List Of Important Comic Books From The 1990s

March 1, 2021

A List Of Important Comic Books From the 1990s

The 1990’s were a roller-coaster, starting out with a major “boom” period and then experiencing a “bust” — with Marvel famously declaring bankruptcy at the end of 1996 (they survived on after a restructuring of their debts).

The year 1992 saw the emergence of Image Comics onto the scene.  Some concluded Image was exclusively direct edition, but as it turns out, under the mountain of direct edition copies they sold, there was also a small sliver of copies that were distributed on newsstands — 1% by one insider’s estimate.  You’ll see a lot of CGC-recognized 1990’s newsstand variants from among Image’s comics, as they quite often were manufactured differently, causing CGC to break them out as distinct from their direct edition counter-parts.

As we enter the 1990’s, direct edition comics made up the vast majority sold, with sales estimates out there for newsstand rarity percentages of 15% by 1990 and 10-14% by 1999.  We see Marvel experiment with Australian cover price variant newsstand copies during the 90’s.  And at the end of the decade, there is a 1999 decision by Marvel to “walk away” from the newsstand model — this would quickly put the newsstand percentages down to single digits as we enter the 2000’s, setting us up for some more highly interesting newsstand variants (including an entire CGC-recognized “window” when newsstand comics carried higher cover prices than their direct edition counter-parts).

There are many “top lists” out there covering important or “key” comic books from the 1990s, but the ones I’ve seen are all either based upon individual judgment calls or the high sale prices observed in the marketplace. Judgment calls are great, but not necessarily comprehensive. Meanwhile, high sale prices could just as easily be reflective of, say, a CGC 10 Gem Mint Signature Series copy signed by Stan Lee, versus reflective of the underlying comic being of any great importance.

One surefire way to “tease out” a list of important comic books is to consider how many copies have been sent in to CGC to be graded — the more important the comic book, the more likely its owner will want to have it graded and slabbed, right? So by ranking comics simply by the number of copies submitted to CGC — removing any judgment call or sales price information — I’d argue we can get to a pretty good list of important key comic books! Of course, there are flaws to this exercise which should be kept in mind: for one thing, this submission data is from one snapshot in time (January 19, 2021) and there could be plenty of important comics that aren’t recognized as such until some future development gives them renewed attention. And another flaw is that some very-high-value comic books simply didn’t have many copies printed — such rarities would naturally sort themselves off of the bottom of a list like this as well (an example that comes to mind is Spawn/The Savage Dragon #1 from 1996, the existence of which is an incredible circumstance… as a distinct title created as a newsstand exclusive and therefore carrying that ultra-low Image newsstand distribution rarity touched upon earlier).

So please don’t anybody think of these top 100 lists as a “rank” of importance or as being an all-encompassing list… all we’re ranking here is the sheer number of copies that have passed through CGC’s doors as of January 2021 and presenting the top 100. That’s it! This data should give us a very interesting list, but this list is no replacement for judgement and no replacement for pricing data — it is simply one more tool for our tool-belt as we study interesting and rare comics like the ones I enjoy writing about on this blog! With that caveat stated, without further ado, here is a list of 100 important comic books from the 1990s. [ I’ve also posted more lists of key comics by year including other decades; special thanks goes to Greg Holland whose research website was the tool that made these pages possible to assemble ].

Top 100 List: Important Comic Books From The 1990s:

