Strong Guy is not an X-Man! What the hell, Card!?!MARVEL CARDS:
-For my next set, I basically got an idea while scoping out my old Marvel Cards from the binder I had when I was a kid. After remembering all of these forgotten nobodies (most of whom were new or relevant at the time, but no more), I figured I'd post a few of them... after realizing just HOW MANY of these guys I hadn't built before, and decided to complete a set, as it were.
-These cards were pretty great- trading cards with bios of the various Marvel characters. Funnily enough, when Series I came out, I was barely even a comic fan, and my friends would actually joke about it because I had no idea how to play along when they all talked comics (nowadays it's all newfangled things like Pokemon and Dragon Whatsits or Zip-Zops or something. Damned kids). They'd actually make up stuff to win arguments, because I didn't know better- one friend told me that all of the X-Men had claws, and that Wolverine (their favourite) and Captain America (my favourite) had fought, and Logan beat Cap so bad with his claws that he nearly died and The Avengers had to come save him. Because kids are DICKS.
-It is actually these very cards that led to me learning the majority of what I initially knew about comics- these were the first instances I had ever read of Jean Grey, Shadowcat, Sub-Mariner, Captain Britain, Silver Sable, The New Warriors and dozens of others.
* Series I came out in 1990, when I was eleven years old. It was pretty basic stuff, featuring mini-bios, a "Did You Know?" section, a ton of notes (debut, height, weight, and Arch-Enemies), and a Win-Loss Record (the Win-Loss records were odd- I wonder if they actually calculated those out or just made them up. I doubt Baron Zemo really had 184 battles in the comics by 1990, so I think the latter). The cards were a bit bland by later standards (from the standard "single colour pictureframe around the image" to the standard "box" design of everything to the pedestrian art chosen), but some had some decent art. I have the fewest of these of most of the sets as I never actually COLLECTED these so much as got some from friends and X-Men toys (the original "then cool, now hilariously plain" X-Men toys came with cards from this series), having only 23 in total. A few things that were never repeated include the "Most Valuable Comics" cards (I have Avengers #1 and Wolverine #1) and "Spider-Man Presents", featuring Spidey giving tongue-in-cheek interviews with assorted Marvel characters (Doctor Doom: "Would YOU go to a Doctor named DOOM?"), and the "Team Pictures" cards were more like posted photographs that mostly only showed heads.
-Of particular note here is the specific era of comics- the current X-Men sometimes wore the generic team outfits and had SUNDER as a member of the team (but the picture is clearly of Strong Guy before he got the name), and had Gambit in his original, skeevy-looking regular-eyed design instead of the heterosexuality-threatening red-eyed Frenchman you see nowadays. What REALLY bugged me was that Alpha Flight had a team picture, but didn't say who was whom- without Wikipedia, I had NO IDEA which ones Windshear and Persuasion were. Wolverine was then known as "Patch", and Spider-Man got a card featuring the Black Costume (which I thought was the GREATEST CARD AND COSTUME EVER... sadly, I never had it.
Read all the "Spider-Man Presents" ones here: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_hF09r6XaLRo/S ... n+iron+man
(some of them are actually pretty funny- "I'm a failure as a father!" "Yes! Also best-looking!")
* Series II was extremely cool, and a big improvement. The art took a step up, and it added.... *GASP* POWER RATINGS!!!! It is this feature that basically is solely responsible for my current dorky obsession with statting stuff up- the results of which you read in 370-ish pages before this post right here. The Ratings featured Strength, Speed, Agility, Stamina, Durability and Intelligence rated from 1 through 7... which provided some odd bits of info. See, at this point, Strength 1 was someone who couldn't lift more than their own body weight, leaving a LOT of female characters with the lowest possible score- even Gambit & Quasar were only Strength 1! Agility was usually pretty low throughout (not everyone is Spider-Man), and Stamina was often as well... it's actually the weirdest stat they ever used. When the hell did comic book characters typically show endurance to that extent? It also had the curious side effect of making some characters look REALLY weak on the chart- Marvel Girl didn't have a single stat over "3", because there was no stat for her Telekinetic or Telepathic powers. Similarly, The Punisher was weak, Daredevil had low stats (a "4" in Agility?), and more.
