Key Comic Books From 1988

March 1, 2021

1988 — DC’s 1980’s newsstand cover price variant window closes!

Key comics from 1988
[ Note: a newsstand rarity estimate of 30% exists for the prior year for Marvel.  If you are not already in-the-know about the difference between newsstand and direct edition versions see the following: Comic Book Newsstand Editions: Understanding The Difference ]

There are two main ways I’ve seen online lists of key comic books presented by year: (1) personalized lists based upon judgment calls of what is “key” (thereby omitting any comic books the particular writer doesn’t happen to consider key — or doesn’t know about), and (2) lists based upon high sales price data (also a flawed method because high prices can just as easily be caused by a non-key book happening to grade a 10 at CGC)

The top 100 key comic books from 1988 list you’re about to see is neither of those other types.

Instead, to briefly repeat the introduction I gave on the main 1980’s page, the list I’m about to present is essentially “crowd-sourced”… by the crowd of collectors sending comics to CGC. All I’ve done here is to rank the universe of comic books published in 1988, according to how many copies of each issue have passed through CGC’s doors to date (as of 1/19/2021) to reveal the comic books with the highest census counts — that’s it!

This exercise should “tease out” a very interesting list of important and/or key comic books from 1988, but this will not necessarily be an all-encompassing list (if very few copies were created for a given key, for example, that restricted supply could keep the count of CGC submissions low even though the comic is very important — this exercise will unfortunately see such comics sort themselves off of the bottom through no fault of their own). So essentially, you should think of this list as just one more tool in your tool-belt of researching key comic books from 1988.

Key Comic Books From 1988:

(Top 100 list based on census data as of January 19, 2021)
Rank CGC Count Issue Publisher/
Date
1. 24,031 Amazing Spider-Man #300 Marvel
5/88
  Origin & 1st full appearance of Venom (Eddie Brock). Thing appearance. Last black costume.
2. 10,913 Wolverine #1 Marvel
11/88
  1st Wolverine as Patch. Back cover pin-up by John Byrne.
3. 7,713 Batman: The Killing Joke #nn D.C.
1988
  Joker cripples Barbara Gordon (Batgirl). Embossed cover.
4. 6,939 Incredible Hulk #340 Marvel
2/88
  Hulk vs. Wolverine. X-Men & Leader appearance.
5. 6,528 Amazing Spider-Man #298 Marvel
3/88
  1st Todd McFarlane Spider-Man. 1st appearance of Eddie Brock in cameo. Chance appearance.
6. 5,364 Amazing Spider-Man #299 Marvel
4/88
  Venom cameo. Chance appearance.
7. 3,296 Amazing Spider-Man #301 Marvel
6/88
  Silver Sable appearance.
8. 3,213 X-Factor #24 Marvel
1/88
  Origin & 1st appearance of Archangel. Origin of Apocalypse. Horsemen app. Caliban leaves X-Factor.
9. 1,795 Batman #428 D.C.
12/88
  Part 3 “A Death in the Family” story. “Death” of Robin II (Jason Todd). Superman appearance.
10. 1,459 Wolverine #2 Marvel
12/88
  Back cover pin-up by Bill Sienkiewicz. Silver Samurai & Jessica Drew appearance.
11. 1,394 Batman #423 D.C.
9/88
  Jim Starlin story. Dave Cockrum & Mike DeCarlo art. Todd McFarlane cover.
CGC variant confirmed Rare CGC-recognized $1.00 newsstand cover price variant is confirmed to exist
12. 1,057 Amazing Spider-Man #306 Marvel
10/88
  Black Cat, Humbug & Chameleon appearance. Action Comics #1 cover homage.
13. 1,001 Batman #426 D.C.
12/88
  “A Death in the Family” Part 1 of storyline.
14. 984 Hellblazer #1 D.C.
1/88
  1st John Constantine in his own title. 1st appearance of Papa Midnite, Cedella, Mnemoth, Gary Lester & Chas Chandler.
15. 920 Action Comics #1 D.C.
1988
  Reprints Superman story from Action Comics #1 Anniversary cover pin-ups.
16. 918 Batman #427 D.C.
12/88
  “A Death in the Family” Part 2 of storyline.
17. 910 Punisher War Journal #1 Marvel
11/88
  Origin of the Punisher. Matt Murdock appearance.
18. 880 Miracleman #15 Eclipse
11/88
  “Death” of Kid Miracleman.
19. 833 Amazing Spider-Man #303 Marvel
8/88
  Sandman & Silver Sable appearance.
20. 748 V for Vendetta #1 D.C.
9/88
  Wraparound cover.
21. 700 Marvel Comics Presents #1 Marvel
9/88
  Wolverine, Master of Kung Fu, Man-Thing & Silver Surfer stories. Wraparound cover.
22. 675 Excalibur #1 Marvel
10/88
  1st appearance of Widget. Pin-up by Alan Davis & Paul Neary on back cover.
23. 669 Amazing Spider-Man #305 Marvel
9/88
  Prowler & Black Fox appearance. Johnny Carson cameo.
24. 640 Daredevil #254 Marvel
5/88
  Origin & 1st appearance of Typhoid Mary (Mary Alice Walker). Kingpin appearance.
25. 612 Amazing Spider-Man #304 Marvel
9/88
  Prowler & Black Fox appearance.
26. 609 Akira #1 Marvel/Epic
9/88
  1st American appearance of Kaneda & Tetsuo. 1st full color printing.
27. 603 Amazing Spider-Man #302 Marvel
7/88
  Silver Sable & Sandman appearance.
28. 586 Amazing Spider-Man #307 Marvel
10/88
  Chameleon appearance.
29. 577 Amazing Spider-Man #310 Marvel
12/88
  Tinkerer & Killer Shrike appearance.
30. 551 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #1 Archie Publications
8/88
  1st comic book appearance of Krang, Bebop & Rocksteady.
CGC variant confirmed Rare CGC-recognized $1.25 newsstand cover price variant is confirmed to exist
31. 528 Amazing Spider-Man #309 Marvel
11/88
  1st appearance of Styx & Stone.
32. 480 Amazing Spider-Man #308 Marvel
11/88
  Taskmaster appearance.
33. 461 Batman: The Cult #1 D.C.
1988
  Embossed cover.
34. 443 Amazing Spider-Man Annual #22 Marvel
1988
  1st appearance of Speedball (Robbie Baldwin). Daredevil & Kingpin appearance.
