Hundreds of New Batman and Superman Variants Found in Newsstand Issues
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856 posts

I’m pretty sure I’ve gone totally insane.

 

I collected Batman and Superman comic books for about 35 years. The madness started in early 2012 when a good friend of mine bought a big plastic bin full of comics at a flea market in Alabama. I went through them and picked out a few that looked interesting, including a Whitman variant of Batman comics. I filed them away without much thought, but going through those old comics got me interested enough to look at some of my back issues. When I start going through them, I noticed that when I originally bought my comic books in the early 1980’s, some of them had newsstand bar codes and some had the direct sales symbols in the UPC box on the covers. That’s because I got some from my local comic shop and others from the “Family Drug Store” newsstand racks in Lincoln, Nebraska. Somewhere around 1986, I started getting all my comics from comic book stores, so I thought all the comics in my collection after 1986 were direct sales copies. Being the perfectionist that I am, I decided to buy some back issues so that every single issue I owned was in the format of a direct sales copy.

 

That’s when things started to get out of hand.

 

I bought a lot of the direct sales copies that I needed on a trip to New York City, and then filled in the holes at a local comic shop and Mile High comics. But when I went to the Mile High website, I saw that some newsstand issues had very high asking prices. I found many of these same newsstand issues at my local comic shop for a buck or two, and could not resist buying them. Then I also started to notice that several issues had second, third and even up to seven printings. As I started looking closer, I stumbled upon some issues that had Mark jeweler inserts. And I even found a second printing that had a double cover at my local comic shop. And issues that had a little “DC UNIVERSE” symbol in the UPC box instead of the normal bar code. And more Whitman variants. And an issue with a reader survey! And a quadruple cover! Now every visit to a comic book shop or convention was like an Easter egg hunt!

 

I eventually was able to find direct sales versions of every single back issue of Batman, Detective, Superman, and Action Comics going back to when they started making direct sales versions (i.e., September 1980). But I thought I should also double check all the issues after 1986 just to be sure. Lo and behold, I found a newsstand version of Adventures of Superman #589 from April 2001 in my collection. My local comic shop must have forgotten to put that comic in my hold slot, and I probably went to Waldenbooks to get it. I don’t know what caused me to check, but when I got the direct sales copy, I noticed that the page count between the direct sales and the newsstand versions were different. What. The. Heck? It turns out that the direct sales version had a few more advertisement pages than the newsstand version (the photos below show pages from the direct and newsstand version of Adv of SM 589 side-by-side so that you can see the extra ad pages in the direct sales copy). Was this variation only for issues published that month, or were there more of them?

 

Adv of Superman 589 direct sales vs newsstand:

 

Superman589comp1_zps2ba67e5b.jpg

 

 

Adv of Superman 589 (direct sales on bottom, newsstand on top):

 

Superman589comp2_zps9695a14a.jpg

 

Superman589comp3_zps59f0be4f.jpg

 

Superman589comp4_zpsd61cc44a.jpg

 

Superman589comp5_zpsfa50b319.jpg

 

 

 

So I decided that I needed to get every newsstand version of every single issue of Batman, Detective, Superman and Action comics to see what differences existed. Most newsstand versions were pretty easy to get, but some issues after the early 1990’s were extremely hard to find in newsstand format. I have all the newsstand issues up to August 2004 and I’m only missing a few after that. I could usually buy them for a couple bucks at conventions and shops, and for an average of $5 per issue on ebay. In a few rare cases, I paid up to $25 for a single newsstand issue. The results of obtaining and scrutinizing these newsstand issues were interesting (if you are into this type of thing!).

 

I found that from February 1999 through August 2009, there are more than 100 newsstand issues of Batman, Detective, Superman, and Action Comics that are missing advertisements that appear in the direct sales versions. This has been confirmed by another collector, who also has many of these newsstand variants in his possession. Therefore, these newsstand versions are variants from the direct sales versions.

 

I have compiled the following spreadsheets that show which issues have differences between direct sales and newsstand versions of Batman, Detective, Superman and Action comics. The sheets are ordered chronologically, so that you can get a feel for how frequently these newsstand variants occurred. If a box is blank next to the issue number in the sheet below, then there was no difference between the direct sales and newsstand issues. If the box has the word “LESS” in it, then the newsstand version contains less pages than the direct sales version. If the box has the word “MORE” in it, then the newsstand copy contains an advertising insert that is not in the direct sales copy. I have detailed descriptions of the differences but omitted that information to keep it simple. If you collect other titles, you can extrapolate by date from the following spreadsheets to determine which newsstand issues are likely to be variants. Notice that just because one of the titles in any given month contains a variant, doesn't mean all the titles in that month contain variants (see November 1999 in the spreadsheet below for an example: newsstand versions of Batman 571 and Action 759 are variants, but newsstand versions of Detective 738 and Superman 572 are not variants).

