In this column, Mark Ginocchio (from Chasing Amazing) takes a look at the gimmick covers from the 1990s and gives his take on whether the comic in question was just a gimmick or whether the comic within the gimmick cover was good. Hence “Gimmick or Good?” Here is an archive of all the comics featured so far. We continue with 1995’s die-cut embossed “tombstone” cover of Amazing Spider-Man #400…
Amazing Spider-Man #400 (published April 1995) – script by J.M. DeMatteis, pencils by Mark Bagley, inks by Larry Mahlstedt
In an attempt to piggy-back on the enormous cultural and commercial success and impact of Amazing Spider-Man’s previous “centennial” issue (ASM #300), Marvel busted out a cavalcade of 1990s gimmicks for ASM #400. The front cover sported an embossed die-cut overlay in the shape of a tombstone, promoting a “death in the family” (Jason Todd was spared this time). And if that was not enough to titillate collectors, Marvel released a very limited edition variant cover with a snow white tombstone rather than the standard gray/off-white edition.
On a personal note, I will always remember how the release of this comic bought out the speculator in me. After kicking myself over the fact that my 7-year-old self destroyed the copy of ASM #300 I had picked up on the spinner rack when it first came out (forcing me to have to pay upwards of 30 times the cover price for a copy at a comic book show in the early 90s so I could own the first Venom story), I reserved TWO copies of ASM #400 at my local comic book shop months in advance: one for reading and one to preserve for the day it would inevitably accrue in value. I was ecstatic when the store owner called my house the night before the comic was released letting me know I could come by and get my copy AHEAD of everyone else. When I saw that tombstone on the cover, I was convinced that my college education would be paid for in no time.