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The Guide to the Guide to Comics – WIZARD #25 (September 1993)

by  in Comic News Comment
The Guide to the Guide to Comics – WIZARD #25 (September 1993)

Are you still unsure whether or not Iron Man can beat up the X-Men?  Do you remember Frank Miller’s desire to create a kids’ comic?  Has Deathmate destroyed the comics market yet?  Find out in the Guide to the Guide to Comics.


Pop quiz, hotshot.  Is that Deathblow or Wetworks on the cover?

In this month’s Wizard

It’s the twenty-fifth anniversary issue!  Fifth ink cover!

Interviews with Jim Lee, Frank Miller, Clive Barker, and Mike Manley.

A retrospective on the best slugfests in comics.

Articles on DC’s new direction for Teen Titans (which is still being written by Marv Wolfman), and the new armor era of Daredevil.  There’s also a piece on the Sotheby’s auction of Carl Barks’ Uncle Scrooge work.

The regular columns include Palmer’s Picks (this month’s focus is on mini-comics publisher Tragedy Strikes), Hollywood Heroes, Bart Sears’ Brutes & Babes, Toying Around, and Wizard of Cards.  No videogame column this month, and David Quinn’s writing column is gone.  The Crystal Ball feature, an attempt to predict future comics fads (I think that’s what that column was supposed to be), has also been discontinued.  No photos of readers’ pets, either.

The Departments, as opposed to the “Columns,” offer news, letters, fan art, Top 10 lists, and market information.  The Wizard Profile is now running on the final page.  This is a feature I remember from my entire stint as a Wizard reader:  a creator is asked a series of stock questions that sound like they come from an online dating profile.  A few of the questions are more comics-specific, such as “What would you do with the Beyonder’s powers?” which invites around a third of the respondents to claim they don’t know who the Beyonder is.

A Letter from Our Publisher

Gareb Shamus poses with Crystal, the Wizard convention model who kind of reminds me of Valerie Bertinelli.  Shamus announces that Wizard won the Diamond Gem Award for best comics magazine for 1992, and placed number nine “for the dollar-generating vendor of ’92 in the comic book market.”


Magic Words

Pat McCallum and Patrick Daniel O’Neill are overseeing the letters this month.  The theme is outrage, as previous Wizard articles somehow stepped in issues relating to religion, giving condoms out in schools, and the big daddy, gun control.  Erik Larsen’s “David Michelinie is a clown” letter only generated one response, however.  Doug Goldstein is back to troll more X-Men fans; he’s even given space in the back of the magazine to list the Top 10 reasons why Iron Man could defeat the X-Men.

Wizard News

The news section leads off with Image Comics’ decision to cancel freshman titles Stupid, Shaman’s Tears, Trencher, Tribe, and Wildstar.  To say this didn’t go over well would be an understatement; for Image to be cancelling titles for being late seemed to be the height of hypocrisy.  After this decision was announced, only two Image titles by non-founders remained — Sam Kieth’s The Maxx and Dale Keown’s Pitt.  (Why Pitt was exempted from the lateness rule isn’t explained.)  The vitriol directed at Image largely centered on the decision to can Shaman’s Tears, Mike Grell’s title.  Grell was already a legend in the industry at this point, and the concept of Image of all companies giving him the boot seemed outrageous to many people.  It appears Grell and Image came to terms, however, because Shaman’s Tears did continue past issue #2 at Image…even though it looks as if June 1993 and November 1994 pass between issues #2 and #3.

In other news…

  • Valiant has a new gimmick — “Valiant Visions” glasses that enhance the color of Valiant comics.  Valiant is quick to inform us that these are not 3-D glasses.
  • DC and Image have announced the Batman/Spawn crossovers.
  • Marvel artists Mark Texiera, Brandon Peterson, Dwayne Turner, Art Thibert, Greg Capullo, and Joe Madureira all have Image projects in the works.


