Alright, I'm finally back with a brand-spanking-new review. It's been a while since I last tried this, so I wanted to do something special and change things up a bit. Today we're taking a look at a whole different breed of collectible: trading cards!
If you remember from my various "Currently on Display" posts, my main display area is a bookcase that aside from showing off action figures & vehicles is also home to my graphic novel and trading card collections. Jump ahead for a look at my absolute favorite card series: Marvel Universe Series II by Impel!
Marvel Universe Series II
162 base cards, 5 bonus holograms
"Operation: Desert Storm" trading cards.
I had no idea there were comic shops full of books and other items based on Spider-man, Batman or Superman until some classmates started bringing in the Marvel Universe trading cards to school. I was immediately fascinated and inquired as to where one might acquire these. So I started frequenting my local comic shop (which, ironically, wasn't very far from my home) and began collecting the little rectangular pieces of cardboard with interesting new characters printed on them.
Daredevil? Who is THAT?! The Avengers? Fantastic Four? Masters of Evil?!
It was sensory overload for 9-year-old 3B. I wanted more. My brother and I feverishly collected the cards, buying a few packs each week for months trying to complete the set. We'd bring in our doubles for trades or swap with other kids at school. Only once did we find a rare hologram card. It was the incredible Hulk. My brother loved the Hulk as a kid. That was firmly "his."
Anyway, we never actually completed the set, the random nature of the packs and buying them infrequently along with the eventual release of the next series contributed to that. It wasn't until years later, after I discovered eBay, that I was able to complete my own set of MU2 cards, holograms and all. Of course, it didn't stop there, I completed other sets I collected as a boy, too. The 1990 MU set, MU3, the X-Men series, DC Comics cards and sets I never even saw when they were originally released. All of them fairly easily and cheap to obtain in the early to mid-2000s. But it wasn't until 2008 when I decided I wanted to complete all of these sets and make them presentable in a way that let me appreciate them a lot more.
I decided that whenever possible I would purchase sealed "wax boxes" and utilize every aspect of the package in completing a set. The first picture is actually a scan of the box top. It features perforations that allow it to pop-up and form a "standee" at the back of the box so retailers can put them on the shelf in order to sell the packs inside individually. I cut it off and glued it to a piece of black construction paper which I cut to perfectly cover the front of the binder I would store the cards in. To avoid damaging the box art, I purchased a 1" binder with a plastic sleeve on the outside, letting me slide the box art in and creating a "custom" binder of sorts.
I wasn't sure how I would review this, but I knew I wasn't going to scan each individual card. With 160+ cards in the set it would take too long! So what I did was just scan each page of nine cards and that helped me get it done in about an hour. You can click on each picture to enlarge it and get a better look at each card.
The first six pages are all solo pictures of the Super Heroes and showcase the heavies: Spidey, the Avengers, X-Men, plus the F4, Daredevil and Excalibur. A few other random characters are featured, too.
The next section are the Super-Villains and although they only get four pages, all the big-bads are accounted for, including: Magneto, Galactus, Dr. Doom and Thanos.
Here's where the layout of the series gets a bit wonky. Up until this page every section fit perfectly into the 9-slot pages, but the weapons section features three extra cards before the Legends come in. Captain America's (then-)deceased sidekick, Bucky, Spidey rogues the Green Goblin and Kraven and a few others can be found here. These cards also feature stats and bios like the single character cards along with some details of their demise.
The remaining four slots on that page introduce the Teams section which then continues on to the next page, leaving four slots for the three Power Ratings cards and the checklist, finishing out the base set. I separated the ratings & checklist cards in order to scan both sides and show them to you on one picture. The power ratings describe what each category means and what the numeric rating equates to. Interesting when you think someone sat down and came up with these values. The checklist details all the cards in the series ordered by number and broken up into each section, including the five bonus hologram cards.
Because there are only five holograms in this set, I wanted to spread them out across the 9-pocket page. I put cards 1-4 into the corner slots and the fifth card, depicting a battle between the Fantastic Four and Mole Man, in the center pocket. I once again called upon black construction paper to fill-in the empty pockets, creating a nice, solid final page.
When I first started collecting comic cards, I started with series 2 of MU, but I did eventually pick up some of the first series. However, MU2 was the first card series I collected and that's why I chose it as the first set I review. Marvel Universe trading cards introduced me to the pantheon of Marvel characters and sparked my imagination. It became the reason I wanted to buy the toys and learn more about the characters and ultimately lead me to the comics. MU2 holds a very special place in this collector's heart and every now and again I like to pull the binder out of my bookcase, take a seat and look through it to remind me of simpler times.
It seems nowadays most non-sport trading cards are game-based and don't really teach you much about the characters. I hope you've enjoyed this look at the classic MU2 card series. I'm looking forward to sharing more of my card collections for those of you who never completed them or may not have even known they existed. Maybe next time we'll take a look at a DC Comics set. Until next time!