Hulk is Hot: Here Are Some Underrated Hulk Keys

by Ryan Kirksey

111721B-300x157 Hulk is Hot: Here Are Some Underrated Hulk KeysHulk is not only about major keys. What are some underrated keys for the Incredible Hulk that have gone somewhat overlooked the past few years? Apart from Hulk #1, Hulk #181, Hulk #377, and others, there are plenty of other keys from which to choose. Let’s dig in and find some underrated Hulk keys. All things Hulk are really heating up lately. Due to the news of the Immortal Hulk run ending, the new She-Hulk show coming next year, and rumors of a new World War Hulk standalone movie on the horizon, everyone’s green-skinned, purple-panted hero is seeing a resurgence. Many of Hulk’s major keys (like the first six issues) are already in the stratosphere and out of most of our price ranges. What about the underrated keys, though?

Fantastic Four #12 and Fantastic Four #25

Now, I didn’t say CHEAP keys, just underrated keys. I know we are at least a couple years away from this, but it will be hard to overestimate just how cinematically amazing it will be if we get to see Hulk vs. Thing on the big screen. To me, there is a ff12-202x300 Hulk is Hot: Here Are Some Underrated Hulk Keysvery short list of characters you have to pair with the Fantastic Four at some point during their MCU tenure: Hulk, Dr. Doom, Silver Surfer, and Galactus. That’s the Mount Rushmore of FF characters.

Fantastic Four #12 and Fantastic Four #25 have just about reached iconic status as the first two times the Hulk and Fantastic Four cross paths. FF#12 has the added bonus of being the first time a Marvel character crossed over into another title. Both have desirable covers and lay the groundwork for how Marvel would do “versus” books in the years to come.

FF #12 is certainly the more expensive of the two, and even with more than 1,500 copies on the CGC census, higher grades of 8.0 and above all go for north of $6,000. The most recent high-grade copy was a CGC 9.0 sold in July for $16,200.  These are mostly unicorns, so looking in the mid-to-low range is more reasonable. A CGC 5.0 copy sold in September on eBay for just under $2,000 when it was $900 in April of 2020. I personally own a CGC 2.5 copy of FF#12, which just recently crossed the fair market value (FMV) mark of $1,000 (it was $300 pre-pandemic).

For an actual battle cover, FF #25 is the way to invest. You can presently go all the way up to CGC 7.5 without crossing the $1,000 mark, but it’s getting close. A copy in that grade sold for $903 in October. The mid-range might be a place to invest here. Despite selling for $250-$300 in mid-2020, a 5.0 graded book now will top $600 and it’s still climbing.

Incredible Hulk Annual #2

The “origin” of the Hulk is very complex and often convoluted. When Marvel first released the six initial issues of Hulk, it seems they couldn’t exactly agree on what Hulk was or what he could do. Was he grey or green? Could Banner control whenhulkann2-202x300 Hulk is Hot: Here Are Some Underrated Hulk Keys Hulk came out or not? Would it only happen at night?

Once Hulk gained popularity again through the Tales to Astonish series and was given his own book again beginning in 1968 with Incredible Hulk #102, Marvel decided to retell the Origin story as a canon piece with Incredible Hulk Annual #2 in 1969. Maybe it ain’t Incredible Hulk #1 or #2, but this super-affordable book is a way to get the real Hulk story from the tail end of the Silver Age for pennies on the dollar.

Just $250 for a CGC 9.8 back in March of this year. The biggest problem for this book is availability as only 150 are listed on the CGC census. There are several graded copies up for purchase on eBay right now, but all of them look overpriced. Wait for an auction on these.

Incredible Hulk #177

Hey, maybe you heard some news recently about Adam Warlock? Despite what you feel about the casting, Warlock is about to enter the MCU in a big way, which brings all of his major storylines into play. Incredible Hulk #177 is the “death” of Adam Warlock after a classic battle between the two.

Hulk already has some juice as a cosmic character in the MCU. The whole Planet Hulk storyline played out in Thor: Love and Thunder. Last we saw Bruce Banner in the MCU, he was debating the Ten Rings with Captain Marvel at the end of Shang Chi. hulk-177-195x300 Hulk is Hot: Here Are Some Underrated Hulk KeysOnce Guardians of the Galaxy give us some Warlock exposure, these two are destined to meet.

