Why has Incredible Hulk #181 always been a key Bronze Age book, while Wolverine’s (controversial) first appearance/first cameo, Incredible Hulk #180, has lagged behind? The cover of course! Let’s take a look at first cover appearances and why they matter. Or don’t! With the introduction of CGC and other third-party grading organizations, the comic book cover has been just as important, if not more important, than the contents of the book. It seems that the comic book community can’t fully make up their mind when it comes to first appearances and values. The shining example is the controversial Incredible Hulk #180 vs #181. For sake of conversation, let’s take a look at a few other examples as it relates to first interior appearance vs first cover appearance.
Doctor Strange’s First Cover Appearance
Everyone has seen the meteoric rise of Strange Tales #110, which is the first appearance of Doctor Strange in the Marvel Comic Book Universe. There is no debating that. However, I find it fascinating when a character’s first appearance is so far distanced from their actual cover appearance, as in this case. While Strange Tales #110 is the first interior appearance of Doctor Strange, he isn’t seen on the cover of Strange Tales until issue #118 (8 issues later!) which features him on the bottom. When it comes to price comparison, Strange Tales #110 in 9.2 CGC has a fair market value of $33,000. A 9.2 graded copy of Strange Tales #118 has a fair market value of $850. These numbers aren’t even in the same universe!
It’s easy to see why a Tales of Suspense #39 in 9.2 goes for $74,000 when you have a now-iconic character like Iron Man in his first appearance front and center on the cover. The same could be said for Superman on Action Comics #1 and on and on. My point is, when you have a first appearance of a character and they also appear on the cover, it’s a no-brainer why they rise in value.
When Will Cover Appearances Appreciate?
All of this information begs this question. When will these cover appearance issues that don’t correlate with first appearances start to rise in value? I would say that two things need to coincide for these books to really start to rise in value.
- The comic book collecting community which really holds the power when it comes to pricing. (If Reddit and GameStop have taught us anything.) They need to agree on a first cover appearance for a character.
- Third-Party graders need to start including first cover appearances on their notes. To my knowledge, most don’t yet.
If these two things happen, I believe you will start to see these books rise tremendously in value. Think about this for a second. If you are a collector, do you want to pay $33,000 for a book with Paste-Pot Pete on the cover? Or would you rather spend $850 for the first cover appearance of Doctor Strange? One that you actually get to see on display? With the advent of CGC and other grading companies, the option to flip open your key book is no longer there. You are left with the front and back covers in terms of display.
I am a fan of displaying my key books, mostly for my own satisfaction, how about you?
Check out the latest products in the GoCollect Swag Store!