‘Tis the season of pumpkin pies and pumpkin spiced everything. Fun fact, it’s easier to buy a pumpkin pie than to bake it yourself. Here we look at a few pumpkin-themed comic books that offer a fun read for less than the price of a Starbucks pumpkin spice latte.
With a pumpkin for a head, Lord Pumpkin made his 1st appearance in Sludge #3 (1993), published by Malibu Comics, as an underworld crime boss named “The Pump.” Aided with a magical egg, Lord Pumpkin was ruthless in building up his criminal empire; cultivating and distributing Zuke, a drug made from magical plants. He even managed to get the Sludge to do his bidding by promising him death.
Lord Pumpkin wasn’t always a villain; it was instead a result of his tragic past. He was originally created when a king had his trusted wizard make a friend for his son, the prince. Unfortunately, the Joffrey syndrome was strong, and the prince abused and tortured the Pumpkin. Pushed to his breaking point, the Pumpkin killed the prince. When the king tried to go after him, he instead successfully fought back and took over the kingdom as Lord Pumpkin.
Most of Lord Pumpkin’s issues can be found at affordable levels under $3, including Sludge #3 or his first self-titled comic Lord Pumpkin #0 (1994), pictured to the right.
Although many characters in the Marvel Universe have taken on the “Jack O’Lantern” name, the very first was Jason Macendale in Machine Man #19 (1981). In the issue, the mercenary for hire attacks a Halloween party being thrown by Delmar Insurance Company. Unfortunately for Jack O’Lantern, the Machine Man is already on the scene and quickly puts a stop to the attack.
Although Jack O’Lantern didn’t possess any superpowers, he was very well versed in combat due to his military background. His costume was reinforced with Kevlar, complete with the namesake pumpkin helmet, which spouted fire to give him a look reminiscent of Ghost Rider’s. Jack O’Lantern’s main weapon was his arsenal of diverse grenades which he threw from a flying disk; this was perhaps an early foreshadower that just a few years later, Jason would end up dropping the Jack O’Lantern identity to become Hobgoblin. Spoiler alert, it doesn’t work out to well for him too in Spider-Man: Hobgoblin Lives #1 (1997).
For the price of a season’s worth of Starbuck’s pumpkin spice latte, a CGC 9.8 graded copy of Machine Man #19 could instead be acquired at a current FMV of ~$350. Although the volume of sales isn’t very large, the sales prices have consistently been going higher year after year; with 2019’s sales prices being almost double that of the previous year. This book could be worth examining further for long-term investment potential, but a cursory look at price growth in the CGC 9.6 grade shows a milder trend.
Of the pumpkin-themed comics is the short and light Archie adventure titled “Out of Your Gourd” featured in the recent Archie Jumbo Comics Digest #282 (2017). Having accidentally over-fertilized his pumpkin garden, Archie finds himself having grown a giant-sized pumpkin. His original plans to just simply paint the pumpkin for decoration are upended when Jughead convinces him to enter it into the county fair for a chance to win the cash prize. Unfortunately, neither person anticipated the sheer challenge of safely transporting a gigantic pumpkin across town. NM raw copies of this comic can be found at the ~$5 level.
“The glowing candle which was to comfort the foul prince in the depths of night became a weapon of devastating power – power more fitting to my newfound zeal.” – Lord Pumpkin
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