MCU: 5 Multiverse Non-Keys to Spec Now

by Matt Kennedy

073021C-300x157 MCU: 5 Multiverse Non-Keys to Spec NowWandaVision & Loki were the first steps into a multiverse of nearly endless MCU Spec potential. While everyone else chases Kang keys, here are 5 non-keys that are bound to spike.

Namor has been Cast

strange_tales_107-202x300 MCU: 5 Multiverse Non-Keys to Spec NowWhen Tenoch Huerta was confirmed as cast in Black Panther 2, it didn’t take long for everyone from CBR to Screenrant to report that the Mexican actor best known for his role on Narcos would be playing Prince Namor, the Submariner. As a result, all Namor keys have gone nuclear. Fantastic Four #4, the February 1962 first Silver Age appearance of Namor has seen verified sales at double the posted prices from 2020.

The speculated FMV on the next 9.8 to come to market is estimated above one million dollars. Even Sub-Mariner #1 and Iron Man and Sub-Mariner #1 have more than doubled in the last few months, putting them out of reach for most collectors with a 9.8 FMV of about $12K each. While all had previously benefited from an Avengers: Endgame throw-away line about undersea earthquakes off the coast of Africa, and even from a pin in a map of the Atlantic Ocean in Iron Man 2, the impact on pricing from the casting of Huerta has trumped all.

If all of those comics are out of your league, let me steer you toward Strange Tales #107. This March 1963 comic is the fourth Silver Age appearance of Namor and the first outside a Fantastic Four comic. This is not technically a key issue. This is, however, a classic fire-against-water battle. Johnny Storm attempts to test his mettle alone against the lord of the sea. There is a single 9.8 on the census. A 9.6 hasn’t hit the market since 2016. This places them both in steep demand, but FMV on an 8.0 is only about $700. There are only about two dozen 8.0s to be had.

First Solo Covers Matter

Tales-to-Astonish-71-198x300 MCU: 5 Multiverse Non-Keys to Spec Now

1965’s Tales to Astonish #71 was Namor’s 16th appearance in a Marvel comic, following issues of The Fantastic Four, Strange Tales, Avengers, X-Men, Daredevil, and even prior issues of Tales to Astonish, but this is his first solo, heroic cover. There are a total of 106 copies of this across all grades on the census. A single 9.8 exists at an FMV of only $3,400. There are only six 9.6’s (FMV of $1350), and the rest are priced under $1000 by half. This predates Namor’s solo title by two and a half years and is not listed as a key anywhere.

Contrarily, Namor’s crossover into Daredevil #7 five months beforehand also happens to be the first appearance of old horn-head’s classic red costume. Plus, the FMV of a 9.8 is cruising toward half a million bucks. Will we ever see a 9.8 show up?

Strangeways, Here We Come

Strange_tales_122-198x300 MCU: 5 Multiverse Non-Keys to Spec NowMarvel’s 1960s anthology comics have more currently-relevant key issues among them than their solo hero and team book counterparts –and that says a lot. Tales of Suspense and Strange Tales seemingly introduced new characters monthly. That has driven up prices on nearly all Marvel Silver Age significantly. But, there are a few important multiverse non-keys (or at least non-traditional keys) that present great acquisition opportunities.

Strange Tales #110 is the first appearance of Dr. Strange, the Ancient One, Wong, Nightmare, and Dreamstalker. Supremely out of reach for most, in 9.8 it has an estimated FMV of $360K. The good doctor didn’t make it to the cover until he got a slim banner on the bottom of Strange Tales #118 (which also introduced the Orb of Agomotto), but he wouldn’t get a full (and somewhat isolated) cover appearance in-title until Strange Tales #122.

On the rare occasion that it is listed as a key? It is indicated as the third appearance of Nightmare (first appearance out of the shadows), and not as the first full Dr. Strange cover in Strange Tales. That showcases how this is an undervalued comic that really is a key issue. FMV in 9.6 is $2400, and there are only five. There are only ten 9.4s (FMV $1150). There are only thirteen 9.2s, which you should be able to score for under $300. Bonus: It’s got Doctor Doom on the cover, too. Worthy mention: Fantastic Four #27, which is the first full-body (though monochromatic) cover image of Dr. Strange, where he is upstaged in scope (and font size) by the Sub-Mariner and the full Fantastic Four team.

