It was the early 1990s and superhero trading cards were becoming a big deal. Cards were no longer coming in wax wrappers like in the days of old, but sealed cellophane packs now. Then in 1992 Skybox rolled out a series of cards that would change the game forever: Marvel Masterpieces.
The series consisted of 100 base cards (last one being the checklist) of Marvel’s mightiest heroes and villains, all painted by the legendary Joe Jusko. In addition, there were another 5 Spectra-Etched bonus cards which depicted battles between Marvel’s mightiest rivals. Jusko, known for his highly detailed and realistic paintings, created something that is still talked about by collectors to this day.
In 2014 it was announced that Jusko would be returning to the property that revolutionized the trading card industry. Though, the project would take longer to complete than the classic set from ’92. On April 8th, 2016 Jusko announced on Twitter that the 135 paintings which will make up the new trading cards were now done.
Today I had a chance to chat with Jusko at the East Coast Comic Con (ECCC) in New Jersey and also get an exclusive sneak peek at the completed masterpieces, which I viewed on his cell phone. I was blown away but what I saw and can confirm for you the wait will have been worth it in the end! When I told him these paintings looked like they would be even better than the first series, he concurred and credited that to having more time on the new series. “I did the first series of 100 cards in three and a half months” Jusko said. The lack of time meant smaller paintings that had to be done quicker, which is why Jusko always wanted to return to Masterpieces, to have more time to do it bigger and better.
The new series will be released by Upper Deck hopefully in the next few months. And while Jusko did not seem privy to exact dates, he did say the paintings were “currently in production.” But until the new series is released, fans still come and see Jusko at conventions with the original cards from ’92, which he is always happy to sign.
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