When Ghost Rider 15, with its glow-in-the-dark cover, hit the shelves in the summer of 1991 collectors clamored to buy it. With a flaming close-up of Ghost Rider expertly drawn by Mark Texeria, it would have sold without the glowing cover. Add some light adsorbing phosphors to the cover and it had to go to another printing. That epic issue was the first glow-in-the-dark comic book, launching a new type of variant cover. It would be a few months before another publisher gave collectors another glow-in-the-dark cover. In October 1991, Continuity Comics published CyberRad #5 with a Neal Adams-drawn cover. In 1992 DC and Image would add glow-in-the-dark covers to their portfolio with the Spectre #1 and Shadowhawk #3 respectively.
From Ghost Rider 15 in 1991 until the end of 1999 30 books were published with glowing covers. As the fad faded into darkness, glow-in-the-dark covers were much less common for the next 18 years. Then in 2018, comic book publishers remembered the 90’s fad and brought back glowing comic books. From there the frequency picked up and now more glow-in-the-dark covers are published yearly than in any year during the 90’s.
To give you some perspective, more glow-in-the-dark covers have been made in the last 4 years (42 comics) than in the previous 25 years!
DC recently published a book, Poison Ivy 14, with a “bioluminescent UV-reactive glow-in-the-dark cover”. I’ve been to a bioluminescent bay in Puerto Rico where you interact with organisms that emit light under the right conditions. Bioluminescence is from living organisms like bacteria, fireflies, or fungi, so is DC saying this book has living organisms in it? I’m confident that they used the word bioluminescent to sound unique or to tie back to Poison Ivy, not using the word in a technical sense.
Here is the list of Glow in the Dark Comic Book Covers
As a comic book collector do you think that Poison Ivy cover is the future or is it jumping the shark? For this specific example, it’s tricky because Jessica Fong’s artwork is amazing, funky, and interesting.
In general, it’s difficult to dismiss glow-in-the-dark covers as another variant. For the horror genre glow-in-the-dark covers work really well to add to the creepiness. Some artists have used phosphor ink to focus your attention on something or reveal something previously unseen. Additionally, there are people who collect glow-in-the-dark items from mugs to toys to comics who will always buy these items. Finally, there are iconic glow-in-the-dark covers like
Venom: The Enemy Within 1,
Ghost Rider 15,
Stranger Things 1,
Superman 123 or
All of those reasons raise glow-in-the-dark comic book covers above the ordinary variant cover.