There are comic book series almost every comic fan knows, there are comic book characters that most everyone knows, there are specific comic books most every comic reader knows, and then there are the more obscure issues that slip through the cracks. What makes obscure comics so interesting and vital is discovering those books that most don't know were ever printed, or that top tier creators worked on "that book" or on "that character." Obscure Comics are fun to find, interesting to know about, but that border between being great reads and terrible comics.
Another Toys R' Us Promotional Comic
As discussed twice before, Toys R' Us was the last large retail chain devoted only to toys in the United States and closed most of its stores in 2018 after 70 years of business. In 2015 though, with Avengers Age of Ultron in theaters and the Secret Wars under Jonathan Hickman destroyed the Marvel comic universe, Toys R' Us did a comic promotion to bring in more customers. The promotion was started on May 3rd
Obscure Comics: Armor Wars #1/2
Written by Armor Wars mini-series writer James Robinson, most famous for DC's Starman 75 issue run, and Mark Bagley, Marvel extraordinaire who has drawn for almost every Marvel comic, the duo reunited five years after their Justice League of America run at DC, bringing an action-packed opening to the Secret Wars Battleworld Mini-Series. For those who've forgotten, during the 2015 Jonathan Hickman epic, all the surviving parallel worlds were smashed together by Doctor Doom, powered by the Beyonders great energy, into one giant tapestry of a world, Battleworld. Armor Wars takes place in one of these worlds, Technopolis, which is run mostly by Tony Stark, Iron Man, and policed by James Rhodes, who, as War Machine of this reality, also has the power and authority of Thor. This area's entire populace must wear armor due to rampant disease, so every page is full of armored individuals going about their daily life.
Reprinted, Also Available In A Rare Sketch Variant
Unlike many of the other promotional comics of this ilk, Armor Wars #1/2 was reprinted in the Secret Wars Battleworld's Armor Wars Trade (quite a title) where it belonged. Before that, though, the only way to get the comic was through the promotion or through secondary sources like eBay. The comic is pretty easy to find now, with copies ranging from $4 to $15 depending on condition. However, the oddity here is that a Sketch Variant was released of the comic as well, close to the same time the promotion was running at Toys R' Us. The origins of the Sketch Variant seem muddled, but it seemed to show up and was sent out to Diamond retailers on a limited basis under Diamond code FEB158108. Toys R' Us did not have them, but this rariety has not made the value much higher as copies of the Sketch Variant can be obtained for $5 to $20 on secondary markets, again depending on condition.
The lengthy press release for the comic and promotion can be found below from May 2015.
Official Press Release
MARVEL CUSTOM SOLUTIONS TO LAUNCH "SECRET WARS: ARMOR WARS" #1/2,PREQUEL TO EPIC SECRET WARS COMIC EVENT, EXCLUSIVELY AT TOYS"R"USÂ® FOR A LIMITED TIME ONLY
Beginning May 3, Toys"R"Us Customers Can Receive SECRET WARS: ARMOR WARS #1/2 as a FREE Gift with Purchase as Part of the Company's Immersive Marvel's Avengers: Age of Ultron Retail Program
New York, NY – May 1, 2015 – This May, the most anticipated comic event of the year will officially unleash as Marvel Comics launches its epic event, "Secret Wars." An initiative that shakes the foundation of the entire Marvel Universe, "Secret Wars" presents a gripping original series that features new incarnations of Marvel's iconic heroes and villains, intense battles and the emergence of new worlds. One of the hottest and most anticipated "Secret Wars" storylines — "ARMOR WARS" — centers on a civil war in a city of iron men and iron women that threatens to destroy the Stark dynasty. But the origins of this cataclysm all lay within the pages of "SECRET WARS: ARMOR WARS" #Â ½, which will be released as a free gift with purchase exclusively at Toys"R"Us stores nationwide and online at Toysrus.com. As part of the company's massive Marvel's "Avengers: The Age of Ultron" retail program, Toys"R"Us customers will receive a complimentary "SECRET WARS: ARMOR WARS" #Â ½ comic with any Marvel purchase of $25 or more from Sunday, May 3 through Saturday, May 9, while supplies last.*
In this directly connected "Secret Wars" comic, Eisner Award-winning writer James Robinson ("Armor Wars," "All-New Invaders") and artist Mark Bagley ("Ultimate Spider-Man," "Hulk") treat readers to a heart-pounding look at the events that lead to "ARMOR WARS."
"This is a really cool prelude that sets the stage for Eisner award-winning writer James Robinson's 'SECRET WARS: ARMOR WARS' techno-noir thriller. And you'll love the detail, mood and action that superstar artist Mark Bagley delivers," says series editor Mark Paniccia. "It's a great introduction to TECHNOPOLIS and the earth-shattering mystery that's at its center."
In the retro-future city of Technopolis, the population is now in the clutches of a disease that makes it impossible for anyone to survive without a suit of armor. Rival brothers Tony and Arno Stark provide the technology that keeps the city alive.
But, there are secrets on the street about the origin of the disease that confine the citizens of Technopolis…and key players begin to make their moves based on data that could take down the protectors of the city Tony Stark (IRON MAN) and Jim Rhodes (THOR).
Who has learned a revelation so stunning it will lead to their end? Find out as Marvel teams up with Toys"R"Us to release this epic 12-page prequel comic book, available for a limited time only through the retailer's exclusive "ARMOR WARS" free gift with purchase program. Customers visiting Toysrus.com can also discover the secrets of ARMOR WARS and receive a complimentary comic with their online Marvel purchase of $25 or more from Sunday, May 3 through Saturday, May 9, while supplies last.*
Additionally, fans can now shop a broad assortment of must-have Marvel's "Avengers: The Age of Ultron" merchandise at dedicated, front-of-store feature shops in Toys:R"Us stores nationwide, including exclusive products from Hasbro, such as Marvel's Avengers Titan Hero Series, 3-Pack Iron Man, Quicksilver and Marvel's War Machine, Marvel's Avengers: Age of Ultron Cycle Blast Quinjet, Marvel's Avengers: Age of Ultron Avengers HQ Hulk Buster Breakout Playset and Marvel's Avengers: Age of Ultron Avengers HQ Captain America Tower Defense Playset.
"We are thrilled to be the first retailer to bring 'SECRET WARS: ARMOR WARS' #Â½ to Marvel Universe fans and collectors nationwide, and to offer them the opportunity to receive this special Secret Wars comic book as a complimentary gift with purchase only at Toys'R'Us," says Richard Barry, Executive Vice President, Chief Merchandising Officer, Toys"R"Us, Inc. "Not only can customers experience the secret 'ARMOR WARS' world, they can shop our unparalleled assortment of Marvel products and exclusives, just in time for the upcoming debut of 'Avengers: Age of Ultron.'"
Stay tuned to Marvel.com/secretwars as the new Marvel Universe continues to be forged. Follow Marvel on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/marvel and be sure to join the conversation on Twitter with #Marvel, #SecretWars, and don't forget to follow us @Marvel. *Quantities limited; no rain checks. Limit one per customer. Not valid on prior purchases. Offer valid 5/3/15-5/9/15.
SECRET WARS: ARMOR WARS #1/2Written by JAMES ROBINSONArt by MARK BAGLEYCover by PAUL RIVOCHE & ESTHER SANZ