Bronze Age: Cracking Slabs

by Norman Robinson III

122860_c5e8a6bd7053c6f10ce6e89f0fe6c92b8bfc01e9-200x300 Bronze Age: Cracking SlabsCracking slabs, in my opinion, is for the pro’s among us who do comic book speculation full time. However, it can’t hurt to keep your eyes open online and grab the occasional “low hanging fruit.” What am I  talking about? Every once in awhile I come across a CGC Signature Series that could be cracked open at CGC; potentially further pressed and deep cleaned. Then presumbably you would have CGC regrade it. Now I have done this with my own comics, with pressers and cleaners creating some outstanding looking books. There is such a huge difference in one or two grades for a key book that you could be looking at increased value of $300 or more, oftentimes more.  I am going to use my Green Lantern #85 with grade of 8.0 and Signature Series by CGC (Neal Adams) as an example. We will look at potential gains in the value of this book after the cleaning, pressing and regrading has been completed. Is there value in cracking slabs?





vn4AV9TS_0307171651151gpadd-205x300 Bronze Age: Cracking SlabsGreen Lantern #85

This is the issue Speedy revealed to be a drug addict issue. Intended as an anti-drug story it did not pass the Comic Code Authority but was printed anyways. It was created by Denny O’Neil with John Broome (script) and Neal Adams with Gil Kane (art). “The front cover has Roy (Speedy) Harper preparing to shoot heroin in front of a shocked Green Arrow.” Further this action by DC Comics was “considered a watershed moment in the depiction of mature themes in DC Comics” (Source: Wiki Snow Birds Don’t Fly). First, before we get into cracking and pressing let’s verify this book is profitable, is it?


  • Grade 9.6 $525 last sale 1-3-20 returns positive +15%
  • Grade 8.0 $102 last sale 11-16-19 returns positive +9.8%
  • Grade 6.5 $115 last sale 5-6-17 returns positive +48%

So now, we can answer in the affirmative, yep this puppy is profitable. The Green Lantern #85 cracking operation is a go!


The first thing we have to do is review the book to confirm there are opportunities to improve. I will break that down into four parts: dirt, bends in the book without breaking color, front corners, and back corners. You presumbably would look at a whole lot more than this but these are the “low hanging fruit.”



back-page-dirt-and-corners-corrected-225x300 Bronze Age: Cracking SlabsDirty Little Comic

If there are clear signs of dirt, that can be cleaned by a professional pressing operation. The level of detail depends on the amount of gunk on your comic book. Remember, comics were and still are a handheld joy. Often while reading your favorite comic book your grimy hands would embed oil and dirt onto the back cover and even the front cover. Take a look at the example to the left, and with a slight blow up of the top rear of Green Lantern #85, you can see little micro specs of dirt. If it was given an 8.0 and was this filthy; then a cleaning could raise it a half grade or higher.



Non-Color Break folds on the cover

In the above image you can clearly see a non-color break fold in the right corner. This is another great sign, the book can be pressed and the folds flattened out,as long as there is no color break. I counted three folds on the back cover and three on the front cover that could add signficantly to the grade, figure at least another half-point but probably more.




front-of-comic-with-correction-225x300 Bronze Age: Cracking SlabsAll Four Corners (Back and Front)

In reviewing the corners I found the following: 3 corners on the front would benefit from pressing, 3 corners on the back would also benefit. Let’s block it as another 1/2 grade upwards. The book has a strong signature and a very bright cover. From our findings, I believe the comic could receive a grade 9.2 or posibly in a stretch 9.4. Also, the book is a little wavy which could certainly push it higher after a pressing.



The last sale for Green Lantern #85 at grade 9.4 was in February of 2020 was for $286. Considering I paid $175 for a grade 8.0 it is not a sure bet on improving this comic enough to cover the costs of cleaning, pressing, regrading and shipping to CGC. I am going to send the book as a buy and hold long-term. I am curious to see the results. Besides this is a big event book in comics and Neal Adams signatures are not cheap. Especially on a key like this. Wish me luck! Hopefully I won’t have withdrawals like poor Speedy from my CGC results.


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