Cyberspace Comics market report, reviews and more

June 28, 2016

Comic Book Cover Swipes Exposed #176 normalman

Filed under: Swiped: Comic Book Cover Swipes Exposed! — Doorman @ 8:00 am

After looking at hundreds of comic book covers, it becomes quickly apparent that not every cover is 100% original. Whether done intentionally or even underhandedly, there’s something about uncovering these “swipes” that adds a new element of fun to reading and collecting comics.

In a twist on the Superman mythos, the title character in Jim Valentino’s normalman (stylized in all lower-case letters) is shipped off into space by his father when he concludes that the planet they inhabit will explode. The child arrives on a planet inhabited completely by super-powered beings – they dub him normalman, because he’s the only one there without powers.

The character debuted in Cerebus the Aardvark #56 and was soon given his own ongoing series. That title served as a vehicle for creator, Jim Valentino, to spoof and parody other comics, a perfect opportunity (if ever there was one) to introduce cover swipes that parody the source material.

The DNAgents are a team of superheroes that were created through genetic engineering by the Matrix Corporation. Admittedly it doesn’t sound like an advanced concept by today’s standards but, it was ahead of the curve when it debuted in 1983. (After all, Marvel’s own genetic manipulator, Mr. Sinister, didn’t debut for another four years.) The team consisted of five heroes: Amber, Rainbow, Sham, Surge, and Tank. A frequent guest-star called Crossfire debuted in issue #4. Crossfire got his own spin-off series that lasted for 26 issues (as well as a four issue mini-series shared with Rainbow). DNAgents lasted 24 issues before it was relaunched as the New DNAgents, which was published for 17 issues.

DNAgents #4
DNAgents #4
July 1983
Will Meugniot
normalman #7
normalman #7
February 1985
Jim Valentino

On Ebay: normalman | DNAgents
On Amazon: normalman | DNAgents
On AtomicAvenue: normalman | DNAgents






June 21, 2016

Comic Book Cover Swipes Exposed #175 normalman

Filed under: Swiped: Comic Book Cover Swipes Exposed! — Doorman @ 8:00 am

After looking at hundreds of comic book covers, it becomes quickly apparent that not every cover is 100% original. Whether done intentionally or even underhandedly, there’s something about uncovering these “swipes” that adds a new element of fun to reading and collecting comics.

In a twist on the Superman mythos, the title character in Jim Valentino’s normalman (stylized in all lower-case letters) is shipped off into space by his father when he concludes that the planet they inhabit will explode. The child arrives on a planet inhabited completely by super-powered beings – they dub him normalman, because he’s the only one there without powers.

The character debuted in Cerebus the Aardvark #56 and was soon given his own ongoing series. That title served as a vehicle for creator, Jim Valentino, to spoof and parody other comics, a perfect opportunity (if ever there was one) to introduce cover swipes that parody the source material.

Will Eisner‘s the Spirit debuted in the Sunday pages of 1940 newspapers – the character is a masked vigilante that fights crime with the blessings of the city’s police commissioner. The Spirit has gone on to be featured in hundreds of comics as well as a feature-length film written and directed by Frank Miller.

Richie Rich #1
the Spirit
October 9, 1941
Will Eisner
normalman #6
normalman #6
December 1984
Jim Valentino

On Ebay: normalman | the Spirit
On Amazon: normalman | the Spirit
On AtomicAvenue: normalman | the Spirit






June 14, 2016

Comic Book Cover Swipes Exposed #174 normalman

Filed under: Swiped: Comic Book Cover Swipes Exposed! — Doorman @ 8:00 am

After looking at hundreds of comic book covers, it becomes quickly apparent that not every cover is 100% original. Whether done intentionally or even underhandedly, there’s something about uncovering these “swipes” that adds a new element of fun to reading and collecting comics.

In a twist on the Superman mythos, the title character in Jim Valentino’s normalman (stylized in all lower-case letters) is shipped off into space by his father when he concludes that the planet they inhabit will explode. The child arrives on a planet inhabited completely by super-powered beings – they dub him normalman, because he’s the only one there without powers.

The character debuted in Cerebus the Aardvark #56 and was soon given his own ongoing series. That title served as a vehicle for creator, Jim Valentino, to spoof and parody other comics, a perfect opportunity (if ever there was one) to introduce cover swipes that parody the source material.

Richard Rich, Junior debuted in Little Dot #1, published in 1953. Better known as Richie, he’s the only child of wealthy parents and is the world’s richest kid. The character has also been featured in multiple animated series as well as a feature-length film starring Macaulay Culkin as Richie. Most recently, in 2015, Netflix released a live-action Richie Rich sitcom series.

Richie Rich #1
Richie Rich #1
November 1960
Warren Kremer
normalman #5
normalman #5
October 1984
Jim Valentino

On Ebay: normalman | Richie Rich
On Amazon: normalman | Richie Rich
On AtomicAvenue: normalman | Richie Rich






June 7, 2016

Comic Book Cover Swipes Exposed #173 normalman

Filed under: Swiped: Comic Book Cover Swipes Exposed! — Doorman @ 8:00 pm

After looking at hundreds of comic book covers, it becomes quickly apparent that not every cover is 100% original. Whether done intentionally or even underhandedly, there’s something about uncovering these “swipes” that adds a new element of fun to reading and collecting comics.

In a twist on the Superman mythos, the title character in Jim Valentino’s normalman (stylized in all lower-case letters) is shipped off into space by his father when he concludes that the planet they inhabit will explode. The child arrives on a planet inhabited completely by super-powered beings – they dub him normalman, because he’s the only one there without powers.

The character debuted in Cerebus the Aardvark #56 and was soon given his own ongoing series. That title served as a vehicle for creator, Jim Valentino, to spoof and parody other comics, a perfect opportunity (if ever there was one) to introduce cover swipes that parody the source material.

I couldn’t find a specific cover that normalman#3 is paying homage but, it’s very clear that this issue’s cover design is honoring those classic horror titles published by E.C. Comics in the 1950’s: Two-Fisted Tales, Shock SuspenStories, the Haunt of Fear, the Vault of Horror and Tales From the Crypt (amongst others).

