If, like me, you collect both DC and Marvel comics, you might have noticed the value of Marvel Silver Age comics going up, up, and away with only some DC key Silver Age books (the usual suspects: Showcase #4 and 22, Brave and the Bold #28, Batman #181, etc.) keeping pace. There are, I believe, various reasons for why this is happening.
Mainly, I think it has to do with how badly Warner Brothers has handled the representation of DC heroes in their major cinematic projects. While not unwatchable, too many of the DC movies have been either: mediocre, disjointed or, worst of all, untrue to the spirit of the heroes they portray. Marvel movies, by contrast, even if some of the more recent releases are starting to feel a bit formulaic, have converted the spirit of the Marvel heroes faithfully to the big screen.
The result is many of the MCU movies are not only eminently watchable but positively radiate with a buoyant energy that even makes re-watching fun.
For long term collectors, however, there might be something like a silver lining (emphasis on the Silver) to current DC woes.
The prices of some iconic DC Silver Age keys are now lower than they would otherwise be, and so it might be worthwhile to pick some of them up now while the prices remain low. Let’s face it, just because the DC properties have been badly handled recently, doesn’t mean that they will be in the future. The mainstays of the DC Universe (the ‘trinity’ of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman) have been appearing in various media for eighty years now. They certainly aren’t going anywhere.
So which DC Silver Age comics are currently a good buy? When it comes to DC, with its long history, we have not a universe but a multiverse of stories to sift through. From an investment perspective however, I would focus on the following:
This is a major DC Silver Age key featuring the first appearance of the Legion of Super-heroes, and it’s been hovering on the low end in terms of price. While by no means cheap, compare it to comparable books and see how it punches far below its weight. Let’s put the significance of Adventure #247 into perspective. It is the first Silver Age appearance of a major DC team. The Legion are perhaps ignored today, but as a team they’ve been around longer than the JLA and their first appearance is as significant as any of the first appearances of the DC Silver Age. In terms of its publication date, it falls exactly between Showcase #4 (from September 1956) and Brave and the Bold #28 (from February 1960). Yet compare the prices on these three in high grade [Showcase #4 in 9.0 = $195,000.00; BB #28 in 9.0 = $62,000.00; AC #247 in 9.0 = $32,000.00] and what you get is a significantly more affordable mega-key in the Adventure Comics package. Is it crazy to see this reaching BB #28 price levels? I don’t think so. One good movie might do it.
The Flash has many undervalued keys, I blogged about the importance of Flash #137 months ago. The usual suspects in the case of The Flash keys that are doing well are: issue #105 (first Mirror Master), #106 (first Pied Piper and Gorilla Grod), #123 (First Team Up with Jay Garrick, Actualization of the Multiverse idea) and #139 (first Professor Zoom).
There are actually quite a few other early Flash keys that I think are currently undervalued. However if I had to pick only one, it would probably be Flash #117, the first appearance of Captain Boomerang. While the introduction of a major villain alone makes this a key (and the good Captain later played an important role in Suicide Squad, which makes the lower price tag on this all the more surprising), this comic also features the first ever Golden Age Flash appearance in the Silver Age. That makes it the first DC Comic to suggest the ‘multiverse’ (even if the idea is not actually manifested until #123). That means Flash #117 is technically the first mention of ‘Earth Two’. DC is probably still going to go ahead with a ‘Flash’ movie, if they use the multiverse concept or evoke a ‘Flashpoint’ scenario in the plot, this issue should see a price rise. Compare its current performance with another Flash Silver Age key of equal significance: Flash #123. Flash #117 is currently sitting on a deficit of around a 32% difference in value, since a 9.8 certified copy of #123 has a fair market value (speculated to be) around $50,000.00, while #117 is currently sitting at only $34,000.00. In 5.0 certified grade, you can pick up Flash #117 for only $140.00. Flash #123, by contrast, will run you (pun intended) $825.00 at that same grade. That’s around a 17% difference. Conclusion: Flash #117 is undervalued!
Are you sad that you may never own even a low grade copy of Action Comics #1 or Superman #1? Well, there’s a Silver Age Superman key that is currently quite undervalued, and it also just so happens to be a number one. I’m talking about Superman Annual #1. This comic is currently sitting at a 7.0 certified graded price of around $300.00. In fact, high grade copies of the only 132 recorded on the CGC census are quite scarce. Only three 9.0 copies have been recorded by CGC and the highest recorded grade is only a 9.2. An 8.0 sold for $448.13 (Heritage Auction: Nov. 19, 2010), try finding any other Silver Age Superman key for that price, in that grade. Good Luck! Given that this is actually the first ever Silver Age annual put out by DC, it should be worth a lot more than it is. Assessment: An undervalued key.