 

DSCN1911_zps10afd0a2.jpg

 

DSCN1915_zps2adbc357.jpg

 

 

 

It was very common to find direct sales issues that had advertisements that were not included in newsstand issues. However, I found that in only a VERY few instances some newsstand issues contain an insert or advertisement that cannot be found in a direct sales copies. Following are the ones I found:

 

1. Batman 426 and 427 newsstand versions have ads that aren’t in direct sales versions (because the direct sales versions have ads with a phone number to cast your vote to let Robin live or die). See following photos for side-by-side comparisons.

 

Batman 426:

 

BM426_zps4551e89c.jpg

 

BM426insidebackcover_zps87a74ab5.jpg

 

 

 

Batman 427:

 

BM427_zps23de872a.jpg

 

BM427insidebackcover_zpsbbd64878.jpg

 

 

 

2. Superman 397 newsstand version has a baseball insert stapled into the centerfold that appears in no direct sales versions nor any other newsstand issues in other titles that I could find in that month. The following photos show the baseball insert (which you will not find in your direct sales copy!).

 

Superman 397 newsstand:

 

Superman397news1_zps532ad95c.jpg

 

Superman397news2_zps181022ff.jpg

 

Superman397news3_zps4abba03e.jpg

 

 

 

3. Some (but not all) Detective 692, 693 and 694 newsstand versions contain a subscription insert that doesn’t appear in direct sales versions. The insert is stapled into the comic books. The following photos show the subscription inserts for Detective 693 and 694. All inserts have a CC-1 serial number on them even though they appear in different issues.

 

Detective 693 newsstand:

 

Detective693news1_zps770c188f.jpg

 

 

Detective 694 newsstand:

 

Detective694news1_zpsa113402f.jpg

 

Detective694news2_zpsba34fabb.jpg

 

 

4. I have found newsstand versions of Batman 637 and 638, Detective Comics 803 through 806, Adventures of Superman 637 and 638, Action Comics 824 and 825, and Superman 214, 216, and 217 that contain a Mad magazine insert that doesn’t appear in direct sales versions. This insert is not stapled into these issues and could be easily pulled out which might explain why several newsstand copies of these same issues might not contain the insert.

 

The insert for Adv of Superman 637 is shown below and it is the same as the insert that appears in Batman 637, Detective 803, and Action 824 (all from April 2005). Note that the close-up photo shows this insert has an A2C5DC serial number on it, which is different than subsequent issues below.

 

Adv of Superman 637 with Mad Magazine insert:

 

AdvofSuperman637news1_zpsa89f4bfd.jpg

 

AdvofSuperman637news2_zps494432be.jpg

 

 

 

The insert for Superman 638 is shown below and it is the same as the insert that appears in Batman 638, Detective 804, Action 825 (all from May 2005), Superman 214 (from April 2005), and Detective 805 and Superman 216 (both from Jun 2005). Note that the close-up photo shows this insert has an A2D5DC serial number on it, which is different than issues from other months.

 

 

Adv of Superman 638 with Mad Magazine insert:

 

AdvofSuperman638news1_zpsea7ce435.jpg

 

AdvofSuperman638news2_zps390c3dd1.jpg

 

 

 

The insert for Superman 217 (from July 2005) is shown in the photo below and it is the same insert that appears in Detective Comics 806. Note that the close-up photo shows this insert has an A2E5DC serial number on it, which is different than previous issues above.

 

 

Superman 217 with Mad Magazine insert:

 

Superman217news1_zpsa6be0359.jpg

 

Superman217news2_zps1eef8d2a.jpg

 

 

5. Newsstand versions of Batman 674, Detective 842 and 843, Superman 674, and Action 862 all contain a DC Comics subscription insert that doesn’t appear in direct sales versions. The inserts from all these issues are identical and they have a A8DCU1 serial number on them. Except for Batman 674 and Superman 674, all the inserts were stapled into the comic books. The insert in Batman 674 and Superman 674 can be easily pulled out. See photo below of Superman 674 for an example of this insert.

