Congratulations, 2023 CGC Registry Award Winners!
Posted on 7/25/2023
Our mission was to choose three sets each in five competitive categories - Best Golden Age, Best Silver Age, Best Bronze Age, Best Modern Age and Best Copper Age. Additionally, we had the task of choosing two winners for Best Magazine set, two Best Signature Series Sets, two Custom Sets, two Best Presented Sets, three outstanding message board contributors and just one collector for the John Verzyl Sr. Registry Masterpiece Award. Our team of judges reviewed all of the top sets across every category in the Comics Registry and, after much deliberation, selected the following winners.
Congratulations to all!
CGC 2023 John Verzyl Sr. Registry Masterpiece Award
Mudcats – John Verzyl Sr. Registry Masterpiece Award
When you really think about it, the comic hobby is sustained on the shared dream of achieving greatness. Collectors everywhere imagine the joy of owning their favorite books. That dream sustains us as we hunt through countless long boxes for rare gems, hoping they’ve been overlooked by everyone before us. It’s there when we show up to garage sales in the wee hours, armed with cash and an appetite for competition. It’s front and center when we imagine what we’d do with lottery winnings…or a time machine.
Turning dreams into reality is tough. Those who do offer a presence that inspires the rest of us to stay the course and chase after our own collecting goals. In his life, John Verzyl was an unmatched presence in the hobby, and reached a level of greatness few ever do. CGC has the honor each year of paying tribute to John in honoring one Registry member who stands alongside him in their collecting achievements. CGC is proud to announce that for 2023, Mississippi Mudcats is the winner of the John Verzyl Sr. Registry Masterpiece Award.
Mississippi Mudcats is a longtime veteran of the CGC Registry and is indisputably one of the most prolific collectors in the hobby. Fellow Registry members have likely heard of Mississippi Mudcats, but probably haven’t had the pleasure of visiting all of their sets, as they keep most obscured for privacy purposes while completing them. This year, they’ve made several sets available to view, and we recommend having a look at all of them; they’re truly inspiring.
A specialist in DC Silver Age, Mississippi Mudcats has some of the finest sets of this era. The #1 Registry ranked Aquaman (1962) run titled “DC’s Namor” is a superb assembly, complete at 63 issues. As their set write-up says, 38 of these are 9.8, and all are the highest graded on the census. The same goes for all 21 of the 9.6’s, as well as the 2 9.4’s. 20 of these are the single highest graded, and 30 of these issues hail from Pedigree collections, including the Pacific Coast, Boston and Rocky Mountain, among many others.
Many of the issues were acquired very recently by Mississippi Mudcats. Issue #55 in 9.6 is a tough find in such a high grade with its extraordinarily difficult black cover. Their copy was picked up in 2020 at auction, one of only 23 ever graded, and one of only two in this grade on the census with none higher. Issue #58 in a beautiful 9.6 was also a recent addition in April of 2022, and issue #2 in 9.6 is the highest on the census, picked up in May 2023.
A newer, fun addition to Mississippi Mudcats’ DC Silver Age set catalog is “The Ultimate Atom Collection”, comprised of issues #1-45 of the standalone title for DC’s tiny titan, The Atom. Assembly of this set began in 2018, and Mississippi Mudcats enjoyed a rare, short sprint to the finish line in 2021 along with first position in the Registry rankings.
With the inclusion of the three Showcase titles featuring the Atom, the set totals 48 books, with 33 9.8’s, 14 9.6’s, a single 9.4, and 28 Pedigree examples. The zany covers of this lively little title are so fun to see. We love issue #1 in 9.6, with the Plant Master staring on maniacally as the Atom battles for his life within the spiny jaws of a Venus Flytrap. Issue #18 in 9.8 with white pages comes from the Twin Cities collection and features the Atom delivering a doozy of an uppercut to a masked robber. Issue #32 finds the Atom morphed into behemoth size and battling a horned helmet army horde, depicted in classic style by Gil Kane and Murphy Anderson.
Mississippi Mudcats writes in the detailed set description that they consider “Sheldon Cooper’s Precious” to be the best set in their collection, and their favorite DC title. This complete run of the Flash (#105-350) clocks in at 251 books, all with a minimum grade of 9.2. While the set was completed a decade ago and won the award in the Best Silver Age category in 2018, Mississippi Mudcats continues to chase upgrades to further elevate this outstanding run.
An unbelievable accomplishment to put together all 251 issues, Mississippi Mudcats’ set reaches the highest heights with 244 books of the run being the highest graded, 87 from Pedigree collections, and even a 9.9 counted among the vast majority of 9.6 and 9.8 examples. To put together such an incredible grade range across so many issues of a Silver Age DC title — which are notoriously difficult to find even above the 8.0 mark — is a true labor of love.
Some of our favorite issues in the set are the #139 in 9.6, which is the first appearance of Reverse Flash, and, as Mississippi Mudcats describes, is one of only five in that grade with none higher. Issue #309 in 9.9 comes from the Rocky Mountain collection; we love that this rare book found its way to Mississippi Mudcats and a well-deserved place in this run. Issue #105 shares a 9.4 with just three others on the census and is an impressive, well-presented example.
The brightest jewel of the set is very obviously the Showcase #4 in 9.2. This is one of those books that in such a high grade stops even the most seasoned graders in their tracks and stuns any comic collector lucky enough to lay eyes on it. Such fine examples just don’t exist in any abundance, and rarely surface even to trade ownership. In over 20 years, CGC have certified just 13 in 9.0 or higher to date. Mississippi Mudcats’ copy is one of only two with a Universal Label in 9.2, and they’ve been its sole owners since it was graded. A remarkable book to be sure, and one that anybody would be proud to have in their collection.
For those who’ve been around since the early days of comic collecting, Mississippi Mudcats’ sets are a reminder of when it used to be a lot easier to put full runs together. Only those with the rare combination of foresight and storage space would end up with bragging rights today, and original owners are fewer and further in between as time marches on.
Collectors newer to the hobby will likely be awestruck with what feels like an impossible feat in today’s collecting world. Many newer collectors have never seen high-grade Silver Age books in person, and even today’s most prestigious conventions would be unlikely to have such an abundance of gorgeous examples all in the same place.
Greatness is defined by staying the course despite the difficulty in achieving it. The true accomplishment, though, is inspiring the dream of greatness in others, and this collection certainly does. Congratulations, Mississippi Mudcats, for this very deserving win for the 2023 John Verzyl Sr. Registry Masterpiece Award.
Best Golden Age Sets
– Planet Comics - “The Planetarium”
While plenty of titles in the Golden Age focused their stories on defeating the Axis powers, one title was devoted to defeating the fiendish foes of outer space. Beginning in January 1940, Fiction House’s Planet Comics brought readers exclusively science fiction stories. Featuring raygun-toting heroes standing off with their alien enemies, often with the fate of many worlds (and many women) hanging in the balance, Planet delivered their tantalizing tales across 73 issues until Winter 1953.
Planet Comics assembled an all-star cast of artists, kicking off with Will Eisner, who brought many of the early covers to life in his signature style. Eisner was joined by a long list of comic art legends throughout the years of Planet Comics’ publication like Lou Fine, Nick Cardy, Matt Baker, and Lee Elias all contributing. Uniquely, many female comic artists also graced Planet’s pages, including Ruth Atkinson Ford, creator of Milly the Model and co-creator of Patsy Walker for Marvel Comics.
MattnNY writes in the set description for “The Planetarium” that he began collecting the title in 2019 when he was gifted with issue #67 and became mesmerized with the cover art. To date the set is nearly 80% complete and is ranked #1 on the Registry. This fantastic set includes the Billy Wright Pedigree copy of issue #1 in a solid, well-presented 7.0, and many gorgeous Mile High Pedigree copies including issue #15 in a gorgeous 8.5 with white pages, issue #18 with the classic CGC label 9.4 and white pages, and issue #7 in an absolutely beautiful and impossibly rare 9.6.
This is one of those attention-grabbing sets that gets collectors talking and taking a lot of long looks at the incredible covers. We’re excited to see it and can’t wait to watch it grow and evolve as MattnNY chases upgrades and fills the remaining slots with more issues of this spectacular title.
Congratulations to MattnNY, winner of the 2023 award for Best in Golden Age category for this spine-tingling science fiction comic set!
