by many to be the same being as the Biblical Devil, Mephisto is not, and makes no such claim

Just add a "your honor" to the end of that sentence. There's also the curious case of the "Battles Fought" stat, which only counts Mephisto's throwdowns from the last decade -- and that's a huge number! Lastly, Mephisto, you gotta work on upping that "Dimensions Controlled" number.

5 Guardians of the Galaxy

Here's another early Mark Bagley card, this time featuring the original lineup of the Guardians of the Galaxy. Yep, no Rocket or Gamora, no Star-Lord, no Groot or Drax. If you've seen the "Guardians of the Galaxy" film, then you might recognize Yondu all the way to the right, but that's about it. That's because these are the original Guardians from a few centuries in the future. And while these guys had been active in the comics since 1969, they're "Rookies" because the very first "Guardians" ongoing launched in 1990.

This card back features a head-scratching roll call for modern Guardians fans. Martinex? Charlie-27? Starhawk? Nikki and Aleta? But these guys and gals have recently appeared in a few Marvel series over the last two years. "Guardians 3000" and "Guardians of Infinity" dusted the characters off, as they'd mostly been last seen in their '90s series, and put them in the spotlight once again.

4 Amazing Fantasy #15

A curious subcategory of this series, Marvel Universe series I featured Marvel's "M.V.C." -- "Most Valuable Comics." Among the cards in this grouping are the first appearances of everyone from Captain America and Iron Man to the X-Men. Even "Wolverine" #1 gets a card. But right here is the most notable card when it comes to that key "valuable" word: "Amazing Fantasy" #15, the first appearance of Spider-Man.

The back of the card gives a rundown of the issue's synopsis, completely leaving out the two back-up tales in this iconic issue (one about a guy that escapes a volcanic island by ringing a bell, and another about a vengeful mummy fighting a bank robber). Of all the cards in this subset, "Amazing Fantasy" #15 is listed as being the most valuable. Of course "Amazing Fantasy" #15 has since shot up in value. Comic Book Realm lists it as being worth around $260,000. And no, that's not just because of inflation. Turns out the first appearance of one of the most iconic superheroes is a sound investment!

3 X-Men

So here's the deal with the X-Men: this 1990 series was released at a time when there were no X-Men. Yes, "Uncanny X-Men" was still a monthly title, but the team dissolved in late 1989. "Uncanny" evolved into an anthology title following the disparate storylines of characters that had been X-Men just a year earlier. So this lineup right here? It never existed. Banshee and Forge were traveling the world together looking for the X-Men; Storm and Gambit were partners in crime; Wolverine, Jubilee and Psylocke were kicking ass in Madripoor; Rogue was chilling in the Savage Land; and Havok and Strong Guy just... weren't around.

Some of these characters (Banshee, Storm, Jubilee, Wolverine, Gambit, Psylocke and Forge) would come together to form a lineup of the team around the time this set was released. Others, not so much. Confusing matters even more is the fact that Strong Guy, who is clearly on the front of the card, is listed as the Morlock "Sunder" in the "Team Members" section. This isn't the only time Strong Guy and Sunder were erroneously linked by a trading card; Strong Guy's 1992 Marvel Masterpieces card displays Sunder's first cover appearance as his first cover appearance. Still, this card is a curiosity, as it shows a roster that never happened, thus making us wonder if it was supposed to happen and writer Chris Claremont changed his mind.

2 Spider-Man Presents: Silver Surfer

As this was the first ever Marvel trading card series featuring original art, a lot of this series was trial and error. Why not make trading cards that are basically just comic book panels? This is a comic book trading card set, after all. That's the thought process behind the "Spider-Man Presents" category, which features a few comic strip gags between Spidey and a number of Marvel characters (ranging from Doctor Doom to Doctor Strange and Magneto). This is the only time cards like these would be included in any Marvel set, as future collections would focus more on heroes, villains, teams and battles.

This card stands out specifically because of the Silver Surfer's last line in that second panel. If you're looking for a better encapsulation of what the early '90s were all about than Silver Surfer dropping his cosmic stoicism to say "hang ten on the waves in Baja" and "they're el primo, dude," well... we don't know if you'll find it.

