While checking my feeds this morning, I saw a twitter post from pal Greg announcing that Avengers Annual #10 hit the stands 39 years ago today.
It got me thinking — not about the story itself, which was Chris Claremont’s vituperative response to the extremely grotesque send-off Carol Danvers got in Avengers #200. The grottiness of the tale and Bullpen politics behind it have been covered in detail in many other places, Hell, I’ll even give it another go-over when I get around to writing about the own decade-digesting deep dive into the series I undertook earlier this year, but it’s not what I’m going to tackle today.
I got my copy of comic new on the stands — not in the summer of 1981, but in the final weeks of 1989. The shop where I bought it — NEC Quincy, when it was still across from the subway station — had scores of them on the bottom of the week’s new releases shelf. They were uncirculated, unbagged, and flagged with a little index card sign announcing that they were a buck a piece.
My guess is that someone at the store went long on these back during the height of speculative X-mania (The first appearance of Rogue! BUY TEN!) and the palette of comics somehow got lost in a backroom for the better part of a decade.
Space issues aside, that still doesn’t explain why the store chose to flood the market instead of doling the comics out a few at a time with progressively higher asking prices. But then I remembered that this wasn’t an isolated incident at the time.
My copy of Watchmen #1 was purchased from the same shop in the same kind of deal (only for $2 instead of $1). At the same time, a flood of previously “HOT” comics from years prior started popping up in the chain’s fifty-cents bins.
It’s where I got the early issues I missed of the “Bwah Ha Ha” Justice League and a replacement copy of The Nam #1 and the first year of Alpha Flight (which wasn’t exactly setting fandom on fire in 1989, but it was still one hell of a demotion). Even lower grade copies of less significant parts of the Claremont/Byrne X-Men run started popping up in the bins, where anything short of being shat on would’ve been wall book material just a few years before.
I’m sure it was all wrapped up in the collapse of Direct Market/Indie Comics bubble, along with fandom’s shift toward the superstar artist thing which would become the basis for the next boom & bust cycle. It makes perfect sense in hindsight, but it was mighty strange to encounter in the wild at the time.