 

 

Superman 674 with subscription insert:

 

Superman674news1_zps2505014e.jpg

 

Superman674news2_zps64d6f798.jpg

 

Superman674x3_zpsfaf6e20e.jpg

 

 

 

I’m guessing a lot of people think Chuck Rozanski at Mile High Comics is a little crazy for having his people sort through his inventory and list newsstand versions of comics on his website. However, due to the scarcity of the more recent newsstand issues (which I can only find for sale in Barnes and Noble Bookstores now), the value of those newsstand variants in Mile High’s inventory may be justified if demand exceeds supply. I can only speak for myself, but based on my experience I would not want to pay more than $20 for most newsstand variants. That is because if you wait long enough, you will eventually find them on ebay or for sale cheaply at comic book stores and conventions. However, if you really need to have a copy of a newsstand issue that was issued after the mid-1990's, you might have to pay more than $20 if the seller holds out because the likelihood of seeing the one you want any time soon might be very low. If you look at Superman and Batman titles on Mile High's website, you will see many cases where they have never seen a newsstand issue in spite of the massive number of comic books they process. I think I looked high and low for more than a year before I found a the newsstand version of Action 681 (September 1992), Action 727 (November 1996), and Detective 710 (June 1997). Just try and find a newsstand version of Detective 800 (January 2005) and you will see what I mean.

 

Other notable facts pertaining to newsstand issues that I’ve noticed along the way:

 

1. The direct sales version of Batman 375 has a slick Jemm ad in the centerfold but I don’t think newsstand versions contain this ad. See photos below for a comparison of the direct sales and newsstand issues. There is also a close-up of the newsstand centerfold, which shows a very tight staple. This makes me very confident that the insert was not just pulled out of the centerfold. I’ve seen at least a few other newsstand issues of Batman 375 and they do not have the slick Jemm ad.

 

Batman 375 direct vs newsstand:

 

Batman375comp1_zpscd70b91e.jpg

 

Batman375comp2_zpsf1ff4c0e.jpg

 

Batman375comp3_zps6a12fd9a.jpg

 

Batman 375 newsstand closeup of centerfold staple showing nothing removed:

 

Batman375news2_zps6eae1c25.jpg

 

 

2. Very few issues have more than one version of the comic appearing in newsstand format. Following are some examples:

 

Batman 457 has 3 different newsstand issues (one with serial number 457 in the indicia, one with serial number 000 in the indicia, and one with “2nd printing” in the indicia). The newsstand version of the 2nd printing is extremely hard to find (this is probably the hardest newsstand variant to find in DC comics in my opinion, and I believe $100 or more would be a reasonable asking price (I have a copy and I know of only two other variant collectors who do as well). Just google “Batman 457 newsstand 2nd printing” and you will see blogs and even a video pertaining to that issue.

 

The 2nd, 3rd and 4th printings of Superman 75 all exist in direct sales and newsstand formats and (just google “Death of Superman and Reign of Superman Variants” to see all those issues).

 

Both the deluxe version and regular version of Justice League 70 exist in direct sales and newsstand formats, whereas the non-deluxe version appears in newsstand format only (these Justice League 70 issues can also be seen in the “Death and Reign of Superman Variants” blog). So there are two newsstand versions of JL 70.

 

Both the deluxe version and regular version of Superman 100 and Superman Man of Steel 100 exist in direct sales and newsstand formats (see photo below).

 

Superman 100 newsstand formats of both deluxe and non-deluxe covers:

 

Superman100newsvariants_zps49aa3ecf.jpg

 

 

 

Both versions of the 1st printing of Batman 686 each have a newsstand variant (see photo below). Similarly, Superman 205 (1987 series) has a newsstand version of both the “Lee” and “Turner” covers. I also found newsstand versions for both the regular and alternate covers for Superman 215 (1987 series).

 

Batman 686 newsstand versions of both regular and variant covers:

 

Batman686newsvariants_zps3940099a.jpg

 

 

Superman 205 newsstand versions of both regular and variant covers:

 

SM205_zps48ea3eea.jpg

 

 

3. Some friends of mine also noticed that the covers of Batman 456 and Batman 465 are slightly different between newsstand and direct sales copies. If you compare them side by side, you will see that DC had to move some of the lettering on the newsstand issues to make room for the bar code. I know of no other variation like that within the titles of Batman, Detective, Superman, Action and Justice League of America.

 

Batman 456 direct vs newsstand versions:

 

Batman456_zps79f40210.jpg

 

 

Batman 465 direct vs newsstand versions:

 

Batman465_zps582f2f60.jpg

 

 

4. Some of the poly-bagged comics were released in newsstand format in addition to direct sales and the newsstsand issues are extremely difficult to find in a sealed bag. This makes sense to me, as I can hardly imagine someone buying an issue off the newsstand and just leaving it in the poly bag. First example shown below is Superman Man of Tomorrow #6 from September 1996. I’ve shown both direct and newsstand issues in the sealed poly bag that was used to contain a free copy of Edge Magazine. The second example shown below is Adventure of Superman 631. The poly bag for that issue contained a free sample of the Sky Captain video game on CD.