Meeting of the Mages

strange_tales_123-198x300 MCU: 5 Multiverse Non-Keys to Spec NowThe first season of Loki on Disney+ has lain the groundwork for the Multiverse, and the next Doctor Strange film has The Multiverse of Madness in its title. While there is no guarantee that the two will crossover, it’s still worth mentioning that Strange Tales #123 is the historic first meeting of Loki and Dr. Strange. This is another relatively scarce comic on the census with only three 9.8s, nine 9.6s, fourteen 9.4s, and fifteen 9.2s.

The 9.4 is the bargain with an FMV of only $675. This is Loki’s 16th appearance overall, but only his second appearance outside Journey into Mystery (after Avengers #1, and just ahead of Avengers #7). When this is listed as a key, it is usually as the first appearance of The Beetle. It is also sometimes noted as Thor’s first appearance in Strange Tales. This is another clear example of an unrecognized key whose value will drastically change when more info hits the CGC label.

If you follow Kabbalah or study esoteric magick, it may also be worth noting this as Dr. Strange’s thirteenth-ever appearance.

Dormammu Ain’t Done, Son!

DoctorStrange173-199x300 MCU: 5 Multiverse Non-Keys to Spec NowFirst mentioned in Strange Tales #115, then called out by name on the cover of Strange Tales #126 (which contains the first appearance of Clea as well as Dormammu), we wouldn’t see the Dark Dimension ruler’s true form on a comic book cover until Doctor Strange #172. The prior versions of Dormammu (as pictured on the covers of the aforementioned Strange Tales #126, and Strange Tales #127 featuring the debut of the Red Cloak of Levitation, the Eye of Agomotto, and the Mindless Ones) and most especially Strange Tales #146 (Ditko’s final issue on the title) all resemble what we have come to know as Eternity.

The first head-on-fire, as-we-know-him Dormammu cover on Doctor Strange #172 should be much more valuable than it is right now (FMV of $550 in 9.6).

But the wiser spec is the following issue, which gives us a truly classic Dormammu cover by Gene Colan. Doctor Strange #173, with the flaming green face of the primordial chaos god seemingly shrieking over the placid body of the master of the mystic arts just seems to ooze with menace. There are very few truly classic Doctor Strange covers, and this is most certainly one of them.

What do you think? Are these overlooked and undervalued or appropriately under the radar? Let us know in the comments! As always, find what you enjoy collecting, do your research, and have fun!

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6 comments

octoberland August 9, 2021 - 1:55 pm

Mainly props for “study esoteric magick” reference and using the ‘k.’

– Craig Coffman

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Redskydigger August 10, 2021 - 1:04 am

You are dead on Matt, these books will only increase in value.

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Hayden August 16, 2021 - 8:12 am

Isn’t Fantastic Four #27 the first full cover appearance by Doctor Strange? FF27 came out in June of 64, whereas Strange Tales came out in July.

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Matt Kennedy August 24, 2021 - 7:37 pm

Thanks for reading, Hayden! Yes, the FF issue arrived a few weeks earlier but Strange Tales #122 is the first Dr. Strange cover in-title, which is significant. While it is a split cover, Dr. Strange is featured solo and in full color on his half of the split. On the FF cover he is shown in the background of a confrontation between other characters, all of whom get bigger billing by font size. That said, Fantastic Four #27 is also a good investment.

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Nathan August 16, 2021 - 10:50 pm

Can you explain how ST 107 is not a key issue?

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Matt Kennedy August 24, 2021 - 7:13 pm

In a basic sense, it doesn’t have a first appearance or death, and it’s not an origin issue. It’s not unusual within its run in so much as it doesn’t have a photo nor infinity cover, nor is the cover art painted or rendered by someone other than the interior artist. But by the general CGC definition (“An important issue in a comic book title’s run.”) you can make an argument for a lot of books that aren’t necessarily considered Key Issues by many or most. It’s been relatively recently that CGC has started using the term “classic cover” on slab labels (which can be a bit arbitrary), but I think I make the argument here that it really is a Key Issue for the many reason I explain in the post.

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