– Durango Kid – “Charles Robert Starrett”
Charles Starrett already had dozens of Western movies under his belt before he was given the role of the Durango Kid in 1940. The film was well-received, but it wasn’t until the 1945 release of The Return of the Durango Kid that the character reached his zenith. The wildly popular Durango Kid films ran until 1952, but the comic series would run for three years longer until 1955.
Magazine Enterprises published the Durango Kid beginning in 1949, and the title ran for 41 issues. As in the film features, cattleman Steve Brand and his horse Bullet bring surly outlaws to justice under their aliases, the masked Durango Kid and his loyal steed, Raider, in the pages of the comic series. While not directly credited, it is believed that Gardner Fox penned the majority of the stories, and the legendary Frank Frazetta brought his talent to the first 16 issues.
Steppenwolfscomics has been working on their #1 ranked Durango Kid set since 2021, and at 90% complete, they are nearing the finish line. These are very scarce books; census numbers are in the single digits for many of these titles, and Steppenwolfscomics’ set “Charles Robert Starrett” contains many of the highest-graded examples.
Issue #28, featuring the Durango Kid in a showdown with an outlaw, a rattlesnake and a wildcat on a cliff face, is beautifully drawn by Fred Guardineer, and pops right out at you as the single-highest-graded copy in 9.8. Issue #30 shows our masked hero carrying a frightened lady fair across a thorny log bridge, depicted by Fred Guardineer and graded 9.8. Issue #1 is presented in a fantastic 7.5, and Steppenwolfscomics also includes a picture of the original movie poster that hangs in the entryway of their comic room, as they write in the issue description. An awesome personal touch to this excellent set!
We’re happy to award Steppenwolfscomics with the Best in Golden Age category for this wild western set and look forward to seeing it completed! Congratulations!
– More Fun Comics (1936) – “RHG’s More Funs”
Some titles really define the Golden Age for comic collectors, and More Fun is one that immediately comes to mind. With the colorful banner and classic font, action scenes, and of course the big 10-cent price, More Fun covers are some of the most recognizable of the Golden Age.
More Fun ran for 127 issues from 1935 to 1947 and was the first to publish original material rather than reprints of newspaper strips. More Fun is of course well-known for introducing some of the finest superheroes on what would later become DC’s roster, including the Spectre in issue #52, Green Arrow and Aquaman in issue #73, and Superboy in issue #101.
The creative titans who worked on More Fun are at the heart of what makes this title so iconic and are themselves naturally synonymous with the Golden Age. Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, of course, W.C. Brigham, and Bernard Baily top the list among many others.
RareHighGrade’s set titled “RHG’s More Fun’s” is ranked #1 on the Registry and features some incredible grades for this tough-to-collect Golden Age title. Forty-seven of the examples in this set are at 9.0 or higher, and many of these hail from the incredible Mile High Pedigree. While still a work in progress, what RareHighGrade has managed to assemble halfway to the finish line is certainly impressive.
Issue #42 boasts a 9.6 and is also a rare double cover. Issues 44 and 49 are stunners, with bold color strikes and crisp edges, and both are graded 9.4. All of these are Mile Highs, which are fitting additions to this collection. Our favorite has to be issue #53, the second appearance of the Spectre and the wrap-up of Spectre’s origin story. RareHighGrade’s is the Rockford Pedigree copy in 9.6 and is to date the only example in that grade on the census, with one higher, and only 40 total graded.
We’re really impressed with what RareHighGrade has put together in their set and are rooting for them in their efforts! Collecting More Fun is no easy feat, even for the most seasoned collectors. We’re proud to award RareHighGrade for this set in the Best in Golden Age category!
Best Silver Age Sets
colo – Sgt. Fury & His Howling Commandos – “Howler”
Spawned in battle and tempered by anger, afraid of nothing that lives or breathes…here comes Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos! – Stan Lee, issue #1
The legend goes that Sgt. Fury & His Howling Commandos originated from a bet between Stan Lee and publisher Martin Goodman. Stan brazenly claimed that he and Jack Kirby had the Midas touch: any comic material would turn to gold once they put their minds to it, including their latest idea for a war comic. Goodman gave the green light and Stan came up with the title based on the 101st Airborne Division – the Screaming Eagles. Along with his signature style, Jack Kirby brought his own real-life war stories and prior work on combat titles Boy Commandos, Battle and Foxhole. Throw in a grizzled, cigar-lovin’, Hell’s Kitchen-born Sergeant Nick Fury to lead a ragtag group of diverse, military misfits in the battle against the Axis Powers, and fans had another rip-roarin’ Lee/Kirby creation to devour for 120 issues, a slew of reprints, and seven Annuals.
What started out as a superhero style comic story quickly evolved into a more serious and realistic yarn. Kirby and Lee brought readers into concentration camp scenes, subjected the Commandos to bigotry from within, the deaths of soldiers in battle and even their love interests back home. For its time, Sgt. Fury was certainly a cut above in the combat genre.
Mike Colo has been working on his #1 ranked set “Howler” since way back in 2011, and it’s just a hair away from being complete! This set is full of beautiful, high-grade examples, and many of them are the highest-graded copies.
Issue #1 is a gorgeous example in 9.4 and is joined by only six others in that grade, which is the highest to date on the census. This classic cover by Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers brings the reader straight into battle with machine guns blazing and grenade explosions. Fury, with his perpetual 5 o’clock shadow, grits his teeth as he leads the Commandos on. One of the best of the Silver Age!
Issue #4 in 9.8 is so impressive; the earlier issues of this title are most often represented in well-loved, well-read condition. Mike Colo’s is to date the single-highest-graded copy, with only 25 others under it in 9.0 or better. This issue is notable for being the first major death of a Marvel main character, when Junior is killed in combat, and a turning point toward a more realistic feel in the storytelling.
Issue #13 in a gorgeous, beautifully presented 8.5 is one of our favorite crossovers in Marvel, with the Howling Commandos joining Captain America and Bucky as back-up on their mission to thwart a German invasion of England. This is a team-up that we would have loved to see more of!
This wonderful, classic set is a deserving win for the 2023 award for Best in Silver Age! Congratulations, Mike Colo!
Collector – Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane – “Super
Back in the mid-1950s, the creative teams at DC were kicking off the work of updating their superheroes for the next generation of readers. Barry Allen, the new Flash, was met with success in Showcase #4 and again in issue #8. Jack Kirby brought his Challengers of the Unknown to Showcase #6 and #7. Showcase would continue with Green Lantern, Adam Strange, Aquaman and many others. But before any of these juggernauts exploded onto the pages of later Showcase issues, an unusual addition to DC’s line-up appeared in Showcase #9 for a shot at a solo series: Lois Lane.
After Showcase #10, the Man of Steel’s girlfriend donned a witch’s hat and flew a broom across the cover of her first standalone issue of Superman’s Girlfriend Lois Lane in the spring of 1958. This unlikely protagonist would grace the pages of her fantastical Silver Age title for 137 issues and a pair of Annuals.
With an obsession for marriage and a pre-disposition to amnesia, Lois navigates her misadventures with a remarkably good attitude, freely accepting the terrain of her life as the love interest of Earth’s greatest superhero. Battles with Lana Lang, morphing forms, surviving plane and car crashes, and standing up to an often-mean Supes are the epitome of Silver Age DC’s more outlandish storytelling, and this title couldn’t be more enjoyable because of it.
Silver Collector has been working on their #1 ranked set “Super Girlfriend” since 2012, and it’s got some very impressive examples. There are tough books in high grade, and then there are impossible books in high grade, and this title definitely falls to the latter, with average grades for the earliest issues found primarily at the mid to lower range of the scale.
This makes issue #1 in Silver Collector’s set all the more impressive in a jaw-dropping 8.0, and we love its crisp, clean presentation. With only 3 examples in higher grades, this is a book that really defines true rarity! Wowza!
While Superman readies a defense, Lois shows off her grace in dealing with a marriage proposal from the alien Herko on the cover of issue #54. Silver Collector’s copy is a stunning 9.8 with white pages. Yellow covers like these are surprisingly difficult in high grade, and Silver Collector’s copy is just gorgeous.
The hands-down favorite in this set is issue #70, the first appearance of Silver Age Catwoman, and the issue that Silver Collector writes in the set description was the inspiration for putting the set together. This classic Kurt Schaffenberger cover shows Catwoman and Lois coming to blows after Lois discovers the Queen of Crime and her cat cronies have gotten ahold of a magic wand and turned Superman into a cat. Silver Collector’s copy of this classic key issue is an incredible 9.6, with rich color strikes and stunning presentation.
