Mike Zeck has been in comics a very long time, and before we had computer-assisted artwork, he could design a cover that would just blow you away. The form and sense of action and movement were incredible during the 1980’s and 1990’s. He helped create some of the best stories and covers of that era of comics. One could think of him as a bridge from the Bronze Age to the Modern Age and beyond. His art was so good that it displayed in a gallery in San Francisco, The Cartoon Art Museum for a time. His covers have showcased in Captain America, Secret Wars, X-men, Kraven’s Last Hunt, and G.I. Joe to name a few. Certain of these covers have sold many copies, and they are almost ubiquitous. Because of the love of his cover art, many additional printings were created, not good news for rarity. Is there a Mike Zeck variable that boosts the value of his covers as speculation?
The cover of the Captain America Annual #8 is very collectible and even profitable. Most annuals are big nothing burgers in my experience. But this is the first cover with a Captain America vs. Wolverine fight. These two antagonists are literally opposite divides of the superhero spectrum. Wolverine does whatever it takes to win, he will spill as much blood as possible. Captain America, on the other hand, is a stoic super-hero in the mold of Superman. To paraphrase Cap “do only what is necessary but do not do evil, necessary evil is anathema.” Captain America #8 is a unique, and purposeful story with a truly awesome cover by Mike Zeck.
In my opinion, this collectible cover has merit as an investment or even as a short-term speculation. The current FMV price by grade is (9.8) for $200, (8.5) for $28, and bargain bin (6.0) grade is sold for $9 on average. The mint (9.8) has returned +20.6% not bad for a non-key modern comic. I would stay with the very fine (8.0) which has yielded a respectable +66.7% ROI over the last several years. This book is collectible, has an excellent cover and will most likely increase in price.
Mike Zeck also did some fantastic Punisher limited series covers around the same time as the Captain America Annual #8. We are excluding the apparent keys to see if his cover work draws speculation and potential future returns. The Punisher #2 (limited series) has a fantastic hide-n-seek cover with Punisher about to pounce on the criminal element. It should be noted that Mike Zeck did the pencils, but Phil Zimelman painted over Zeck’s artwork. Still, the result was astonishing, and a must-have comic in 1986.
Is Punisher #2 (limited series) a profitable comic as an investment? Yeah, it safe to say this book has been an above average investment. Current mint condition (9.8) has a value of $180 FMV price range, and a very fine (8.0) is $20 FMV. The GoCollect Analyzer is the real eye-opener here with green returns across the board from +45.3% for (9.8), and grade (9.2) near mint at +64% return. This investment is bulletproof like the Punisher’s body armor; producing returns in an (8.0) grade for an outstanding +89% ROI. Check out the peace sign to the left of Punisher’s head on this cover, trippy dude. Apparently, the five-issue limited series continues to offer good speculation, perhaps in this case a great one. I attribute these profits to the cover and popularity of the character.
Marvel Super-Heroes Secret Wars #1 is perhaps a good example of Mike Zeck’s range on a cover. He managed to fit the X-men, Cap, Avengers, FF, Hulk, Iron Man and even the”Ever-Lovin’ Thing” onto the cover with Spider-Man prominently displayed. This was a 12 issue series, and this first cover is iconic. The Secret Wars #1 set the tone for a bigger event-driven series by Marvel, and later Crisis by DC Comics. The mint (9.8) for this comic book is around $90 FMV price range, not bad for a 38-year-old book. The returns are not as spectacular as the other two covers above. However, (9.0) grade did return 66.8%, and even the mint copy churned out 7.9% which is a good return for the stock market.
Mike Zeck has and will continue to thrill us with his cover creations. His 1980’s style was probably one of the best at the time and my personal favorite for covers. Zeck’s ability to show action and emotion on a cover is exemplary and now apparently sought after and collected. We have demonstrated that his Raw Fury is not to be underestimated as art, or as speculation.