Ten Key Newsstand Variants from the 1990s Comic Boom

by Mr. Long/Short

X-force-1-197x300 Ten Key Newsstand Variants from the 1990s Comic Boom

Newsstand variants from the 1990s are some of the most undervalued comic books in the market as I discussed in this article. The large print runs during the comic boom made many books appear worthless. When viewed through the eyes of the newsstand variants there are some massive investment opportunities here. This list has no order and what I realized when putting this together is that there at least another 20-30 to discuss. Stay tuned for those books.

692363_spawn-1-newsstand-edition-199x300 Ten Key Newsstand Variants from the 1990s Comic BoomSpawn #1

This is probably the book most people think about when 1990 newsstand variants come up. It is very hard to argue its appeal – getting access to a rare version of a heavily printed key. I think it is a great guidepost for the opportunity in other high print run keys from the early 1990s.

New Mutants #98

Deadpool is arguably the most important character to come out of the 1990s. New Mutants #98 is his first appearance and is already a super hot book. The newsstand variants are much more valuable than their current price reflects.

X-Force #1 – Deadpool Card Variant

This book had a print run of 5 million copies, and therefore the newsstand variants are super attractive. Almost all the excess copies of this comic came from the direct market. While this is very hard to pinpoint, I estimate that the newsstand editions were less than 2% of the total print run. This equates to just 100,000 total newsstand copies. This is an enormous number of books sold through newsstands. I like the Deadpool card variant which at 1:5 means there were only 20,000 printed. Getting this book graded with the card is tricky. I only know of one grading service that does it.

Spider-Man #1

Spider-Man-1-UPC-1-197x300 Ten Key Newsstand Variants from the 1990s Comic Boom
Like X-Force #1 this book has several different variants, most of which had astronomical print runs. In total the print run on this book was 2.5 million. I estimate that the newsstand print runs on this book was similar to X-Force #1 in the 100,000 range. The newsstand editions only came in the green cover which was less desired compared to the black and silver cover at the time. It is worth pointing out that there is a super rare second printing newsstand version in gold. This book regularly sells for more than $500. Another interesting fact is that Walmart was the only retailer selling this book. This should serve as a warning to all those turning up their noses to the current Walmart variants…

X-Men #1

Here is the king of the gigantic print runs from the 1990s with a whopping 8.1 million copies sold. The book had five different covers all massively ordered by the direct market. It is very difficult to estimate how many of these books were sold through newsstands. My best guess is less than 150,000 and probably closer to 100,000. These books are difficult to find. I am sure they are in dollar bins, but the condition may very well be lower.

SM-2099-UPC-194x300 Ten Key Newsstand Variants from the 1990s Comic BoomSpider-Man 2099 #1

The red foil cover makes this book really hard to find in high grades. This book has the catalyst of Into the Spider-verse 2 coming out in 2022 to raise awareness of Miguel O’Hara. Collectors already love this book, once people appreciate the scarcity of the newsstand version of this book, the price will spike and copies will dry up.

Venom Lethal Protector #1

Venom-LP-194x300 Ten Key Newsstand Variants from the 1990s Comic Boom
Venom’s first solo series remains near and dear to many collectors. This book has the same issues as Spider-Man 2099 #1 with its red foil cover. High-grade newsstand variants are in short supply.

X-Men #266

While there is an active debate about Gambit’s first appearance, this is a milestone book of the 90s. Gambit runs a very close second to Deadpool as the most important character from the 1990s. CGC has even begun to recognize the newsstand version as an actual variant.

Amazing Spider-Man #361

Carnage is a 1990s icon alongside his nemesis Venom. This book has some serious upside potential with Venom 2 set to hit theaters…….at some point….

ASM-375-194x300 Ten Key Newsstand Variants from the 1990s Comic BoomAmazing Spider-Man #375

The gold foil cover makes this issue very hard to find in high grade. It is books like these that make hunting newsstand editions so much fun. Like most of the books on this list, ASM #375 has a huge print run but good luck finding a newsstand in high grade.

Spider-Man #13

Spider-man-13-193x300 Ten Key Newsstand Variants from the 1990s Comic Boom
I believe that this is the first homage to one of the most homaged books of all-time. Spidey’s black costume is simply striking here against the green background. I also take this as a signal that the green background for Spider-Man #1 is the flagship of the variants.


This list only scratches the surface of some of the amazing newsstand variants from the 1990s.  Keep your eyes peeled for follow up articles where I touch on more books to be on the hunt for.

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Pete April 24, 2020 - 3:40 pm

I hope collectors will wise up and realize newsstand variants aren’t any more valuable than a direct edition. Comic books should not be more valuable just because they were purchased at a newsstand.

Mr. Long/Short April 24, 2020 - 4:23 pm

The beautiful thing about this hobby is that we can all have different opinions and collect what we like. As things stand, the market is indicating that there is a difference between direct edition comics and newsstands. Let’s see how it evolves.

William Woo April 25, 2020 - 7:26 pm

They shouldn’t be but they are because it’s super hard to find newsstand issues in NM/M simply because books sent to newsstands were man handled sort of speak while direct comics sent to comicbook shops were bought by collectors, therefore handled gently and immediately bag and boarded!!

Jeff April 26, 2020 - 12:15 am

I think about the newsstand versus direct idea the same way that coin collectors think about mint marks. There is absolutely a difference value in that world when considering that little p or d or w or cc stamp.

Jeff April 24, 2020 - 5:47 pm

Great article. I’m collecting books like this to re-live my childhood.

Which service will grade the books with cards?


Mr. Long/Short April 25, 2020 - 6:19 am

I feel the same way. EGS is the only service that I have found that will grade a book and include the card. They are really small but Tony is a honest guy in my experience.

Jeff April 25, 2020 - 11:16 pm

Thank you for the information.

I definitely agree on the price and rarity points you bring up. In my opinion they are just as much a different version as all of the variant issues today.

When I see a newsstand from the late 80s/early 90s I think of the wire rack and some dude in ripped jeans and Surge fountain soda bending the heck out of it as he reads it, then puts it back and leaves the gas station. I’m guessing this was the fate of a very high percentage of these.

Brett The Comic Guy April 25, 2020 - 2:17 am

If the newsstand edition has a different cover then I could justify a different or higher price. Where possible I try to get both editions now because of this.

iroliz1 February 11, 2021 - 5:12 pm

Such a valuable article. I came back to this because the X-Force #1 card for Deadpool is taking off in value but the supply of the card may be an issue for the price to sustain. 1,000,000 Deadpool promo cards they were considered worthless for the longest time. I would like to see how the value of the card turns out considering the huge print run.


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