24 May 2014

Pack of the Day 70: Opening a Hobby Box of 2013 Rittenhouse Women of Marvel: Series 2

Captain Marvel, Dagger, Firestar, Invisible Woman

I had the itch to bust some comic book cards open, and Rittenhouse's Women of Marvel: Series 2 was the box I chose. Originally I had planned to buy a box of their Marvel Universe set from this year, but I went with the 2013 Women of Marvel box because I didn't really care for the design of the Marvel Universe cards. If I do decide to do something with that set I will probably just grab a base set from an online seller.

Mystique, Rogue, She-Hulk, Storm

There are 90 base cards in the set, and I got a full set from the box with probably a dozen doubles. The artwork is pretty decent, although a lot of it may not be original to the cards. In these two scans I believe I recognize at least Captain Marvel, Invisible Woman, and Mystique as coming from portions of published comic book covers. I don't read or look at every comic book out there, but I am sure many of the other cards similarly reuse art from another source. While I find that a little disappointing, that is sort of the direction these sets seem to be moving in these days. I am not even sure how big the non-sports card market is. Companies keep putting out sets, so there must be some money in it for them.

Mystique, Rogue, She-Hulk, Storm

Rittenhouse did at least go to the trouble of sourcing a different piece of artwork for the portrait on the back of most cards, along with the usual name, first appearance, and artist credits. They also include a Little Known Fact about each character. Some of them are pretty interesting, and others seem a bit sexist. Be warned, the following image is intended as comedy, but it may be offensive to some viewers. I especially am not sure what Hulk is doing there.

It kind of makes me want to post this picture that artist Kevin Bolk created in response to an Avengers movie poster that featured all of the male characters in heroic poses while Black Widow was in the classic sideways spine-twisted boobs 'n butt pose that is reserved for female comic book characters. He switched it up and gave the men 'sexy' poses while posing Black Widow heroically. Here is the original image that sparked the parody:

I like to think that as far as fandom goes, I choose my favorite female characters based on the same qualifications as my favorite male characters; a compelling backstory and a cool power set. 

Blink, Crystal, Gamora, Karima

These blue foil parallels (Sapphire) are the most common level of parallel. I got eight of them in the box. Unfortunately, none of these blue parallels feature characters that interest me much at all. I guess Blink and Crystal are probably the best of the bunch with Crystal being affiliated with the Inhumans, who interact quite closely with my favorite comic book team, the Fantastic Four. Blink I honestly know mostly from her game piece in the Heroclix miniatures game, which I collected quite heavily in the early 2000's before I became disillusioned with it.

Miss Sinister, Phyla-Vell, Siryn, Spectrum
Siryn also fits in as a member of one of my favorite teams, X-Factor. Miss Sinister is an example of a female character that is pretty much copied directly from a popular male character, I guess because morphing off of a known property is easier than coming up with a new concept. I think that the times when it works out are when the character brings something new to the idea, such as She-Hulk retaining her intelligence when transformed, something that I don't think had been explored with the regular Hulk character at that point.

I am not 100% sure, but this Ultimate Heroes set appears to cross sets and years, although I don't know if the design changes over time or anything like that. But I know that at least one of the cards is featured as a redemption on the Rittenhouse website. The redemption points are earned by mailing in packs of cards with point values marked on them. I guess Black Widow is an okay pull, but she's not my favorite Marvel hero by a long shot.

I believe these green foil (Emerald) parallels are packed out at one per box. They are serially-numbered to 100 copies, with my Karma card here being # 47 / 100. In addition to these and the unnumbered blue parallels, there are also Diamond parallels packed out at one per case which have a print run of 10 copies each. I don't know much about Karma as a character. She's not exactly a marquee name.

Each box also contains one of these Women of Marvel Framed cards, which copy an incentive cover that Marvel put out a while ago with a similar design. The 'frame' is just a U-shaped die-cut attachment stuck to the front of the card. I got one of the better characters in the set, Rogue, who is one of my wife's favorite characters.

And because girls like that romance stuff, we have the Embrace insert, which features famous couplings that have occurred in the pages of the comics.

Not to worry, young Fred Savage. This part will be over soon. 

It looks like there are 18 cards in the set, but the numbering is odd, so this set might be another one that carries over across various releases. Oh good! Maybe I can pull some more of these from other boxes of Rittenhouse product!

This Artifex set is printed on a faux-artist's canvas and all features art from the same person. I can't say that the art style is my favorite, but I did manage to pull what are probably my two favorite female Marvel characters, Invisible Woman and She-Hulk.

On the back of the cards, artist Rhiannon Owens describes the roles she had in mind while creating the artwork. I guess it's a decent look into the mind of the artist as they compose a piece.

And finally, what is the big draw in these non-sports products, a sketch card! In this case I got a Captain Marvel created by Felipe Alves. This is a pretty good one and features a character who is pretty high on my list of favorites. She's got a pretty decent series out being written by Kelly Sue DeConnick. I think she also makes some regular appearances in some of the Avengers titles, although I can't be sure as I don't read many of them.

I don't know if I would bust a bunch more of this product, but it was a nice diversion from my regularly-scheduled activities. I like comic books and I like comic book trading cards, but opening and collecting non-sports cards feels different than opening and collecting sports cards. I guess maybe there is just a disconnect that comes with the fact that these are fictional characters.

It also kind of sucks when a company can't commission new artwork for each card in the base set. It's like Topps reusing the same player photos from set to set and across seasons on baseball cards. I believe Cryptozoic used new art for their recent sets featuring DC characters, and that makes it feel like you're getting more bang for your buck, with pictures that you haven't already seen 100 times on the internet and on your comic book covers.

I'll probably keep buying comic book cards from time to time when I feel the itch. Some of my earliest cards were from the 1990-1993 Marvel Universe sets from Impel and Skybox. I believe there was also a set that came out in 1994, but for whatever reason I don't have any feelings toward that set. Maybe by that time I had fully transitioned to being crazy about basketball cards. Today's comic book cards don't quite measure up to those cards with all their power ratings, detailed biographies, and win-loss calculations, but the sketch cards are a nice touch that the old sets were missing.

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