We’re pleased to give Silver Collector the 2023 award for Best in Silver Age for this super set! Lois Lane has never looked better! Congratulations!
Four (Complete with Variants) Warren Strickland – “Warren’s Fantastic Four – The
World’s Greatest Comic Magazine (w/all Variants)”
It’s a tall order to take a stab at describing the importance of “The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine,” as Stan Lee dared to claim less than five issues into this brand-new superhero team title. Stan’s boldness seems more like foresight today, and it’d be hard to argue otherwise. The significance of Marvel’s Fantastic Four in the Silver Age is to comics what the assembly line was to Ford, and there are certainly some similarities in the comparison.
As the unified work of the assembly line launched the Ford Model T into the stratosphere, Fantastic Four catapulted the “Marvel Method” of comic storytelling, the innovative production technique responsible for the unbelievable success of Silver Age Marvel titles. Pioneered by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, and refined through constant collaboration, the Marvel Method produced sweeping plots set against cinematic action scenes and allowed greater creative freedom for all involved while sharing more equally in the labor of producing comics.
Lee and Kirby poured their genius into the Fantastic Four. While taking their sometimes dysfunctional, always loveable super family to new heights during those early years, they simultaneously introduced readers to some of the greatest Marvel characters. Silver Surfer, Black Panther, Adam Warlock and Galactus were all launched from the pages of Fantastic Four, and in turn began to grow the Marvel catalog in their own titles. Fantastic Four is undoubtedly the epicenter from which the Marvel Universe began, and all modern Marvel titles fall under its broad influence.
To collect any run of Fantastic Four is also a tall order. Despite slumps in sales throughout the years, Fantastic Four has hosted the strongest creative teams in comics history, sustaining it through six decades and well over 1,000 issues.
Warren Strickland’s set “Warren’s Fantastic Four – The World’s Greatest Comic Magazine (w/all variants)” is the closest to complete on the Registry for the Fantastic Four Complete set type — and is of course top ranked. While this set spans multiple eras, we focused specifically on the Silver Age books. But we’d like to encourage everyone to take a look at this sweeping set. It’s not often that fans can so easily look at so many gorgeous examples together in the same place!
We’ve always loved the cover of issue #82 from January 1969. Jack Kirby and Joe Sinnott render a classic scene of the Fantastic Four teamed up with the Inhumans, answering the call to action. Warren Strickland’s 9.4 copy has superb color strikes and looks outstanding in the CGC holder!
Long gone are the days when a collector could easily pick up a high-grade copy of issue #52, and with the wonderful Black Panther movies introducing new generations to T’Challa, we’d guess the task will just get tougher. Warren Strickland’s copy is a real stunner in 8.5, and retains its rich, bold colors. It’s accompanied by the very rare 2006 reprint, a nice touch!
Issue #1 is of course where it all began! This is a book that, in today’s world, anyone is fortunate to have in any grade, and we think this Signature Series copy signed by Stan Lee in 1.0 is wonderful and well-presenting! The fun of more affordable mega-keys like this one is imagining its history. Warren Strickland gives an excellent synopsis of the storyline of this iconic book. It’s also accompanied by the Golden Record Reprint in an 8.5, complete with record!
This is a quintessential set, and the time and effort put into it really shows! Congratulations to Warren Strickland for winning the 2023 award for Best in Silver Age! We look forward to seeing all the work to come on this set!
Best Bronze Age Sets
– Bernie Wrightson DC Horror Cover Set – “Wrightson’s House of
Ah, the Bronze Age of comics, a time of gorgeous ghoulishness, the lusciously lurid, and radiant repulsiveness…as long as it’s drawn by the Master of Macabre himself, Bernie Wrightson! Not many artists before or since capture darkness in such fine detail while simultaneously making it beautiful, and even fewer with the skill and mastery of Wrightson.
Wrightson’s work is living magic. Shadows bend to his will, allowing only a horrifying glimpse of the terror waiting to strike. Fine lines come together to form the bristled fur on the werewolf’s back. Decades-old cobwebs drip from ancient chandeliers. Sickly skin loosens from the flesh of the undead as they rise from the molded earth of a dank, cold grave.
That Wrightson was at his apex during the Bronze Age of comics couldn’t have been better timed. Readers had an appetite for all things dark and deadly. Wrightson brought stories of dark beasts lurking in fog-filled forests after midnight, witches, madmen, the undead and, of course, creatures of the swamp right off the comic pages, solidifying his popularity and growing a legion of devoted fans.
Wrightson’s work only graced the covers of the first 10 issues of DC’s Swamp Thing, but the potency of this relatively small body of work is undeniable. Wrightson is synonymous with the title despite producing a much larger body of work for the covers of House of Secrets. Perhaps rightly so, as Swampy was the brainchild of both Wrightson and Len Wein, and while he’s had many stewards since, none have captured his essence artistically quite as well or as memorably.
Ramrod44 has assembled a first-class, high-grade, #1 Registry ranked set of Bernie Wrightson’s DC Horror Covers in “Wrightson’s House of Horror.” This is a set with universal appeal among all kinds of collectors; we’ve really had fun checking it out and we know you will, too.
Swamp Thing #9 is arguably the best Swampy cover Wrightson ever produced, and is one of the most iconic, recognizable comic art pieces of all time. Swampy rises like an ancient god from a wave of pale green bayou water, against a stand of shadowed trees and a blood red sunset, fervent gaze fixed to the distance. Wrightson’s art begs the reader to open the book! Ramrod44’s copy is a very tough 9.8, and the condition lends itself all too well in showcasing such incredible art.
DC 100 Page Super Spectacular #4 is a book with a well-known reputation for being incredibly hard to get in high grade. Put a black wraparound cover on a square bound book and you’ve got a recipe for rough conditions! And there’s no doubt that Wrightson’s art accomplished the goal of high readership! This awesome, classic cover shows a lanky-limbed demon crouched over the splayed body of some poor soul who dared summon it by pentagram and candlelight. Ramrod44’s copy is an exceptional 9.0 and comes from the Don Rosa Pedigree.
The crowning jewel in this set is none other than the House of Secrets 92. Ramrod44’s copy of this Bronze Age mega-key is a superb 9.4, presented in the classic CGC holder, with rich color and unbelievably crisp edges.
Hitting the stands in the summer of 1971, the beautiful grey tone cover gave readers their first glimpse of Swamp Thing on the cover, as he shambles under the full moon and into the bedroom of a beautiful woman. Readers would find out that she was his wife, Linda Olsen, and he was Alex Olsen, before his villainous colleague Damien planned a lab explosion that sent Alex hurling into the Louisiana swamp, where he became Swamp Thing!
This is one of the finest Bronze Age sets on the Registry, and we’re very pleased to award Ramrod44 with the 2023 Best in Bronze Age for “Wrightson’s House of Horror”! Congratulations!
– Midnight Tales – “The LL&P Collection”
In the early ’70s Charlton Comics was ditching their catalog of romance titles and shoring up a team of creative powerhouses to focus on their horror, hero, post-apocalyptical and supernatural content. Among the roster of comic legends working at Charlton was Wayne Howard, an African-American comic creator who brought Midnight Tales to Charlton beginning in 1972.
Howard’s Midnight Tales followed Professor Coffin and his niece Arachne as they travel around collecting stories of the strange and unusual from friends and acquaintances they meet along the way. Tales of giant man-eating spiders, witches, vampire bats and card-playing devils were steeped in dark moral tropes but were made light with a bit of humor thrown in for good measure.
Wayne Howard collaborated with Nick Cuti, Joe Staton, Tom Sutton, and others, but the lion’s share of the art for Midnight Tales was produced by Howard himself, who’s been described as a protégé of comic art legend Wally Wood. Indeed, Howard’s style was deeply aligned with Wood’s, bringing his subjects to life with delirious energy and exaggerated expression, his jagged linework reminiscent of crackling livewires dancing wildly against a backdrop of moody shadows and rich colors. Considering the depth of Howard’s creative skill, it's wonderfully apt that he was the first comic artist to be entirely credited for his work on the cover of Midnight Tales, which was unprecedented at the time.
Best2u’s Midnight Tales set “The LL&P Collection” is ranked #1 and complete with all 21 issues, made up of the run of 18 under the Midnight Tales title, and 19-21 under the Professor Coffin title, which were reprints of earlier stories with some new material added but continued the sequential numbering.