(Top 100 list based on census data as of January 19, 2021)
Rank CGC Count Issue Publisher/
Date
1. 20,115 New Mutants #98 Marvel
2/91
  1st appearance of Deadpool (Wade Wilson) Gideon & Copycat (Vanessa Carlysle) as Domino. Rictor leaves the New Mutants.
CGC variant confirmed Rare CGC-recognized newsstand Australian Price Variant is confirmed to exist
2. 18,461 Amazing Spider-Man #361 Marvel
4/92
  1st full appearance of Carnage (Cletus Kasady).
CGC variant confirmed Rare CGC-recognized newsstand Australian Price Variant is confirmed to exist
3. 16,490 Spawn #1 Image
5/92
  1st appearance of Spawn (Al Simmons). Pitt pin-up by Dale Keown & Spawn pin-up by George Perez. Pull-out Spawn poster.
Newsstand versions of early Spawn comics including #1 are confirmed to exist, but as of this date newsstand copies of #1-3 are not treated as variants by CGC (but ARE treated as variants by CBCS and PGX). As of the date of this writing, CGC begins to break out Spawn newsstand comics as variants starting at issue #4 when newsstand manufacturing differences begin.
4. 15,524 Uncanny X-Men #266 Marvel
8/90
  1st full appearance of Gambit. Mystique appearance.
5. 10,197 New Mutants #87 Marvel
3/90
  1st appearance of Cable, Stryfe & the Mutant Liberation Front.
6. 9,686 Venom: Lethal Protector #1 Marvel
2/93
  1st Venom in his own title. Spider-Man appearance. Red holo-grafx foil cover.
CGC variant confirmed Rare CGC-recognized newsstand Australian Price Variant is confirmed to exist
7. 9,291 Spider-Man 1 Silver Edition Marvel
8/90
  Lizard appearance.
8. 8,075 Infinity Gauntlet #1 Marvel
7/91
  Jim Starlin story. George Perez & Joe Rubinstein art. George Perez cover.
9. 6,463 X-Men #1 Marvel
10/91
  1st appearance of the Acolytes. Four different covers exist that form a single image.
CGC variant confirmed Rare CGC-recognized newsstand Australian Price Variant is confirmed to exist
10. 6,377 Batman Adventures #12 D.C.
9/93
  1st appearance of Harley Quinn in comics (out of DC continuity).
11. 6,334 Spider-Man #1 Marvel
8/90
  Lizard appearance.
12. 5,347 Amazing Spider-Man #362 Marvel
5/92
  Carnage, Venom & Human Torch appearance.
CGC variant confirmed Rare CGC-recognized newsstand Australian Price Variant is confirmed to exist
13. 4,737 X-Men #4 Marvel
1/92
  1st appearance of Omega Red (Arkady Rossovich).
CGC variant confirmed Rare CGC-recognized newsstand Australian Price Variant is confirmed to exist
14. 4,724 Rai #0 Valiant
11/92
  1st full appearance of Bloodshot. Origin & 1st appearance of new Rai. Harbinger & Solar appearance.
15. 3,978 Amazing Spider-Man #363 Marvel
6/92
  Carnage, Venom, Human Torch & Mister Fantastic appearance.
CGC variant confirmed Rare CGC-recognized newsstand Australian Price Variant is confirmed to exist
16. 3,895 Spider-Man 1 Gold Edition Marvel
8/90
  Lizard appearance. Indicia states “Second Printing”.
17. 3,714 Uncanny X-Men #282 Marvel
11/91
  1st appearance of Bishop, Malcolm & Randall in cameo on last page. Direct Editions have 8 page ad insert.
18. 3,706 X-Force #2 Marvel
9/91
  2nd appearance of Deadpool. 1st app. of Weapon X (Garrison Kane). Juggernaut & Black Tom Cassidy app.
19. 3,657 Spawn #9 Image
3/93
  1st appearance Medieval Spawn & Angela. Angela poster by Jim Lee.
CGC variant confirmed Rare CGC-recognized newsstand variant is confirmed to exist
20. 3,619 X-Force #11 Marvel
6/92
  1st appearance of “real” Domino (Neena Thurman). Deadpool appearance.
CGC variant confirmed Rare CGC-recognized newsstand Australian Price Variant is confirmed to exist
21. 3,496 Superman: The Man of Steel #18 D.C.
12/92
  1st full appearance of Doomsday.
22. 3,361 X-Men 1 Special Collectors Edition Marvel
10/91
