Key Comic Books From 1990

March 1, 2021

1990

Key comics from 1990

[ Note: a newsstand rarity estimate of 15% exists for this 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 1990 list you’re about to see is neither of those other types.

Instead, to briefly repeat the introduction I gave on the main 1990’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 1990, 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 1990, 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 1990.

Key Comic Books From 1990:

(Top 100 list based on census data as of January 19, 2021)
Rank CGC Count Issue Publisher/
Date
1. 15,524 Uncanny X-Men #266 Marvel
8/90
  1st full appearance of Gambit. Mystique appearance.
2. 10,197 New Mutants #87 Marvel
3/90
  1st appearance of Cable, Stryfe & the Mutant Liberation Front.
3. 9,291 Spider-Man 1 Silver Edition Marvel
8/90
  Lizard appearance.
4. 6,334 Spider-Man #1 Marvel
8/90
  Lizard appearance.
5. 3,895 Spider-Man 1 Gold Edition Marvel
8/90
  Lizard appearance. Indicia states “Second Printing”.
6. 2,484 X-Men Annual #14 Marvel
1990
  Fantastic Four & Ahab appearance. Gambit cameo (predates Uncanny X-Men #266). Pinups by Kevin Nowlan & Michael Golden.
7. 2,098 Amazing Spider-Man #328 Marvel
1/90
  Hulk & Sebastian Shaw appearance.
8. 1,811 Uncanny X-Men #268 Marvel
9/90
  Captain America & Black Widow appearance.
9. 1,717 Spider-Man 1 Platinum Edition Marvel
8/90
  Lizard appearance.
10. 1,444 Silver Surfer v3 #44 Marvel
12/90
  1st appearance of the Infinity Gauntlet. Thanos & Drax app. Direct Editions include “Tiger Electronics” insert.
11. 1,350 New Mutants 87 Second Printing Marvel
3/90
  1st appearance of Cable, Stryfe & the Mutant Liberation Front.
12. 1,189 Ghost Rider v2 #1 Marvel
5/90
  1st appearance Dan Ketch as Ghost Rider. 1st appearance of Deathwatch. Kingpin appearance.
13. 1,113 Spider-Man 1 Poly-Bagged Silver Edition Marvel
8/90
  Lizard appearance. Poly-bag removed.
14. 1,022 Thanos Quest #1 Marvel
1990
  In-Betweener, Champion, Gardener & Death appearance. Wraparound cover.
15. 993 Guardians of the Galaxy #1 Marvel
6/90
  1st appearance of Taserface.
16. 879 Spider-Man 1 Poly-Bagged Edition Marvel
8/90
  Lizard appearance. Poly-bag removed.
17. 792 Silver Surfer v3 #34 Marvel
2/90
  Return of Thanos.
18. 763 Uncanny X-Men #267 Marvel
9/90
  Early Gambit appearance.
19. 752 Batman #457 D.C.
12/90
  1st appearance of Tim Drake as Robin. Scarecrow appearance.
20. 697 Spider-Man #2 Marvel
9/90
  Lizard & Calypso appearance.
21. 678 Lobo #1 D.C.
11/90
  L.E.G.I.O.N. appearance.
22. 589 Thanos Quest #2 Marvel
1990
  Grand Master, Runner, Collector & Death appearance. Wraparound cover.
23. 565 Spider-Man 1 UPC Gold Edition Marvel
8/90
  Lizard appearance. Indicia states “Second Printing”.
24. 556 Amazing Spider-Man #332 Marvel
5/90
  Venom, Styx & Stone appearance. Jay Leno & Malcolm Forbes cameo.
25. 552 Amazing Spider-Man #330 Marvel
3/90
  Punisher appearance.
26. 508 Uncanny X-Men #257 Marvel
1/90
  1st Jubilee appearance in costume.
27. 499 Amazing Spider-Man #333 Marvel
6/90
  Venom, Styx & Stone appearance.
28. 473 Green Lantern v3 #1 D.C.
6/90
  Batman, Blue Beetle, Fire & Ice appearance.
29. 422 Spider-Man #4 Marvel
11/90
  Lizard & Calypso appearance.
30. 406 Aliens vs. Predator #1 Dark Horse
6/90
  1st appearance of Machiko Noguchi. Pin-up on back cover by Phill Norwood.
31. 403 Spider-Man #3 Marvel
10/90
  Lizard & Calypso appearance.
32. 378 Spider-Man #5 Marvel
12/90
  Lizard & Calypso appearance.
33. 374 New Mutants #86 Marvel
2/90
  Vulture, Nitro, Tinkerer & Freedom Force appearance. Stryfe cameo.
34. 358 Wolverine #27 Marvel
7/90
  Karma & Jessica Drew appearance.
35. 328 New Warriors #1 Marvel
7/90
  Origin of the New Warriors. Avengers & Terrax appearance.
36. 324 Amazing Spider-Man #331 Marvel
4/90
  Punisher, Black Cat & Venom appearance.
37. 294 Sandman 19 Error Edition D.C./Vertigo
9/90
  Story page numbers 18 & 19 switched.
38. 288 Batman #451 D.C.
7/90
  Joker appearance.
39. 268 New Mutants #93 Marvel
9/90
  Sunfire & Wolverine appearance.
40. 265 Uncanny X-Men #258 Marvel
2/90
  Mandarin appearance.
41. 264 Uncanny X-Men #270 Marvel
11/90
  “X-tinction Agenda” Part 1 New Mutants appearance.
42. 246 New Mutants #88 Marvel
4/90
  2nd appearance of Cable. X-Factor & Freedom Force appearance.
43. 235 RoboCop #1 Marvel
3/90
  Based on the Orion motion picture.
44. 230 Silver Surfer v3 #35 Marvel
3/90
  Jim Starlin story. Ron Lim & Tom Christopher art. Ron Lim cover.
45. 222 Batman #450 D.C.
7/90
  Brief origin of Joker.
46. 210 Amazing Spider-Man #336 Marvel
8/90
  “Death” of Nathan Lubensky. Kingpin, Chance & Vulture appearance. Dr. Strange & Dr. Octopus cameo.
47. 209 Thanos Quest 1 Second Printing Marvel
1990
  In-Betweener, Champion, Gardener & Death appearance. Wraparound cover.
48. 205 Uncanny X-Men #269 Marvel
10/90
  Magneto & Ms. Marvel appearance.
49. 195 Uncanny X-Men #271 Marvel
12/90
  Direct editions have “Tiger Electronics” insert.
50. 193 New Mutants #94 Marvel
10/90
  Wolverine, Sunfire, Stryfe & Mutant Liberation Front appearance.
51. 192 Uncanny X-Men #261 Marvel
5/90
  Chris Claremont story. Marc Silvestri & Dan Green art. Jim Lee cover.
52. 189 New Mutants Annual #6 Marvel
1990
  Fantastic Four appearance. Shatterstar app. in pin-up by Rob Liefeld (pre-dates New Mutants #99).
53. 188 Dark Horse Presents 36 Variant Cover Dark Horse
2/90
  1st appearance of “Aliens vs. Predator”. Back cover pin-up by Dave Dorman.
54. 186 Namor, the Sub-Mariner #1 Marvel
4/90
  John Byrne story & cover. John Byrne & Bob Wiacek art.
55. 182 Amazing Spider-Man #340 Marvel
10/90
  1st appearance of the Femme Fatales. Chameleon appearance (as Dr. Turner).
56. 182 Amazing Spider-Man #334 Marvel
7/90
  Electro, Doctor Octopus, Sandman & Iron Man appearance.
57. 179 Amazing Spider-Man #337 Marvel
8/90
  Sinister Six appearance. Funeral of Nathan Lubensky. Nova cameo.
58. 178 Amazing Spider-Man #339 Marvel
9/90
  Sinister Six & Thor appearance.
59. 176 Fantastic Four #347 Marvel
12/90
  Spider-Man, Wolverine, Hulk & Ghost Rider appearance. Direct Editions have “Tiger Electronics” insert.
60. 175 Amazing Spider-Man #329 Marvel
2/90
  1st appearance of the Tri-Sentinel. Sebastian Shaw & Graviton appearance. Loki cameo.
61. 172 Amazing Spider-Man #338 Marvel
9/90
  Sinister Six appearance.
62. 172 Amazing Spider-Man #335 Marvel
7/90
  Sinister Six & Shocker appearance. Captain America cameo.
63. 171 Creatures of the Id #1 Caliber Press
1/90
  1st appearance Frank Einstein (Madman). Wraparound cover.
64. 167 Silver Surfer v3 #38 Marvel
6/90
  Thanos, Nebula & Death appearance.
65. 163 Thanos Quest 2 Second Printing Marvel
1990
  Grand Master, Runner, Collector & Death appearance. Wraparound cover.
66. 159 Playboy v37 #3 HMH Publishing Co.
March 1990
 