It was well understood even at the time that Charlton Comics operated on a shoestring budget, and the quality of the printing was quite poor, making high-grade copies difficult to come by. Best2u’s set is impressive in that most of the run are in the higher 9’s, and even those in the very fine range present beautifully. Best2u gives each issue a wonderfully detailed description and, for those unfamiliar with the title, this set is a fantastic introduction to the classic Charlton title.
Issue #9 is one of our favorite covers in this run, with an enormous, red-eyed spider descending from a formidable string of web behind Uncle Cyrus and Arachne. The spider disturbs a flurry of papers, which one can imagine would incite the pair to turn around and find this hulking terror. With a black cover, high grades would be next to impossible, but the set copy is a gorgeous 9.2 with a strong presentation.
We agree with Best2u where they write that issue #12 is very reminiscent of Wally Wood. The chain around the fire-breathing dragon’s neck looks to be no real match for this behemoth, and Arachne’s Scooby-Doo style comment brings a smile. Best2u points out that Steve Ditko graces the interior art of this issue, and on white pages; a great pairing to a 9.4 grade!
The first issue is most definitely our favorite, and in 9.8 with white pages, it doesn’t get any better than that. A fantastic, funny cover of a basement scene in which a botched project by Dr. Frankenstein lays on an intricately detailed table, while a pair of brain-head aliens in Atomic Age-style spacesuits stare on from a corner. By torchlight, Uncle Cyrus states the obvious in that they’ve stumbled onto a ghastly mistake. Arachne, who appears still shocked, may or may not keep pulling back the shredded blanket to see the “leggy” monstrosity entirely!
We’re excited to award this spine-tingling set with the 2023 Best in Bronze Age award! Great work, Best2u, and congratulations!
– “Chi-Town Webhead’s MTU”
It doesn’t get more classic Bronze Age than Marvel Team-Up. Here was a title born of the challenge to make the more obscure heroes in Marvel’s catalog cool to readers. It was decided that Spider-Man would be their wing…well, their web-man, once a month! In theory the concept was sound, and for the creative giants who worked on the title it provided a chance to take a deep dive into characters that were wide open for exploration.
Initially Team-Up was meant to feature Spidey and Human Torch as a regular duo, but after a few issues, more characters were brought on to hang out with the wall-crawler and catch some action. Many of these pairings were very successful, and some of Marvel’s strongest creative team-ups happened in the pages of the title as well, including John Byrne and Chris Claremont, Gil Kane and John Romita, and Herb Trimpe and Frank Giacoia.
Despite the concept providing fertile creative ground and producing some of the coolest covers of the Bronze Age, Jim Shooter pulled the plug on Marvel Team-Up in 1985 after 150 issues and seven annuals, but readers got to experience some unusual, unlikely and always fun pairings while it lasted.
Mulder66’s set “Chi-Town Webhead’s MTU” made its way to the Registry beginning in 2020 and is very nearly complete save for a handful of issues. This set is so impressive; the vast majority of these books are 9.6 or 9.8, with only some of the extremely tough price variants in the lower 9’s. With such a strong set of books, we were left spoiled for choice when it comes to the highlights, but we did manage to narrow it down to a few that really stood out!
Issue #94 from June 1980 features a very cool, black Al Milgrom cover, with the Shroud, Master of Darkness manipulating the power of the Darkforce Dimension to send Spidey into an inky black haze in which light can’t exist. Milgrom captures this as Spidey drawn in a half negative style, with classic Spidey Sense line work. This is a tough 9.8, with only ten others to date on the census.
Issue #81 from May 1979 brings Spidey and Satana together in a bid to save Dr. Strange from a powerful blood spell that has transformed him into a werewolf. Spidey subdues werewolf Dr. Strange enough to allow Satana to summon the full extent of her powers to free him of the curse, but not before a horde of hell’s demons show up to try and stop her. Milgrom captures the height of this battle with the demons on the fantastic cover of this issue, and it doesn’t get better than 9.8 with white pages!
Issue #111 from November 1981 has an unreal Herb Trimpe and Frank Giacoia cover with Spidey battling a four-armed god and the head of a gigantic snake while Dr. Strange launches at attack with an axe. This cover also features the classic mug shots of none other than the Defenders, who show up in this story to help Spidey battle a snake cult, but only after being freed from an otherworldly dimension with the help of his team-up partner, Devil-Slayer. We love the layout and use of color on this awesome cover, and in 9.8 with white pages and razor-sharp edges the quality really shines.
Congratulations to mulder66 for all the hard work putting together this awesome set! We’re happy to award the Best in Bronze Age category to this impressive set! Well done!
Best Copper Age Sets
Warner – Mage (1984) “Mage: The Ultimate Signature Set
The Copper Age marked the departure from the big two for many comic creators, giving rise to a number of smaller publishers and independent, self-published titles. Comic creators ran with this new freedom and reflected the unrest of the times in new, sophisticated ways. Many comics were naturally influenced by the pervasive darkness of the ’80s; in the shadow of the Cold War, unchecked inflation, rising violence, and the war on drugs, creators often questioned the theme of good vs. evil and sought to redefine the role of heroes in their work.
Founded in 1982, Comico was one of the premier independent publishers of the Copper Age, publishing a line-up of black-and-white comics that enjoyed a strong, devoted fanbase. Matt Wagner was on the roster of Comico’s many talented creators, with his title Grendel being arguably the most popular title in catalog.
Another Matt Wagner title premiered when Comico made the move to produce color comics in 1984. Mage: The Hero Discovered, tells the story of Kevin Matchstick, an average Joe who discovers he’s an incarnate of a King Arthur sort in the modern world. With unbelievable strength and power that possesses him when facing evil, Kevin battles the five sons of the Umbra Sprite known as the Grackleflints, and creatures bound to Earth’s plane summoned by the Umbra Sprite. A reluctant hero, Kevin sets out on this adventure to conquer the evils of his previous, unknown life alongside a mage called Mirth and a magical bat-wielding girl called Edsel. Mage is a unique take on an age-old theme, and we recommend it to anyone who hasn’t yet read it.
Mage: The Hero Discovered is the first volume in Matt Wagner’s tale of Kevin Matchstick, and it ran for 15 issues. One of the most notable features of this fantastic, indie title are the hand-painted pages. This medium provides a necessary moodiness to each panel and sets a specific tone for the story. The importance of the use of color in comics is often overlooked, and Mage is one that exemplifies this beautifully.
Fred Warner has been working on the #1 Registry ranked “Mage: The Ultimate Signature Set Discovered” for about a year and it’s complete with all 15 issues, and all but one graded 9.8. Fred Warner’s focus was on Signature Series for this set. The majority of these gorgeous books are signed by Wagner and they look just awesome in the CGC yellow label holders; check out the gallery in the link above.
This is a great title from one of the most well-loved creators of the era, and a fantastic Registry set; just right for the 2023 award for Best in Copper Age category. Congratulations to Fred Warner for this awesome collecting achievement; we certainly look forward to what’s next on your list!
– Further Adventures of Indiana Jones
While the Copper Age may be well known for some serious storytelling, there was also plenty of fun happening at Marvel Comics at the same time. Those of us who are old enough remember the days when VCR’s were pricey and video rental was in its infancy recall that if you wanted more of your favorite movie once it left the big screen, you went to your local newsstand and picked up the comic series.
Further Adventures of Indiana Jones carried on the tales of Spielberg’s beloved hero beginning in January 1983, catering to the craving for more Indy between Raiders of the Lost Ark and the Temple of Doom. A cast of real powerhouse creators lent their talents to this terrific title, including John Byrne, Terry Austin, Howard Chaykin and Bob McLeod, among many others.
JohnnyFinUtah has been working on this Further Adventures of Indiana Jones set for 8 years since 2014 and finished it out last year with the addition of issue #24.
Issue #32 is one of our favorite covers and features a fantastic creative cast. Linda Grant scripted the “Double Play” storyline for this one, and the iconic Steve Ditko teamed up with the incredible Danny Bulanadi on the interior art, while Keith Pollard provided this spectacular cover featuring an airborne chase scene with Indy dangling over sunset-stained mountains from the wing of a plane with the adversary in hot pursuit.
Issue #14 saw David Michelinie on the “Demons” storyline that follows Indy and Marion as they work to uncover the mystery behind a trunk of old bones at a museum. David Mazzucchelli pulled pencil duty for the interior art and Bret Blevins on the unbelievable red-tone painted cover of Indy and Marion falling to their doom in a spike-filled pit, while a masked god grits his teeth vengefully in the background.