  1st appearance of the Acolytes. Magneto appearance. Double gatefold cover. No ads.
23. 3,208 Batman: Vengeance of Bane Special #1 D.C.
1/93
  Origin & 1st appearance of Bane.
24. 3,082 Amazing Spider-Man #365 Marvel
8/92
  1st appearance of Spider-Man 2099. Gatefold Venom/Carnage poster by Mark Bagley. Hologram cover.
CGC variant confirmed Rare CGC-recognized newsstand Australian Price Variant is confirmed to exist
25. 3,029 Batman #497 D.C.
7/93
  Bane breaks Batman’s back. Newsstand edition exists without black outer cover.
26. 2,987 New Mutants #100 Marvel
4/91
  1st appearance of X-Force. 1st full appearance of Shatterstar. Last issue.
CGC variant confirmed Rare CGC-recognized newsstand Australian Price Variant is confirmed to exist
27. 2,887 Preacher #1 D.C./Vertigo
4/95
  1st full appearance of Jesse Custer, Tulip, Cassidy & Saint of Killers.
28. 2,777 Amazing Spider-Man #375 Marvel
3/93
  Holo-grafx cover. Story ties in with Venom: Lethal Protector #1 John Jameson & Chameleon backup stories.
CGC variant confirmed Rare CGC-recognized newsstand Australian Price Variant is confirmed to exist
29. 2,621 Superman #75 D.C.
1/93
  The “Death” of Superman. Gatefold back cover.
30. 2,523 Amazing Spider-Man #344 Marvel
2/91
  1st app. of Cletus Kasady (Carnage). 1st full appearance of Cardiac (Elias Wirtham). Rhino & Eddie Brock app.
CGC variant confirmed Rare CGC-recognized newsstand Australian Price Variant is confirmed to exist
31. 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.
32. 2,465 Harbinger #1 Valiant
1/92
  1st appearance of Harbinger (Sting, Kris, Zephyr, Flamingo & Torque). Harbinger #0 mail-order coupon included.
33. 2,456 Eternal Warrior #4 Valiant
11/92
  1st appearance of Bloodshot in cameo on last page. 1st appearance of the Immortal Enemy.
34. 2,370 Spider-Man 2099 #1 Marvel
11/92
  Origin Spider-Man 2099 (Miguel O’Hara). Red foil cover.
35. 2,344 John Byrne’s Next Men #21 Dark Horse
12/93
  1st full color appearance of Hellboy. “Faith” storyline part 3 of 4
36. 2,268 Batman: Harley Quinn #nn D.C.
1999
  Origin & 1st appearance of Harley Quinn in DC Universe continuity.
37. 2,098 Amazing Spider-Man #328 Marvel
1/90
  Hulk & Sebastian Shaw appearance.
38. 2,023 Deadpool #1 Marvel
1/97
  1st appearance of T-Ray & Blind Al. Sasquatch, Zoe Culloden & Noah DuBois appearance. Wraparound cover.
39. 1,811 Uncanny X-Men #268 Marvel
9/90
  Captain America & Black Widow appearance.
40. 1,773 Darkhawk #1 Marvel
3/91
  Origin & 1st appearance of Darkhawk (Chris Powell). Hobgoblin appearance.
41. 1,750 X-Force #1 Marvel
8/91
  Wraparound cover. Poly-bag removed. Direct Editions exist with “Positive” and “Negative” UPC codes.
CGC variant confirmed Rare CGC-recognized newsstand Australian Price Variant is confirmed to exist
42. 1,717 Spider-Man 1 Platinum Edition Marvel
8/90
  Lizard appearance.
43. 1,717 Batman Adventures: Mad Love #nn D.C.
2/94
  Origin of Harley Quinn out of D.C. continuity.
44. 1,694 Incredible Hulk #377 Marvel
1/91
  Doc Samson & Ringmaster appearance. Direct Sales have “Tiger Electronics” insert included.
CGC variant confirmed Rare CGC-recognized newsstand Australian Price Variant is confirmed to exist
45. 1,687 Uncanny X-Men #283 Marvel
12/91
  1st full appearance of Bishop, Malcolm & Randall.
46. 1,653 Iron Man #282 Marvel
7/92
  1st full appearance of War Machine. Nick Fury appearance.
CGC variant confirmed Rare CGC-recognized newsstand Australian Price Variant is confirmed to exist
47. 1,646 Spider-Man #13 Marvel
8/91
  Spider-Man #1 (8/90) cover homage. Morbius appearance.
48. 1,637 X-O Manowar #1 Valiant
2/92
  Origin & 1st app. of X-O Manowar (Aric Dacia). 1st appearance of Ken Clarkson & Lydia (Spider Alien).
