Hi, my name is Justin F. I write for the DC in the 80s webzine. I was heavily collecting comics (and an avid follower of comic fandom) from the late 80s into the mid-90s. When I found out Weird Science was running an article series on the 1993 DC Bloodlines event, I just felt the overwhelming urge to contribute something.
Bloodlines was a DC comics intracompany crossover event that ran through all 23 of the 1993 Annuals being published by DC at the time (thankfully, Vertigo was not included in this event). As a comic collector in the early 90s, I would've been about 12 years old when the Bloodlines event launched. As an avid comic book collector of that era, I was also a 'victim' of the non-sports card collecting bubble of that same time period.
If you thought 1993 was an exciting time for comics (Image comics had just launched a year prior, Superman was dead, X-titles flooded the marketplace and the gimmick era was upon us), it was even more exciting for a non-sports card collecting fan. The Marvel Universe I trading card series (1990) had demonstrated that publishing non-sports cards could be a lucrative licensing venture and comic book companies were quick to notice and stake their claim in this market.
A mere 2 years after Marvel Universe I's run-away success, DC comics released the Doomsday: The Death of Superman trading card set and DC Cosmic Cards. By this point, Marvel was already on it's 3rd Marvel Universe Series set (and it's first fully-painted Marvel Masterpieces set), which was a bitter pill for us die-hard DC fans to swallow.
Apparently DC was trying to make up for lost time, because in 1993 they released four new trading card sets: DC Cosmic Teams (the follow-up to DC Cosmic Cards), Bloodlines, The Return of Superman and Batman Animated series 1.
I don't remember much promotion for the Bloodlines cards. They were obviously eclipsed by the radiance of the DC Cosmic Teams trading cards I was collecting so feverishly. I remember excitedly buying 2 packs of Bloodlines, opening them, examining them and being somewhat disappointed. Even as Skybox's 'target market', I didn't bother collecting these.
I often enjoy pretending I'm a comic book archaeologist - examining old comic book paraphernalia and trying to second-guess what the DC marketing department was thinking. In this article, I'm going to examine the 1993 Skybox DC Bloodlines trading card set, present the facts and then draw my own conclusions. Maybe you know something I don't? Fill me in via the comments section.
This was an eighty-one card set - which was a convenient number, because it only required nine 3x3 plastic trading card sleeve/sheets if you were planning on collecting all of it (excluding the chases) and displaying in a binder - which I assure you was the 'cool' thing to do in the early 90s. The summer of 1993 also saw Marvel Annuals run their own proper "introducing a new character" event, except that these were self-contained stories and each Annual was poly-bagged and contained an Impel trading card of the new character introduced.
The first fifty-four cards of this set visually recounts the Bloodlines saga. I literally mean 'visually' because there is no flavor text on the back of the card explaining what's going on. This may be a good or bad thing depending on your point of view. Instead, the back of the cards form a [9 card x 6 card] fifty-four card puzzle. And if you managed to collect all fifty-four cards? boy, you were in for a real treat!
|"interesting. I wonder what's going on here?"|
|"Guess we'll never know"|
I really appreciate that this set is comprised of original art*. It was a nice touch having the creative teams who worked on the stories appearing in this event to get the chance to illustrate the associated cards, thus you'll find art by Mike Parobeck, Jan Duursema, Steve Erwin and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez (just to name a few). However, the card art is so fixated on the new characters and/or aliens from the event that the 'major' DC characters don't get much attention. Also, there is no mention of Batman or Batman-family characters in this card set - which is too bad since Jean-Paul Valley was Batman at this point. (This is because Topps still owned the license to Batman trading cards in 1993. No, Nightwing didn't count back then - he was considered a Teen Titans property.)
|"I have no clue who any of these characters are or what's going on. Jason Blood, perhaps?"|
|"The only Teen Titans appearance. Starring: Nightwing's head and right arm."|
|"This is the closest thing you're going to get to a Legion of Super-Heroes appearance in this set"|
|""Fun Fact: Jamm debuts a whole two months before Marvel's Adam X-Treme"|
|"Front & Back of parasite card"|
Enter the Reign of the Supermen:
|Jon Bogdanove & Dennis Janke|
|Dan Jurgens & Brett Breeding|
|Tom Grummett & Karl Kesel|
Lobo's about to eviscerate an alien. By Eddy Newell & Michael A. Barreiro
|Argus debuted in the Flash Annual and became a bit-player in the DCU. He' still around in some shape of form. Phillip Hester & Aaron McClellan|
|Just a really nice shot of Deathstroke.Steve Erwin & Will Blyberg.|
|This is a nice team shot of the Team Titans by Phil Jimenez & Will Blyberg, if you're into that sorta thing.|
|Hitman card by John McCrea|
|Argus and Gunfire and Anima cards, art by Joe Phillips|
Cryptozoic Entertainment gave the Bloodlines event a truly fitting 9-card tribute in it's 2014 DC Comics Epic Battles trading card set. (art by Pow Roderix and Overdrive Studios)
|No 'new bloods' nor 'parasites' appear in this puzzle. *this* is how it should have been done.|
*I carefully flipped through my copy of Hawkman v3 Annual #1 (a Bloodlines tie-in) and found no panels directly swiped to trading card form. Thus, I'm assuming all cards are original art. Correct me if I'm wrong.