-"Class 100 Strength" rears it's infamous head here as well- you will STILL see fans online quote that as a break between the Elite Class and the Strong Class of characters- The Thing, Sasquatch and others were all stuck here (despite lifting hundreds to thousands of tons in the comics sometimes)- Mark Gruenwald (my Muse of Nerdy Statting), who preferred lower and more established power levels, was still alive and in power, after all. Rogue was also somewhat under-represented, with a "4" for Strength (putting her in the same class as Beast & Spider-Man, not just below Colossus' "6"). Invisible Woman didn't have a single stat over "3", Scarlet Witch never broke a "2", etc.! I loved the stats, but some were often way out of whack (Punisher has Stamina & Agility "4" only? The Juggernaut was the same strength as Warpath & Colossus), and failed to establish how powerful some guys could be. Deathlok could also apparently lift 50 tons! As you'd expect, the powerhouse stats went to Silver Surfer, Thor & Galactus (who had a "1" in Stamina to reflect his hunger, I guess).
-The main thing aside from Power Ratings was that these cards looked GREAT. Every single card was at LEAST "Average" (and Hawkeye was wearing shades for some reason), and many were stunning. Deathlok, Dr. Strange, Annihilus & Thanos were BITCHING. Marvel Girl looked STUNNING (I was in love instantly. I was only 12 and she was startlingly-attractive in form), Shadowcat was cute as hell, etc. There's a section on "Weapons", showing The Infinity Gauntlet, Daredevil's Billy Club, Web-Shooters, Iron Man Armour, etc.
-More era-specific stuff: Thor is and was always Eric Masterson to me, by virtue of every Thor Card I had for two straight years (my formative comic years) featuring the bearded newbie. Shadowcat & Nightcrawler were always Excalibur members to me, Ulik & Saracen were notable villains to me, Sleepwalker, Rage & Darkhawk were notable heroes (I mean, they had ROOKIE CARDS!), etc. I was OBSESSED with my brother's "Avengers vs. Ultron- Arch-Enemies" card and got in trouble when I begged and pleaded with him to trade for it (pretty sure I cried- hey, I was twelve :)), I'm pretty sure because it had a cat-girl in a bikini on it (ah, Tigra). The coolest cards were the "Power Ratings" ones, which actually showed what all the powers represented (nobody got a "7" in Agility)- Aunt May was frequently used for the "1" ratings, and poor Absorbing Man got stuck with "Intelligence 1- Mentally Deficient".
An overview (without paragraph breaks) and list of every card here: http://marvel.com/news/story/1098/make_ ... s_series_2
* Series III was next, and another step up, though the art took more of a nosedive. While Series II had some great panels of art, with full backgrounds, Series III did a kind of weird thing where it was a shot of the guy's full body on a starfield background (which linked up between cards), and a tiny shaped-pictureframe behind them (some guys had squares, others had rectangles or circles. A few even had triangles!). The Power Ratings got an upgrade, dropping the usually-low Agility & Stamina scores for Energy Projection, Mental Powers and Fighting Ability, suddenly leaving guys with REALLY high stats in some categories. It made a lot of people suck less, too.
-Not that the Power Ratings couldn't be inaccurate- many guys undergoing a current big "Push" as a character got HUGE Fighting Ability scores (Bishop & Shiva got a "6"- two points higher than Black Panther! Cable & Omega Red got the full "7"!). The Invisible Woman was stuck with Energy Projection "4", almost every single strong character was stuck with a "3-4" range Fighting, etc. One odd effect was that every single character got boosted to at least a "2" in Strength (own weight to the human maximum), meaning that everyone from Polaris to Captain America had the same Strength. Sabretooth was human-level strength, despite being WAY strong in many apperances, though the X-Books could be iffy on keeping it straight.
Of all the heroes, Weapon Omega was by far the most obscure. This series also gave me my lifelong disgust of The Guardians of the Galaxy- I took one look at Charlie-27 and hated 'em. Starhawk was rad, though.
-"Famous Battles/Arch-Enemies" gave way towards "Team-Ups" (which, like the Battles series, showed one instance where the characters met) and "Origins", "Milestones" (Death of Gwen Stacy, Dark Phoenix Saga and other famous events) and "Wars" (usually Crossovers like "X-tinction Agenda" & "Inferno"). "Rookies" include The Pantheon (again, era-specific. They were The Hulk's team), Slapstick, Cerise & Kylun from "Excalibur", Strong Guy, The Darkhold Redeemers (the worst name imaginable), Bishop, Silhouette and Talon. "Cosmic Beings" featured the huge Cosmic dudes I'd NEVER seen before- I'd never seen Eternity, The Living Tribunal or Ego before this (I was only reading X-Books and Captain America). Other weirdness- nobodies like Zarrko the Tomorrow Man and Zodiak have cards. Carnage is miscoloured to have dark blue/black as his majority colour, with the rest of him red. Maelstrom is drawn so skinny that he looks ridiculous. THE SLUG of all people gets a card!