We couldn’t deny the iconic feel of the premiere issue to this fantastic series. Issue #1 with the whip-cracking Indy staring on intensely while a host of knife-wielding enemies gain ground behind him completely captures the feel of our classic adventurer, and it kicks off the title with an electric energy. Terry Austin really knocked it out of the park on this one!
We recognize what a long labor of love it was to assemble this set; Marvel comics produced for the younger readers’ market are tough in high grades. Congratulations to JohnnyFinUtah for this well-deserved win for the 2023 award for Best in Copper Age!
(Saga of the) Swamp Thing – “Swamp Thing Volume 2”
DC’s Swamp Thing title saw its reboot at the dawn of the Copper Age, and the timing was serendipitous to say the least. When Swampy was introduced to readers in 1972, he was sustained for 24 issues on the strength of his uniqueness, Bernie Wrightson’s indelible art and snarling, epic battles with grotesque enemies until 1976. Len Wein and Wrightson’s brainchild lacked serious depth, but fortunately they provided extraordinarily fertile ground that lay in wait until 1982, when Swampy was resurrected from the depths of the Louisiana bayous and launched into a sprawling adventure that is undeniably one of the greatest ever in any comic.
Martin Pasko, Bruce Jones, Dan Spiegle, and Tom Yeates kicked off the series in 1982, returning veteran fans to Swampy’s boggy world and introducing this classic character to new readers. Pasko was a primary writer for the first 19 issues and was joined by artists Stephen Bissette and the incredible John Totleben by the 16th issue, who remained the most notable artists of the series.
Issue #20 marks Alan Moore’s entry to the title, and for many fans of this reboot, Moore’s is the most superior stewardship that this iconic DC character has ever had. Moore’s creative genius turned Swampy on his head. He redefined his origin, delving deeply beyond the measure of what anyone would have ever imagined possible for a comic character, strengthening Swampy’s connections with other characters and cementing his place in DC Universe history, all while simultaneously allowing Swampy to play host to Moore’s own real-world social examinations and critiques. The unbelievable run lasted until issue #64 and remains required reading for anyone interested in the true possibilities of the comics medium.
Jasonmorris1000000 has made amazing strides on this #1 ranked “Swamp Thing Volume 2” set since 2018, with all but 2 issues in CGC Universal label 9.8, and an amazing 9.9 for issues #27 and #38! This sprawling run of 171 issues and 7 annuals is most impressive, as many of these books can be very difficult to find in high grades, and of course plenty of competition for them among collectors.
There are simply too many incredible covers in this run, particularly John Totleben’s, who painted all of those highlighted. Totleben was one of the best comic artists of all time and produced incredible covers for the title. His style was uniquely suited to capture Swamp Thing; his attention to intricate detail and fine linework were married perfectly to this shambling swamp goliath and the boggy swamps and forests of the world of the Green.
Issue #98 finds Swampy in an infernal plane during his search for Tefe, fending off a monstrous, many-headed demon with long, snake tongues protruding from mouths lined with smiling razor teeth. Along the ground lie a pair of severed heads ran through the eye socket of one and the deformed jaw of the other by menacing black spikes. An unbelievable work of art by a true artistic master.
Issue #92 features a phenomenal cemetery scene. Swampy and Abigail move alongside a massive mausoleum and into a procession of the living dead. Fog twists between the crumbling gravestones and enshrouds the putrid flesh and decaying bones of the skeleton party, with those at the front of the line carrying a rotting violin player on their shoulders, his jaw agape in a desperate scream. Once again Totleben knocked it out of the park.
Issue #88 shows Swampy crouched over a row of moldy skulls, a desperate gaze on his face as the gnarled vines of his body twist through the empty eye sockets and missing teeth of the central skull. Rendered in green and yellow tones with a rusted orange background, this cover is one of our absolute favorites.
Congratulations to Jasonmorris100000 on this monumental achievement in collecting and the award for Best in Copper Age for this wonderful Swamp Thing Volume 2 set!
Best Modern Sets
– Bone (Cartoon Books) – “High Grade Bone”
Every so often a comic comes along that appeals to just about everyone. Jeff Smith’s Bone series follows the humorous and sometimes dark odyssey of a trio of cousins: kind-hearted, Moby Dick-obsessed Fone Bone, shifty, scheming Phoney Bone, and dopey, loveable Smiley Bone. Pursued by rat creatures at nearly every turn, the Bone trio make human friends along the way in beautiful Thorn and her grandmother, Gran’ma Ben and eventually all join forces to defeat the big bad, the Lord of Locusts.
The characters for Bone were conceived over many years, but first took shape in a comic strip focused on Jeff Smith’s Thorn character for a campus newspaper while he was a student at Ohio State. After a stint at a co-op animation studio, Smith branched out on his own and with the help of his wife to launch Cartoon Books, publishing the first 20 issues. Image Comics took up issues 21-27, and the remainder of the series went back to Cartoon Books until its end with issue 55.
While adults certainly enjoy the Bone series, its legacy continues through a younger audience. Smith has said that his intention was not to publish a book meant for kids necessarily, but his expressive, Eisner Award-winning cartoon style is undeniably appealing to adolescents. Bone has been published in paperback form by Scholastic with some editing, making entry into this series easy for children, who continue to enjoy this much-loved series more than 30 years since its inception.
DocGo began his own odyssey in assembling his Bone Registry set “High Grade Bone” in 2012, and as he describes in the set listing, his intent was to collect the first ten issues and some favorite covers. This has grown into a complete set of the 55 series issues, including many Signature Series additions, and all but one of the spinoff mini-series and specials. All of the books in the set are 9.6 or 9.8 and one incredible 9.9 for issue #4!
As DocGo has written in the set description, Bone books are very difficult to collect in high grade due to the combination of production with very cheap materials, black back covers, and low print runs. We have to agree, and the census numbers reflect the difficulty of high grades, in particular with the single-digit issues.
Some of our favorites in this series are highlighted not only for the covers but for the story itself as well. Issue #20, the last in the original Cartoon Books run before switching over to Image, is drawn from the rat creatures’ skulking viewpoint as they spy on Fone Bone, Gran’ma Ben and Thorn as they trek along a forest path to Barrelhaven. DocGo’s copy of issue #20 is a Signature Series 9.8 and it’s a real beauty!
Issue #6 in DocGo’s set is a CGC Universal 9.8 and features the sweet moment that Lucius gives Gran’ma Ben a daisy he picked for her when her company arrived for the Spring Fair and, of course, the Great Cow Race. This issue lays out the hilarious backstory of Phoney being run out of Boneville after his disastrous attempt to run for mayor!
The first print issue #1 is of course the pièce de résistance of this fantastic set in an extremely difficult 9.6 with white pages. This book has a very low print run of just 3,000 units, and only 60 are certified in this grade to date. In over 20 years, CGC has only graded 467 copies of the first print, and 9.6 copies collectively make up just 2% of that entire print run. Slim pickin’s for high-grade collectors indeed, especially for a book that doesn’t trade hands often at all. It’s a gorgeous copy and has a very strong presentation with strong color strikes and crisp edges.
Congratulations to DocGo for this absolutely gorgeous set of Bone books and the 2023 award for the Best in Modern Age category! We thoroughly enjoyed checking it out, and for those of you who haven’t already taken a look at this set, we definitely recommend that you do!
– Something is Killing the Children (Complete) – “Something is Killing the
Children (CGC Graded)”
Watching James Tynion’s rise to stardom is witnessing modern comic history in the making. Tynion is part of the newest generation of comic creator juggernauts, debuting on DC’s New 52 Batman for the modern classic Night of the Owls storyline, and carrying on in his very young career to work on titles like The Woods, Department of Truth and Justice League Dark, winning multiple awards along the way.
It might turn out that Tynion ends up being most well-known for his book Something is Killing the Children. Initially set to launch as a five-issue limited series from Boom! Studios, the demand was so great that it was put into ongoing production before the release of the first issue, and the series launched in 2019 to unbelievable success.
Something is Killing the Children follows a dark trail of missing children through the eyes of bandana-masked Erica Slaughter, a monster hunter trained by a secret organization called The Order, who has vowed to track down and eliminate the evil preying on the children of Archer’s Peak. The series was nominated for an Eisner and Harvey Award in 2020 and won the Eisner in 2021 and 2022.