Here’s another book with only about 150 copies on the CGC census, and another one whose highest grade sold this year was right at $250. A 9.6 copy went back in January, so I’m sure there has been some inflating since then, but even the 9.8 that sold about a year ago went for less than $1,000. The 9.4 grade is the most populated on the census and the last one sold in that grade was just $150.

Incredible Hulk #272

Avengers: Endgame introduced us to a version of the Hulk we had not seen before. A conscious, intelligent version instead of the brute-force version we had only seen before. We are all familiar with Professor Hulk from Incredible Hulk #377, but nine years before that we had Incredible Hulk #272: what Marvel referred to as Intelligent Hulk.

In this issue, Bruce Banner intentionally turns himself into Hulk, instead of the natural reaction to some external stimuli readers were familiar with. We are getting intelligent/professor Hulk moving forward in the MCU, no matter what. The precedence has been set, and it remains to be seen if they revert back to the monster. If not, the idea of an “intelligent” Hulkhulk272-195x300 Hulk is Hot: Here Are Some Underrated Hulk Keys might take hold for the long-term in the MCU.

Only 138 on the CGC census here, as we develop a theme of books that people may not think are worthy of slabbing. That could change, it could not, but if you want one already encased, you may have to look. The hunt will be worth it, however. The last CGC 9.8 sold for $120 earlier this year. Do yourself a favor and pull the trigger on one if you ever see it.

Hulk #4 and Hulk # 4 Variant

Beyond just an incredible double cover that pairs together, this book could have some long-shot MCU implications.

We know General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross has been making the rounds again in MCU properties, namely showing up in Black Widow to help hunt Natasha Romanoff. Ross, of course, had his first MCU appearance in the Edward Norton-led Hulk movie, and his fingerprints have been all over the universe since then.

Hulk #4 from 2008 features the first time Bruce Banner as Green Hulk battles Thunderbolt Ross as Red Hulk. Comic readers will remember from Hulk #1 earlier that year, that Ross takes up the mantle of Red Hulk and murders Abomination. Is it too much of a stretch to think that Ross doesn’t feel Abomination is doing enough to track Hulk and takes matters into his own hands, injecting himself with a version of super serum?

These books only cost a few bucks, or at least they did a year ago. CGC 9.8 copies of the red cover sold for $53 copies on eBay in 2020. One CGC copy of the green cover sold in August of this year for $72. There seem to be fewer than 100 of these 9.8s out there right now, so if you’re holding onto a mint copy, it might be worth submitting for grading.

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What Else From Hulk Might Turn Green?

With a character as old and established as Hulk, there are dozens of potential keys out there. Many of them have been inflated based on rumors over the past year. Still, there are still many in the affordable range.

Where are you investing if you buy Hulk books? Saving up for the big guys or looking at the smaller keys?

Let me know your Hulk plans in the comments!

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Oak November 21, 2021 - 4:35 pm

I’ve always thought The Incredible Hulk: Future Imperfect #1 is underrated because of Maestro. I’d be surprised if the MCU doesn’t address that version of Hulk sooner or later. Some say Incredible Hulk #401 is actually Maestro’s first cameo appearance, but I found no evidence that Future Imperfect shipped later than #401.

Mark November 22, 2021 - 2:42 pm

I’ll do you one better. Check out the cover of Marvel Age 118. Does that silhouette on the left look familiar. Cover date Nov 1992.

John November 22, 2021 - 2:45 pm

Great choice, I agree! Future imperfect is very undervalued. CGC lists it as Maestros first appearance and that’s good enough for me.

VooDooMaestro November 28, 2021 - 2:10 am

I think a hugely underrated Hulk key is Tales to Astonish #62. The first appearance of the Leader. He’s always been a major Hulk villain. I think it’s only time before they bring him back into the fold.

Taneleer Tivan November 21, 2021 - 11:07 pm

One of my favorite goofy dollar issues – why did I even buy this? I don’t even like Hulk! – is Hulk 162, the first appearance of Wendigo.


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