1997 Fleer Spider-Man Pre-Priced (Introduction)

In their first three years after being acquired and merged by Marvel, trading card company Fleer (subsequently Fleer/Skybox) produced three great Spider-Man sets with increasing quality and variety — 1994 Fleer Amazing Spider-Man, 1995 Fleer Ultra Spider-Man, and the smaller but wonderfully designed 1996 Fleer/Skybox Spider-Man Premium: Eternal Evil.

In 1997 (clearly working on the "more is better" principle which defined the comic world of the 1990's) Fleer/Skybox produced three Spider-Man trading card sets, of which this "99c Pre-Priced" set was by far the cheapest and simplest. This set consisted of just 50 plain cards including a checklist. No chase sets at all.

Art work seems to have been gathered together from various random comic book pencil sources, and then broad-stroke air-brushed with single-color backgrounds. No artists are credited. None of yer fancy custom-commission, big-name painted art work here, matey! Even the packs were cheap cellophane instead of fancy foil. These look more like some cheap Chinese knock-off than something out of Fleer.

As an adult collector, it's hard not to feel that this is a huge step backwards from the sophisticated custom-designed and carefully-curated mega-sets that preceded it. But considering the 99c price on these packs, it's clear that this bright, simple, kid-friendly, and super-cheap set was clearly aimed at a nine-year-old's pocket money, not at an adult's credit card.

Now, this is where things get really weird. Each pack contained five (5) of the Spider-Man cards from this set, but then also contained three (3) cards from the 1995 Marvel OverPower collectible card-game. There's no obvious reason for doing this. OverPower was a relatively complex (and expensive) game, and I see no clear overlap with this set. My guess is that Fleer OverPrinted on OverPower, and they figured that this was a better option than burning the spares. Who knows?

Note: I think it was just the basic cards from the original Marvel OverPower set that were bundled. I confess that I pulled all the OverPower cards out and just merged them into my OverPower collection without making any notes.

But putting aside the childish simplicity and lack of originality from this cheap-ass set, the most annoying thing about this product is the fact that I bought a whole box (48 packs, 240 Spidey cards) and managed to acquire only 40 out of the 50 cards in the set!