Like many modern titles, Something is Killing the Children is dominated by multiple printings and variant covers, which makes for a tough challenge, even for the most tenacious collectors, with many being limited to specific stores and with highly limited print runs.
Violent-Delights began the task of collecting the complete run of this awesome title in 2020, as they write in the set description, and has made excellent progress in the three years since. This #1 ranked Registry set is nearly 90% complete to date with the vast majority in 9.8, a lone 9.4, and three 9.9’s!
These covers are a tour de force; some of the finest artists in the comic world have produced killer covers for this series and this set showcases them beautifully with high-res scans and great descriptions.
Issue #6 Boom! Studios Slaughter Pack Edition is a virgin cover by Dan Quintana featuring Erica Slaughter gripping two knives behind a horde of terrifying monsters. Quintana presents Slaughter in a hazy, dreamy juxtaposition that feels as much like a watercolor as it does an ultramodern digital rendering, simultaneously channeling classic cinema a la Bette Davis and the vibrant realism of modern horror.
Sean Anderson’s point of view cover for issue #16 reminds us a lot of Tony Moore’s Walking Dead #9 cover and we love it. Erica is captured in the reflection of a wide, terrified green eye, her left arm raised in a cocked, crossbody swing. There’s an ecstatic, crackling energy captured here that seems to vibrate right off of the page. An exceptional layout and beautiful piece of art by Anderson.
Werther Dell’Edera’s style is a case study in the art of movement and perspective, and the virgin convention edition of issue #22 is a strong showcase of his mastery. Erica Slaughter is splattered in blood, with more blurred gore flying through the air around her as she crouches with her knives, ready to attack. This set copy is a gorgeous Signature Series 9.8, signed by both Tynion and Dell’Edera, and is limited to just 500 copies.
Congratulations to Violent-Delights for the 2023 award for the Best in Modern Age category! We look forward to seeing more fantastic additions to this super set!
- X-O Manowar - “Aport’s X-O Manowar Set”
There’s an undisputed cool factor to Valiant Comics, much of that attributed to the quality of the writing and art by the incredible creative team led by the legendary Jim Shooter. Valiant Comics launched strong at the dawn of the ’90s and quickly grew their catalog of original material titles, which were well-received by fans and critics alike, including Rai, Harbinger, Ninjak and Bloodshot.
Several Valiant titles have been adapted for other media. Turok, the Dinosaur Hunter became one of the most popular games for the Nintendo 64, and after announcing a planned Valiant Cinematic Universe in 2018, Bloodshot, starring Vin Diesel, was released in March 2020.
X-O Manowar, the space fantasy story following Aric of Dacia, heir to the Visigoth throne, launched in February 1992 with Jim Shooter and Steve Englehart scripting and Barry Windsor-Smith, Bob Layton, and John Holdredge on art. Aric began life as a barbarian, a trained killer, but upon finding the X-O armor he becomes the most powerful barbarian ever known, a living weapon, and sets out on a classic battle quest against monsters, robots, beasts and human enemies across vast, eclectic worlds that has continued for over 20 years.
Assembly began on “APort’s X-O Manowar Set” in 2014 and completed in 2022. This #1 ranked Registry set is complete with all 68 issues, all editions of the “0” and “1/2” issues, and one-shots. The vast majority of issues in this set are 9.8 and includes Signatures Series copies as well!
There’s no doubt the creators of Aric were heavily influenced by Iron Man, so their meeting in the X-O Manowar/Iron-Man: In Heavy Metal two-part comic is a fantastic team-up. Adapted from the video game of the same name, these armored heroes come together to save the world from destruction in this fun crossover. Both books are Signature Series copies, with the first signed by Bob Layton and Andy Smith in 9.6 and part two signed by Tom Grindberg and Fabian Nicieza in 9.8. Such a fun pair of high-grade books!
The Pink Variant for issue #15 is a Signature Series copy signed by Bart Sears and is presented in a gorgeous 9.8 with white pages. Sears brings Aric into a flooded tunnel on the cover, squaring up against a horde of vicious, armored dinosaurs. Only eight copies of this excellent issue exist to date in Signature Series 9.8, making this high-grade copy very rare.
Issue #0 is a classic Valiant cover and a printing error copy in a mind-blowing, gem mint 10! There are only three copies of the printing error in a 10. As if this weren’t impressive enough, the 10 is also joined by a Gold Edition signed by Jimmy Palmiotti in a gorgeous 9.8! This beautiful book is a real crown jewel, and a fantastic addition to this set.
Congratulations to APort for assembling this excellent X-O Manowar set. This is a worthy win for the 2023 Best in Modern Age award! We enjoyed this set and those who haven’t seen it will, too!
Best Magazine Set
– Elfquest (Warp-1978) – “EQ”
Fantasy and science fiction comics enjoyed mammoth success during the later Bronze Age; films like the animated Hobbit, Close Encounters, and of course Star Wars were at the helm of pop culture, and the insatiable demand for epic adventures permeated comics as well.
Elfquest’s concept for her world of Wolfrider elves and their leader Cutter, was born of an idea that Wendy Pini had as a child, but it wasn’t until 1977 that she and husband Richard Pini teamed up to make it a reality. Elfquest was first published in 1978 in Fantasy Quarterly after the duo had tried unsuccessfully to convince Marvel or DC to give their title a shot. Fantasy Quarterly was disappointing for the Pinis as the print quality was extremely low, and the publisher also attempted to retain the original artwork.
Convinced that they could operate better as a maverick team, the couple delved into researching self-publishing and with a small loan, started WaRP Graphics, a simple but effective acronym of their combined names. Elfquest was brought to readers in 1978 with full color, glossy covers in magazine-size format. The Pinis handled all aspects of the production of Elfquest themselves with the goal of delivering a new issue to fans three times a year. They did so for 21 issues until 1984, earning strong sales and a fiercely devoted fan base. With such a loyal market, Marvel Comics had the good sense to have a slice of humble pie and approached the Pinis with an offer to reprint the series. They enthusiastically accepted, hoping to bring Elfquest to an even larger audience.
Elfquest saw publication under DC as well from 2003 to 2007, and then found its home at Dark Horse in 2012, where it has remained since, with future stories planned to this day.
Crushalot began collecting their WaRP run of The Original Quest “EQ” in 2012 and have made steady progress on this hard-to-collect set since. Being independently published on a tight budget, these mags naturally have low print runs, and census numbers for all are scarce, the majority numbering well under 20 copies graded total. While there are still a few slots to fill in this set, most are present and all are 9.4 or higher!
Issue #1 is arguably the series’ best cover. The layout is superb and the use of color and light – something Wendy Pini is known to focus on in her art – is outstanding. This painted cover features an epic Wolfriders battle scene, with an enemy pinned under the paws of a central wolf and a decoration of skulls hung around the trunk of a tree behind. Crushalot’s copy is a blistering hot first printing in 9.8 with white pages, one of only three on the census to date!
Congratulations to Crushalot for this fantastic adventure in collecting and the 2023 award for Best Magazine set! We look forward to seeing this one at the finish line!
– Sports Illustrated Vol 1 – Vol 90 – “The Bobbyp29 Collection”
In the early ’50s, Henry Luce had the idea that Time Inc., should publish a magazine geared toward sports fans. This was not a novel idea; Sports Illustrated had two incarnations prior, covering mostly high-brow sports with limited audiences. This new launch would cover more mainstream sports, particularly America’s Favorite Pastime. Despite the solid idea, SI didn’t gain better footing for over a decade, operating in the red until well into the ’60s, but picked up steam once the stories steadied their focus on longer, sprawling coverage and high-quality photography, eventually cementing its status as the country’s premiere sports magazine.
Bobbyp29 set out to collect Volume 1-90 of SI in 2021, a mammoth task that they’ve made unbelievable strides with in only two years since beginning. “The Bobbyp29 Collection” is ranked #1 on the Registry and unbelievably, it’s 74% complete! This set is full of high-grade issues and is one of the most sprawling sets on the Registry; we highly recommend checking it out.
Throughout its long run, the photographers at Sports Illustrated have captured many of the most memorable images of sports giants, the energy of hard-fought wins, and some of the finest historical moments ever witnessed. So many of these images have made it to the cover; highlighting just a handful was tough! We chose a couple of our favorites but check out Bobbyp29’s run to see yours, too!