 

Superman MOT 6 poly in both direct and newsstand versions:

 

SupermanMOT6directandnewspolybagged_zps0635a9e6.jpg

 

 

 

Adv of Superman 631 poly in both direct and newsstand versions:

 

AdvofSuperman631directandnewspolybagged_zps62ecabdb.jpg

 

 

On this journey, I have found most every variant within the major Batman and Superman titles. If you have interest in learning more, I can supply you my checklist upon request if you email me at kwticknor@aol.com.

 

Acknowledgments: I want to thank Jerome Wenker, who is one of the kings of variants in my opinion. Jerome provided much assistance and several newsstand copies in my pursuit to get all the differences documented. Even more importantly, I would like to thank my wife Cindy. She has been immensely patient and has also been a big help with finding some of these variants. Funny how she can walk into a shop, pull out a comic book, and say “Is this one you’ve been looking for?” And darned if it is not one that I’ve been looking for over the last couple years. Thanks Cindy!

 

Happy collecting!

Kirk Ticknor

kwticknor@aol.com

 

 

Edited by Cpt Kirk

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I’m pretty sure I’ve gone totally insane.

>snip<

 

 

 

 

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Yes, there are newstand editions.

Yes, sometimes they have different ads.

Yes, you are insane.

 

But, you're not alone. Everyone here is passionate about their collecting and can be viewed as insane by others. lol

 

I did not know about the newstand reprints. That's interesting! (thumbs u

 

Welcome to the boards!

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I voted yes, of course.

 

You're suffering from a fine and pleasant insanity, like many of the rest of us.

 

Enjoy it in good health!

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Thanks for this - interesting stuff!

 

Of course, your table should say "FEWER" not "LESS"... :makepoint:

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I can't believe all the research and effort you put into this. Thanks for sharing.

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Cpt Kirk,

 

and just think, you are only counting American variants.

wait til you look into foreigns and your insanity will exponential-ate :hi::screwy:

 

 

38 ASM129s

36 Spiderman #1s (McFarlane)

24 Superman 300s

22 ASM 316s

20 ASM#1s (1963)

12 Superman Versus Spidermans

9 Hulk 377s

9 Man of Steel 18s

7 Batman 227s

 

...and a partridge in a pear tree! :whistle:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Cpt Kirk,

 

and just think, you are only counting American variants.

wait til you look into foreigns and your insanity will exponential-ate :hi::screwy:

 

 

38 ASM129s

36 Spiderman #1s (McFarlane)

24 Superman 300s

22 ASM 316s

20 ASM#1s (1963)

12 Superman Versus Spidermans

9 Hulk 377s

9 Man of Steel 18s

7 Batman 227s

 

...and a partridge in a pear tree! :whistle:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

YIKES!

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Thanks for this - interesting stuff!

 

Of course, your table should say "FEWER" not "LESS"... :makepoint:

 

 

My seventh grade English teacher would have loved you!

 

 

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Do you have the Identity Crisis 4 with the Sky Captain poster in the centerfold? Only advance copies have it - all the others were pulled as it destroyed the flow of the book.

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That is some amazing research work. :applause:

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how about early 80s Diamond/Direct vs UPC/newsstand editions?

Ive wondered when and if people would start collecting the "rarer" versions as Variants.

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Do you have the Identity Crisis 4 with the Sky Captain poster in the centerfold? Only advance copies have it - all the others were pulled as it destroyed the flow of the book.

 

did you ever find the Canadian Batman 423??????

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Do you have the Identity Crisis 4 with the Sky Captain poster in the centerfold? Only advance copies have it - all the others were pulled as it destroyed the flow of the book.

 

did you ever find the Canadian Batman 423??????

 

Was he looking for one? Gotta check my copy...

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Do you have the Identity Crisis 4 with the Sky Captain poster in the centerfold? Only advance copies have it - all the others were pulled as it destroyed the flow of the book.

 

did you ever find the Canadian Batman 423??????

 

Was he looking for one? Gotta check my copy...

 

if you have the canadian then you are my newest best friend!

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Canadian price variants as well as newsstand/direct editions within the Canadians. :ohnoez:

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Canadian price variants as well as newsstand/direct editions within the Canadians. :ohnoez:

 

 

is there a direct and newstand Canadian Batman 423?????????

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This is one of the most enjoyable and informative threads in a long time. Congrats, Cpt Kirk! :applause:

 

(And yes, of course you've gone insane, but as others mentioned before, it's a good kind of insanity which most of us can identify with. (thumbs u )

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Great post and a fun read!

 

 

Great collectors being passionate is what what got me hooked on the boards in 06!

 

:banana: Chris

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Great post and a fun read!

 

 

Great collectors being passionate is what what got me hooked on the boards in 06!

 

:banana: Chris

 

 

+1 :)

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