There’s GOLD in them thar Bronze Age. And when talking about Dark Knight artist Marshall Rogers, there’s a double meaning. Writer Steve Englehart and Marshall Rogers combined on typewriter and Bristol paper to create a new ambiance for Bob Kane’s hero. But the new mirrored the old. In fact, the Bronze Age Batman of 1977 shared many similarities to the 1940’s hero of Bob Kane and Bill Finger. Old villains, pulp fiction monsters, and even a square jaw on Batman reminded readers of an earlier era in Batman lore, the Golden Age. Also, there’s gold in the comics and art of the 1977 Detective Comics team. Get out your prospectin’ helmets, because we’re going to dig up some treasures.
Marshal Rogers 1st Works
Marshall Rogers’ first Batman art appearance debuted in Detective Comics #468. That issue concluded the multi-issue mischief of the Calculator vs. other JLA members in the backup stories of issues 463-467. After Mike Grell and Ernie Chan, Marshall Rogers got his first DC work doing the backup Calculator stories in issues 466-467. These mark Rogers’ first story art, if you like first appearances. GoCollect lists FMV and recent sales for issues 466-468 significantly cheaper than the first Englehart story in Detective Comics #469. Take time to consider on average only 148,000 copies of each Detective Comics issue were published at this time. Could these be scarce in the future?
Next, we’ll see where prices are doubling, tripling, and more.
Bruce Wayne – Do NOT Check-In!
Here’s a tip for superheroes. Do NOT make Hugo Strange your primary care physician. If his name is on the clinic sign, bug out fast! Thanks to Englehart and Rogers, Hugo Strange returned in menacing fashion. He made his modern 1st in Detective Comics #471. Strange holds the distinction of being one of Batman’s earliest foes, a repeat offender, and one of the handful of villains to plague the Dark Knight in Batman 1.
Yes, I signed up for the free 1-week trial of DCUniverseInfinite so I could read Strange’s first terrorist acts in Gotham. He first appeared in Detective Comics #36, but in Batman #1 he bioengineered human monsters from insane criminals. The mad scientist’s M-O proved similar in Englehart’s version, but Marshall Roger’s art created an extremely sinister version of Hugo Strange.
Dark Knight Detective: Englehart and Rogers Style
Detective Comics #471 marks the first big price jump. Deservedly so, as the Englehart and Rogers team brought more than Hugo Strange back to life. The most recent 9.8 sale of the issue raised over $500 with other recent sales around $400. Those prices are much higher than the preceding issues.
The biggest jumps came for Detective Comics #475 and #476. Joker and most everyone he contacted put on their most macabre smile for the Bat in Englehart and Rogers rendition of the character. Recent sales for CGC 9.8’s run $1,200 and $1,000, respectively.
Artist Marshall Rogers Renders the Dark Knight
The comics are not the only place to find gold when it comes to Dark Knight artist Marshall Rogers. Heritage Auctions features a brooding Marshall Rogers Batman in their upcoming International Auction. In 1986, the Golden Age Batman appeared in Secret Origins #6 (1986). The story reunited the artistic team of Marshall Rogers and Terry Austin, though Roy Thomas scripted.
In 2015, the cover of Detective Comics #473 sold for over fifty grand. The splash page from Secret Origins 6 will sell MUCH more modestly. So, a true Rogers Batman fan may want to cash in their no-interest CDs for a crack at obtaining the late artist’s work.
Looking Forward to an Art Auction
Last month I highlighted a rare and exceptional auction piece by Jim Steranko for GoCollect. That double-page splash art from Captain America 113 finished at $159,600. Final price with premium fell in the range, though perhaps slightly lower than I expected. Will Dark Knight artist Marshall Rogers garner the same demand for his Secret Origins splash? Not likely. Rogers doesn’t have the gravitas of a Jim Steranko. The above art also falls after the period (1977) for which Rogers’ Batman art has the most critical acclaim.
When appraising the value of a piece of art, the significance of the subject (Batman) to an artist (Rogers) matters. However, as important, the time period and context of the piece matters as well.
The power and sentiment of the original Detective Comics run plays heavily on a potential buyer’s mind. Works from a later era (here 1986) don’t strike the same chords for desirability. However, the Batman splash from Secret Origins 6 still represents the artist well. As a published work, it blows away any sketch done in a similar style.
I will be surprised if it does as well as the Legends of the Dark Knight #133 cover that sold in June 2021 for $20,400. It may meet or exceed the awesome DC Special Series #15 splash page that was a bargain at $15,600 this last April. But for me personally, the 1978 splash better fits with the original Englehart/Rogers run.
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