Gimmick covers — threat or menace? Yeah, I could live without comics with holofoil embossed triple-foldout double-bagged covers myself, and I used to sell the dang things. But let’s take a look at a gimmick cover that was actually different and fun.
Superman: The Man Of Steel #30, February 1994. Creators: Louise Simonson (story), Jon Bogdanove (pencils), Dennis Janke (inks), Glenn Whitmore (colors), Mike Carlin (editor). Published by DC Comics.
Return with us now to those glory days when people were reading the Superman titles in droves, following his death and return. Unfortunately, wrapping up the rebirth storyline seemed to suck the energy out of the line and its creators. This issue is a good example of how.
Lobo swings by Earth after hearing about Superman’s coming back to life. He’s ticked off at Superman for stealing his shtick, and intends to “prove that Lobo is still the resurrection king!” (Of course, if Lobo tried that today, he’d be fighting half the DC Universe.) Superman is not thrilled, and they fight, but then they team up to fight alien zombie robots.
The comic itself is no great shakes. I know people have fond memories of this creative team from their stint on Power Pack, but the overdone anatomy and blah coloring overwhelms whatever storytelling chops Bogdanove has, and Simonson’s script was probably dashed off from editorial fiat and in very short time. And Lobo…man, was I sick of Lobo at that point. He was so over-exposed by then, Wolverine felt overlooked by comparison. Long-haired Supes, guys with huge muscles, pointless fights, Lobo, and overdone “alien” swear words…it’s enough to make you wonder how comics survived the ‘90s.
So, just another sub-par comic? Yeah, except for the gimmick cover, which had never been attempted before and hasn’t been done since. In an attempt to keep interest in Superman high, DC decided to do a Colorforms-style comic cover, with vinyl peel-off figures that you would stick to the cover to recreate the Superman-Lobo fight. Each copy of the comic (polybagged, of course) came with this sheet of stick-on figures and sound effects:
What creeps me out are the “poseable” pieces at the top of the sheet. It looks like someone took a laser chainsaw to Supes and Lobo (“laser” for nice bloodless clean cuts). Mmm, fresh Lobo chunks! Of course, the classy sound effects go a very short way to make up for it, but at least they threw in Lois and Jimmy. Anyway, here’s the front cover (it‘s a wraparound), printed on glossy cover stock to give the figures something to stick to:
The idea was that you could peel the figures off, play with them, and stick them back on the sheet later. In practice, I suspect that many of these remained unplayed-with (gotta keep that comic mint, after all) and the rest were used but wound up with lost pieces after the figures didn‘t re-stick to the sheet. Of course, waiting 17 years to play with it didn’t help in my case, but the figures still stuck nicely to the cover, so kudos for that.
Here’s what DC, at least publicly, probably expected people to do:
Of course, a lot of sicko smartalecs probably did this instead:
That “SPLORT” is what really makes it sing, don’t you think?
That’s where it would end — except that, thanks to technology that was slow and insanely expensive in 1994, you can now play all sorts of tricks with these! Just a little bit of patience and a scanner, and you have a poor man’s Photoshop. And that’s our top ten list for today: 10 uses for stick-on Superman and Lobo images!
10) For instance, if there‘s one thing that would have made Crisis On Infinite Earths even more awesome, it might be this:
Or, maybe not.
9) Haven’t you always wondered what the Joker was REALLY photographing?
This actually came out better than I expected, kind of subtle. Check this close-up:
(I was actually surprised to find out DC’s never published a Lobo/Joker comic. If they do after this, feel free to blame me.)
8) And now, something some people at DC in the 1990s wished they could have gotten away with:
Somewhere, Neil Gaiman is shaking his head sadly.
7) Meanwhile, after another membership drive:
Man, those guys would take anyone as a member.
6) Oh, those wacky Roger Langridge sight gags!
(Personally, I think Miss Piggy would hand Lobo his Feetal’s Gizz.)
5) At last, Superman meets the only billionaire more annoying than Lex Luthor!
I’d be surprised if Scrooge hadn’t met Superman at some point. It was probably in chapter 11-C of Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, the same one where he met Eleanor Roosevelt, Joe Louis, and the Bowery Boys.
4) And then the Man of Steel challenges…Alan Moore?
“First, I destroy this monolithic Supreme statue! Then, next I take on its creator, the notorious Necromancer of Northampton!”
3) Oh noes! Someone broke Ninja Kyle’s action figure!
The lesson: Don’t mess with Princess Powerful.
2) In an scene from someone’s really bad fanfic:
(That sound you hear is J.R.R. Tolkien spinning in his grave. That sound I hear is his estate sending attack-dog lawyers after me.)
1) But finally, we have to conclude with the winner of this epic conflict, and there can only be one — the one hero who can handle Superman and Lobo with ease, and throw in two other formidable foes to boot: