1997 Fleer Ultra Spider-Man

In a spending frenzy supported by junk bonds, Marvel had acquired Fleer (in 1992) and Skybox (in 1995). For a few brief years, Fleer produced a flurry of ambitious, extravagant Spider-Man trading sets. But Marvel's declaration of bankruptcy in 1996 signaled the beginning of the end.

Clearly in the desperate end-game, Fleer produced three Spider-Man sets in 1997. Two of them (1997 Fleer Spider-Man Pre-Priced and 1997 Fleer Spider-Man Reprint) were clearly just quick money grabs. But this "1997 Fleer Ultra" set was their only attempt at creating a "real" Spider-Man trading card set for the year, and it was to be the last ever Spider-Man set that Fleer/Skybox would produce.

Marvel exited bankruptcy in 1998, and sold Fleer/Skybox in 1999. In 2005, Fleer/Skybox closed up as a going concern, and sold the rights to the name "Fleer" to Upper Deck for a fraction of their peak value. After 120 years, thus sadly ended the world's first successful bubble gum manufacturer.

This set sold as 8 cards per pack, and 24 packs per box. No variant art for pack or boxes. The base set has just 81 base cards, and no chase sets. Each 9-card subset is by an assigned artist (or pair of artists) and features a strikingly different art-style to the other subsets.

The effect of this variety when you open your first pack is a rather off-putting mess of incompatible styles, but when the subsets start to come together, the final result is quite powerful. As well as a common art style, the subsets each share a common theme focused on the comics of the time.

Despite offering no actual "chase sets", Fleer did make a cheap attempt to try and wring an extra fifty bucks out of their target market. Each card was released as a "Blue" and "Red" foil variants (with the blue being slightly less common). The difference is trivial, but addicted collectors like myself will naturally need to acquire a complete set of each color in order to satisfy their OCD. Thanks for nothing, Fleer.

[TODO: Puzzle images to be added once I get my hands on the last few cards].

In a throw-back to the original Spidey card sets, the back of the cards don't have a great deal of text — just a single sentence, the card number, and the artist credits. The remainder of the back is a part-image for a puzzle, and the 81 cards assemble to create a giant color image. There are two images, for the Red and Blue variant card backs.

Finally, there are also some unique hand-drawn "Sketchagraph" cards in this set, inserted with very low rarity indeed (one per box, or less?).

The following artists are known to have contributed sketch cards: Chris Bachalo, Ed Benes, Joe Bennett, Sal Buscema, Steven Butler, Bernard Chang, Gene Colan, Roger Cruz, Shannon Denton, Mike Deodato Jr., Terry Dodson, Steve Epting, Ron Frenz, Tom Grummett, Mark Irwin, Adam Kubert, Andy Kubert, Joe Kubert, Stan Lee, Ron Lim, Bob McLeod, Tom McWeeney, Al Milgrom, Tom Morgan, Carlos Mota, Pat Olliffe, Tom Palmer, John Romita Sr., Luke Ross, Michael Ryan, Alex Saviuk, Bill Sienkiewicz, Joe Sinnott, Steve Skroce, Mike Wieringo, Mike Zeck.

Note: SpiderFan does not track the Sketchagraph cards.

Note: A couple of spelling errors demonstrate the lack of care in this title. Norman Osborn is titled Norman Osborne, and artist Liam Sharp is credited as Liam Sharpe.

