Conan quietly conquered the Hottest Comics this week, but a relic of the 1990s walked away with the Oddball of the Week Award in today’s Trends & Oddballs.
In modern terms, it’s called a “deep dive”. You peel back the layers and take a closer examination to see what’s the real story. When we take the deeper dive into the Hottest Comics rankings, we see patterns and clues as to what buyers want. Then we have those random, offbeat titles that beg the question, “Who’s buying this stuff?!”
On that note, let’s dive into this week’s trends.
Here we have an old 1970s gem that tends to go overlooked. Over the decades, Spider-Man has starred in numerous series, and Spectacular Spider-Man was only his second self-titled ongoing series behind Amazing Spider-Man.
Other than being the first issue of the second Spider-Man series, there is not much significant about Spectacular Spider-Man #1, which is why it doesn’t get much respect in the collector circles outside of hardcore Spidey fans. However, there is the first appearance of Edward Lansky, aka Lightmaster.
Conan the Barbarian exerted his dominion over the Hottest Comics this week. None of his comics had any particularly eye-popping numbers, but the sheer volume of Conan issues across the index was impressive. From the top-100 comics to the bottom, this week’s list was littered with Conan. It was not just the first Marvel Conan comic, either. Conan #2 gained over 900 positions, and other early issues from that first series performed well enough to crack the Hottest Comics rankings.
Arguably the best trick Loki ever pulled was turning Thor into a frog. This gave readers the first appearance of Puddlegulp, who would later be known as Throg. This was referenced in Thor: Ragnarok, and my suspicion is this issue suddenly gained so much ground due to the Loki Disney+ series debut.
The first episode was heavy on the comedy; we were treated to a “greatest hits” collection of Loki’s MCU moments. We may yet see a flashback of Throg’s origin. In any event, Thor #364 came out of nowhere this week to nearly crack the top 10, which is impressive in itself.
On the surface, it would seem the main selling point for New Mutants #18 is the Demon Bear, but it also marked the first appearance of techno-organic fan-favorite Warlock.
There is a growing fandom for the old New Mutants from the Chris Claremont X-Men era. Much of this comes from this year’s release of the much-delayed New Mutants movie, which was not a major hit, but it did win over plenty of fans. That could have Warlock’s faithful hoping he will make his live-action debut in the not-too-distant future.
This may not be the original Shadow, but it is good to see a Golden Age throwback getting attention. This 1973 issue marked the series debut of The Shadow under the DC Comics banner.
Remember, this is the inspiration for Batman in many ways, so he is one of the original superheroes. Over the decades, he has starred in various titles, but his Bronze Age The Shadow #1 for DC is a landmark in itself.
THE ODDBALL OF THE WEEK:
It’s not that seeing a kids’ cartoon tie-in in the Hottest Comics is anything odd. This year, those cartoon comics are in greater demand than ever. When we are talking about Ren & Stimpy, it would be a disservice not to award them the Oddball of the Week. In the 1990s, The Ren & Stimpy Show laid the groundwork for the irreverent and oftentimes adult content that masquerades as a kids’ cartoon.
What caught my attention is not only did The Ren & Stimpy Show #1 crack the top 1,001, it was popular enough to get inside the top 200. That is impressive for such a random comic.