With James Gunn and Peter Safran relaunching the DCU and prepping a new slate of films to reintroduce characters, now is the time to consider adding some DC comics to your collection – before anything is announced and prices rapidly rise. Let’s take a look at The Atom.
The Incredible Shrinking Man
Ray Palmer, the Atom, made his first appearance in Showcase #34. While Al Pratt was the Golden Age Atom, Palmer’s power set is completely different from his. Thus, Palmer should be viewed as a completely unique character. If anything, Palmer’s closest ancestor would actually be Doll Man, published by Quality Comics.
Additionally, his debut in Showcase #34, cover dated September 1961, precedes the first appearance of Hank Pym in Tales to Astonish #27 by a few months.
There are 890 graded copies of Showcase #34 in the CGC census. While that may seem low for the debut of a Silver Age character – for comparison’s sake, there are 1,202 graded copies of Tales to Astonish #27 – it’s roughly equivalent to the 837 graded copies of The Brave and the Bold #34, the first Silver Age appearance of Ray’s good friend Hawkman.
It’s been eight years or more since copies in the top two grades – 9.4 and 9.2 – have sold, so we’ll have to dig a little lower to see if there are any pricing trends.
In the 9.0 grade, sales are nothing but up for this book. A 9.0 graded copy sold on November 28 for a slashed $14,995, up roughly 25% from a sale in the September 12 Heritage auction for $10,800. We see a similar trend in the 6.0 grade – $810 sale in June 2022, $1,150 sale in December, $1,385 eBay fixed price sale on January 7.
We’re seeing some evidence as well of trickle-down effects into the lower grades. Showcase #34 is clearly on the upswing despite the downward trends in the market.
Mighty Mite’s First Issue
Like many Silver Age DC heroes who got their starts in anthology series, the Atom would star in a couple more issues – Showcase #35 and Showcase #36 – before receiving his own series. There are 651 graded copies of The Atom #1 in the CGC census, an issue that also marks the first appearance of Plant-Master, a villain who would later become the Floronic Man. Recent sales have been all over the place – up in some grades, down in others.
The sale of a 9.2 graded copy in the September ComicConnect auction for $3,450 was down 15% from the $4,080 sale in the June Heritage auction. However, a 6.5 graded copy sold in the September ComicConnect auction for $299 only to rise 44% to $432 in the November Heritage auction.
Atom Joins the JLA
The Atom joined DC’s greatest superhero team in Justice League of America #14. There are 231 graded copies in the CGC census, and values are definitely rising. An 8.0 graded copy sold in a January 9 fixed price eBay sale for $279, up $40 from a $239 sale a week earlier, and both higher than the $204 sale in the September Heritage auction.
A 7.0 graded copy sold in the December Heritage auction for $134, up 41% from a February 2022 sale in an eBay auction.
The Atom, unfortunately, doesn’t have many memorable foes. His arch-nemesis would have to be Chronos, who first appeared in The Atom #3. There are 94 graded copies in the CGC census, less a function of rarity and more of desirability.
In general, you should be able to find copies below the 7.5 grade for less than $100, while grades between 8.0 and 9.0 typically sell in the $300 to $400 range. There haven’t been any recent sales in the 9.2 or 9.4 grades, and there are no graded copies above 9.4.
Copper Age Atom
The Atom was scarcely utilized by DC in the Copper Age outside of the JLA. The lone exception is Sword of the Atom, a 1983 mini-series with the Atom shrinking down into a barbarian type sword and sorcery world. To be frank, it would be silly to purchase a graded copy of Sword of the Atom #1.
There are so many copies to be found in dollar bins at any comic shop or show; it would be cheaper to buy one of these and send it in for grading if you want one.