49. 1,592 Venom: Lethal Protector #4 Marvel
5/93
  1st appearance of Scream (Donna Diego). Spider-Man appearance.
50. 1,556 Spawn #2 Image
6/92
  1st appearance of the Violator. Spawn pin-up by Rick Leonardi.
51. 1,509 Superman 75 Poly-Bagged Edition D.C.
1/93
  The “Death” of Superman. Gatefold back cover. Poly-bag removed.
52. 1,456 Incredible Hulk #449 Marvel
1/97
  1st appearance of the Thunderbolts (Citizen V, Meteorite, Techno, MACH-1, Songbird & Atlas).
53. 1,449 Witchblade #1 Image/Top Cow
11/95
  Sara Pezzini acquires Witchblade. Wraparound cover.
54. 1,444 Silver Surfer v3 #44 Marvel
12/90
  1st appearance of the Infinity Gauntlet. Thanos & Drax app. Direct Editions include “Tiger Electronics” insert.
55. 1,429 Uncanny X-Men #281 Marvel
10/91
  1st appearance of Trevor Fitzroy. New X-Men team. Wraparound cover.
56. 1,350 New Mutants 87 Second Printing Marvel
3/90
  1st appearance of Cable, Stryfe & the Mutant Liberation Front.
57. 1,303 Marvel Super-Heroes v2 #8 Marvel
1/92
  Winter Special. 1st app of Squirrel Girl X-Men, Iron Man & Namor stories. 5 pages of pin-ups by Jim Starlin.
58. 1,289 Bloodshot #1 Valiant
2/93
  Chromium cover. Bloodshot poster by Barry Windsor-Smith included.
59. 1,265 Amazing Spider-Man #360 Marvel
3/92
  1st appearance of Carnage in cameo. Cardiac appearance.
CGC variant confirmed Rare CGC-recognized newsstand Australian Price Variant is confirmed to exist
60. 1,257 Infinity War #1 Marvel
6/92
  Gatefold wraparound cover.
61. 1,232 Solar, Man of the Atom #10 Valiant
6/92
  16 page Solar insert by Jim Shooter, Barry Windsor-Smith & Bob Layton. Black embossed cover.
62. 1,222 Infinity Gauntlet #2 Marvel
8/91
  Jim Starlin story. George Perez & Joe Rubinstein art. George Perez cover.
63. 1,220 Infinity Gauntlet #4 Marvel
10/91
  Jim Starlin story. Ron Lim & George Perez art. George Perez cover.
64. 1,218 Venom: Lethal Protector 1 Gold Edition Marvel
2/93
  Gold holo-grafx foil cover. Venom pin-up by Mark Bagley & Al Milgrom on back cover.
65. 1,189 Ghost Rider v2 #1 Marvel
5/90
  1st appearance Dan Ketch as Ghost Rider. 1st appearance of Deathwatch. Kingpin appearance.
66. 1,168 Infinity Gauntlet #3 Marvel
9/91
  Jim Starlin story. George Perez & Joe Rubinstein art. George Perez cover.
67. 1,131 Amazing Spider-Man 361 Second Printing Marvel
4/92
  1st full appearance of Carnage (Cletus Kasady). Silver metallic ink cover.
68. 1,113 Spider-Man 1 Poly-Bagged Silver Edition Marvel
8/90
  Lizard appearance. Poly-bag removed.
69. 1,074 Marvel Comics Presents #72 Marvel
1991
  Wraparound cover. Origin of Wolverine. Weapon X, Shanna, Daredevil & Red Wolf stories. Jackson Guice back cover art.
70. 1,057 Simpsons Comics #1 Bongo Group
1993
  Pull-out poster. Flipbook. $1.95 edition does not include poster. Forward by Matt Groening.
71. 1,022 Thanos Quest #1 Marvel
1990
  In-Betweener, Champion, Gardener & Death appearance. Wraparound cover.
72. 1,010 Magnus Robot Fighter #1 Valiant
5/91
  Trading cards included.
73. 997 X-Men #5 Marvel
2/92
  1st appearance of Maverick (Christoph Nord). Omega Red appearance.
CGC variant confirmed Rare CGC-recognized newsstand Australian Price Variant is confirmed to exist
74. 996 Infinity Gauntlet #6 Marvel
12/91
  Jim Starlin story. Ron Lim & Joe Rubinstein art. Ron Lim & George Perez cover.
75. 993 Guardians of the Galaxy #1 Marvel
6/90
  1st appearance of Taserface.
76. 973 Silver Surfer v3 #50 Marvel
6/91
  Origin of the Silver Surfer retold. Thanos appearance. Embossed silver foil cover.
CGC variant confirmed Rare CGC-recognized newsstand Australian Price Variant is confirmed to exist
77. 963 Harbinger 0 Pink Variant Valiant
1992
  Mail-away.
78. 962 Bloodshot #6 Valiant
7/93
