Obscure Comics: X-Men Ultra Woverine, Trading Cards or Comic Part 1

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 and interesting to know about, but that border between great reads and terrible comics.

Exclusive Artwork & Comic Book Trading Cards

The 1990s were full of hyped comic books, many promising rare cover enhancements designed to grab fan's attention and make them buy buy buy.  Another trend, though, that started in the late 1990s and exploded were comic book trading cards.  Some trading cards were done of comic book characters, with Comics Image having done the bulk of them before 1990; Marvel exploded into this arena with the Impel 1990 Marvel Universe Series 1.

Impel 1990 Marvel Universe Series 1
Impel 1990 Marvel Universe Series 1

Throughout the Marvel Universe, the cards focused on characters, had character descriptions, facts, trivia, and featured completely new original art by major comic book artists, something comic book trading cards before this series lacked.  From that point on, throughout the 1990s, trading cards became hot sellers, with everyone from DC to Image to Valiant each producing their own trading cards series. Marvel's cards continued to shine the brightest, though, and in 1992, Marvel purchased their own trading card company Fleer, which then began producing the Marvel Universe trading cards exclusively.

Like The Comics, The X-Men Trading Cards Were #1

As consumers bought heavily of the Marvel Universe cards, with the "Universe" series going all the way up to Series 5 in 1994, Marvel expanded their trading card themes into the famous Marvel Masterpieces series, featuring fully painted cards in 1992. In addition, Marvel also put out another very popular series of trading cards in 1992, featuring nothing but X-Men characters, all drawn by Jim Lee.  The series was extremely popular and led to the X-Men getting their own trading card series year after year.

By 1996 though Marvel, and Fleer had entered bankruptcy proceedings as Marvel had overextended itself, buying companies left and right.  That didn't stop the trading cards from coming, though, even if they weren't selling as well.  The Ultra X-Men trading card line began in 1994 and saw two sets put out in 1995 with an Ultra X-Men series and an X-Men Ultra All-Chromium series.  The Ultra X-Men trading cards were all fully painted, even the Chromium series, which was not only painted but featured painted artwork from just Andy Kubert, Adam Kubert, and Joe Kubert.

For the last series, the focus shifted to Wolverine, and though fully painted, followed the Chromium series in shrinking from 150 cards to just 100.  This series, though, also had one really large difference, as it featured a brand new comic book story on the back of the cards.

Obscure Comics: 1996 X-Men Ultra: Wolverine Trading Cards

This unique experiment of creating a brand new comic book story featuring Wolverine and putting on the back of trading cards was very complicated. Depending on how one reads it or feels about trading cards, either worked very well or failed miserably.

Written by Dan Slott, in one of his earlier writing gigs for Marvel, and drawn and inked by Fables legend Mark Buckingham, "Slay-Per-View" fits between issues #102 and #103 of Wolverine (Volume 1) published earlier in June and July of 1996. The story itself was designed to be printed on the backs of the first 99 cards in the 100 card set (with the 100th card being a checklist) so that it could be placed in nine hold trading card sleeves and read like a proper story.

Trading Cards Can Be Expensive

The original version, and most seen of this story, is on the backs of the trading cards, but a basic set of the 1996 X-Men Ultra: Wolverine Trading Cards can run between $100 to $200, and that does not include any of the rare cards. To read a comic this way, and have it cost close to $200, is a bit much, but it is often the cheaper version. There is the actual version of this printed as an actual comic that Fleer released as a mail away, which often costs way more, but those details are in Part 2 which will be linked below once it goes live.

This post is part of a multi-part series: Obscure Comics.

About Ian Melton

Japanese Teacher, Comic Book, Manga, & Anime collector, LCBS worker, father of 2, fan of far too many things for far too long...