Collecting 101: Collecting the Complete Runs

by Matt Tuck

Saga-of-Swamp-Thing-20-194x300 Collecting 101: Collecting the Complete RunsMega keys and first appearances aren’t the only issues worth collecting. Piecing together a complete run is well worth your time and can make you fall in love with the hobby.

For rookie collectors, it seems like the hobby is all about key issues, mainly first appearances. True, key issues are the most valuable comics to collect, especially those coveted debuts. However, there’s more to collecting than just having high-priced single issues in your long boxes. What can be very satisfying is putting together a full run.

If you’re relatively new to collecting (since this is a Collecting 101 post, I assume you are), you may be asking what do I mean by a full run? It can be a handful of things. Generally speaking, a run is when you piece together consecutive issues from a given series. For instance, I was a huge Todd McFarlane fan in the 1990s, so I have a run of early Spawn comics. It also can be all the issues written or drawn by a favorite creator, like Frank Miller’s run on Daredevil or Jim Lee’s X-Men. Whatever it is you’re aiming for, all you need for a run is the consecutive issues with a common theme.

Where things get more collectible is in the complete runs. Somewhere out there, there are collectors with Chris Claremont’s full run on X-Men, which would take up an entire room of your house all to itself. It’s those legendary creators on the titles that made them famous that are the most coveted runs, but it’s up to you.

Before I give you some starting places for collecting your runs, let me say that piecing together that final issue you’ve been searching for is a wonderful feeling. It took me a couple of years of digging through dollar bins, checking online auctions, and making trades to finish my Miller Daredevils. They’re not all high grades, but that’s okay; I did that for fun, not for resale.

Pick your favorite series and creators, and go to work. (That is, of course, when we’re allowed to have cons again. Thanks, corona.) To help get you started, here are some of my favorite runs.

Saga-of-Swamp-Thing-20-194x300 Collecting 101: Collecting the Complete RunsALAN MOORE’S SWAMP THING

The Saga of Swamp Thing #20-#64

In 1984, DC hired Moore to revamp Swamp Thing, making for a historic 44-issue run (with the exception of issues #59 and #62, which were written by John Totleben and Rick Veitch, respectively). In that time, Moore redefined the character, giving him layers, and making a monster that readers could better sympathize with and connect to. The run also gave birth to John Constantine. If you haven’t read this, you are missing out on a genre-defining work of art.



ASM-298-196x300 Collecting 101: Collecting the Complete RunsTODD MCFARLANE’S AMAZING SPIDER-MAN

Amazing Spider-Man #298-#328

Like Miller’s Daredevil run, “the Todd Father’s” time on Amazing Spider-Man was legendary. That’s not to say McFarlane’s art doesn’t get plenty of criticism these days, but it’s still one of the most popular Spidey runs of all time. Starting with ASM #299, he worked on the title for 29 issues, ending with ASM #328. The good part about this run is that, aside from the Venom first appearances, these comics are in abundance and typically not expensive, so adding these to your collections shouldn’t be too difficult. When you finish those, you can always move to his run on Spider-Man.


DD-158-194x300 Collecting 101: Collecting the Complete RunsFRANK MILLER’S DAREDEVIL

Daredevil #158-#191

I almost left this out because it’s arguably the single most collectible run in comics. Safe to say, it’s almost too easy to have this on the list, but it felt wrong not to include it. So much has been said about Miller’s time on D.D. that there’s not much left to add. Suffice to say, this is the quintessential D.D.


There are so many great runs out there that one post won’t do them all justice. I’ll follow up with more, but leave suggestions on which ones I need to spotlight.



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Tavis Dowhaniuk April 4, 2020 - 12:48 pm

Ron Lim’s run on Silver Surfer is my favorite.

schweizerdavid April 4, 2020 - 1:38 pm

I’m working on finishing my I, Luciphur/Poison Elves run with 8 issues to find. I have nine issues left for my Moore Swamp Thing run. Most of both of these runs I picked up in $1 bins. I also just picked up Hellblazer Vol. 1, 2-25 for about a $1 each.

Joe N Carol Castello April 4, 2020 - 11:12 pm

i still have my complete run of X-Men #1-232 and Kamandi #1-59. When I was a young boy I purchased Kamandi 1 (Kirby!) and X-Men #94 & 95 off the spin rack and was hooked on both! Still love owning these 2 over 40 yrs later !

Andrew Johnson April 6, 2020 - 1:28 pm

My two favorite series runs are Daredevil’s “Kingpin/Born Again issues 227-233 and the Avengers “Kree-Skrull War” issues 96-99. All original issues, no reprints.

Scott Simpson April 14, 2020 - 9:13 pm

What are your thoughts on the 1973 Ghost Rider series; Any runs you would suggest?

Matt Tuck April 15, 2020 - 3:58 pm

I’ve never ready much Ghost Rider, so I don’t have any suggestions as for that particular series. Any Ghost Rider fans have a suggestion?

jeremy Alan webb April 22, 2020 - 7:37 pm

Love these articles, I’d love to see more articles about good runs/stories to collect.


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