  1st appearance of Colin King (Ninjak), Cinder & Glyder.
79. 959 Infinity Gauntlet #5 Marvel
11/91
  Jim Starlin story. Ron Lim & Joe Rubinstein art. Ron Lim & George Perez cover.
80. 938 Green Lantern v3 #48 D.C.
1/94
  1st appearance of Kyle Rayner. Emerald Twilight Part 1
81. 934 Solar, Man of the Atom #1 Valiant
9/91
  1st appearance of Solar (Doctor Phil Seleski). 8 page insert by Barry Windsor-Smith.
82. 922 Wolverine #50 Marvel
1/92
  Wolverine’s partial origin retold. X-Men (Professor X, Cyclops, Jean Grey, Forge & Jubilee) app.
83. 922 Wolverine #75 Marvel
11/93
  Wraparound cover w/ Wolverine hologram. Direct editions contain 8pg “Siege of Darkness” & “Kaybee Toystore” insert.
84. 911 WildC.A.T.S. #1 Image
8/92
  1st appearance of the WildC.A.T.S. Trading card insert included. Forward by Jim Lee. 1st Wildstorm title.
CGC variant confirmed Rare CGC-recognized newsstand variant is confirmed to exist
85. 911 Shadowman #1 Valiant
5/92
  Origin & 1st full appearance of Shadowman (Jack Boniface). 1st appearance of Samedi.
86. 908 Amazing Spider-Man 400 Die-Cut Cover Marvel
4/95
  “Death” of Aunt May. Embossed wraparound cover.
87. 903 Spawn-Batman #nn Image
5/94
  Frank Miller story. Todd McFarlane cover & art.
CGC variant confirmed Rare CGC-recognized newsstand variant is confirmed to exist
88. 902 Amazing Spider-Man #345 Marvel
3/91
  Cletus Kasady, Venom, Cardiac, Boomerang & Silver Sable appearance.
CGC variant confirmed Rare CGC-recognized newsstand Australian Price Variant is confirmed to exist
89. 889 San Diego Comic-Con Comics #2 Dark Horse
8/93
  1st appearance of Hellboy. Danger Unlimited & Monkey Man & O’Brien preview. 1993 SDCC promotional.
90. 882 Batman Beyond #1 D.C.
3/99
  1st comic book appearance of Terry McGinnis.
91. 879 Spider-Man 1 Poly-Bagged Edition Marvel
8/90
  Lizard appearance. Poly-bag removed.
92. 873 Spawn 1 Black & White Edition Image
9/97
  Todd McFarlane story, cover & art.
93. 862 Spawn #4 Image
9/92
  Image Comics #0 coupon included. Pin-up by Dave Sim.
CGC variant confirmed Rare CGC-recognized newsstand variant is confirmed to exist
94. 858 Batman: Sword of Azrael #1 D.C.
10/92
  1st appearance of Azrael (Jean-Paul Valley Jr). Wraparound gatefold cover.
95. 851 What If… #105 Marvel
2/98
  Origin & 1st appearance of Spider-Girl (May “Mayday” Parker). Normie Osborn becomes the new Green Goblin.
96. 843 Spawn #8 Image
2/93
  Billy Kincaid & Vindicator appearance. Spider-Man #1 (8/90) cover homage. Spawn poster by Frank Miller.
CGC variant confirmed Rare CGC-recognized newsstand variant is confirmed to exist
97. 818 Pitt #1 Image
1/93
  1st appearance of Pitt. Pitt pin-ups by Sam Kieth & Jim Somerville.
CGC variant confirmed Rare CGC-recognized newsstand variant is confirmed to exist
98. 817 Venom: Lethal Protector #5 Marvel
6/93
  Spider-Man & Scream appearance. 1st appearance of Phage, Lasher, Riot & Agony.
CGC variant confirmed Rare CGC-recognized newsstand Australian Price Variant is confirmed to exist
99. 816 Solar, Man of the Atom #3 Valiant
11/91
  10 page insert by Barry Windsor-Smith. 1st appearance of Toyo Harada & Thumper. 1st mention of the Harbinger Foundation.
100. 806 X-Men #25 Marvel
10/93
  Magneto removes Wolverine’s adamantium. Nick Fury, Mr. Fantastic & Thing cameo. Wraparound cover with Gambit hologram.
 « The 1980’s  The 2000’s » 

More Important Comic Books Of The 1990s:

Separate top 100 lists for each individual year in the decade:

Key Comic Books From 1990
Key Comic Books From 1991
Key Comic Books From 1992
Key Comic Books From 1993
Key Comic Books From 1994
Key Comic Books From 1995
Key Comic Books From 1996
Key Comic Books From 1997
Key Comic Books From 1998
Key Comic Books From 1999