Captain Marvel: Gold and Bronze

by Blaise Tassone

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We’ve known since 2014 that Dwayne Johnson’s been cast to play the anti-Captain Marvel: Black Adam. If ‘Shazam!’ is successful, it will serve as a great promotional opportunity for the upcoming ‘Black Adam’ film.

The catch, of course, is that Black Adam isn’t the main villain in the upcoming ‘Shazam!’ movie. That leaves the question of who the main villain in ‘Shazam!’ will be? This, as we know, is Dr. Sivana (who will be played by Mark Strong). I think it’s fitting that Sivana is the first foe Captain Marvel fights.

Having Billy Batson take on Sivana first is more true to the original Fawcett comic adventures. Moreover, Black Adam will almost certainly also fight Captain Marvel at some point. But since the original appearances of both Sivana and Adam are so expensive, those wanting to own their respective keys will have to jump to the Bronze Age.

Whiz Comics #1 (February 1940) – First Appearance of Dr. Sivana

The world’s mightiest mortal premiered in Whiz Comics #1 (or #2 as listed on the indicia, there’s no number on the cover). Captain Marvel was launched as a deliberate attempt to capitalize on Superman’s popularity. This, in and of itself, wasn’t that surprising as it happened quite frequently in the Golden Age. What is surprising was how successful Captain Marvel became. At one point, he was actually outselling the Man of Steel. That might have been the reason Fawcett Comics got a cease and desist order from DC and had to stop publishing Captain Marvel stories. One area that may have decided the courts in DC’s favor was the parallel between each character’s main-antagonist. Where Superman had Lex Luther, a brilliant bald evil scientist; Captain Marvel had to contend with Doctor Thaddeus Bodog Sivana: bald genius and inventor, just like Luther. In fact, the only major departure of Sivana from Luther was his ability to detect hidden magic through his left eye. Both Captain Marvel and Sivana first appear in this comic and it’s a Golden Age classic with a current FMV of hundreds of thousands in high grade. A 0.5 sold in November of 2017 for $20, 000.00. What’s a poor collector to do?

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Shazam! #1 (February 1973) – First Captain Marvel in DC Comics; First appearance since Golden Age; First Sivana Family in DC Comics

In the 1970s DC finally made use of the Captain Marvel characters they had since acquired from Fawcett. Since Marvel Comics had already taken the name, DC had to publish under the title Shazam! This is the first DC comic featuring Billy Batson and the Marvel Family, as well as the entire Sivana family. To explain Captain Marvel’s absence, this comic recounts how Doctor Sivana and the Sivana Family had trapped the Marvels in something called a sphere of Suspendium. This comic was itself seemingly trapped in the same sphere regarding values. That is, until news of the ‘Shazam!’ movie was leaked in 2014. Prices then started to spike. Since the original appearance of Sivana is way too expensive to own, you might consider picking this comic up instead. It’s already spiked fairly hard, but with 2, 358 copies on the census, sometimes deals can be found. The numbers on this are also very good. In the last 30 days, there have been no less than 43 sales. The majority of these have been certified 9.6 grade, the last of which was on Jan 19, 2019 and sold for $400.00, giving 9.6 copies a positive + 7.9% return over just the last month. The last 9.8 sold on January 9, 2019 for $875.00. Both of these latest sales are above the FMV average for these grades which currently stand at $300.00 for 9.6 and $850.00 for 9.8.

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Marvel Family #1 (December 1945) – First Appearance & Origin of Black Adam

Sivana may have been the main villain in the Captain Marvel comics, but in terms of menace, Black Adam was probably his most feared. Thousands of years old, Adam was originally an Egyptian prince also given powers by the wizard Shazam. Since he has powers similar to Captain Marvel he’s often viewed as the Anti-Captain Marvel. In the comics, he has fought with Superman and other DC heroes, but his first appearance is in this book. The lowest grade of this comic will cost you over $1000.00. In 9.4 grade (the highest known graded copy of the currently 110 found on the CGC census), this book can sell for a staggering $36,000.00. So while the very first appearance of Black Adam is a Captain Marvel Key, most people will choose to seek out its Bronze Age counterpart.

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Shazam! #28 (March 1977) – First Appearance of Black Adam since the Golden Age

The first Black Adam in DC appears in this comic. Just as in the case of the original Whiz Comics appearance of Sivana, this is an affordable way to obtain a Black Adam key. Unfortunately ‘affordable’ is relative as this comic has been gaining in price over the last few years. So, with a FMV of over $1, 300.00 in certified 9.8 grade, it would be more accurate to say ‘affordable in lower grade’. With only 458 copies on the census, this comic in certified 9.8 sells for $1,350.00 (almost twice the price of Shazam! #1 in the same grade). An 8.5 grade, however, can be had for around $240.00. Looking at sales over the last month: a certified 8.5 sold on eBay on December 26, 2018 for $249.00 (very slightly up), followed by the sale of a 6.0 which sold on December 29, 2018 for $150.00 (current FMV) and finally an 8.0 sold on January 13, 2019 for $166.05 (far below FMV for that grade). Look for deals now, because if ‘Shazam!’ is a hit, and Dwayne Johnson pulls off a popular Black Adam, this book could really take off.

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