Taking a Detour

Jim Lee discusses his new series Deathblow.  I had totally forgotten that Lee left WildC.A.T.S. after its first few issues to pencil this series.  Deathblow is notable for introducing a different side to Lee’s art (a craggy, Sin City-influenced look), and Wildstorm’s military black-ops backstory, which may or may not still exist today.  For all I know, skinny Amanda Waller has been retconned as the boss of all of Wildstorm’s paramilitary heroes.

It’s amusing that Lee, at this stage, doesn’t really see his various titles interacting with each other that often.  Minor characters like Director Lynch might float around various titles, but he doesn’t seem interested in any kind of tight continuity.  I’m also amused to learn that the Deathblow series dealt with religious themes such as the end times, the birth of the second coming, and the anti-Christ.  I always assumed it was just a military action title, in the vein of Lee’s early work with Carl Potts on Punisher War Journal.


A Dare-Devilish Move

Writer D. G. Chichester discusses the decision to give Daredevil a suit of armor, which as far as ‘90s armor costumes go wasn’t that bad a design, even if it never suited the character.  (That pun was not intentional.  Sorry.)  Many of Scott McDaniel’s alternate designs are used as background art in the piece.  Also interesting to hear Chichester acknowledge that Elektra’s resurrection was done in response to editor Ralph Macchio’s request to give the book a “bombshell.”  Wizard was very supportive of the Chichester/McDaniel Daredevil run, declaring this storyline a “hidden gem” for months.


Smash ‘Em!  Bash ‘Em!  Mash ‘Em!

The Top 50 slugfests in comic history; there’s some attempt to list a scale to justify the choices, but really the staff is listing off fights they probably liked as kids.  Articles like this aren’t deep, but they do give you some indication that many of the writers do honestly love comics.  It’s odd that the top fight is the first one listed; the writers aren’t counting down to the winner, they’re naming it right off the bat.  The top fight is Hulk vs. Fantastic Four from Fantastic Four #12.   Number fifty is the unpublished JLA vs. Avengers fight from their aborted 1983 crossover.  If only one day George Perez could return and give the fans this story…


A Life of Crime and Sin

Aww…Frank Miller and Wizard don’t hate each other yet.  Miller does an interview to promote the Daredevil: Man Without Fear miniseries, and the second Sin City storyline, which will published as its own miniseries.  Apparently, Frank Miller hasn’t been told that Marvel views Man Without Fear as an out-of-continuity project, since he talks about it filling in gaps leading up to the second issue of Daredevil.  Even if Marvel didn’t intend the series to be canon, it was referenced so often in the title later on it seemed to supplant the specific details of Stan Lee’s origin story.  When Joe Kelly went back to Lee’s origin in the Daredevil #-1 issue, many fans assumed Kelly was the one screwing up continuity.

It’s certainly a tame piece by Frank Miller standards.  Miller also discusses the upcoming Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot, which he feels will work as a genuinely all-ages comic.  Miller also states that he doesn’t share Alan Moore’s ambivalence over Watchmen — if people do bad Dark Knight Returns rip-offs, he doesn’t feel responsible.


Birth of a Barkerverse

A promotional interview with Clive Barker for his Razorline imprint from Marvel.  These books are some of the first to die when the market begins to contract, but it’s worth noting that the initial creative team of Barker’s Ectokid is James Robinson, Larry Wachowski of The Matrix, and Steve Skroce.  I’m assuming that this title led to Skroce’s involvement with The Matrix movies as a storyboard artist.


A Most Wanted Man

A profile of Mike Manley, written by Brian Cunningham.  Manley discusses following Jim Aparo on Batman and his concerns that the comic book industry is too dependent on superhero material.  He doesn’t refer to fans as “Babymen,” though.


Hollywood Heroes

Lois & Clark is confirmed for a fall debut on ABC.  Andy Mangels also reveals that many of the comics references on Roseanne are the result of writer Martin Pasko, who wrote several comics for DC in the 1970s.  I had no idea Pasko was a Roseanne writer; I knew Joss Whedon and Norm Macdonald worked on the show, but never heard about Pasko.  In other news, Mangels seems skeptical that this new X-Files show will please action fans on Friday nights.



