Death of Superman

An animated version of The Death of Superman story from the 90s is coming out this week. That story is arguably what killed the comic book industry for over a decade. Urban legend holds that DC got very lucky (as Marvel did this year when it killed Captain America) when it revealed that Superman would be dying on what turned out to be a slow news day, causing a huge interest in the plot. Its marketing for the storyline was very shrewd, culminating in releasing Superman 75 sealed in a plastic bag to keep it in permanent mint condition. Customers were encouraged to buy two copies: one to read and one to keep as an investment. This was later parodied in The Simpsons wherein an issue of Radioactive Man would self-disintegrate if ever read. Some retailers even refused to sell the issue at sticker price, instead (in the pre-eBay days) selling them for $60 each to their customers suckers. The truth was that DC was printing millions of copies of the issue, and there was no chance it was ever going to be scarce. But this sort of idea that comics were a commodity to be traded and not art to be enjoyed poisoned the industry for years to come. Variant covers ahoy!

So Wizard Entertainment, itself guilty of shady trading deals when it somehow had tons of issues of Captain America 25 already on eBay the morning the issue hit the stands, does a weekly report on which comics are selling well in the sucker commodity market. This week, with interest in the Death of Superman storyline piqued by the new cartoon, the original comics are hot items. The asking price for a still sealed in its bag Superman 75: a mere $12.