Tales From the Crypt #39
Tales From the Crypt #39
December 1953
Jack Davis
normalman #3
normalman #3
June 1984
Jim Valentino

On Ebay: normalman | Tales From the Crypt
On Amazon: normalman | Tales From The Crypt
On AtomicAvenue: normalman | Tales From the Crypt






June 1, 2016

Cyberspace Comics Market Report #70 June 2016

Filed under: Cyberspace Comics Market Report — Doorman @ 12:05 pm

I started selling comics full-time in 2010 and wanted to track my progress against the online back issue markets. Here’s a look at the current comics aftermarket and my progress in achieving my goal of becoming a prominent back issue dealer.

one month change one year change five year change
Listings in eBay’s comics section 2,443,311 -19.37% -15.18% +63.70%
Cyberspace Comics listings 93,780 +1.39% +19.54% +1,201.60%
Cyberspace Comics “market share” of comic listings on eBay 3.84% +25.84% +41.11% +695.13%
Number of eBay comic listings that are auctions 121,144 -18.97% +5.03% +67.92%
Percentage of eBay comic listings up for auction 4.96% +0.57% +23.95% +2.65%
Number of listings sold in eBay’s comics section (90 days) 1,099,070 -1.99%
Number of listings sold in eBay’s comics section divided by current listings 44.98% +21.54%


Total number of listings in eBay’s “comics” section

My current eBay feedback (unique): 46,254
My current eBay feedback (total): 89,406
My postive eBay feedback score: 99.9%

Here’s a look at the top five categories in my eBay store from the past 90 days.

Position Dollar Sales (eBay) # of Current Listings
First Marvel Comics Marvel Comics (19,888 listings)
Second DC Comics DC Comics (13,926 listings)
Third Graded Comics (CGC) (↑) Other Indies (8,700 listings)
Fourth Image Comics (↓) Image Comics (7,536 listings)
Fifth Other Indies (↑) Dark Horse (4,297 listings)
one month change one year change five year change
Listings on Atomic Avenue 1,219,500 +0.41% +0.32% -12.60%
Listings in the Cyberspace Comics Store on Atomic Avenue 89,808 +0.62% +18.06% +156.81%
Cyberspace Comics “market share” of comic listings on AtomicAvenue 7.36% +0.19% +17.64% +193.83%
Cyberspace Comics estimated “market share” of AtomicAvenue orders 8.14% -6.33% +14.81% +80.89%
Number of unique issues on Atomic Avenue 225,516 +0.62% +9.41%
Cyberspace Comics “market share” of unique issues on AtomicAvenue 39.82% +0.01% +7.90%


Total number of comics listed on Atomic Avenue
one month change one year change five year change
Number of members on ComicCollectorLive 123,285 +0.18% +23.82%
Number of items for sale on ComicCollectorLive 1,666,999 +0.32%
Number of items sold on ComicCollectorLive 2,081,654 +0.56%
Number of stores open on ComicCollectorLive 100 -0.99%
one month change one year change five year change
Number of listings in Amazon’s Entertainment Collectibles – Comic Book section 178,775 +8.21%
Number of those listings that are in the Cyberspace Comics Amazon store 89,266 +1.95%
Cyberspace Comics “market share” of comic listings on Amazon 49.93% -5.79%
one month change one year change five year change
Number of listings in HipComic’s Comic Books section 160,060 -6.94%
Number of those listings that are in the Cyberspace Comics HipComic store: 92,546 +0.06%
Cyberspace Comics “market share” of comic listings on HipComic 57.82% +7.53%
one month change one year change five year change
Number of listings in Bonanza’s Comics section 131,711 -1.39%

 
 

This has been an interesting snapshot of the current market. Mycomicshop has suffered a database problem that caused them to go down over the weekend. Their dropout of the ebay marketplace has thrown the numbers off considerably as the total number of listings on ebay plummetted due to their loss. I suspect they’ll be back by next month and the growth in the next month’s market report will seem very high. Ebay’s new store plans have kicked into gear now – anchor stores get 10,000 free fixed price listings and 1,000 auction listings each month. The number of auctions on ebay hasn’t been this low since July 2015. It’ll be interesting to see what effect their new store plans will have on the auction/fixed price balance.

Atomic Avenue‘s total listings are continuing their slow climb out of their most recent 5-year low brought on by a combination of increased selling fees and stricter selling metrics that removed some members (while other members left proactively). But, more importantly, their number of unique issues continues to rise consistently – and has done so since I began tracking this data.

Comic Collector Live continues to see consistent growth in their user base even though one of their member stores has closed.

Amazon‘s collectibles marketplace is too new to draw any conclusions but is still showing steady growth in its selection.

HipComic, which debuted in January 2016, just hit a major snag. The marketplace has been temporarily shut down due to a legal motion from Stanley Gibbons. The website explains that a hearing on the matter was held on May 23 and they are currently awaiting the result.

Bonanza lost a small number of listings but nothing to be concerned about.

May 31, 2016

Comic Book Cover Swipes Exposed #172 normalman

Filed under: Swiped: Comic Book Cover Swipes Exposed! — Doorman @ 8:12 pm

After looking at hundreds of comic book covers, it becomes quickly apparent that not every cover is 100% original. Whether done intentionally or even underhandedly, there’s something about uncovering these “swipes” that adds a new element of fun to reading and collecting comics.

In a twist on the Superman mythos, the title character in Jim Valentino’s normalman (stylized in all lower-case letters) is shipped off into space by his father when he concludes that the planet they inhabit will explode. The child arrives on a planet inhabited completely by super-powered beings – they dub him normalman, because he’s the only one there without powers.

The character debuted in Cerebus the Aardvark #56 and was soon given his own ongoing series. That title served as a vehicle for creator, Jim Valentino, to spoof and parody other comics, a perfect opportunity (if ever there was one) to introduce cover swipes that parody the source material.

It looks as if normalman #2 is paying homage to this classic issue of Fantastic Four (guest-starring Daredevil) but the logo is actually honoring the long-standing Spider-Man logo design that debuted on the cover of Amazing Spider-Man #2 and dressed the covers of that series up through issue #394.