67. 158 Uncanny X-Men #260 Marvel
4/90
  Chris Claremont story. Marc Silvestri & Dan Green art. Jim Lee cover.
68. 153 Suicide Squad #48 D.C.
12/90
  John Ostrander & Kim Yale story. Geof Isherwood art. Steve Lightle cover.
69. 153 Uncanny X-Men #259 Marvel
3/90
  Chris Claremont story. Marc Silvestri & Dan Green cover & art.
70. 150 Wolverine #25 Marvel
6/90
  Mary Jo Duffy story. John Buscema art. Jim Lee cover.
71. 150 Terminator: The Burning Earth #1 Now
3/90
  1st published Alex Ross art.
72. 147 Legend of Zelda #1 Valiant
1990
  George Caragonne story. Rodney Ramos art.
73. 144 Amazing Spider-Man #342 Marvel
12/90
  Black Cat & Scorpion appearance. Direct Editions contain Tiger Electronics insert
74. 144 Dark Horse Presents #36 Dark Horse
2/90
  1st appearance of “Aliens vs. Predator”. Back cover pin-up by Chris Warner.
75. 139 Web of Spider-Man #70 Marvel
11/90
  Gerry Conway & David Michelinie story. Alex Saviuk & Keith Williams art. Alex Saviuk & Andy Mushynsky cover.
76. 137 Wolverine #24 Marvel
5/90
  Peter David story. Gene Colan art. Jim Lee cover.
77. 130 Amazing Spider-Man #341 Marvel
11/90
  Doctor Turner (Chameleon), Black Cat, Willy Lumpkin & Tarantula appearance. Spider-Man loses his powers.
78. 130 Uncanny X-Men #265 Marvel
8/90
  Chris Claremont story. Bill Jaaska & Joe Rubinstein art. Andy Kubert cover.
79. 129 Terminator #1 Dark Horse
8/90
  John Arcudi story. Chris Warner & Paul Guinan art. Chris Warner cover.
80. 128 Super Mario Bros. Special Edition #1 Valiant
1990
  Bill Vallely, George Caragonne &. Mark McClellan stories. George Wildman & Art Nichols art.
81. 126 Uncanny X-Men #264 Marvel
7/90
  Chris Claremont story. Mike Collins & Joe Rubinstein art. Jim Lee cover.
82. 125 Incredible Hulk #372 Marvel
8/90
  Return of the green Hulk.
83. 120 Wolverine #20 Marvel
1/90
  Tiger Shark & Roughouse appearance. Pin-up by Klaus Janson.
84. 119 Avengers #316 Marvel
4/90
  Spider-Man joins the Avengers. Nebula appearance. Stranger cameo on last page.
85. 118 Cry for Dawn #3 CFD Publications
Fall 1990
 
86. 113 Super Mario Bros. #1 Valiant
1990
  Based on the video game by Nintendo.
87. 112 Ghost Rider v2 #5 Marvel
9/90
  Punisher & Flag-Smasher appearance.
88. 110 Cry for Dawn #2 CFD Publications
1990
  Joseph Michael Linsner story, cover &. art.
89. 110 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #30 Mirage Studios
4/90
  Wraparound cover.
90. 107 Punisher Armory #1 Marvel
7/90
  Eliot R. Brown story & art. Jim Lee cover.
91. 106 New Mutants #90 Marvel
6/90
  Sabretooth & Caliban appearance.
92. 106 Miracleman #17 Eclipse
6/90
  Neil Gaiman’s “The Golden Age” storyline begins.
93. 105 New Mutants #96 Marvel
12/90
  X-Men, X-Factor & Cameron Hodge appearance.
94. 102 Wolverine: The Jungle Adventure #nn Marvel
1990
  Wolverine Annual #1
95. 101 Marvel Age #90 Marvel
7/90
  Spider-Man #1 preview. Jim Lee interview.
96. 98 Incredible Hulk #367 Marvel
3/90
  1st Dale Keown art on Incredible Hulk. Leader appearance.
97. 97 Wolverine #23 Marvel
4/90
  Roughouse & Magneto appearance.
98. 97 New Mutants #95 Marvel
11/90
  “X-Tinction Agenda” crossover. “Death” of Warlock.
99. 95 Silver Surfer v3 #37 Marvel
5/90
  Drax, Starfox, Mentor & Human Torch appearance.
100. 94 Wolverine #22 Marvel
3/90
  Roughouse appearance.
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