Wizard is giving away twenty-five twenty-fifth anniversary issues this month.  Malibu has a contest to promote the series Hardcase — you can win a VHS tape featuring a trailer for the character’s (fictional?) movie, which I really hope is on Youtube right now.  Oh, man…it is!

But the real prize this month is Defiant’s “Casting Call” contest, which will select seven fans’ headshots and essays and use him or her as the inspiration of a character in the new The Good Guys series.  Defiant even promises that a royalty fee will be split amongst the winners seven ways any time they appear in a comic.  Here’s a glimpse of the winners:


Toying Around

Todd McFarlane, Rob Liefeld, and Defiant are all in talks to get into the toy business.  Yes, we might have Spawn toys one day.


The Wizard of Cards

Topps is splitting the manufacture of Deathmate cards with Upper Deck, perhaps because some of the characters belong to Valiant and others belong to Image.  In more pressing news, POGs have made their debut.  Non-official POGs are usually called milkcaps, while Skybox’s line is named “Skycaps.”  Jim Lee, DC, and Jurassic Park all have Skycaps sets.  In future issues, Wizard will come out as strongly anti-POG.


Good & Cheap

Wizard’s spotlight of affordable back issues that the staff thinks you’ll enjoy.  This month’s entry is Amazing Spider-Man #231-232, foreshadowing Wizard’s almost sexual obsession with Roger Stern’s Amazing Spider-Man run.


Comic Watch

The two picks this month are Weird Mystery Tales #1 (first appearance of DC’s Destiny) and Magnus Robot Fighter #3.  Wizard predicts that all of Valiant’s non-wrestling and non-Nintendo comics will be hot one day.


Picks from the Wizard’s Hat

The top pick this month, outranking even Batman #500 is Valiant’s The Second Life of Doctor Mirage #1.  I have no memory of this book, although I acknowledge that the only Valiant titles I’ve ever read starred Super Mario and Link.  Another hot pick is the epilogue to Deathmate, which I believe shipped several months late and is blamed by many for playing a large role in the market’s collapse.

Other storylines from this era include the X-crossover “Fatal Attractions” (the preview of X-Men #25 outright tells you what’s going to happen to Wolverine), the return of the real Superman, and Aerosmith’s groundbreaking appearance in Shadowman #4.  The solicit for Uncanny X-Men #305 claims that Professor X will mobilize his “Worldwide Mutant Underground,” which certainly isn’t how I remember the issue.  Oddly enough, only a handful of X-books are represented in this section, while Valiant and Ultraforce titles are everywhere.  Spawn is also missing from the More Picks section.


Top 100 – July 1993

Our top seller this month is Spawn #15, with no DC titles in the Top 10 and only Uncanny X-Men #304 and X-Men #24 representing Marvel.  There are four Deathmate titles in the Top 10, giving you an idea of just how popular both Image and Valiant are in 1993.  Brigade #0, WildC.A.T.S. Trilogy #2, and Savage Dragon #2 round out the Top 10.  The number 100 book this month is Excalibur #69, which has yet to be named an “official” X-spinoff.


Top 10 – August 1993

Valiant titles and key issues of DC’s “Knightfall” event dominate the back issue market, per Wizard.  The top book is Batman #497, followed by Sword of Azrael #1 at Seven, Vengeance of Bane at Eight, and Batman #492 at Ten.  (I’ve reviewed all of these issues in the past when going through the Knightfall trades, if you’d like to follow the links.)  Amazing Spider-Man #300 is Marvel’s only entry at number Nine.


Wizard Market Watch

The only report of market glut this issue comes out of Continuity, whose new first issues are going at cover price.  The article states that Continuity’s hopes now hinge on that Spawn appearance in Valeria.  Uh-oh.

Malibu’s Ultraverse is doing well, following a campaign that featured ads on MTV.  Malibu also sank a decent amount of money into hyping the line in Wizard, since this issue runs around twenty Ultraverse ads.  Some of those MTV ads have their own Youtube video, along with a bungee-jumping ad from 1993.

