Here are the 1994 JC Penney Marvel "Vintage Pack" reprints. These are 2nd printings of Marvel comics from the 50's-70's. There are a total of 15 different comics in the set. Here they are in alphabetical order-
Amazing Fantasy #13
Amazing Spider-Man Special #5
Captain America #109
Fantastic Four #66 and #67
Incredible Hulk #140
Sgt. Fury #13
Thor Special #2
Tomb of Dracula #25
Uncanny X-Men #28, #62 and #63
Young Men #25
These comics were only available through the 1994 JC Penney Christmas Catalog (exact page reproduced below) and originally cost $14.99 plus shipping. The description in the catalog entry is wrong, however, since it states that the comics printed are from 1970-1990 yet the earliest comic in the set is originally from 1954 (Young Men) and the latest from 1974 (Tomb of Dracula).
The front covers of these comics look exactly like the originals but once you open the comic there are many ways to differentiate these from the originals. First of all except for Young Men #25, which has all the original inside ads, the rest have ads from 1994. All of these reprints do share the same ads on the inside and back covers although Sgt. Fury #13 has a Bic Pen ad on the back cover and the Stridex on on the inside back cover (See the Stridex and Bic Pen back covers above).
Another way to distinquish these from the original is the indicia has "second printing" after the text (see scan above).
I also noticed that three of these issues are actually printed from certain reprint titles in the 70's and not from the original comic although the cover is from the original. Here are the issues and where they are reprinted from-
Fantastic Four #66 reprinted from Marvel's Greatest Comics #49
Sgt. Fury #13 reprinted from Special Marvel Edition#11
Uncanny X-Men #28 reprinted from Uncanny X-Men #76
These can be easily determined by as the references inside are to the reprint titles and not the originals.
Lastly, a lot of these reprints have production defects that makes getting a NM/M set a bit of a challenge. Specifically you will see miscut back and front covers causing "overhand", poorly centered covers and "tilted covers" or those that are rotated so they are not aligned horizontally.
After the 1994 article more research showed that there are in fact two other Marvel Vintage Pack (MVP) sets which precede the 1994 set! There are 1992 and 1993 MVPs with 20 issues in each set. Most of them are much easier to identify from the cover but most are not quite as “vintage” as the 1994 set. They are also IMHO tougher to find than the 1994 MVP set.
I discovered the 1992 MVP set after comparing a few early 90’s issues that had different art in the UPCs from the originals. It finally became clear that these were reprints of some sort. This set was sold through the 1992 Sears Wish book and possibly other catalogs but that is the only one I have actually seen them in (See scan below). The actual set printed is not pictured and in fact the entry is incorrect since quite a few of the issues are from after 1990.
All the issues in the set, with one exception which I will talk about later, have common identifying characteristics. The most obvious tell is that all have a swinging spider-Man in the UPC just like the 30th Anniversary Spidey UPC with the 1962-1992 dates at the top even though none of these issues were originally published after 1991. There is also a blank under the issue number in the price box where the regular edition has the UK price. Secondly, the indicia clearly states “Second Printing” at the end (See sample indicias). Lastly, they all have the same ads from 1992 and back cover which differ from the original printings. The back cover has an X-Men card ad with Wolverine bursting out of it.
As I mentioned above the only issue that is different is the Marvel Milestone Edition: Hulk #1. I bought all twenty issues from the same buyer and he assures me those were all in the same box and there was another set on E-Bay that had the same twenty issues together as a set. This MME Hulk #1 is different from the more common MME Hulk #1 in various ways. First of all the cover is much lighter gray and you can barely make out "Facsimile Edition" in the "M" logo above the price. The interior pages are also newsprint-like paper and not the slick paper of the regualar edition... all of the ads are otherwise identical. The covers of all twenty issues are in the gallery below.
The 1993 MVP set has many similar characteristics to the 1992 set except that some are from older comics that did not have UPCs. If the original issue had a UPC then the 1993 MVP version will have swinging spider-man like the 1992 MVP UPC but with no textin the box. If the issue does not have a UPC then it will have subtle coloring differences on the front cover but the same X-Men Video ad on the back cover as all other 1993 MVPs. As with the 1992 MVPs they all have ads from 1993 and not the ads when originally published. Unlike the 1992 MVPs, however, these are not noted as second printings in the indicia (See sample indicia below).
Three of the 20 issues in this set are Marvel Milestone Editions: ASM #1, X-Men #1 and TOS #39. The MMEs for the 1993 set are also different than the regular MMEs. Like the 1992 MVP Hulk MME all the interior pages are newprint-like paper and not slick paper. All of them also have much darker grayish covers unlike the regular MMEs which have more of a slivery cover. The ASM MVP MME has no outline aroung the "M" logo on the top left and the TOS MVP MME has the familiar swinging spider-man in the UPC on the back cover instead of an Iron Man face. The X-Men MVP MME also has page numbers on bottom of all the interior pages unlike the regular edition.
I found the original ad for this set in the 1993 JC Penney catalog and although many of the comics in the actual set are pictured-not all are the actual editions included. Again, this may have been available through Sears or some other outlets but this was the only one I could verify (See scan). This set was pieced together by me after some exhaustive research and the same issues were in a set sold by a seller on E-Bay who still had them in the box they originally came in. Although there are no big key issues in the set-the most popular comic seems to be the ASM #330 due to the abundance of Spider-Man completists. Several of them have been sold for premium prices over the past year. All issues can be seen in the 1993 MVP gallery below.
If you have any questions, please feel free to post them on the STLComics Forum.