1 Stan Lee

Come to think of it, how has the codename Mr. Marvel gone unused in over 75 years of Marvel Comics? It's right there and it makes total sense! Maybe that's because Stan Lee is actually the Marvel Universe's Mr. Marvel, and there can be only one. The Marvel Universe Series I set closes out with a tribute card to one of the brains behind the Marvel U, Stan Lee. The illustration features Stan composed of the disparate parts of a number of Marvel heroes, ranging from Thor and Spider-Man to Silver Surfer and Doctor Strange. His four fingers are even the four members of the Fantastic Four. The big question, though, is... is that Howard the Duck's hat?

Similar to the Aunt May card, Stan Lee's card ditches the "battle" stats and goes for the funny. "Comics Written" and "No-Prizes awarded" appear instead, and he even gets a "Favorite sayings" section -- which is a section that plenty of superheroes could have had, too. It's also worth noting that of all the major Marvel sets of the '90s, this is the only card dedicated to a creator as opposed to a character.

That's our look at 1990's Marvel Universe Series I. Which cards from this set were among your favorites? Let us know in the comments!


NextDC: 10 Justice League Members Who Have Used Villainous Powers

About The Author
Brett White (3588 Articles Published)

Brett White is a comedy writer and a proud Southern man -- you know, proud of all the good stuff (Dolly Parton, Blanche Devereaux and Goo Goo Clusters). A lifelong obsession with comics led him to Wizard Magazine in 2008 and then to writing gigs for The Robot's Voice,, and MTV's Splash Page where he served as managing editor. Brett served as a writer and Assistant Editor for CBR from 2011 to 2017, where he wrote a lot about the X-Men, Foggy Nelson, and plenty of gay stuff. Brett is currently a reporter/producer for Decider, where he tries to find reasons to write about Bob Newhart (and also the X-Men). His passion for sitcoms is on full display in the weekly podcast Must Have Seen TV.

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Valuable marvel cards most

During the ‘90s, Marvel was (Silver?) surfing on a wave of massive success, buoyed by the popularity of Fox’s X-Men and Spider-Man cartoons, era-defining — for better or worse — creatives like Rob Liefeld and Todd McFarlane, and seemingly countless videogames and action figures showcasing these comic book greats.

The bottom line? There was an unquenchable desire to collect anything and every Marvel-related, and Skybox entered the marketplace at exactly the right time. Printed on heavy duty card stock, these cards felt substantial in the hands of eager collectors. Chase cards like “holofoil” and “dyna-etching” variants further made the Skybox lines feel like must haves – and so they became a form of de-facto status symbol for collectors. Simply put, if you had these things you had credibility during a time when so-called nerdery was beginning its ascension towards pop culture dominance. Indeed, the Skybox cards gave comics-related collectibles real legitimacy in the eyes of those who previously dismissed such a thing.

From the glory years of 1992 to 1996, Skybox was the best-loved name in the non-sport trading card game. Their legacy can still be seen in cards today, with companies like Topps and Upper Deck still putting out cards who share basic DNA with Skybox’s inventive lines.

Unsurprisingly, Skybox collecting is experiencing something of a resurgence thanks to the one-two punch of 1990s nostalgia and the enduring success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Because you want in on this collecting action, we’ve put together the following guide to some of the coolest, most collectible Skybox Marvel releases. A universe of fun awaits you, quite literally.

Marvel Masterpieces 1992 Unopened Box

1992 Marvel Masterpieces Unopened Box

Price: $300 – $700

The joys and perils of modern trading card collecting can be directly traced back to the 1992 Marvel Masterpieces line. With stunning paintings from Joe Jusko on the front and detailed information about significant Marvel moments and characters on the back of each card, Skybox hit a nerve with this 100-card game changer. Suddenly, fans who hadn’t picked up cards since their elementary schoolyard days of trading baseball or Star Wars cards were back in the game, racing to get each and every entry in the line.


She opened her eyes. It was early morning and the sun did not even appear over the horizon yet. She sat up and sat on the ground, trying to remember what was what. Remembering all yesterday's horror, she did not know what to do next. Suddenly she felt that someone was watching her, but there was no one in front.

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With these words, I handed them a few typewritten sheets. It was an old story I had translated from the English cool story, which was not published anywhere. The thin one condescendingly took it from me. - Well, what, Alex, shall we proceed. - he turned to his fair companion.

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