The Dirty Dozen - My Top Twelve Comic Books I Used To Own

It's actually been a while since I posted my first Dirty Dozen list. It took a bit of a back burner to the format changes around here, as well as my taking photos of my personal collection to post. However, as I found myself gearing up for bed for the evening earlier this week, I started having various comic books pop into my head which I used to own. As the list expanded, I decided to start writing them down. Before I knew it, there were about nine books. A Dirty Dozen post immediately came to mind, and with very little effort, I was able to flesh out the list to twelve. So, here they are. My top twelve comics I used to own.

The Spectacular Spider-Man Number 158

I was big into Spider-Man when I first started collecting comics. I loved the many trips my dad took me on to the local comic shop in Oregon, and the few conventions we went to when we moved to Virginia. My dad was always open to throwing me a few bucks towards getting comics, and in doing so, I happily raided the dollar bins where I ended up with a ton of Marvel Team-Up Featuring Spider-Man and "X".

It was in these bins where I also stumbled across The Spectacular Spider-Man number 158, a book which features the debut of Spidey gaining his cosmic powers. While I was too young to understand it at the time, I would later find out that during this particular era in Marvel history, Spider-Man was actually considered the most powerful character in the Marvel Universe when he had his cosmic powers. Neat!

For such an iconic event, it's interesting to see this book hasn't matured in price beyond the couple bucks I paid for it back in the 80's.

The Incredible Hulk Number 181

The first appearance of Wolverine? Who cares?

I certainly didn't back in the early 90's when I pulled this original print book from a cardboard box full of comic books my dad had gotten for me from a co-worker. She was cleaning out her house, and stumbled across the box of about one hundred books which belonged to her son. After asking him if he wanted them, which he did not, she sold it to my dad for $50.00.

The book ended up being traded to a "friend" of mine for a massive amount of his collection. Hind site definitely tells me, "That was foolish." However, being a teenager, I was all about quantity, and not quality. A lesson I learned the hard way with this book. But, I suppose since I don't own any of the books on this list today, none of this really matters at this point.

The Amazing Spider-Man Number 200

As I said above, my dad and I would occasionally trek out to a comic convention together, and during these rare trips, my dad would fund me getting a few books.

It was actually my dad who pulled this from a vendor's bin and suggest it be purchased. The dealer had somehow convinced him that "hundred" books were always milestone issues, and this one would be sure to go up in value. I certainly wasn't about to turn away any comic book my dad was offering to buy, and from there, a sale was made.

Sorry to say, dad, the book you paid $15.00 back in the early 90's has not yielded a return. In fact, you can actually find it for cheaper. Still, the book has it's charm story wise. It's about Spider-Man finding and confronting the killer of Uncle Ben. Whether or not this story has been retconed or undone in later Marvel history, I don't know. However, at the time, it was pretty awesome.

Secret Wars Number 8

By the time I put my hands on Secret Wars number 8 at a local convention, I had groomed myself to be looking for specific books which 1) featured major Marvel events, and 2) featured my favorite characters. This particular issued fit that bill perfectly. For just $8.00, I got the first appearance of Spider-Man in his black suit.

I remember being so disappointed when I actually read the book. Spider-Man's new costume was reserved to the final pages, and being part eight of a series, I had no clue what was even going on. I also had no intentions to buy any of the prior or after books, so to this day, I still don't know what the story was about.

Unlike Spectacular Spider-Man number 158, this book has jumped in price to that of ten times what I paid for it.

The Amazing Spider-Man Number 252

During this same convention, I made it my goal to also grab the first appearance of Spider-Man in his black suit in the ongoing title, The Amazing Spider-Man. I want to say I paid between $25.00 and $50.00 for it.

Sadly, I never did bother reading this book. Instead, it became one of many of my "trophy" books in my collection - Which isn't really saying much considering all of my books were bagged, boarded and alphabetized in numerous long boxes.

Still, I loved the look of Peter Parker in this suit, and it quickly became the version I also preferred to draw. Plus, how can you not love the concept which evolved into one of Spidey's all time fan favorite villains, Venom?

The Amazing Spider-Man Number 129

During the mid 90's, I found myself switching from Spider-Man to The Punisher. I don't know why. Something about the character deeply interested me, yet at the same time I found his stories to be incredibly boring. Mind you, this was after I invested the time, energy and money into collecting his entire mini-series, regular volume series, all of The Punisher War Journal and Punisher War Zone. I even had a series of one shots, the Micro series (character), and a bunch of appearances he made in other books. Do you know how long that takes for a teenager working for minimum wage at a grocery store? Years!

