Last Fall, Marvel Comics released a set of 50th Anniversary variant covers on a number of their titles shipping between October and December. As expected, the 50th comes just two years after the publisher’s 2009 “70th Anniversary” as they combined their history as Marvel, Atlas and Timely Comics. The variant covers associated with that celebration featured individual characters from across their publishing line and can be found in some of our earliest posts (in parts one, two, and three). The theme for the 50th Anniversary covers pays homage to iconic covers from the publisher’s history by putting characters from other franchises into the place of the originals.
Look inside and we’ll line up the new take along with its inspiration for what amounts to a fun set of covers even if they’re not particularly visible on shelves. A complete gallery and list of issues can be found below.
Many of these covers are re-imaginings of classics like the first issues of Fantastic Four and X-Men, but the entire publishing history is represented from the ’60s originals to decades spanning work including Frank Miller’s Daredevil, Todd McFarlane’s Spider-Man, and Frank Quitely’s New X-Men. While some of the images being honored were immediately recognizable, there were a few that I really struggled with even though a large number of the original covers were also recently featured in CBR’s most memorable covers of the Marvel Age. I had particular difficulty with Amazing Spider-Man #674. I knew it was a cover featuring the Silver Surfer, but it took a bit of searching before I finally came across the original image. Thankfully there were a number of clues I was able to use in my search and tracking them down was a lot of fun.
Other notable challenges included Incredible Hulk #2, Uncanny X-Men #2, and Wolverine and the X-Men #2. The cover text on those books (something that’s grossly under-utilized on modern comic book covers) was really what led me down the right path. Similarly, redesigning the logos to match the style of the originals is a nice touch and was a huge help identifying the inspiration for books like Hulk #42 and X-Men: Legacy #259. Ariel Olivetti’s Thor / Beta Ray Bill homage on Hulk #42 gets the broken logo right, but it loses something without the other trade dress items Beta Ray Bill’s hammer is smashing through.
It’s hard to pick a favorite, but the X-Men in Fantastic Four #1 and the New Avengers in X-Men #101 are among the images I enjoy the most. I particularly like the way the Sentinel emerging from beneath the ground on X-Men #19‘s cover reminds me of Queen’s News of the World album cover. An extra layer of intrigue can be found on the New Avengers #17 cover that replaces Jean Grey with Carol Danvers as Chris Claremont originally intended the Dark Phoenix Saga to be a Ms. Marvel story before her original series was cancelled.
Marvel’s 50th Anniversary covers shipped in an appropriate 1:50 ratio leading to prices in the $50 range from New York’s Midtown Comics. Many of the issues I was seeking could be found at local retailers priced closer to $25. Not only were the books hard to find, but tracking down details on which books even had variant covers and images for those variants was also a real challenge. Worthpoint.com, Comic Vine, and my own compulsive buying habits were all incredibly very helpful in my research.
The complete list of Marvel 50th Anniversary variants includes:
- Amazing Spider-Man #674 by Pasqual Ferry published 11/16/2011
- Avengers #18 by Ryan Meinerding published 10/19/2011
- Captain America #6 by Gerald Parelpublished 12/28/2011
- Daredevil #7 by Alex Maleev published 12/21/2011
- Deadpool #45 by Greg Horn published 10/26/2011
- Fantastic Four #601 by Ron Garney published 12/21/2011
- Hulk #42 by Ariel Olivetti published 10/5/2011
- Incredible Hulk #2 by Mike Deodato published 11/16/2011
- Invincible Iron Man #510 by Mike Choi published 11/23/2011
- Journey Into Mystery #631 by Amanda Conners published 11/9/2011
- The Mighty Thor #7 by Alan Davis published 10/26/2011
- Moon Knight #7 by Terry Dodson published 11/2/2011
- New Avengers #17 by John Tyler Christopher published 10/12/2011
- Punisher #5 by Mike Perkins published 11/16/2011
- Secret Avengers #19 by Larry Stroman published 11/23/2011
- Thunderbolts #166 by Paul Renaud published 11/20/2011
- Ultimate Comics Ultimates #4 by Chris Stevens published 11/30/2011
- Uncanny X-Force #16 by Mike Del Mundo published 10/12/2011
- Uncanny X-Men #2 by Billy Tan published 11/30/2011
- Wolverine #18 by Khoi Pham published 11/9/2011
- Wolverine and X-Men #2 by Ed McGuinness published 11/23/2011
- Venom #9 by Michael Lark published 11/16/2011
- X-23 #15 by Patrick Zircher published 10/5/2011
- X-Men #19 by Lenil Yu published 10/5/2011
- X-Men: Legacy #259 by David Yardin published 11/30/2011
Read more entries from the Standard Deviations series on MyLatestDistraction.