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Sunday, February 12, 2006

Three-Pack Thriller

I was down at my local Wal-Mart today, killing time while the lines dwindled so that I could pay for some Red Bull and LEGO shaped Eggo Waffles--because how can I possibly resist the idea of a constructable breakfast food?--when I saw something I thought had vanished from these shores forever.

They had an entire rack of Crappy Comics Three-Packs.

Crappy Comics Three-Packs, the gift that will ruin any Valentine's Day, were once a staple of the department store, and although today was the first time in years that I've seen them, they may still be. In case you don't remember from your misspent youth, here's how they work, near as I can figure: Someone finds themselves with a ridiculous amount of crappy old back issues, and decides to bundle them together to make a quick buck. They're thrown together with only a semblance of reason, by someone who either knows absolutely nothing about comics or has a deep-seated hatred for those who do, and shipped off to your local ubermarket for three bucks a pop.

That's the only possible explanation for the one I saw today that included two non-sequential issues of Marvel's ALF comic bundled with West Coast Avengers Annual #3. That doesn't even come close to making sense.

The weirdest thing about these things is that Scott remembers buying them in the early 80s, Chad and I remember buying them in the early 90s, and they're still around today, selling what I'm fairly sure are the exact same comics.

So of course, I had to buy one. It's, uh, not for me, though. It's for a friend.

The one I picked out included two issues of Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle's Detective Comics run (non-consecutive, of course) and this little gem:

Fifty Who Made DC Great was the whole reason I bought the pack. I was so excited about the return of the Crappy Comics Three-Pack that I called Scott, and he was missing this one from his all-consuming collection.

It is quite possibly the worst comic to put in one of these three-packs. Aside from losers in their mid-20s who buy twenty year-old comics from Wal-Mart on their days off from working at a comic book store, the target audience for Three-Pack is children, and this thing's 56 pages of thanking Bud Budner for systemizing comics distribution and Rascally Roy Thomas for his fanzine work.

The whole thing's a 50th Anniversary book for DC, and I can't figure out who the target audience could possibly be, aside from Scott, who lives for this sort of thing. There's an introduction by Jeanette Kahn, a few pull quotes from folks like Gloria Steinem and Walter Koenig, then fifty profiles of people or events that contributed to DC's success. It's the sort of thing they could hand out at a corporate meeting, but there's a $2.95 price tag on the cover, so I can only assume it was made for retail.

It does make for an interesting flip-through, though. There's a running theme of pairing up the profiles for double-page spreads that make sense, like Siegel and Shuster, Bob Kane and Bill Finger, Marv Wolfman and George Perez, Adam West and Burt Ward, and so on.

Frank Miller shares a page with Helen Slater.

If it weren't for this full-page profile of Superman Peanut Butter, that'd be my favorite thing in the whole book.


Blogger Kevin Church said...

Superman's hand is HUGE.

2/13/2006 1:33 AM

Blogger Chris Sims said...

It looks like he's holding up Flava Flav's clock.

"Well, Luthor, I think you should know exactly what time it is. Boyeee."

2/13/2006 1:36 AM

Blogger Jason said...

LOL Actually, it almost looks like they should have gotten Dr. Occult for that pose.

2/13/2006 5:58 AM

Blogger Phil Looney said...

I may have told you this before, but I got your favorite Batman issue out of a three pack - that's right, the one where he throws a car battery at that guy.

2/13/2006 9:12 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the mid-eighties, I got the daredevil comic with the first appearance of elektra in one of those three-packs.

I really shouldn't have lost it.

2/13/2006 2:55 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you buy a Red Bull 4-pack at one of the self-service checkout lines, you just might get lucky and scan the barcode of one of the cans, rather than the box of four, as you wave it past the scanner.

Thus, you can get a 75% discount, with excellent plausible deniability should someone get inquisitive.

2/13/2006 5:55 PM

Blogger Richard said...

I cannot see Fifty Who Made DC Great without recalling how a prominent fan writer named Ed Via used it as the springboard for a hilarious diatribe entitled "Fifty Who Made DC Suck"...if memory serves, his choices were pretty much all the same people that DC chose to lionize, and he had good reason to attack each one.

Can't recall if Helen Slater was on his list, though.

2/13/2006 7:47 PM


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