* There's some Marvel Masterpieces and X-Men Cards and stuff in here as well- The first series of X-Men cards had some GREAT Jim Lee art for EVERYBODY (I wonder if they paid him well for that... given he left for Image right after, I'd imagine not), and the Masterpieces had some very cool stuff mixed alongside some rather pedestrian bits (Mandarin & Loki bad, Hulk, Bullseye & Iceman good). I liked that they included an image of the character's debut issue as well. I should point out that heights and weights listed on all the bios can be funny- I am QUITE certain that The Juggernaut is taller than 6'10"- I've seen him tower twice as high as some people. This is generally a weakness in all bios for fictional characters.So out of character for Sue... so hard for me to mind overly-much...
* Series IV featured a cool new thing- the 9-panel pictures, where a full page of your card-slipcover things would make one giant super-image. This series was the weakest for actual info on the back, though- while it's boring read the paragraph-long origin stories on each card-back, these ones only featured a modicum of information, a "Did You Know?" on the bottom, and only had FOUR Power Ratings per guy (adding all the prior ones seen), often choosing powers at random to show (why even HAVE Stamina on there?). Series IV is also the weirdest for sheer random assortment of goofy one-shot characters that don't matter. The Thing is wearing his metal mask from when Wolverine slashed his face, Occulus and Proctor have cards, losers like Deadzone, Siege, Shock, Hardcore, Terror Inc. and Heart Attack. And now, I'm a pretty big comic book fan. I've made a name for myself just off the knowledge of hordes of pointless jobbers... and I HAVE NEVER, IN MY ENTIRE LIFE, read a comic featuring ANY of those characters! I've never even seen them outside of these Cards, they're so minor! A handful of them were just guys from that year's Marvel releases (and thus had no longevity, since this was 1994 and comics were going through the Bust), but seriously- it was at least a nice switch from the "Same Old" major characters we'd been getting before that. It's a very interesting "snapshot" at comics in that particular moment, almost like getting a Digest Anthology of every comic released that year rather than a "best of" collection of every good character ever.
-And OH MY GOD IT'S THE BOMBER JACKET AVENGERS. WOW did that era suck for the team. Unsurprisingly, this card set takes place during the Comic Book Bust when Marvel and other companies started losing money left and right.
-Most of the panels are pretty good, but lack something because they try to link up the characters (which means that many big-name X-Men and others get left out). The pages basically go: Solo Heroes (Hulk, Moon Knight, Silver Sable & her Wild Pack), Cosmic Characters, New Warriors, X-Force, Alpha Flight/Excalibur, Magic Guys (Strange, Sleepwalker, Thor), Spider-Man, Avengers West Coast, Fantastic Four, Street Level (Cage, Punisher... She-Hulk?), Avengers, Ghost Rider (yeah, he was a big enough character back then that ALL the Midnight Sons got Cards), X-Men, Alien Races (a cool idea), Marvel U.K. (featuring those GOD-AWFUL over-the-top '90s guys), and Unsolved Mysteries (many of which were answered later... Nightcrawler & Cable's origins, Wolverine's, the Sixth Infinity Watch member- Thanos- and the Fate of the X-Men- Onslaught; and a current mystery like The Face of Doctor Doom).
Gaze upon the Series IV panels here: http://www.mikekloc.com/nonsport/Marvel ... /index.php
-All in all, these cards were great fun, though it kinda fell apart later. Later sets did come out, but I only collected a card or two. One series had REALLY ugly "shiny" art and holographic bits on every card, and I got out of comics right around 1994 anyways, so I have little knowledge of those sets. But overall, I can count a lot of my comic book obsession coming not from the actual comics (I didn't read most of the "Classic" stuff until 1999 or so when I got to Edmonton and found some major comic book stores and some money of my own). And in tribute to these awesome cards, I shall endeavor to build a whole swack of characters from the sets- the guys I've never built before, which is actually a more sizeable list than I expected.Builds to do:
Zarrko the Tomorrow Man
The Darkhold team
The Mad Thinker & Awesome Android
The Wild Pack
Other guys who aren't in the cards, but I've wanted to build for a while:
Bloodscream and whoever his partner was (I'll look it up later)
Albert & Elsie-Dee (recurring characters from that era's Wolverine)