Fantastic Four #39
Fantastic Four #39
June 1965
Jack Kirby
normalman #2
normalman #2
April 1984
Jim Valentino

On Ebay: normalman | Fantastic Four
On Amazon: normalman | Fantastic Four
On AtomicAvenue: normalman | Fantastic Four






May 24, 2016

Comic Book Cover Swipes Exposed #171 normalman

Filed under: Swiped: Comic Book Cover Swipes Exposed! — Doorman @ 10:00 am

After looking at hundreds of comic book covers, it becomes quickly apparent that not every cover is 100% original. Whether done intentionally or even underhandedly, there’s something about uncovering these “swipes” that adds a new element of fun to reading and collecting comics.

In a twist on the Superman mythos, the title character in Jim Valentino’s normalman (stylized in all lower-case letters) is shipped off into space by his father when he concludes that the planet they inhabit will explode. The child arrives on a planet inhabited completely by super-powered beings – they dub him normalman, because he’s the only one there without powers.

The character debuted in Cerebus the Aardvark #56 and was soon given his own ongoing series. That title served as a vehicle for creator, Jim Valentino, to spoof and parody other comics, a perfect opportunity (if ever there was one) to introduce cover swipes that parody the source material.

Superman #146
Superman #146
July 1961
Curt Swan, Sheldon Moldoff
normalman #1
normalman #1
January 1984
Jim Valentino

On Ebay: normalman | Superman
On Amazon: normalman | Superman
On AtomicAvenue: normalman | Superman






May 4, 2016

Cyberspace Comics Market Report #69 May 2016

Filed under: Cyberspace Comics Market Report — Doorman @ 8:59 pm

I started selling comics full-time in 2010 and wanted to track my progress against the online back issue markets. Here’s a look at the current comics aftermarket and my progress in achieving my goal of becoming a prominent back issue dealer.

one month change one year change five year change
Listings in eBay’s comics section 3,030,350 -2.24% -6.57% +96.82%
Cyberspace Comics listings 92,492 -0.15% +18.32% +1,2220.37%
Cyberspace Comics “market share” of comic listings on eBay 3.05% +2.08% +26.65% +570.87%
Number of eBay comic listings that are auctions 149,496 -4.43% +15.08% +66.30%
Percentage of eBay comic listings up for auction 4.93% +4.67% +32.17% -9.54%
Number of listings sold in eBay’s comics section (90 days) 1,121,401 +5.83%
Number of listings sold in eBay’s comics section divided by current listings 37.01% +8.27%


Total number of listings in eBay’s “comics” section

My current eBay feedback (unique): 45,628
My current eBay feedback (total): 88,006
My postive eBay feedback score: 99.8%

Here’s a look at the top five categories in my eBay store from the past 90 days.

Position Dollar Sales (eBay) # of Current Listings
First Marvel Comics Marvel Comics (19,537 listings)
Second DC Comics DC Comics (14,062 listings)
Third Image Comics (↑) Other Indies (8,615 listings)
Fourth Graded Comics (CGC) (↓) Image Comics (7,144 listings)
Fifth Wholesale (↑) Dark Horse (4,029 listings)
one month change one year change five year change
Listings on Atomic Avenue 1,214,507 +0.66% +3.77% -9.45%
Listings in the Cyberspace Comics Store on Atomic Avenue 89,252 +0.76% +18.09% +201.27%
Cyberspace Comics “market share” of comic listings on AtomicAvenue 7.35% +0.12% +13.76% +232.72%
Cyberspace Comics estimated “market share” of AtomicAvenue orders 8.69% -18.86% +100.69% +28.74%
Number of unique issues on Atomic Avenue 224,120 +0.85% +9.51%
Cyberspace Comics “market share” of unique issues on AtomicAvenue 39.82% -0.09% +7.83%


Total number of comics listed on Atomic Avenue
one month change one year change five year change
Number of members on ComicCollectorLive 123,058 +0.61% +24.04%
Number of items for sale on ComicCollectorLive 1,661,622
Number of items sold on ComicCollectorLive 2,070,029
Number of stores open on ComicCollectorLive 101
one month change one year change five year change
Number of listings in Amazon’s Entertainment Collectibles – Comic Book section 165,205 +3.72%
Number of those listings that are in the Cyberspace Comics Amazon store 87,560 +1.65%
Cyberspace Comics “market share” of comic listings on Amazon 53.00% -1.94%
one month change one year change five year change
Number of listings in HipComic’s Comic Books section 171,997 +18.45%
Number of those listings that are in the Cyberspace Comics HipComic store: 92,487 -0.44%
Cyberspace Comics “market share” of comic listings on HipComic 53.77% -15.93%
one month change one year change five year change
Number of listings in Bonanza’s Comics section 133,573 +9.14%

 
 

From October 2015 to February 2016, eBay was giving away 10,000 free listings to sellers with store accounts. Despite the elimination of this promotion, the number of listings have dipped but not dropped off sharply.

Atomic Avenue‘s total listings are continuing their slow climb out of their most recent 5-year low brought on by a combination of increased selling fees and stricter selling metrics that removed some members (other members left proactively). This month, that slow climb took a slight hit. However, more importantly, their number of unique issues continues to rise consistently – and has done so since I began tracking this data.

Comic Collector Live continues to see consistent growth in their user base.

Amazon‘s collectibles marketplace is too new to draw any conclusions – as is the recently-launched HipComic, which debuted in January 2016.

Bonanza continues to see consistent growth in the number of listings since I started tracking that data.

April 30, 2016

X-Men: Apocalypse Movie Fan Theory – Wolverine is a Horseman

Filed under: Speculation — Doorman @ 10:06 am

Possible Spoilers Alert

In 2000, the first X-Men film introduced us to Wolverine, a mutant with very little knowledge of his past. His mutant powers included a healing factor and three metal claws on each hand. In the sequel, X2, Colonel William Stryker hints at a shared past with Wolverine. Both of these films are set in the present day. In 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine, it was revealed that in the past, William Stryker recruited Wolverine as a part of Team X. He subjected Wolverine to a painful operation that reinforced his skeleton with adamantium, a virtually indestructible metal. In 2014’s X-Men: Days of Future Past, a distant-future team of X-Men sends Wolverine’s mind back in time to the 1970’s to inhabit the body of the Wolverine of that timeline. This 1970’s version of Wolverine has bone claws – so he has yet to be subjected to Stryker’s operation that laces his skeleton with adamantium.

