Wednesday, July 4, 2018


This third part of a discussion on Legion-related variants turns the spotlight on issues that were not specifically marketed as variants, but have been regarded as such by some collectors.


The Western Publishing Company's Gold Key brand ended in 1979, with the company turning its focus to the more profitable Whitman bagged comics line, sold as non-returnable items through department and other general stores.

    DC and Marvel licensed their books through Whitman so that they could have their books in two- or three-pack formats sold in department stores, where Whitman had an exclusive deal. 
    These went on sale through 1979 and1980.
    For many years, fans have debated whether these oddities should be classified as variants. But one thing is clear: because of their limited distribution, the issues are scarce and have proven to be much in demand.
    The Whitmans have for a long time been regarded as secondary prints and treated as such. But it's worth noting that DC Whitmans are not reprints. They were printed at the same time as their newsstand counterparts. 
    Only in the past few years has the value and collectible worth of these issues risen, particularly as some are so rare that less than 10 copies of the issues exist.
    Altogether, there were 13 issues of SUPERBOY which received the Whitman branding treatment: #244, #245, #246; #247; #248; #251; #252; 253; #254; #255; #256; #257; and #258.

A typical Whitman bag of comics.



   Another four issues of LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES (formerly SUPERBOY) were also found in three-packs:  #261; #263; #264; and #266.
    The real gem here is #264. It is estimated that less than 100 copies of this issue exist, making it one of the rarest DC Whitmans around, and almost impossible to secure.

The extremely rare Whitman print of LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #264 is on the right, pictured next to a more common variant.


Then there were issues which featured logos inside the UPC boxes, which would normally include bar codes. These were limited to distinct retailers in comic packs or multipacks. 

    During big multi-issue crossover events, the direct sales issues often also featured different  logos in the boxes: for example, the ZERO HOUR and ARMAGEDDON books.
    These are by and large ubiquitous and surely only the most compulsive of completists would endeavour to collect them all.

Issues with differing UPC boxes.

On the left is an issue with a ZERO HOUR logo in the box.

    Finally, there's one more different sort of format that some collectors hunt: comics with advertising inserts for Mark Jewelers

    In the mid 1970’s DC and Marvel comics started to include a four-page, heavy paper stock color insert from this company in many of their comics. It is believed they were distributed near US military bases, both at home and abroad, to reach out to servicemen so that they could purchase jewelry and engagement rings.
    These inserts appeared in about five per cent of most newstand comics from 1972 to 1986, which of course included many Legion-related issues.
    The inserts don't really add to the aesthetic appeal of the comics and if anything, probably makes them less attractive, but like all collectibles, these “variants” are worth only as much as a collector is happy to pay for.
    In general, demand is low for these issues, and they can sell for about the same price as guide or just slightly more.

An example of a Mark Jewelers insert.

An example of a Mark Jewelers insert.

An example of a Mark Jewelers insert.

An example of a Mark Jewelers insert.

Do you know of any more variants we may have missed? Do tell! Remember to also check Parts 1 and 2 for images of all the covers we've listed.

Bits Boy runs the comprehensive Legion completists’ site Bits of Legionnaire Business.

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