Sunday, August 17, 2014

My First Full Cryptozoic Set: DC Comics The Women Of Legends Is Unfortunately Erratic!

The Good: Interesting concept, Some genuinely nice artwork, Some wonderful/creative bonus cards
The Bad: Overproduced, Some dull chase cards, Some ridiculously simplistic sketch cards.
The Basics: Cryptozoic’s The Women Of Legends card set is a decent concept for a trading card set, though it is executed in an underwhelming way for card collectors and (especially) fans of DC Comics.

The last month of my life has been a wonderful turnaround for me. I went from working a terrible job that I absolutely loathed, that underpaid me and undervalued me and worked me to the bone to completely revitalizing my business as a trading card dealer. It has been a wonderful change for my family and I and it has left me in a place to take advantage of a number of great deals that appear before me. One of the deals I was able to enjoy as a result of having more investment capital was the 2013 Cryptozoic release for DC Comics, known as The Women Of Legend trading cards. I was excited about the Women Of Legend trading cards because – for me – it represented the ability to branch out beyond the Star Trek cards I have long collected and sold. While I have had a few random packs of Cryptozoic cards cross my path before now, the Women Of Legend set was the first Cryptozoic product that I have broken down by the case. Sadly, it was a less incredible experience than I hoped it would be as a fan of the DC Comics universe.

Basics/ Set Composition

The DC Comics The Women Of Legend trading cards were originally released in boxes with twenty-four packs, packs containing five cards each. Properly assembled, the Women Of Legend consists of 240 cards! Featuring cards that span the recent DC Universe and the New 52 Universe, the Women Of Legend card set is written (mostly) as a New-52 Universe set that focuses on the Women of the DC Universe. Properly assembled, the set features sixty-three common cards and 177 bonus cards (all but three are available in the boxes of Women Of Legend cards).

Common Cards

The Women Of Legend is a 63 card set that features both the most popular women of the DC Comics Universe and the significant team-ups between those characters. The common set has an introductory card with the most recognizable women of DC (Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Catwoman, etc.) in their “New 52” renderings, 46 cards featuring significant women from the DC Universe, 15 cards that feature significant pairings of those heroines and one checklist card.

The common cards are an unfortunate mixed bag. The artwork varies between incredible renderings, like the title card and the nightmarish painting of Harley Quinn (card 17) and cards that have ridiculous, cartoon versions of the characters (like cards 18 and 19, of Terra and Hawkgirl). While the Women Of Legend set is all oriented in the portrait form for all 63 cards, the quality and subjects vary incredible amounts. There is a cartoonish version of Saturn Girl, an obscure heroine from the Legion Of Super-Heroes (set centuries outside the primary DC Universe), but no card for Silver Swan (a popular villain instantly familiar to fans of Wonder Woman, like me!).

The writing for the Women Of Legend set is good-enough. Fans of the DC Universe will not learn anything new or extraordinary by reading the backs of the cards, though they are clearly intended for fans of the New 52 (Wonder Woman, for example, is mentioned to be the daughter of Hippolyta and Zeus). The card backs are interesting for telling more casual fans about the obscure heroines and the team-ups they might not be familiar with, but they do not feature any incredible spoilers for recent stories or information that is not particularly revealing.

Chase Cards

The Women Of Legend set features more bonus cards than common cards, which is not at all uncommon for contemporary trading card sets. The Women Of Legend set features 177 chase cards which range from simple foil parallel cards to significantly rare sketch cards (each of which are entirely unique). In the packs, collectors can find 174 of the 177 bonus cards. The chase card breakdown is thus: 63 foil parallel cards, 9 Gail’s Picks, 9 Katie Cook Sticker cards, 3 Totally Fabricated, 89 sketch and 1 Redemption cards. The most basic chase card set found in the packs are the foil parallel cards. The parallel cards replicate the common cards, but with mirrored accents. Some of the cards are extraordinary for how the foil enhances the image of the character the card portrays. The backs of the foil parallel cards are identical to the common cards, so when going through the packs, one has to look at the front of each card. It takes about a case to assemble a complete set of 63 foil parallel cards.

