The "Copper Age of Comics" (immediately preceded by the “Bronze Age of Comics”) spans from 1984 to 1991, bookended by Marvel's twelve issue Secret Wars limited series through the launch of the Jim Lee penciled adjectiveless X-Men ongoing series. Soon thereafter – in 1992 – a group of high profile Marvel artists (including Jim Lee) defected to form the creator-owned Image Comics, which marked the commencement of the “Modern Age of Comics,” that stretches until today.
The Copper Age was a very exciting time for both collectors and the comic book industry in general. Now – roughly twenty-five years later – teenagers of the 1980s are in their thirties and forties, and Copper Age nostalgia is really starting to hit...similarly to how comics from the Silver Age became fiercely sought after in the '80s, by (former) teens of the '60s.
• The streamlining of the (then) fifty-year old DC Universe with Crisis on Infinite Earths, which is immediately followed by the essential rebooting of all major DC characters; relaunches or revamps of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, Green Lantern, the Justice League, etc.
• Dark and gritty explorations and dissections of superheroes, with Alan Moore's Watchmen and Frank Miller's Dark Knight.
• The continued rise in popularity of the anti-hero; Batman, the Punisher, Lobo, Wolverine, etc.
• Marvel's aggressive expansion of their X-Men line of titles.
• The popularity of the “Limited Series.”
• Crossover stories and events, sometimes with dozens of tie-ins.
• Introduction of hot new characters, such as Gambit, Cable, and Deadpool.
• Superman's 50th anniversary in 1988, and the mainstream "Batmania" in anticipation of Tim Burton's first Batman film the following year, both of which bring a lot of attention to the comics industry.
• The strong establishment of supernatural titles intended for mature readers, such as Hellblazer and Sandman.
• A mini-era within the Copper Age, a glut of third-tier black and white independent books, that crashes around 1987.
• The emergence of some market share competitive independent publishers thereafter, most notably Dark Horse with their Alien and Predator licenses.
• The rise of Marvel's "rock star" comic artist trio of Todd McFarlane, Rob Liefeld, and Jim Lee.
• The continued growth of the direct market, with comic publishers increasingly supplying comic stores with promotional posters, buttons, previews, giveaways, etc.
• Huge leaps in production value (higher quality paper and printing technology), design, and packaging.
• The beginnings of the usage of variant and enhanced covers.
• The emergence of the “collector / speculator.”
If you're looking to buy Copper Age back issues, we encourage you to first support your local comic shop. To find a retailer in your area, use the Comic Shop Locator.
To purchase back issues online, we highly recommend MyComicShop.com. In addition to great pricing and free shipping for orders over $50, their easy to navigate site can get quite addictive; you'll not only find what you're looking for, but you'll also stumble across tons of great titles you probably never even heard of! Be sure to sign-up for their weekly newsletter, which includes discount codes.
Of course, there's also eBay. Yes, there's some great deals to be had there, but try to avoid being caught up in bidding wars...you may end up paying more than you should! If you're inexperienced in buying on eBay, listening to this podcast will be very helpful.
Hey, though we personally love collecting the "real deal" original back issues, we totally understand those who prefer trade paperbacks and / or hardcovers. Please visit your local comic shop or our Amazon aStore for the best in Copper Age Comic collections!
We hope the following sites and resources are helpful to you, whether you're a current collector who is now getting into Copper Age Comics, or you used to be a collector, and now getting hit with nostalgia!
• Very Fine / Near Mint is our nostalgia blog, mostly focused on Copper Age Comics, though it also looks back at related pop-culture from the 1984 to 1991 era. Currently on long hiatus, but we assure you, will be making a triumphant comeback!
• NewMutants98.com is an ultra-niche one-page site, that dares to challenge the inflated prices collectors are currently paying for the first appearance of Deadpool.
• Sean Howe’s excellent Marvel Comics: The Untold Story includes significant behind-the-scenes chapters on what went down at Marvel during the Copper Age!
• Are you just now getting into comic book collecting? Visit Comic Book Back Issues and More, for recommendations of where to shop online!