35. 429 Detective Comics #583 D.C.
2/88
  1st appearance of Scarface & the Ventriloquist (Arnold Wesker).
CGC variant confirmed Rare CGC-recognized $1.00 newsstand cover price variant is confirmed to exist
36. 421 Web of Spider-Man #36 Marvel
3/88
  1st appearance of Tombstone (Lonnie Lincoln).
37. 399 Aliens #1 Dark Horse
5/88
  1st appearance of “Aliens” in comics.
38. 393 Uncanny X-Men #234 Marvel
9/88
  Chris Claremont story. Marc Silvestri & Joe Rubinstein art. Marc Silvestri & Dan Green cover.
39. 387 Amazing Spider-Man #297 Marvel
2/88
  Doctor Octopus appearance.
40. 367 Punisher #10 Marvel
8/88
  Daredevil appearance.
41. 348 The Tick #1 New England
6/88
  “Mack Trail” parody backup story. Back cover pin-up by Ben Edlund.
42. 335 Incredible Hulk #345 Marvel
7/88
  Leader appearance.
43. 327 Silver Surfer Limited Series #1 Marvel/Epic
12/88
  Galactus appearance.
44. 318 Thor #390 Marvel
4/88
  Avengers (The Captain, Black Knight, Captain Marvel, She-Hulk, Sub-Mariner & Doctor Druid), Seth & Grog appearance.
45. 315 Green Arrow #1 D.C.
2/88
  Mike Grell cover & story. Ed Hannigan & Dick Giordano art.
46. 275 Daredevil #257 Marvel
8/88
  Punisher, Typhoid Mary & Kingpin appearance.
47. 272 Dark Horse Presents #24 Dark Horse
11/88
  Mark A. Nelson cover & art Origin of “Aliens”.
48. 251 Batman #417 D.C.
3/88
  1st appearance of KGBeast (Anatoli Knyazev).
CGC variant confirmed Rare CGC-recognized $1.00 newsstand cover price variant is confirmed to exist
49. 250 Incredible Hulk #344 Marvel
6/88
  Leader appearance.
50. 249 Amazing Spider-Man #296 Marvel
1/88
  Doctor Octopus appearance.
51. 232 Uncanny X-Men #227 Marvel
3/88
  Freedom Force & Forge appearance.
52. 229 Uncanny X-Men #229 Marvel
5/88
  1st appearance of the Reavers (Skullbuster, Pretty Boy & Bonebreaker), Gateway & Jessan Hoan (Tyger Tiger).
53. 219 Uncanny X-Men #228 Marvel
4/88
  Chris Claremont story. Rick Leonardi & Terry Austin cover & art.
54. 208 The Tick Special Edition #1 New England
3/88
  1st appearance of the Tick in comics. Back cover pin-up. “Mack Trail” backup story by Dodd & Rod.
55. 196 Uncanny X-Men #239 Marvel
12/88
  Mister Sinister, N’astirh & Malice/Polaris appearance.
56. 194 Batman: The Cult #2 D.C.
1988
  Jim Starlin story. Bernie Wrightson cover & art.
57. 193 Uncanny X-Men #236 Marvel
10/88
  Ms. Marvel appearance.
58. 192 Uncanny X-Men #232 Marvel
8/88
  Chris Claremont story. Marc Silvestri & Dan Green cover & art.
59. 183 Uncanny X-Men #225 Marvel
1/88
  Freedom Force & Magik appearance.
60. 180 Batman #418 D.C.
4/88
  KGBeast appearance.
CGC variant confirmed Rare CGC-recognized $1.00 newsstand cover price variant is confirmed to exist
61. 175 Uncanny X-Men #226 Marvel
2/88
  Forge & Freedom Force appearance.
62. 167 Uncanny X-Men #233 Marvel
9/88
  Chris Claremont story. Marc Silvestri & Dan Green cover & art.
63. 166 Batman: The Cult #3 D.C.
1988
  Jim Starlin story. Bernie Wrightson cover & art.
64. 164 Vampirella #113 Harris
1988
  1st Harris issue.
CGC variant confirmed Rare CGC-recognized newsstand cover price variant is confirmed to exist
65. 160 Uncanny X-Men #238 Marvel
11/88
  Chris Claremont story. Marc Silvestri & Dan Green cover & art.
66. 159 Miracleman #14 Eclipse
4/88
  Back-up story by Doug Moench & Jim Sullivan.
67. 159 Incredible Hulk #341 Marvel
3/88
  Peter David story. Todd McFarlane cover & art.
68. 158 Batman #419 D.C.
5/88
  KGBeast appearance.
CGC variant confirmed Rare CGC-recognized $1.00 newsstand cover price variant is confirmed to exist
69. 157 Planet Comics #1 Blackthorne
4/88
  Bruce Jones stories. Ken Hooper & Rico Rival art. Dave Stevens cover.
