Superman died. Spider-Mans first love Gwen Stacey died.
Even Peter Parker died. Robin died. Captain America once died.
Superboy died. So did Supergirl and the Flash.
In one issue of DCs Crisis on Infinite Earths, the
storytellers slaughtered six characters.
And now, the X-Mens Professor X, short for Charles
Francis Xavier, the man who sought out mutants and brought them
together as the X-Men, well, he's dead. He was killed off by
X-Men character Cyclops, whose persona was taken over by an evil
It's not the first time Professor X "died" in a
story. In X-Men 42, first volume, the good doctor was whacked
while battling a character called Grotesk. But really, he managed
to talk to a former villain to impersonate him, while X was off
somewhere unbeknownst to his fellow mutants preparing a defense
for the pending invasion of aliens known as the Z'Nox.
By issue 65, X is back in the house and in a coma in issue
66, but is alive.
The question now is how long will Professor X stay dead?
Thats the $64,000 question. Or maybe a lot more than that
as collectors are probably buying as many issues as they can.
This is a happening in comics that collectors sometimes resent,
especially after the infamous death of Superman in 1992. The
deaths often turn out to be dreams, or occurring in alternate
universes, or, as many would say, the deaths are just money grabs.
But every now and then, there is a good story line involved.
The industry, which had been in the doldrums prior to Superman
story arc, bounced back with Frank Millers excellent The
Dark Knight in 1986. A retired, and darker, Batman dons the costume
again, joins up with a new Robin a girl named Carrie
and they fight crime.
Once again, Gotham City is saved. But so was the comics biz
as it got a much needed financial and credibility boost with
the four-part story that brought many idle and new collectors
back into the fold.
But you think no one got killed? Ha! Rest in peace Joker
and Alfred. At least this story takes place in the future.
Riding that wave of success, DC planned and hyped the death
of their Number 1. It was a televised media event as Supermans
killer Doomsday plows into superhero.
There were four different edition runs of Superman 75: A
collectors edition sealed in a bag (don't open it!); a
newsstand edition; a direct sales edition sold only at comic
stores; and a platinum edition, distributed to dealers who purchased
a specific amount from the wholesaler.
Then there were the second to fourth printings of the direct
Let's say the comic never sold at the stands at its cover
price of $2.50 U.S. There were line-ups for the books as non-comic
collectors plunked their hard-earned money for these books.
Prices started at around $10 and worked up. At a convention
I was a dealer at, prices reached $25 for a copy of the bagged
edition. I left them at $15. Because I was in a section of the
East York Arena that for some reason people visited last, I saw
a lot of fallen faces when they finally walked past my table.
I sold most of my copies to other dealers.
Prices for the bagged edition continued to rise, much to
the dismay of many collectors. Hardcore collectors knew that
the death was a passing fad. Superman - the flag bearer of the
DC line - could not, would not, stay dead.
Within six months, the sizzle fizzled.
I recall collectors felt they were taken advantage by the
fad. It was considered by some as a money grab and it had no
lasting significance to the Big Guys storyline.
Other comic companies wanted a share of the pie and tried
to hype their books with holograms embedded in covers, multiple
covers for the same edition, higher-grade paper, alternate story
lines, reviving or altering characters. It was a whirlwind of
corporate activity, much for naught as peoples interests
peaked and dropped in shorter spans of time.
Superman 75 is now listed in the Overstreet Price Guide at
$20 for Near Mint Minus, but I think you'll be hard pressed to
find a dealer who gets anywhere near that. The platinum edition,
even with its limited press run, guides at $60 in top condition,
but again, I'd be surprised if any dealer gets that.
So today, Supes is back with us and he's okay. Indeed, he's
been dating Wonder Woman since August. Wow. What a guy!
Now, what about Professor X? Will he stay dead? He's been
around for a very long time and is integral to the X-Men, so
Once the dust settles, and the storywriters and plotters
get shuffled around, the mutant boss will most likely be returned
to the comic. And it shouldn't have much, if any, of an impact
on the value of earlier X-Men comics.
These are the comics, you know. It's sort of like soap operas.
Not even Spider-Mans first amore, Gwen, stayed dead. She
came back as a clone.
As one leader in the comics business is wont to say: Sheesh.
Let's Talk Comics with Rob Lamberti,
who started collecting comics when the going price was 12 cents
an issue and Peter Parker really was a teenager. He dabbled in
the comic convention circuit in the Toronto area for a while,
but stopped to concentrate on his career as a not-so-mild- mannered
crime reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper, where he hoped
he managed to record a little bit of history the past three decades.