Volume 74 Issue #6 put some of the finest NBA players on the cover: Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone, Magic Johnson and of course Michael Jordan. These five were part of the roster of the 1992 Olympics USA Basketball team, and Sports Illustrated gave them the moniker “the Dream Team.” Looking back, it seems crazy that this was the first Olympic Games to recruit from the NBA, but FIBA rules disqualified NBA players up until this point, despite other countries using their own professional league players. At the same time, it was almost unfair to the rest of the world (with heavy emphasis on that qualifier) to play against the Dream Team, who crushed the competition easily and brought home Olympic Gold. Bobbyp29’s copy of this historic SI issue is a stunning 9.4 with white pages.
Sports Illustrated Volume 52 Issue #9 captures the Miracle on Ice at the 1980 Winter Olympics, when the US hockey team battled for a 4-3 win over reigning gold medalists the Soviet Union. What makes this story so unbelievable is that the US team was the youngest of the hockey lineup, a company of primarily non-professional players; only four had a smattering of minor league experience. Before this truly David-versus-Goliath match, Coach Herb Brooks delivered to his team one of the greatest speeches in sports history, which ended with “This is your time. Now go out there and take it.” Indeed they did. Photography Heinz Kluetmeier’s shot captured that moment so well that SI let the image speak for itself with no accompanying headlines or hyperbole. This cover was voted the greatest in SI history at the 60th anniversary, and it most certainly is. Bobbyp29’s copy is a gorgeous 8.5 with white pages, an absolutely beautiful example.
We’re proud to award Bobbyp29 the 2023 win for Best Magazine category! We look forward to the ongoing strides in adding to this awesome collection! Congratulations!
Best Signature Series Set
Keel – The ‘Nam – “Napalm Soup”
Quite possibly the most well-written comic tackling any war, The ‘Nam has been hailed for its accuracy and realism. With finely detailed depictions of the soldier’s experience and razor-sharp examination of the longer-term consequences of the Vietnam War, The ‘Nam provided important perspective in a medium that offered approachable entry into this difficult subject matter. Conceived by veteran Larry Hama and fellow vet Doug Murray, the ‘Nam ran for 84 issues from 1986 until 1993, following the stories of fictional characters through real events that took place during the conflict.
P Keel began collecting this spectacular, #1 Registry ranked Signature Series set “Napalm Soup” in 2011, and it is very near complete. P Keel writes in the set description that it has been tough getting these books in high grades, and we definitely recognize the challenge!
Issue #8 features a black cover by Mike Golden depicting a young “tunnel rat” with a terrified look illuminated by the glow of a flashlight inside an otherwise pitch-black tunnel. This issue gave readers two stories focusing on soldiers known as tunnel rats, who specialized in entering and clearing the extensive Viet Cong tunnels armed with only a flashlight, knife and pistol. P Keel’s copy of this intense, memorable issue is a beautiful 9.8 with white pages signed by Mike Golden, one of only two Signature Series books in that grade.
Readers got a stark look at the lives of soldiers after their tours of Vietnam in issue #26. This issue does a fantastic job conveying the myriad experiences soldiers faced upon returning home. The cover for this important issue is done in blue tone by Wayne Vansant and features a photograph of a group of troops among scattered war articles on a tabletop. P Keel’s copy is gorgeous newsstand copy in 9.8 signed by Vansant.
Issue #54 delves into the story of soldier Joe Hallen, told in five parts beginning with this issue. Hallen returns home from Vietnam to find the war isn’t over. This storyline reveals the inadvertent effects of Vietnam on soldiers, written by war genre master Chuck Dixon. Andy Kubert drew the effectively minimalist cover for issue #54, depicting Joe Hallen toting his bag against a backdrop of Baltimore, conveying the loneliness and betrayal at the heart of Dixon’s masterful story. P Keel’s newsstand copy is a beautiful 9.8 signed by Andy Kubert.
Congratulations to P Keel in winning the 2023 award for Best Signature Series set! We hope to see you at the finish line with this one!
– Natali Sanders Cover Set – “World of Natali Sanders Cover
Since her first professionally published cover in 2017, Natali Sanders has become an oft-favorite of comic fans globally. Her dreamy, detailed style lends itself particularly well to female characters, and her art focuses primarily on them. From Harley Quinn to Vampirella, characters drawn by Sanders take on a quality that never compromises strength and uniqueness despite harnessing a distinctly ethereal, feminine energy.
Sanders’ work is featured on many exclusives and limited print run covers, making her covers difficult to collect. Sanders is also not as frequent a signer as some of her counterparts, adding another layer of complexity to those seeking to add her Hancock to books in their collections.
109 has been accepting this challenge since 2018 and their #1 Registry ranked “World of Natali Sanders Cover Set” is nearing completion. This set is focused on Signature Series, and is filled with beautiful art and beautiful grades with all in 9.8 or higher! Our challenge was in choosing some of these gorgeous covers to highlight and it has been tough! Those who haven’t yet seen this set should stop by and choose your favorites as well!
Gotham’s Queen of Crime is shown in her finest leather, clutching a (certainly robbed!) set of pearls in her gloved hand. This fashion magazine-style cover in grey tones with contrasting pretty pink font are paired in purrrfect harmony, and we absolutely love Sanders’ Selina Kyle on this #1 issue of the Catwoman 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular. And what’s not to love about a Signature Series 9.8? A marvelous gem in this set!
Vampirella is christened in the pale glow of silver moonlight, her crimson cape exploding behind her into a colony of bats, setting out for a night on the hunt alongside this voluminous vampire vixen! Vampirella first appeared in 1969 in the Warren Publishing title of the same name, and she’s been hypnotizing readers ever since. This Sanders cover of Vampirella #11 from the 4th volume of the series leads one to believe that she was born to draw this character, and we hope to see more of her work with Vampi! This beautiful virgin cover in 109’s set is a Signature Series 9.8! Va-va-voom!
Natali Sanders has done an outstanding job with Wonder Woman on this virgin cover of Dark Knights: Death Metal #1. Harnessing a glowing light, Diana of Themyscira couldn’t be more radiant, particularly in the shadow of this darkened place that she’s stepped fearlessly into. Lasso at the ready and giving off a light of its own, Wonder Woman looks unshakably victorious even before the beginning of battle. A triumph of Sanders’ style, and in a Signature Series 9.8, a worthy addition to this wonderful set!
Congratulations to 109 on their excellent progress in completing this collection, and the award for 2023 Best Signature Series set! We loved seeing all the beautiful covers in this set by one of comics’ best and brightest, Natali Sanders.
Best Presented Set
- Batman: The Animated Signature Series
Daffaholic has put together one of the most attractive presentations we've ever seen on the Registry in his "Batman: The Signature Animated Series" set. With wonderful graphics and a fantastic stroll through his collecting backstory, Daffaholic showcases the motivation that makes sets like these possible. This is not one to miss folks; any comic fan will be inspired by this outstanding set.
We love to hear Registry members' "origin stories." As a collecting community, we all have much in common, but our stories are also unique. Like so many of us, Daffaholic found his entry into the comic world through cartoons and began reading comics in the late ’80s after receiving a JC Penney Comic Collector kit as a gift, and later a subscription to Amazing Spider-Man - beginning with issue #300! When the ’90s rolled around, Daffaholic discovered a new animated television show from DC, and while he maintained his passion for Marvel heroes, he was instantly hooked on Gotham's criminal streets and its Dark Knight.
Launched in 1992, this noir-style cartoon had an extremely high production quality. Well-crafted plots from some of comics' "supercreators," orchestral composition from Danny Elfman collaborator Shirley Walker, stellar animation, and of course, some of the GOAT's of voice talent including Mark Hamill, Kevin Conroy and Adrienne Barbeau, all came together to deliver Batman: The Animated Series. The show ran until 1995 over two seasons (the second renamed The Adventures of Batman & Robin), collected several well-deserved Emmys, and spawned The New Batman Adventures in 1997 and the comic adaptation. This unforgettable television series is, in our humble opinion, unmatched by anything before or since in style and standard.
Fast forward some years later and Daffaholic set his collecting sights on the catalog of Batman Adventures comics, with an initial idea to assemble the first cover appearances of these most beloved DC characters. Daffaholic evolved this idea into curating covers that uniquely represent the feel of the animated series and focusing on collecting signatures and awesome personalizations from the talented voice actors that brought them to life in the show.
Adrienne Barbeau added her autograph to Daffaholic's 9.8 copy of Batman Adventures #2, Kevin Conroy on the iconic cover of the first Annual in a particularly tough 9.8, and Tara Strong is featured on a solid 9.0 copy of one of our absolute favorite books, Batgirl Adventures #1. Check out all the awesome signatures and gorgeous grades in Daffaholic's set!