70. 152 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1 Fifth Printing Mirage Studios
8/88
  Wraparound cover. 8 page “Donatello” back-up story by Eric Talbot.
71. 147 X-Factor #25 Marvel
2/88
  Apocalypse, Horsemen & Power Pack app. President Ronald Reagan cameo. Crossover with Power Pack #35
72. 146 Uncanny X-Men #230 Marvel
6/88
  Chris Claremont story. Marc Silvestri & Joe Rubinstein. cover & art.
73. 144 Action Comics #600 D.C.
5/88
  Wonder Woman & Man-Bat appearance. Hawkman cameo. Pin-ups by Mike Zeck, Jon Bogdanove & Kevin Maguire.
74. 144 Batman 423 Third Printing D.C.
9/88
  Jim Starlin story. Dave Cockrum & Mike DeCarlo art. Todd McFarlane cover.
75. 143 Batman #420 D.C.
6/88
  President Ronald Reagan & KGBeast appearance.
CGC variant confirmed Rare CGC-recognized $1.00 newsstand cover price variant is confirmed to exist
76. 141 Animal Man #1 D.C.
9/88
  Grant Morrison story. Chas Truog & Doug Hazlewood art. Brian Bolland cover.
77. 138 Incredible Hulk #346 Marvel
8/88
  Leader & Nick Fury appearance. Peter Parker, Mary Jane Watson-Parker & J. Jonah Jameson cameo.
78. 138 Incredible Hulk #343 Marvel
5/88
  Peter David story. Todd McFarlane cover & art.
79. 135 Uncanny X-Men #235 Marvel
10/88
  Chris Claremont story. Rick Leonardi & P. Craig Russell. cover & art.
80. 135 Batman: The Cult #4 D.C.
1988
  Jim Starlin story. Bernie Wrightson cover & art.
81. 135 X-Men Annual #12 Marvel
1988
  High Evolutionary, Terminus, Zaladane & Garokk appearance. X-Babies/Mojo backup story.
82. 133 Batman: The Killing Joke nn Second Printing D.C.
1988
  Joker cripples Barbara Gordon (Batgirl). Embossed cover.
83. 130 Uncanny X-Men #237 Marvel
11/88
  Chris Claremont story. Rick Leonardi & Terry Austin cover & art.
84. 119 Uncanny X-Men #231 Marvel
7/88
  Magik, S’ym & Baba Yaga appearance.
85. 118 Incredible Hulk #342 Marvel
4/88
  Peter David story. Todd McFarlane cover & art.
86. 117 Incredible Hulk #347 Marvel
9/88
  1st Hulk as “Joe Fixit.” 1st appearance of Marlo Chandler. Absorbing Man cameo on last page.
87. 116 V for Vendetta #3 D.C.
11/88
  Alan Moore story. David Lloyd cover & art.
88. 111 Batman 423 Second Printing D.C.
9/88
  Jim Starlin story. Dave Cockrum & Mike DeCarlo art. Todd McFarlane cover.
89. 110 Batgirl Special #1 D.C.
1988
  Barbara Randall story. Barry Kitson & Bruce Patterson art. Mike Mignola cover.
90. 109 Incredible Hulk #339 Marvel
1/88
  Peter David story. Todd McFarlane & Jim Sanders III art. Steve Geiger & Bob McLeod cover.
91. 106 Punisher War Journal #2 Marvel
12/88
  Daredevil appearance. Punisher Limited Series #2 cover homage.
92. 106 Doctor Strange, Sorcerer Supreme #1 Marvel
11/88
  Story continued from Strange Tales #19 Dormammu appearance.
93. 104 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3 Second Printing Mirage Studios
11/88
  Contains new TMNT back-up story, “Complete Carnage and Radical” by Kevin Eastman & Jim Lawson.
94. 100 Action Comics #598 D.C.
3/88
  1st appearance of Checkmate. Atomic explosion cover.
95. 97 V for Vendetta #2 D.C.
10/88
  Alan Moore story. David Lloyd cover & art.
96. 95 The Tick #2 New England
9/88
  Die-cut wraparound cover.
97. 94 The Tick Special Edition #2 New England
6/88
  Ben Edlund story, cover & art.
98. 91 Terminator #1 Now
9/88
  Fred Schiller story. Tony Akins & Jim Brozman art. Mitch O’Connell cover.
99. 89 Akira #2 Marvel/Epic
10/88
  Katsuhiro Otomo story, cover & art.
100. 87 Rocketeer Adventure Magazine #1 Comico
7/88
  Jonas (Lamont Cranston) appearance. Galactic Girl Guides back-up story with Michael Wm. Kaluta & Charles Vess art.
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