Now, here’s where things start to get interesting. Thanks to the events of the time-traveling Wolverine, the X-Men events have been altered. For example, at the end of this movie, Stryker captures Wolverine – presumably, this is the point at which he will soon undergo the adamantium-bonding procedure. However, now that the events have been altered, at the end of X-Men: Days of Future Past, it’s revealed that Stryker has not captured Wolverine – instead, it is Mystique posing as Stryker that has him.

So, as we last saw, Wolverine has no adamantium bonded to his skeleton and the person that was going to take him and administer that process doesn’t have control of him. On April 25, 2016, a new trailer for X-Men: Apocalypse dropped and, at the 2:27 mark, it shows a clawed hand. We’re to assume that Wolverine will be in this film – which is set in the 1980’s. The claws on this hand are clearly sheathed in adamantium – so, somehow, Wolverine got the adamantium on his bones again. Although, it’s now quite possible that the adamantium did not come from Stryker’s procedure. Simon Kinberg, the man who wrote the screenplay for X-Men: Apocalypse and produced the film, when asked if “Wolverine will still get his adamantium claws” said: “We don’t see it because he doesn’t pop his claws at the end of the movie [but like with elements of the story] perhaps how he got his claws is different. But he lands ultimately in the same destination.”






So … how else could the adamantium have been attached to Wolverine’s skeleton?

A big clue is that the main villain of this next film is Apocalypse (read our full Apocalypse: X-Men Villain bio) – an ancient mutant that is known for enhancing mutants and recruiting them to be his Horsemen. One of the most notable cases of this is, in the comics, when Apocalypse transformed Angel into Archangel by giving him new, metallic wings whose razor-like feathers he can shoot off like throwing knives. In the film, we know that his Four Horsemen will consist of Magneto, Storm, Psylocke and Angel. We also have seen a recent photo shoot showing Storm in an X-Men uniform alongside the team – this uniform is certainly different than her Horseman outfit.

Now, here comes the Cyberspace Comics fan theory! Let’s say Storm defects to the X-Men, leaving a void to be filled in the Horsemen. Looking to fill that void, Apocalypse recruits Wolverine and enhances him with an adamantium-laced skeleton. This provides us with a perfectly good explanation of how Wolverine gets his adamantium back and fits in nicely with the Apocalypse storyline.

Now, mind you, this theory doesn’t just come out of nowhere. There’s certainly basis for it in the comics themselves. In Astonishing X-Men vol. 2 #1 (cover date: September 1999), a new Horseman of Death is introduced. And, in X-Men vol. 2 #95 (cover date: December 1999), that Horseman was revealed to be Wolverine. That very same month, in Wolverine vol. 2 #145, it was revealed that Apocalypse had taken the adamantium-free Wolverine (Magneto ripped the adamantium out of him in Wolverine vol. 2 #75) and enhanced him with the rare metal – turning him into Death.

Could the movie be following this very same path of reintroducing Wolverine’s adamantium via Apocalypse? If so, is Wolverine going to be a Horseman of Apocalypse? It’s certainly possible – and would make for a great addition to the Apocalypse and Wolverine storyline in the X-Films.

If that happens, I expect a strong uptick in demand for the issues wherein Wolverine is the Horseman of Death. Those issues are Astonishing X-Men vol. 2 #1-3, Wolverine vol. 2 #145-147, and X-Men vol. 2 #95. And, even though it’s not in-continuity, I’d also look to What If? vol. 2 #111.


On Ebay: X-Men | Wolverine | Apocalypse
On AtomicAvenue: X-Men | Wolverine | Apocalypse






April 21, 2016

An in-depth look at the X-Men villain: Apocalypse

Filed under: Speculation — Doorman @ 7:59 pm

May 27, 2016 is fast approaching – the release date of the newest X-Men movie! The main villain in this film is going to be Apocalypse – so let’s take a look at the important moments in Apocalypse’s history.


X-Factor #6
X-Factor #6 (cover date: July 1986)

X-Factor #6 is the big one. It features the fist full appearance of Apocalypse. In this book, Apocalypse explains that he’s been around for centuries and espouses his goal of pitting mutant against mutant in the hopes of pinpointing the strong. He also explains (and demonstrates) his ability to re-arrange and re-structure his body’s molecules.


X-Factor #5X-Factor #5
X-Factor #5 (cover date: June 1986)

Earlier, I specified that X-Factor #6 was Apocalypse’s “first full appearance”. I had to make that distinction because he made a cameo in X-Factor #5. It’s not nearly as important as his first full appearance but it will certainly be in-demand for those scooping up Apocalypse books. Additionally, it’s the first appearance of the Alliance of Evil although, two of its members debuted earlier: Tower (in X-Factor #2) and Frenzy (in X-Factor #4). It should be noted that while this is the first group that we see Apocalypse leading, I don’t have much hope for this being the group that he commands in the film.


Marvel Graphic Novel #17 Revenge of the Living MonolithX-Factor #5
Marvel Graphic Novel #17: Revenge of the Living Monolith (cover date: 1985)

Did I say X-Factor #6 was his first appearance? Well, this is where things start to get a little tricky. In Uncanny X-Men #376, Apocalypse verifies that he was the mysterious benefactor that helped out the Living Monolith. This happened in a graphic novel from 1985, which predates X-Factor #6 (or #5, for that matter).

Uncanny X-Men #376
interior from Uncanny X-Men #376 (cover date: January 2000)

Now, it’s quite clear that the writer of that graphic novel (Revenge of the Living Monolith) never intended it to be Apocalypse but, that hasn’t stopped collectors from scooping it up. So, technically, it is the first published appearance of Apocalypse – albeit, not in a form he’s famous for. It’s worth pointing out that there’s a second printing of this graphic novel, easily identified by its cover price of $9.95 (the first printing was $6.95).

