The 12 Most Gimmick-y Gimmick Comic Covers of the '90s

By T.J. Dietsch in Comics, Daily Lists
Tuesday, June 29, 2010 at 8:03 am
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Ah, sweet decadence. In the '80s, it was Wall Street suits sniffing only the finest China White off of the finest imported prostitutes. There was nothing they couldn't do. In the '90s, it was comic book companies selling millions of comics, trying to squeeze more cash out of readers by pulling all kinds of crazy stunts. Variant covers might seem like a no-brainer nowadays, but they've got nothing on Image, DC, Marvel and Malibu comics from the '90s with holofoil, gatefold, embossed and even pop-up covers -- basically, anything companies could do or glue to a comic, they did in hopes they would spur sales, and bizarrely, they usually worked. Here are 12 of the craziest comic cover cash grabs from a decade jam packed with them.

12) Batman #530
Glow-in-the-dark covers were a dime a dozen in the '90s. Some of them were pretty crappy, with just certain elements on the page colored with the ink, while others took it a step further. Take this issue of Batman which guest stars Deadman, a character who could only communicate with the living by inhabiting the dead. The glow-in-the-dark element reveals Deadman taking over Batman with art by the ultra creepy Kelly Jones. (DC, 1996)

11) Gen 13 #1
One of the few gimmicks to last the test of time has been variant covers. Obsessive comic fans will grab anything and everything involving their favorite book, character or artist which fuels companies like Dynamite and Top Cow who put out slews of these things. One of the first companies to really embrace this tactic was the then-new Image with books like Gen 13 and DV8 coming out with covers corresponding to the numbered titles. Gen 13 borrowed from comics, magazines, music and fantasy art for inspiration with some fun, but expensive results. (Image, 1993)

10) Action Comics #695
Embossing is when part of the cover is raised and usually gets a shiny quality to it. Sometimes it can really add to a cover, especially if it's someone like Silver Surfer. Back in the day, the best covers didn't bother us, but something like this issue of Action Comics was really annoying because it introduces a villain named Cauldron who, of course, has a metal suit. You know what no one has ever said? "Remember how awesome Cauldron was?!" Nope, cause he's a lame villain that didn't deserve the extra effort or cash. (DC, 1994)

9) Amazing Spider-Man #365, Spectacular Spider-Man #189, Spider-Man #26 and Web of Spider-Man #90
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As kids, we loved holograms. From baseball cards to those crazy 3-D pictures, it was all good. Until they came to comics in the early '90s. Take these 30th anniversary Spider-Man comics for example. We're pretty sure there were better holograms on cans of Spaghetti-Os around the same time. This is Spider-Man, one of the most acrobatic heroes of all time and this gimmick managed to turn him into a blocky, awkward rainbow of boring. (Marvel, 1992)

8) Avengers #360, 363, 366 and 369
Action Comics #695 aside, embossed covers tended to celebrate a momentous occasion or anniversary and were spread out over a wide variety of titles so certain fans wouldn't get too burnt out. Well, unless you were an Avengers fan in 1993 when, for some unknown reason, Marvel decided to make a every third issue a 48 page giant with an embossed silver cover. What made things even worse was that they didn't offer a basic newsstand version for cash-strapped fans, which even DC did with that dumb Cauldron issue. (Marvel, 1993)

7) Amazing Spider-Man #400
By the mid-'90s, the companies weren't content to do just one gimmick per cover and started combining them. The Punisher: War Zone #1 cover was both die-cut and embossed which actually looked cool with that John Romita Jr. artwork. On the other hand, there's this Amazing Spider-Man #400 cover with a die-cut white thing over a boring blue background. Edgy. (Marvel, 1995)
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