Wizard’s Top Ten Hottest Artists are…

  1. Todd McFarlane
  2. Jim Lee
  3. Rob Liefeld
  4. Marc Silvestri
  5. Joe Quesada
  6. Jae Lee
  7. Bart Sears
  8. Sam Kieth
  9. Mark Texeira
  10. Neal Adams


The Wizard Price Guide

I’m obligated to report that Youngblood #1 is no longer priced at eight dollars…it’s now listed at eleven dollars and fifty cents!  And if you have the limited edition gold foil cover, that’s a sixty-five dollar right there, buddy.  Spawn #1 is going for a measly nine dollars fifty cents, and I’ll pick a few Marvel and DC books out just at random…Marvel Comics Presents #1 is valued at eleven dollars, and the first issue of the Giffen/DeMatteis/Maquire Justice League is listed at twelve dollars.


So, what did we learn today?

Money Quotes:

  • “I wonder if there was anything in Wizard #22 that didn’t offend someone?” (Magic Words)
  • “The 90,000 copies of Daredevil being sold today are to people who actually read and enjoy the book…And sales prove that no one is speculating on this title, which is fine with me because I think the whole speculation thing is silly.” – D. G. Chichester (A Dare-Devilish Move)
  • “I would love to do a Superman story someday — with him as the good guy, as opposed to Dark Knight, where he is a pretty ambiguous character.  I’d like to explore that side of the character.” – Frank Miller (A Life of Crime and Sin)



  • Todd McFarlane is named as the writer of Spawn/Batman.  Frank Miller’s involvement is announced later.
  • Joe Madureira never pencils a Diehard miniseries for Rob Liefeld.  He does complete one issue of the Vanguard miniseries, however.  A rumor circulated after the Vanguard issue that Bob Harras offered Madureira Uncanny X-Men out of fear that he’d lose another hot artist to Image.
  • Andy Kubert’s rumored Image project never materializes.
  • West Coast Avengers does not evolve into the new series Powerworks.  It’s Force Works, which isn’t any better.
  • A rumored storyline has the Punisher “finally” killing an innocent — not sure if this story ever saw the light of day.
  • Sam Kieth’s under the impression that The Maxx is only a miniseries at this point.  He plans on doing another one for Image in the future.  Just think — the Maxx has appeared on the cover of Wizard twice by this point, and received his own #1/2 issue…all to promote what was intended as a miniseries.  Topps has also announced a 90-card series devoted to The Maxx; that’s a ridiculous amount of promotion for what Kieth assumed to be a miniseries.
  • I’m almost certain that a Sam Raimi-produced Dark Horse Presents syndicated anthology series never happened.
  • Defiant’s Plasm #1 is renamed Warriors of Plasm #1 after Marvel complains that the title is too close to the Marvel UK book Plasmer.
  • Jim Lee has begun promoting Gen X, which will later be renamed Gen 13 at Marvel’s insistence.
  • Valeria, the She-Bat #4 is not the conclusion to a Spawn crossover.  Also, Doom’s IV isn’t released for another year.


This Ain’t HuffPo:  “Man, I’d like to hire her sometime. Uh…for an adventure together, that is.” – The text that accompanies Silver Sable’s image in the Hunk & Babe of the Month column.

Pathological Scatological:  Honestly, I don’t think there’s a single fart joke this issue.

Cheap and Stupid and Trashy?:  Presumably, Miller didn’t feel that way when he agreed to be interviewed this issue.  As ridiculous as the price guide remains, most of the editorial content isn’t nearly as offensive.  The interviews this issue all relate to people publicizing new projects, but they’re not flagrant commercials.  And Wizard’s personality is still emerging, with more and more hidden jokes appearing throughout the magazine.  Even an ad for Wizard back issues has some quick jokes snuck in, along with the table of contents.  I am confused by the ad for Wizard t-shirts and baseball hats.  Was there really a demand for these?

If there’s an issue of Wizard you’d like to see covered in a future installment, let me know in the comments.  In the meantime, you can find me at Not Blog X or on Twitter.

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