Apocalypse’s second appearance is in X-Factor #10 (on one page), wherein he recruits the Morlock, Plague, to become his first Horseman: Pestilence (although, we do not yet see what Pestilence looks like). This issue is also significant because it’s where the Marauders pin Angel to the wall by his wings. That event led to their amputation in X-Factor #14. X-Factor #14 is also significant because it’s the first mention of the Twelve – a group of mutants who are essential to Apocalypse’s plan to gain omnipotence (this storyline kicked off in Uncanny X-Men #376 … more on that later).

X-Factor #10 interior page
interior from X-Factor #10 (cover date: November 1986)

In X-Factor #11, Apocalypse makes his third appearance as he recruits Abraham Lincoln Kieros to be his second Horseman: War. Again, we don’t see what War looks like, just yet. And, in #12, he recruits a young girl named Autumn Rolfson to be Famine.

Finally, in X-Factor #15, we see what the Horsemen of Apocalypse look like after they’ve been transformed. This issue also marks the first appearance of Apocalypse’s Ship – a sentient ship whose ancient A.I. program was created by Celestials. “Ship” later became X-Factor’s headquarters and, after that, took on a humanoid form and was called Prosh. As for the movie, I doubt Ship will be a prominent part (if any part) but, this is an important book to get since it debuts three of the four Horsemen. The concept of the Four Horsemen was already briefly seen in the end-credit sequence of X-Men: Days of Future Past and will play an important role in the upcoming X-Men: Apocalypse film. The four roles of the Horsemen are stable but the characters filling those shoes have continued to change since they first debuted nearly 30 years ago.

X-Factor #15 interior
interior from X-Factor #15 (cover date: April 1987)

X-Factor #17 features a one-panel, shadowy cameo by the Horsemen and Apocalypse as he looks down upon his fourth recruit (but we don’t yet know who it is; nor has he been transformed yet). This issue is also the first appearance of Rictor.

X-Factor #17 interior
interior from X-Factor #17 (cover date: June 1987)

In X-Factor #18, Apocalypse starts the transformation of his fourth recruit into Death. We notice that this recruit has blonde eyebrows and says, in regards to the painful transformation process: “I can bear it … anything … anything to fly again –“.

X-Factor #18 interior
interior from X-Factor #18 (cover date: July 1987)

The Horsemen of Apocalypse make their cover debut on X-Factor #19. In that issue, Apocalypse is shown commenting to his fourth recruit that Death’s wings are already growing. It’s also the first time that we see the Horsemen in action as they battle against X-Factor.

Death makes his first cameo after his transformation has been completed in X-Factor #21. It’s a brief, one-panel cameo – and his wings are not shown but, he’s adorned in the Horseman uniform.

X-Factor #21 interior
interior from X-Factor #21 (cover date: October 1987)

Another shadowy cameo in X-Factor #22 reveals that Death has wings. X-Factor #23 is considered by many to be just a cameo of Death – but it is a full-body shot and the character sees a bit of action and has some dialogue, as well.

X-Factor #22 interior
interior from X-Factor #22 (cover date: November 1987)

The big Death reveal is in X-Factor #24. It’s the first cover appearance and considered by most to be the first full appearance of Warren Worthington III as Death (he is later given the name Archangel by the Beast in X-Factor #38). In this issue, Apocalypse reveals that he lived in Ancient Egypt (he claims the Egyptians called him Set), Persia (where he was called Sauru), India (where he was called Kali-Ma) and that the Aztecs called him Huitzilopochtli. This is the moment where X-Factor (and we, the readers) learn that Death is their former teammate, the Angel. It’s also the issue where Caliban defects and joins Apocalypse (in his quest for power to gain vengeance on those who killed his fellow Morlocks).

X-Factor #24X-Factor #23 interior
X-Factor #24 (cover date: January 1988); interior from X-Factor #23 (cover date: December 1987)

The showdown against Apocalypse and his Four Horseman continues in X-Factor #25, wherein we see: the death of Pestilence, Death defects against Apocalypse and Apocalypse abandons Ship. In the following issue (X-Factor #26), we see that Caliban is now dressed in a Horseman costume. He has yet to be transformed, though. Later, Apocalypse prompts him to begin the process in X-Factor #28 but we don’t see the finished product until X-Factor #50 (Apocalypse refers to him as Hell Hound in this issue). In the same month as X-Factor #26, Famine fought against the Falcon, D-Man, Nomad and the Captain in Captain America #339. A few months after that, Apocalypse battled the High Evolutionary over conflicting views on how to achieve “Survival of the Fittest” in X-Factor Annual #3 (an Evolutionary War tie-in from 1988). And, when Classic X-Men #25 reprinted X-Men #119 (cover date: March 1979), they added a new scene wherein Apocalypse endows Moses Magnum with superhuman powers.

X-Factor #38 interior
interior from X-Factor #38 (cover date: March 1989)

In X-Factor #49 & 50, Loki invites Apocalypse to participate in his Acts of Vengeance (a storyline where Loki pits villains against heroes that are unused to their abilities). Issue #50 (cover date: January 1990) features a seldom-seen battle between Apocalypse and Loki. Apocalypse was briefly seen in a cameo in Fantastic Four #335 (cover date: December 1989), the second part of their Acts of Vengeance tie-in.

In X-Factor #51, we see that Apocalypse and his Hell Hound (Caliban) are in a citadel beneath the Himalayas, keeping track of the goings-on in Manhattan. When he notices Sabretooth on the screen, Caliban requests that Apocalypse sends him to New York so that he may take revenge on Sabretooth for killing his people, the Morlocks. When Apocalypse refuses, Caliban takes it upon himself to disobey his master and leaves anyway. A battle with Sabretooth in X-Factor #52 left Archangel severely wounded. In X-Factor #53, Sabretooth’s spoor led Caliban to the wounded Archangel, who lashed out against the Hell Hound as he came to. This led to a battle between the two that ended with the police driving Caliban off.

