Marvel Superheroes First Issue Covers (Fantasy Trading Card Company / Marvel Entertainment Group)

Marvel Superheroes First Issue Covers
Fantasy Trading Card Company / Marvel Entertainment Group

October 1960 was a monumentous month in the world of comic books. With its release of Strange Tales issue seventy-seven, Stan Lee proclaimed across the cover that the book featured the return of the character Taboo, noting the comic was a, "Great new collector's item." It's with these words that the comic industry proclaimed that comic books were no longer just for kids who read them and tossed them away. Rather, they were something to be collected, and held onto.

Lee would continue to hint at the collectibility of comics for years to come, and Marvel would double down on this concept in January 1964 with the release of its all new reprint series, Marvel Tales. This suggested a demand for the prior stories produced by the publisher, only to further stir in the minds of people that there may be something more to these dime novel rags than they first may have thought.

Though it's unknown specifically when it happened, it was during this decade that antique shops started selling older issues of comics, looking to cash in on the collectible nature of out of print issues. April 1968 would also see the opening of the first comic book store in the United States, Gary Arlington's San Francisco Comic Book Company.

The era of collectible comics was upon us, and with it, came a hunger for fans young and old to swoop up classic comics going back as far as the 1930's.

Us kids of the 80's had no chance of getting our hands on the likes of an Amazing Spider-Man issue one, Avengers issue four, or the multitude of other iconic comics that launched the Marvel Age of comic books. Instead, if we wanted to see these classic covers, we had to suffice for images from the annual Overstreet Price Guide, or, if we were luck enough, this awesome set of collectible trading cards released by Fantasy Trading Card Company in 1984.

Marvel First Issue Covers was exactly as it sounds like. A trading card set which showcased classic comic book first issue covers. In total, the set comprised of sixty cards, with the last in the series being a double-sided checklist.

For kids like me, this was my only chance to see many, if not all of these books. Let alone "hold" it in my hand, albeit in miniature image form only. Fun to flip through, make you wonder what it would be like to actually have the book, and of course, trade with your friends. It's ironic that this post is going live on 7/11, because that's probably the place most kids got their packs from.

The images were by no means high quality. Take your average quality baseball card of the early 80's, and then reduce that even further to keep costs as low as possible. The generic white border on the front was as simplistic as the design got, and the brown cardboard back served only to house a text box which contained a blurb on the book's contents.

Regardless, for kids deeply into comic books, these cards were just as good as having the issues themselves. With the image of the cover, and the summary on the back, our young minds would fill in the rest, making our own stories based on the described premise and imagery.

What's interesting about this set that while you could buy individual packs, Fantasy Trading Card Company also released a complete set that came with all sixty cards. Sure, it was a convenient way to get all the cards in a one and done shopping experience, but it also kind of defeats the purpose of collecting them. Opening packs is half the fun.

These days, you won't find any information on Fantasy Trading Card Company. A history of what they did prior to this set of cards, or after, seems non-existent. Regardless, this doesn't stop this particular set from being sought after on secondary markets. Marvel fans love to buy them by the pack, full box, complete set, and even individual card.

A second series was released in 1991. However, this was released directly by Marvel Entertainment Group. This, though, is a post for another day.

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  1. Very cool set. I could see myself trying to find these.

    1. I have learned to stay away from trading cards. Gets out of hand fast.