  #1 Spider-Man
Red Foil
Spider-Man
Blue Foil
  #2 Fortunato
Red Foil
Spider-Man
Blue Foil
  #3 Crown
Red Foil
Spider-Man
Blue Foil
  #4 Hammerhead
Red Foil
Spider-Man
Blue Foil
  #5 Shang-Chi: Master of Kung Fu
Red Foil
Spider-Man
Blue Foil
  #6 Spider-Man vs. The Sentinels
Red Foil
Spider-Man
Blue Foil
  #7 Spider-Man vs. Morbius
Red Foil
Spider-Man
Blue Foil
  #8 S.H.O.C.
Red Foil
Spider-Man
Blue Foil
  #9 Ben Reilly vs. Green Goblin
Red Foil
Spider-Man
Blue Foil
  #10 Glory Grant vs. The Zombie
Red Foil
One-Shots
Artist: Ewen & Batts
Blue Foil
Image
Missing
  #11 Spider-Man
Red Foil
One-Shots
Artist: Ewen & Batts
Blue Foil
  #12 Carnage
Red Foil
One-Shots
Artist: Ewen & Batts
Blue Foil
  #13 Norman Osborn(e)
Red Foil
One-Shots
Artist: Ewen & Batts
Blue Foil
Image
Missing
  #14 Hobgoblin
Red Foil
One-Shots
Artist: Ewen & Batts
Blue Foil
  #15 Ghost Rider
Red Foil
One-Shots
Artist: Ewen & Batts
Blue Foil
  #16 Spider-Man vs. Carrion
Red Foil
One-Shots
Artist: Ewen & Batts
Blue Foil
  #17 Spider-Man vs. Kaine
Red Foil
One-Shots
Artist: Ewen & Batts
Blue Foil
  #18 Daredevil
Red Foil
One-Shots
Artist: Ewen & Batts
Blue Foil
Image
Missing
  #19 Hawkeye
Red Foil
Untold Tales of Spider-Man
Artist: Joe Kubert
Blue Foil
  #20 Aunt May vs. Dr. Octopus
Red Foil
Untold Tales of Spider-Man
Artist: Joe Kubert
Blue Foil
  #21 Spider-Man
Red Foil
Untold Tales of Spider-Man
Artist: Joe Kubert
Blue Foil
  #22 Bluebird
Red Foil
Untold Tales of Spider-Man
Artist: Joe Kubert
Blue Foil
  #23 Batwing
Red Foil
Untold Tales of Spider-Man
Artist: Joe Kubert
Blue Foil
  #24 Scarecrow
Red Foil
Untold Tales of Spider-Man
Artist: Joe Kubert
Blue Foil
  #25 Radioactive Man
Red Foil
Untold Tales of Spider-Man
Artist: Joe Kubert
Blue Foil
  #26 Spider-Man vs. Scorcher
Red Foil
Untold Tales of Spider-Man
Artist: Joe Kubert
Blue Foil
  #27 Spider-Man vs. Sundown
Red Foil
Untold Tales of Spider-Man
Artist: Joe Kubert
Blue Foil
  #28 Spider-Man vs. Trapster
Red Foil
Sensational Spider-Man
Blue Foil
  #29 Ka-Zar
Red Foil
Sensational Spider-Man
Blue Foil
  #30 Dr. Kafka vs. DK
Red Foil
Sensational Spider-Man
Blue Foil
  #31 Spider-Man
Red Foil
Sensational Spider-Man
Blue Foil
  #32 Molten Man
Red Foil
Sensational Spider-Man
Blue Foil
  #33 Black Cat
Red Foil
Sensational Spider-Man
Blue Foil
  #34 Prowler
Red Foil
Sensational Spider-Man
Blue Foil
Image
Missing
  #35 Swarm
Red Foil
Sensational Spider-Man
Blue Foil
  #36 Spider-Man vs. Vulture
Red Foil
Sensational Spider-Man
Blue Foil
  #37 Spider-Man vs. Electro
Red Foil
Amazing Spider-Man
Artist: Joe Queseda
Blue Foil
  #38 Spider-Man vs. Dr. Octopus
Red Foil
Amazing Spider-Man
Artist: Joe Queseda
Blue Foil
  #39 X-Man
Red Foil
Amazing Spider-Man
Artist: Joe Queseda
Blue Foil
  #40 Joe Robertson vs. Dragonfly
Red Foil
Amazing Spider-Man