In X-Factor #65 (cover date: April 1991), we meet Apocalypse’s Riders of the Storm (later referred to as the Dark Riders: Foxbat, Gauntlet, Tusk, Psynapse, Barrage and HardDrive) as he sends them to take his revenge upon Ship for betraying him. This issue also contains three entries from the Apocalypse Manifesto – Apocalypse’s personal files. The entry on Cyclops refers to him as the “father-spawn of the Twelve, the archetype beings who will one day save or damn muantkind.” In X-Factor #66, during the raid on Ship, Foxbat kidnaps Nathan Summers (Cyclops’ infant son). This issue sees the debut of Sister Askani, the death of Ship, due to a self-destruct sequence introduced by the Dark Riders, and more Apocalypse Files. In X-Factor #67 & 68, the team joins with the Inhumans to take on the forces of Apocalypse. Before Cyclops is able to defeat Apocalypse with a powerful optic blast (wherein he is believed to possibly be dead), the villain has infected Nathan Summers with a techno-organic virus. In order to save Nathan, Cyclops allows Sister Askani to take him to the future where they have the capacity to save him from being killed by the virus. We learned about young Nathan growing up in a future world ruled by Apocalypse in the Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix #1-4 (cover date: 1994) and Askani’Son #1-4 (cover date: 1996).

X-Factor #68 interior
interior from X-Factor #68 (cover date: July 1991)

In Namor, the Sub-Mariner Annual #3, Apocalypse kidnaps Namor and attempts to re-make him into a servant.

The next major storyline involving Apocalypse was called X-Cutioner’s Song and ran from November 1992-January 1993. Each of the 12 parts originally came polybagged with a card.


X-Cutioner’s Song

  1. Uncanny X-Men #294 – the Horsemen of Apocalypse launch an attack against the X-Men. Caliban is now the Horseman, Death.
  2. X-Factor #84 – The Horsemen of Apocalypse kidnap Cyclops and Jean Grey for Mr. Sinister (disguised as Apocalypse).
  3. X-Men #14 – The Dark Riders travel to Egypt and awaken Apocalypse from his healing chamber. They explain that someone has been manipulating his Horsemen of the Apocalypse. This is the first time we discover that Apocalypse was not killed by Cyclops’ optic blast (see X-Factor #68).
  4. X-Force #16 – The X-Men battle against two Horsemen of the Apocalpse (Famine and Death [Caliban])
  5. Uncanny X-Men #295 – a weakened Apocalypse battles the X-Men, defeats them and then teleports away.
  6. X-Factor #85 – Apocalypse invades one of Cable’s safehouses in Switzerland and discovers technology there derived from his own work. He begins to unravel the truth of Cable’s identity.
  7. X-Men #15 – Styfe hunts down Apocalypse and defeats his Dark Riders.
  8. X-Force #17 – In a battle against Stryfe, Apocalypse manages to teleport to safety just as he is nearly killed. He arrives at Xavier’s Mansion and proposes teaming up with the X-Men to defeat Stryfe.
  9. Uncanny X-Men #296 – Apocalypse explains that he can save Charles Xavier from the techno-organic virus that Stryfe infected him with and Archangel vouches for his ability to do so.
  10. X-Factor #86 – a tense interaction between Apocalypse and Archangel as the villain is recruited to work with the X-Men to stop Stryfe’s techno-virus. Later in the issue, Apocalypse expunges the virus from an unconscious Charles Xavier.
  11. X-Men #16 – Considering Apocalypse to now be one of the “weak”, the Dark Riders turn on him!
  12. X-Force #18 – A near-dead and dying Apocalypse begs Archangel to grant him a clean death. However, Archangel refuses and leaves him to die.

X-Force #18 interior
interior from X-Force #18 (cover date: January 1993)

X-Force #37 (cover date: August 1994) begins with a flashback showing Apocalypse in the 1100’s. It reveals his name as En Sabah Nur (although the name of En Sabah Nur was hinted at earlier in Cable #6 [cover date: December 1993]) and shows the moment he discovered the space craft that forever altered him.

In Cable #19 (cover date: January 1995), Cable, Storm and Caliban tracked the Dark Riders to Akkaba, Egypt (the birthplace of En Sabah Nur) and discovered they are now being led by Genesis (Tyler Dayspring; Cable’s son). With their former leader presumed dead after the events of X-Cutioner’s Song, they’ve found new purpose under Genesis. However, at the end of this issue, it appears as if Apocalypse might not be dead after all.

The following month, in the LegionQuest storyline, Legion traveled back in time to kill who he believed was his father’s greatest enemy: Magneto, but, he accidentally killed his father (Charles Xavier), instead. This created an alternate reality in which Apocalypse rose to power and asserted mutantkind as the ruling class over the humans. Marvel dubbed the exploration of this alternate reality the Age of Apocalypse. It was bookended with X-Men: Alpha and X-Men: Omega, after which reality was turned back to “normal”. Several mini-series explored the Marvel Universe in this Apocalypse-ruled world. And, though he doesn’t appear in all of the issues, Apocalypse’s ubiquitousness is pervasive. These are the series that were part of the Age of Apocalypse:


Age of Apocalypse

  • Age of Apocalypse: the Chosen (one-shot)
  • the Amazing X-Men
  • the Astonishing X-Men
  • Factor X
  • Gambit and the X-Ternals
  • Generation Next
  • Tales From the Age of Apocalypse (two one-shots)
  • X-Calibre
  • X-Man
  • X-Men Chronicles
  • X-Universe

 

Genesis and his Dark Riders capture Wolverine and in Wolverine #100 (cover date: April 1996), Genesis attempts to transform Wolverine into the Horseman, Death, by reintroducing adamantium onto his skeletal structure (Magneto had forcibly removed the adamantium from his bones in Wolverine #75). Wolverine rejects the adamantium and is transformed into a more bestial state.

The following month, in Uncanny X-Men #332 and Wolverine #101, the X-Men battle against Ozymandias, an Egyptian Lord that once defied Apocalypse, only to later become his scribe. Ozymandias discovers that Apocalypse has emerged renewed from his stronghold in Uncanny X-Men #335 (cover date: August 1996). Apocalypse and Uatu the Watcher observe the chaos Onslaught is causing in Fantastic Four #415 (cover date: August 1996) and in Uncanny X-Men #336 (cover date: September 1996), as they are conversing, they determine that Cable may one of the only things that can stop it. In Cable #35 (cover date: September 1996), Apocalypse joins Cable and the Invisible Woman in an unsuccessful attempt to stop Onslaught.