One day, I got it in my head that I needed his first appearance to complete my collection. Fortunately,  My local comic shop had one hanging on its wall - Probably where the seed was first planted. I grabbed it for about $150.00. The book has since gone on to cost anywhere from three to four times that.

Spider-Man Number 1

You want to talk about a comic that set my young mind on fire? Let's talk Spider-Man number one from Todd McFarlane.

As a kid, it was an exciting opportunity to be able to get into a new Spider-Man series from the ground up. It was equally exciting to get the fantastic artwork of Todd McFarlane, an artist I quickly began mimicking the style of in my own drawings. Add on top of that a fantastic story, which I continued to read until around issue twenty-seven.

This series also introduced me to the world of reprints and variant covers, which I feverishly went on the hunt for. Bagged, standard, gold cover, silver covers, I wanted them all, but none more so than the coveted Platinum Edition. This particular version was distributed out sparsely to comic shops, and the price they wanted for it immediately echoed that rarity. The local shop in Oregon had one for $500.00. According to the inflation calculator, this price equates to about $969.92 in 2018 (can't calculate 2019 just yet). I can appreciate and understand why I never got a copy of this book with that calculation in mind.

These days, most of the copies which crop up are graded, and oddly go for around $300.00 to $400.00. Why the price drop? Especially considering it's still a pretty rare book. I honestly don't know.

The Punisher Limited Series Number 1

It's the comic which started my obsessive drive towards obtaining every Punisher book in existence back in the mid 1990's, completely diverting my attention from Spider-Man.

I spoke pretty much in depth about this above, so I really don't have much more to add to this - Suffice that I really loved the artwork on the covers of the limited series. In fact, in comparison, the regular volume edition's number one really pales in comparison.

Spawn Number 1

If you were big into comics in the 90's, then chances are, you were big into Image Comics. It was a big deal back in the day for so many artists to break off from mainstream comics and create their own publishing company. It was also what lead to the inevitable downfall of the comic industry, sending prices of modern books crashing to the ground in a hailstorm of high dollar books which today can't even be given away.

For me, Spawn was always my favorite Image book. In fact, looking back, there were actually only two which I enjoyed.

What made this particular book all the more important to me was the day I went to Philadelphia Comic Con. There, my friends and I had tickets to get an autograph from Todd McFarlane himself. However, there was a catch. Because of the high demand for his signature, people were limited to one autograph per person.

As our numbers were called, I stepped up to the queue. Nervously, I pulled two books from my bag. Spawn number one and Spider-Man number one. When it was my turn, I put them both down in front of him and asked, "Would you please sign the one which is your favorite?" He signed Spawn.

The Maxx Number 1

As I said above, there were two Image titles I liked. That second one just so happens to be, The Maxx by Sam Kieth. His story was weird and different, like nothing I had ever read before. It didn't hurt that he also had an animated series on MTV which I enjoyed immensely.

I never made it through the entire series, as I got out of comics long before the title ended. However, I can honestly say I would be interested in tracking down a complete graphic novel of this so I can finally see how it all ends.

Batman Number 2

Yes, THE Batman number 2. An original print from July of 1940 which I actually owned. This comic came from the box I mentioned above, which also contained the first appearance of Wolverine.

Like that book, I was too stupid at the time to understand what I was holding in my hands. It was taken to the local comic shop and traded for store credit - $500.00 to be exact. Granted, it wasn't in the best of shape, but still, Batman. Number. 2. This is not a book one sees every day, or one most will even see in their lifetime. Let alone owns one. Kids are so stupid...

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Number 1

I loved Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as a teenager / young adult. I not only owned the entire series, but I also read every single issue, and quickly amassed a portfolio of drawing based on the characters. For me, my goal in life was set - I wanted to draw comics for Mirage...Then the studio closed its doors, and that dream was quickly swept under a rug.

To clarify, I never actually owned a first print of this book (just second through fifth). I did have an opportunity to buy one from a local comic kiosk at the mall for a mere $175.00. However, being a young adult, I didn't have that kind of cash to throw around immediately. This kind of purchase would take time. Sadly, when that opportunity resurfaced, the book was long since sold. It remained the only book in the entire series which I never had a first print of.

As people do, when I got out of comics, I ended up offloading everything. I gave my entire series of Turtles to a buddy of mine, who has probably long since sold them off.


In retrospect, I don't honestly go around kicking myself for the toys, comics or in general, things I used to have but got rid of. What would be the point in that? Truth be told, even if by some chance I had my first appearance of Wolverine, Batman number 2, first appearance of Punisher, and any of the other books noted above, they'd just be sitting in a box anyway. It's more comforting to know that they may be in the hands of someone who actually has them displayed, and is enjoying them daily - Like I do with my figures. Kudos to the people who have my old comic books, wherever you are. I hope you enjoy them.

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