Found two cards per box are the Gail’s Pick and Katie Cook sticker cards, each of which is part of a nine-card bonus card set. The artwork for both sets is unique to that chase set and the writing for the Gail’s Picks set is a little more extensive than for the common cards. The Gail’s Picks cards are a foil-enhanced bonus card set that focuses on the women and female teams that writer Gail Simone most likes. The set features characters she wrote for – Wonder Woman, Black Canary, the Huntress – as well as others she just seems to like (Supergirl and Lois Lane, apparently). The writing on those cards does not provide much in the way of insights from Simone, which is unfortunate. Gail Simone could have written that backs of the cards and told people why she loved the different characters, but Cryptozoic did not go that far with the bonus card set. Similarly, the Katie Cook sticker set (which, honestly, I have not been able to peel apart to discover if they actually are stickers) features no insightful writing, though they all have artwork from artist Katie Cook. The artwork is simplified and cartoonish, like Katie Cook did a “Muppet Babies” version of the DC Universe heroines.

The Totally Fabricated cards are a “hit or miss” concept card for fans of the DC Universe heroines. Costume cards are immensely popular trading cards these days and as the subjects of the Women Of Legend set are comic book characters, there would seem to be no costume cards that could be produced for the set. Cryptozoic did not let that stop them. Instead, they produced the “Totally Fabricated” bonus cards and the Women Of Legends set has three such cards in the boxes and packs. Found one in every 175 packs, the Women Of Legends set features admittedly fake fabric swatches (not really) from the costumes of Catwoman, Wonder Woman and Supergirl. I think the Totally Fabricated cards are a neat idea and they are executed incredibly well. Cryptozoic, to its credit, did not overproduce the Totally Fabricated cards and only did them for the very most popular characters in the DC universe.

In addition to the Totally Fabricated cards, there is an exceptionally rare redemption card for a piece of Wonder Woman’s invisible plane. After almost a year, only seven of the existing twenty-five redemption cards have been redeemed, which suggests either many are still out there or DC Comics fans, like Star Trek card collectors, consider the redemption card a legitimate part of the set.

The Women Of Legend set is fleshed out with eighty-nine sketch cards of women of the DC Universe. The sketch cards are produced by eighty-nine different artists and each one is absolutely unique, so assembling a master set requires one to track down one from each of the eighty-nine artists Cryptozoic hired for the project. The quality of the sketch cards, like the common cards, varies greatly between fine-art quality colored sketches and cartoonish, animated versions of the significant DC Comics heroines.

Non-Box/Pack Cards

No matter how many packs or boxes of Women Of Legend cards one opens, there are three cards collectors will never find there. Non-Sports Update Magazine released a promotional card for the Women Of Legend set. Similarly, the actual card for the fragment of Wonder Woman’s Invisible Jet (which might just be an empty costume card, a high-quality image of one has not been made available) is only available by redeeming one of the redemption cards. The other card that cannot be found in any of the boxes or packs is the Batgirl Totally Fabricated card. That card is only found in the binders of the Women Of Legends cards. Having only three cards that cannot be found in the cases is actually not bad at all.


I have long decried the use of redemption cards, but the fact that the Women Of Legends set features only one is not bad. The set only holds value for the sketch cards, but Cryptozoic did a decent job of making an interesting set with the Women Of Legends cards. While fans like me would hope for more consistency, Cryptozoic’s erratic effort at least does what it promises which is to highlight the incredible women who make up the DC Comics universe.

This is a set of trading cards I sell in my online store! Please check out my current inventory of these cards at The Women Of Legend Inventory Page!

For other artwork-based trading card sets reviewed by me, please check out:
SkyBox Star Trek Master Series
SkyBox Star Trek 1994 Master Series
Rittenhouse Archives Star Trek The Original Series Portfolio Prints


For other card reviews, please visit my Card Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2014 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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