Uncanny X-Men #335 interior
interior from Uncanny X-Men #335 (cover date: August 1996)

1996’s the Further Adventures of Cyclops and Phoenix took place in London 1859. In that series, a gang of unsavory characters calling themselves the Marauders stumble upon Apocalypse as he awakens from his “hibernation”. They lead him to an associate of theirs, Nathaniel Essex, a brilliant scientist who foresees the introduction of mutants within the next century. Apocalypse transforms Nathaniel Essex into Mister Sinister before he re-enters his “hibernation”. Immediately following the conclusion of that mini-series, Marvel began publishing the Rise of Apocalypse, which revealed Apocalypse’s origin. December 1996’s Black Knight: Exodus #1 takes place during the Crusades and shows the origin of Exodus, as he is transformed by Apocalypse. Cable #-1 (cover date: March 1997) revealed that when Cable was sent back in time, it sparked Apocalypse’s awakening in the 20th century. This story pre-dates X-Factor #5 & 6.

Apocalypse transformed the Hulk into the Horseman, War, in the Incredible Hulk #456 & 457 (cover date: September 1997). It took the combined efforts of Juggernaut and the Absorbing Man to defeat the Hulk, afterwards he freed himself from Apocalypse’s power implants. In Cable #53 (cover date: April 1998), Apocalypse reveals he’s planning something big but to do so, he must be alone so he releases Ozymandias from his servitude. Later, in Cable #66-68 (cover date: April-June 1999), Ozymandias reveals to Blaquesmith that Cable is to be the Gatherer of the Twelve. Ikaris of the Eternals interrupts some of Apocalypse’s machinations in the New Eternals: Apocalypse Now #1 (cover date: February 2000).

A new horseman, Death, debuts in Astonishing X-Men vol. 2 #1 (cover date: September 1999). After prolonged battles with the X-Men, Death kills Wolverine in Astonishing X-Men vol. 2 #1 (cover date: November 1999). The X-Men discover that the now-dead Wolverine was actually a Skrull impersonating their teammate, in Uncanny X-Men #375 (cover date: December 1999). And, in X-Men #95 (cover date: December 1999), the newest horseman of Death is revealed as Wolverine! A flashback in Wolverine #145 illustrates how Apocalypse captured Wolverine and Sabretooth. He had the two of them battle it out to see who would take over the role of his Horseman, Death. Wolverine won and Apocalypse removed the adamantium from Sabretooth and implanted it into Wolverine (you may remember that Magneto removed the adamantium from Wolverine in Wolverine #75). Over in Cable #73 (cover date: November 1999), Caliban is now calling himself Pestilence and in #74 (cover date: December 1999), Deathbird is going by War. This mini-series and the issues I just talked about form a direct prologue to the next major Apocalypse storyline, entitled Apocalypse: the Twelve.

X-Men vol. 2 #97 interior
interior from X-Men vol. 2 #97 (cover date: February 2000)


the Twelve

  1. Uncanny X-Men #376 – Apocalypse subjugates the Living Monolith and reveals that his plan is nearing fruition. Meanwhile, Xavier has discovered Destiny’s diary which reveals the identity of the Twelve: Xavier, Cyclops, Phoenix, Storm, Iceman, Sunfire, Polaris, Cable, Bishop, Mikhail Rasputin, the Monolith and Magneto.
  2. X-Man #59 & 60 – Pestilence captures Nate Grey and brings him to Apocalypse.
  3. Cable #75 – Apocalypse has captured Cable. This issue is rather inconsequential for the crossover but it does feature two large battles: Cable vs Death (Wolverine) and Cable vs Apocalypse.
  4. X-Men vol. 2 #96 – the Horsemen of Apocalypse capture Iceman, Mikhail Rasputin and Sunfire.
  5. Wolverine #146 – the X-Men battle against Death (Wolverine) and manage to free him of Apocalypse’s influence.
  6. Wolverine #147 – the Angel visits Abraham Kieros (formerly War; now a quadriplegic) and uses his healing power to enable Kieros to walk again.
  7. Uncanny X-Men #377 – the X-Men travel to Egypt in an attempt to free their friends. However, in the battle against Apocalypse’s forces, the final members of the Twelve are captured. Apocalypse reveals to them that he intends to use their powers together in order to transform him by endowing him with power greater than the Celestials.
  8. Cable #76 – Madelyne Pryor offers to free Cable if he will abandon the other Twelve to Apocalypse but he declines her offer.
  9. X-Men vol. 2 #97 – As Apocalypse begins to siphon power from the Twelve, he initiates a process to take over Nate Grey’s body. He believes Nate to be the most powerful mutant on the planet and thus the only form that can contain the power he intends to accumulate. Cyclops interrupts the process by throwing himself in between Apocalypse and Nate – the end result is a Cyclops/Apocalypse hybrid.

 

With the powers of the Twelve, the Apocalypse/Cyclops hybrid warps reality in a crossover entitled Ages of Apocalypse. This ran through the following issues:


Ages of Apocalypse

  • Cable #77 (cover date: March 2000)
  • Wolverine #148 (cover date: March 2000)
  • Uncanny X-Men #378 (cover date: March 2000)
  • X-Men Unlimited #26 (cover date: March 2000)
  • X-Men vol. 2 #98 (cover date: March 2000)

 

The X-Men manage to free themselves from these warped realities but not before the Apocalypse/Cyclops hybrid can escape. In X-Men: the Search for Cyclops #1-4 (cover date: October 2000 to March 2001), Jean Grey and Cable track Cyclops down in Egypt and free him from the influence of Apocalypse. Cable jabs his psimitar into the essence of Apocalypse and disperses it. Can this truly be the end of Apocalypse? (of course not!)