This beautiful high-grade set is a wonderful work in progress, and we're so impressed with the time and energy it's taken to showcase this collection of very special books so beautifully on the CGC Registry. It's our pleasure to congratulate Daffaholic on winning the 2023 award for Best Presented Set! We look forward to seeing more of those planned upgrades and new additions in the future!
– “The Complete Blade Runner Franchise”
Since its 1982 release, to measure the reach of Blade Runner's influence within all things science fiction is an impossible task. Much has been written and said about this film; there is a je nais sais quoi that continues to mesmerize and inspire.
Blade Runner made its way into comics in the same year of its release, but ironically, it was a comic story published in 1976 that would eventually inspire the film masterpiece. Published in two parts in French magazine Metal Hurlant, and later, Heavy Metal, The Long Tomorrow follows Pete Club, a "confidential nose" in a futuristic hard-boiled detective story, conceived by writer Dan O'Bannon while he waited for work on a film set, and later illustrated by the brilliant Moebius. When Ridley Scott came across The Long Tomorrow, he discovered the visual groundwork for his film.
Blade Runner launched one of the most successful science fiction franchises, inclusive of several comic series and one-shots throughout the decades since its original release in 1982, the most recent in 2022. ethanwa79 has assembled a gorgeous collection of all these Blade Runner comics in one of the finest sets on the CGC Registry.
Presented with great graphics, wonderful writing and crisp, high-res scans in the gallery, ethanwa79 has really done these comics justice in the set, “The Complete Blade Runner Franchise.” This sprawling set of 252 books includes all the original Blade Runner comics and their very-tough-to-find foreign editions, all of the continuing series and their variants. This set is full of art by some of the best comic artists in the industry; we highly recommend checking out the set gallery!
The Convention Edition for Blade Runner 2019 #1 is a beauty in black and white. Cover artist John Royale channels Moebius within his own style, and we love the detail. This rare book is limited to 500 copies and is presented in a CGC Universal label 9.6.
There's a distinctly vintage, classic feel to Robert Hack's cover for Blade Runner Origins #1 from Titan Comics, 2021. The layout is superb, and the use of color marries depth and elegance to the gritty linework. A phenomenal cover and a gorgeous 9.8 addition to this collection.
Jim Steranko's cover for the Marvel Super Special #22 from 1982 showcases this incredible master of layouts, color and linework. Steranko's style is so well-suited to Blade Runner, and this classic cover has always topped our list as one of his best works. While this set includes a stunning 9.8 copy of this book, we really fell for the Dutch Edition, which includes pop-art style images of Harrison Ford and Rutger Hauer. This is an extremely tough book to get in high grade, and this solid 8.0 copy is the only one on the census to date.
The dedication and hard work that ethanwa79 has put into this Blade Runner collection really shows! We're proud to present this set with the 2023 award for Best Presented! Congratulations!
Best Custom Set
– “Jim Lee X-Men (1991) Newsstand Edition Blue Label CGC 9.8”
One of the most influential and iconic creators in comics has a success story rooted in the American Dream. Born in Seoul, South Korea, Jim Lee immigrated to the United States as a child, beginning a new life with his family in St. Louis. His love of comics and talent for drawing wasn’t taken seriously by his parents, who encouraged him to pursue education and a career in medicine. Upon graduating from Princeton, Lee had one goal: to make it into comics within a year or enter medical school.
Lee devoted his days to building his portfolio. He combined the influence of Frank Miller and Whilce Portacio with an edgy, anime flavor, giving unique, detailed distinction to his style. Encouraged by fellow St. Louis artists Rick Burchett and Don Secrease, Lee took his portfolio to a New York convention and introduced himself to Marvel editor Archie Goodwin, who immediately recognized Lee’s talent, and made the move to bring him on at Marvel.
Lee’s road to working with his favorite characters, the X-Men, began with issue #51 of Alpha Flight in October 1987. In 1989 he had a shot at filling in for Marc Silvestri on Uncanny X-Men #248, and on issues 256-258. His art was a hit with fans, leading to his addition on the series as an ongoing artist beginning with issue #267, where he forged his relationship with writer Chris Claremont and co-created Gambit.
In 1991, Marvel launched their second volume of X-Men, with Lee at the artistic helm. X-Men #1 featured five different variant covers that joined together to form a single image, all drawn by Jim Lee. It became the greatest-selling comic book of all time, moving 8.1 million units and generating sales of nearly $7 million. With Lee’s artistic lead, this volume of X-Men redefined Marvel’s iconic mutant team and became one of the runs synonymous with the style and innovation of ’90s-era comics.
It’s this Jim Lee X-Men series that epiclion has focused on to create their excellent custom set “Jim Lee X-Men (1991) Newsstand Edition Blue Label CGC 9.8.” With a detailed description, high-res scans, list of goals and inclusion criteria in the set listing, epiclion presents this set with careful consideration and a very personal touch that we really enjoy!
Issue #11 features Wolverine at the forefront of the team showing off those claws! This cover, with its excellent layout and bold colors is one of the most recognizable in this custom set, and as a newsstand 9.8 with white pages it really pops!
Issue #4 finds Wolverine, Gambit and Jubilee standing off against a mysterious new enemy, Omega Red. This issue marks his first appearance, and Jim Lee’s art on this one is stunning. With a red cover, and particularly in newsstand, 9.8’s are certainly tougher than their direct counterparts. Epiclion had a keen eye to pick up this copy raw for pressing and grading.
The first annual of this series puts Cyclops at the front of the pack in a running action shot that makes the characters feel like they’re going to jump right off the cover! This 64-pager is part one of the awesome Shattershot storyline and brings in an all-star creative team including Al Milgrom and Greg Capullo. Square bounds are not easy in high grades as the census numbers reflect, with only 52 total in 9.8.
Congratulations to epiclion for this awesome Jim Lee X-Men collection, and the 2023 award for Best Custom set! We loved checking it out and definitely recommend it for everyone to enjoy!
– “The Winnipeg Collection”
Of the 61 pedigree collections recognized by CGC, the Winnipeg Collection contains excellent quality, high-grade books that span the Silver Age deep into the ’90s and is recognizable by their original owner’s ballpoint pen signatures at the top of the covers. More information about the expansive Winnipeg Collection can be found here.
Littlejerry5 writes in their set description for their “Winnipeg Collection” that they’ve always been a huge fan of the Winnipeg Pedigree, in part for its high page quality. Many Pedigree collections were sold off in whole or part prior to CGC’s inception, and even since, most make their way to auction where they’re sold off piece by piece. Those who manage to add Pedigree books to their collections tend to hold onto them for a long time. This said, assembling a collection from one Pedigree is a tough task and requires a special sort of dedication!
With 11 books total from the Bronze Age, this eclectic collection of Winnipeg books looks fantastic in CGC holders with accompanying Pedigree labels!
We love the Kazar the Savage books in this collection, which contain issues 2, 3 and 13, all in 9.6 with white pages, and with all covers drawn by Brent Anderson. Another Stan Lee and Jack Kirby creation, Ka-Zar is the superhero name of Kevin Plunder, who was raised by a mutated sabertooth tiger called Zabu after being orphaned in the dinosaur inhabited Savage Land. Ka-Zar’s adventures are vast, fighting alongside the X-Men, falling in love with Shanna the She-Devil, and even fighting crime on the streets of New York City!
We also love the gorgeous 9.6 copy of Superman #278 with its awesome Nick Cardy cover. DC square bounds are very tough in high grades. The Winnipeg copy is one is one of only 10 in the grade, with only three higher. A beautiful addition!
Congratulations to littlejerry5 for the 2023 award for Best Custom Set! We hope to see more Winnipegs added to this great Pedigree collection!
This user doesn't make a lot of posts in a year’s time, but they are always of high quality and considerate of others. He started a thread titled "Tell Me a Tale - For Those Who Love Comics." It will be cherished on the forum for many years to come.
This user has extensively documented the history of Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, and the birth of the Marvel Universe. A ton of work has been put into this in the form of text and images from 1954 through the ’60s.
This user has spent a decade maintaining the CGCdata.com website that has been very helpful to many comic collectors. A task which must be a huge undertaking and should certainly be noted and recognized.
Winners can print their certificates of achievement through their My Account page on CGCcomics.com.
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