Artist: Joe Queseda
Blue Foil
Image
Missing
  #41 Spider-Man
Red Foil
Amazing Spider-Man
Artist: Joe Queseda
Blue Foil
  #42 Carolyn Trainer
Red Foil
Amazing Spider-Man
Artist: Joe Queseda
Blue Foil
  #43 Delilah
Red Foil
Amazing Spider-Man
Artist: Joe Queseda
Blue Foil
  #44 Elektra
Red Foil
Amazing Spider-Man
Artist: Joe Queseda
Blue Foil
  #45 Rose
Red Foil
Amazing Spider-Man
Artist: Joe Queseda
Blue Foil
Image
Missing
  #46 Generation X
Red Foil
Spider-Man Team-Up
Artist: Liam Sharp
Blue Foil
  #47 Thunderbolts
Red Foil
Spider-Man Team-Up
Artist: Liam Sharp
Blue Foil
  #48 Tombstone
Red Foil
Spider-Man Team-Up
Artist: Liam Sharp
Blue Foil
  #49 Dracula
Red Foil
Spider-Man Team-Up
Artist: Liam Sharp
Blue Foil
  #50 Spider-Man vs. Doom-Bot
Red Foil
Spider-Man Team-Up
Artist: Liam Sharp
Blue Foil
  #51 Spider-Man vs. Hulk
Red Foil
Spider-Man Team-Up
Artist: Liam Sharp
Blue Foil
  #52 Dr. Strange
Red Foil
Spider-Man Team-Up
Artist: Liam Sharp
Blue Foil
  #53 Spider-Man
Red Foil
Spider-Man Team-Up
Artist: Liam Sharp
Blue Foil
  #54 Gwen Stacy
Red Foil
Spider-Man Team-Up
Artist: Liam Sharp
Blue Foil
  #55 Polestar
Red Foil
Spider-Man Unlimited
Blue Foil
  #56 Joystick
Red Foil
Spider-Man Unlimited
Blue Foil
  #57 Spider-Man vs. Puma
Red Foil
Spider-Man Unlimited
Blue Foil
  #58 Spider-Man vs. Raptar
Red Foil
Spider-Man Unlimited
Blue Foil
  #59 Silver Sable
Red Foil
Spider-Man Unlimited
Blue Foil
  #60 Betty Brant vs. Dreadknight
Red Foil
Spider-Man Unlimited
Blue Foil
  #61 Spider-Man
Red Foil
Spider-Man Unlimited
Blue Foil
  #62 Cardiac
Red Foil
Spider-Man Unlimited
Blue Foil
  #63 Rocket Racer
Red Foil
Spider-Man Unlimited
Blue Foil
  #64 Silvermane
Red Foil
Spider-Man Adventures
Blue Foil
  #65 Shocker
Red Foil
Spider-Man Adventures
Blue Foil
  #66 Kingpin
Red Foil
Spider-Man Adventures
Blue Foil
  #67 Spider-Man vs. Venom
Red Foil
Spider-Man Adventures
Blue Foil
  #68 Spider-Man vs. The Enforcers
Red Foil
Spider-Man Adventures
Blue Foil
  #69 X-Men
Red Foil
Spider-Man Adventures
Blue Foil
  #70 J. Jonah Jameson vs. Scorpion
Red Foil
Spider-Man Adventures
Blue Foil
  #71 Spider-Man
Red Foil
Spider-Man Adventures
Blue Foil
  #72 Rhino
Red Foil
Spider-Man Adventures
Blue Foil
  #73 Kraven
Red Foil
Spectacular Spider-Man
Artist: Nelson
Blue Foil
  #74 Spider-Man vs. Legion of Losers
Red Foil
Spectacular Spider-Man
Artist: Nelson
Blue Foil
  #75 Spider-Man vs. Dragon Man
Red Foil
Spectacular Spider-Man
Artist: Nelson
Blue Foil
  #76 Mary Jane vs. Chameleon
Red Foil
Artist: Nelson
Blue Foil
Image
Missing
  #77 Spider-Man
Red Foil
Artist: Nelson
Blue Foil
  #78 Muse
Red Foil
Artist: Nelson
Blue Foil
  #79 Lizard
Red Foil
Artist: Nelson
Blue Foil
  #80 Jack O'Lantern
Red Foil
Artist: Nelson
Blue Foil
  #81 Spider-Man '97 Checklist
Red Foil
Artist: Nelson
Blue Foil