X-Men vol. 2 #97 interior
interior from X-Men vol. 2 #97 (cover date: February 2000)

In X-Men vol. 2 #181 (cover date: March 2006), Apocalypse is re-awakened from his rejuvenation chamber due to the drastic reduction in the number of mutants after the events of House of M. In a Blood of Apocalypse prequel, Cable & Deadpool #26 & 27 explains how Apocalypse was regenerated from a blood sample of his that Ozymandias had kept.


Blood of Apocalypse

  1. X-Men vol. 2 #182 – Apocalypse commands Gazer and Dr. Foster to battle to the death. The winner will become his horseman, War. He leaves them to fight it out in order to recruit Sunfire as another horseman. The Japanese mutant has recently lost both of his legs – and Apocalypse offers to make him whole again. Back in Apocalypse’s sphinx-shaped fortress, Dr. Foster is killed in battle by a sneak attack from Ozymandias.
  2. X-Men vol. 2 #183 – Apocalypse approaches Xavier’s Mansion, which is now housing the remaining 198 mutants of the world, and asks them to join him. Before he unleashes pestilence upon the world, Apocalypse offers an antidote up for the mutants to freely drink. He intends to unleash a plague upon the world that will drastically reduce the number of humans – just as the number of mutants has been reduced down to only 198. One of the mutants that decides to join Apocalypse is Gambit!
  3. X-Men vol. 2 #184 – Ozymandias betrays Apocalypse by leading the X-Men into the Engine Chamber of Apocalypse’s sphinx-ship. As they come face to face with Apocalypse, he reveals that he has transformed Gambit into his horseman, Death.
  4. X-Men vol. 2 #185 – The X-Men’s raid on Apocalypse’s sphinx-ship leads to the destruction of the majority of the antidote. Sunfire defects from the Horsemen just prior to Apocalypse’s retreat. Apocalypse descends upon the United Nations and demands that the humans willingly kill off 90% of their people. If this is not done within a week, he threatens that he will unleash a pestilence that will kill all humanity. On the last page, we learn that the horseman, Pestilence, is Polaris.
  5. X-Men vol. 2 #186 – The Avengers join the X-Men in their final attack against Apocalypse and his horsemen. During the battle, Ozymandias turns on his master and kills War. Weakened by Pulse, Apocalypse is under siege by Cyclops, Havok, Iceman, Rogue and Mystique. He retreats into the Infernal Machine – a deadly device that may transport him or kill him. In the back-up feature, we see Apocalypse floating in space somewhere and a Celestial voice says to him: “We cannot let you die. Not yet … It is time, Apocalypse…” (rather ominous sounding, eh?)

X-Men vol. 2 #186 interior
interior from X-Men vol. 2 #186 (cover date: July 2006)

At the same time the Blood of Apocalypse storyline was running in the present, the mini-series X-Men: Apocalypse vs Dracula was published. It featured flashbacks to two different time periods. The first flashback takes place in Romania, in the year 1459. During this time of the Crusades, Vlad Tepes and his forces are wiped out by Apocalypse and his Riders of the Dark. Then, in London, in the year 1897, Apocalypse is awakened to learn that Clan Akkaba members (followers of Apocalypse) are being slaughtered by vampires so he unites with Abraham Van Helsing to take down Dracula. After Dracula is defeated, Apocalypse returns to his hibernation.


the Four Horsemen

Throughout the years, many others have taken on the roles of the Horsemen.

Death:
the Angel (first appearance: X-Men #1; as Death: X-Factor #24)
Caliban (first appearance: Uncanny X-Men #148; as Death: Uncanny X-Men #294)
Wolverine (first appearance: Incredible Hulk #181; as Death: Astonishing X-Men vol. 2 #1)
Gambit (first appearance: Uncanny X-Men #266; as Death: X-Men vol. 2 #184)

Famine:
Autumn Rolfson (first appearance: X-Factor #12; as Famine: X-Factor #15)
Rory Campbell/Ahab (first appearance: Excalibur #72/Fantastic Four Annual #23; as Famine: X-Men vol. 2 #96)
Sunfire (first appearance: X-Men #64; as Famine: X-Men vol. 2 #183)

Pestilence:
Plague (first appearance: Uncanny X-Men #169; as Pestilence: X-Factor #15)
Caliban (first appearance: Uncanny X-Men #148; as Pestilence: Cable #73)
Polaris (first appearance: X-Men #49; as Pestilence: X-Men vol. 2 #182)

War:
Abraham Lincoln Kieros (first appearance: X-Factor #11; as War: X-Factor #15)
the Hulk (first appearance: Incredible Hulk #1; as War: Incredible Hulk #456)
Deathbird (first appearance: Ms. Marvel #9; as War: Cable #74)
Gazer (first appearance: X-Men vol. 2 #169; as War: X-Men vol. 2 #183)

Apocalypse vs X-Factor


For the Investor

With the movie on the way, there are some back issues that will heat up in demand (and, therefore, price).

The safe bets for increased demand are the first appearances of Apocalypse (X-Factor #5 & 6), the first appearance of the Horsemen (X-Factor #15) and the first full appearance of Death/Archangel (X-Factor #24). Origin stories typically increase in demand in situations like this, too – so I’d look to the Rise of Apocalypse mini-series (and possibly X-Force #37).

After first appearances and origins, two other types of stories sometimes experience increases in demand: important storylines and big battles. On the storyline front, I’d look to the Twelve and the Blood of Apocalypse to heat up, along with the storyline from X-Factor #65-68. As for battles: X-Factor #50 (vs Loki), Incredible Hulk #456-457 and X-Men: Apocalypse vs Dracula have my votes.


 
For the purposes of this article, I’m not getting into robot-duplicates, clones, alternate realities or future timelines featuring Apocalypse . But those are all rabbit-holes that one could wander down when exploring the character. Though he’s regarded as a major X-Men villain, he really hasn’t had all that many important storylines (again, I’m exluding alternate realities, future timelines, etc). But, I think that’s probably for the best. Apocalypse works best as a threat that is not-yet-realized. Always planning. Always manipulating. And, destined to one day conquer the world. But, not today … if the X-Men can help it.

Apocalypse vs X-Men

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