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COMIC BOOK NEWS

October is loaded with sharp-looking titles and major plot developments, but Superman's stealing the spotlight.

It's the beginning of the end for the Man of Steel in Superman: Man of Steel No. 18 (DC), the book scheduled to kick off the multipart Doomsday story line that will eventually leave the character "dead."

In the new story line, Superman battles a juggernaut named Doomsday. The story will continue until Superman No. 75, scheduled to hit stands around Nov. 17.

The tale continues this month in Superman No. 74, Adventures of Superman No. 497 and Justice League of America No. 69 (all DC).

A plethora of interesting Halloween-oriented titles will also garner its share of attention this month, including Bram Stoker's Dracula _ the movie adaptation by Topps.

Topps, a trading card company first and foremost, is entering the comic book business with the adaptation. With the tremendous interest in vampires in literature the last few years, Dracula could be a very in-demand product. Topps will also produce a series of sharp Bram Stoker's Dracula wax packs trading cards this month, available only through comic book outlets.

Other Halloween-related titles include: Deadman: Exorcism No. 1 (of 2), Spectre No. 1 (both DC), and Necroscope (Malibu).

Star Wars: Dark Empire (Dark Horse) ends its six-part tale this month.

Happy, happy! Joy, joy! Ren and Stimpy fans can now catch the pair in comic book form. Ren and Stimpy No. 1 (Marvel) promises the same zany humor as fans have enjoyed on TV, plus two free "air foulers." The air foulers _ sort of anti-air fresheners _ are supposed to have the scent of "Wet Chihuahua" and "Litter Box."

Just getting under way: Robin III: Cry of the Huntress No. 1 (DC) with its innovative "moving cover" design . . . The world of 2099 gets its latest addition in Ravage No. 1 (Marvel) . . . Predator vs. Magnus: Robot Fighter (Valiant/Dark Horse) . . . Death's Head No. 1 and Digitek (Marvel) . . . and Whilce Portacio'sWetworks (Image).

Elsewhere this month: Johnny Storm's skrull wife returns in Fantastic Four No. 371 (Marvel) . . . Hulk battles for control of The Pantheon in Incredible

Hulk No. 400 (Marvel) . . . Earth is destroyed (!!!) in Legion of Super Heroes No. 38 (DC) . . . Punisher is possessed by Venom in What if . . .? No. 44 and X-Men: The X-Tinction Agenda is coming out in trade paperback format (both Marvel).

To what depths will an independent comic book company go to sell a book? This month, John Wayne Gacy, the killer of 33 boys and young men, will be the focus in Psycho Killers No. 8 (Comic Zone Productions). The book has his "unauthorized biography" and _ are you ready for this? _ a self-portrait of the serial killer on the cover. Since being put behind bars, Gacy has taken up painting as a hobby and drawn himself as "Pogo the Clown" _ an alter ego he adopted when he entertained at children's parties before his capture.

TRADING CARD NEWS

Tampa Bay Lightning fans can get into the hockey spirit with the always collectible Topps 1992 Stadium Club Hockey Series I Wax Packs and Upper Deck 1992-93 NHL Hockey Cards Foil Packs.

Basketball fans can watch for the sharp-looking 1992-93 NBA Hoops Series I. Limited edition cards of Magic Johnson and Patrick Ewing cards (gold foil stamped, UV-coated) should be sought after _ and a limited number of these babies are personally autographed! Randomly inserted, you know the drill.

Football fans should check out NFL Gameday _ The 1992 Introduction Foil Packs. The set includes 500 oversized player cards (2{-by-4} inches).

Specialty card sets to look out for include: Pin-Up Girls Collectible Trading Cards by Vargas (21st Century Archives) and the aforementioned Bram Stoker's Dracula (Topps) card set.

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