(Not so) Secret Returns: The Original 1984 Marvel Super-Heroes Secret Wars

by Blaise Tassone

SecretWars-04-300x169 (Not so) Secret Returns: The Original 1984 Marvel Super-Heroes Secret Wars

Gone are the days when only issue #8 of Secret Wars was worth buying. A few years ago you would regularly find copies of most other issues of Secret Wars in dollar bins. Today there’s no issue from the original run that isn’t worth some money in NM grade.

How high can this series go and which issues are still undervalued?

To start, let’s put Secret Wars in perspective.

Secret Wars was originally published between May 1984 and April 1985. Yes, it was originally commissioned as a marketing campaign. Marvel wanted to sell action figures of their popular heroes with Mattel/Kenner toys. In the world of collectible comics, of course, that doesn’t really mean much – many currently valuable comics started out the same way.

In the case of MSHSW however, the ball got rolling when then-editor Jim Shooter came up with the idea of a story featuring all the Marvel heroes together as a way to promote the action figures. After deciding that a comic book with the words ‘Secret’ and ‘War’ in the title would appeal to the right demographic (i.e. young males), Secret Wars was launched.

Shooter placed Mike Zeck on penciling duties to bring his script to life and Zeck did an excellent job.

Years later, and in hindsight, this title is recognized as one of the first and best crossover mega events. The launch of Secret Wars, in fact, even preceded DC’s original Crisis on Infinite Earths. At the time, there was nothing like it in the comic book publishing industry. Since 1985, these events have become common place, perhaps even overdone; but that shouldn’t take away from the importance of the original Secret Wars.

Okay, but where does the series stand as regards its collectible status?

 

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Currently the series as a whole is rebounding from what is effectively a long-term upwards trend. Remember, there was a time (not too long ago) when a complete set in less than NM condition would have cost under $20.00. Today complete sets of Secret Wars in mid-grade shape can sell for up to $100.00 on eBay. While the big winner of the run, is still Marvel Super-Heroes Secret Wars #8 (December 1984) almost exclusively for its Spider-man/Venom connection (current FMV of a 9.8 = $250.00 and showing excellent and positive long term returns), even issue #8 is currently down in 9.8 grade (negative -14.3% after 82 sales). Nonetheless, I think you’ll be surprised at what other issues in the original run have sold for.

 

 

 

 

 

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Marvel Super-Heroes Secret Wars #1 (May 1984) – First issue in titled series, First Cameo Appearance of the Beyonder

This comic sets up the series, but since it was a crossover event, the story is actually prepared in Amazing Spider-Man #251, Avengers #242, Captain America #292, Fantastic Four #264, Incredible Hulk #294, Iron Man #181 and Uncanny X-Men #180, all of these titles showed the relevant heroes teleported away to ‘Battleworld’. In Secret Wars #1, we learn who was behind the abduction: the Beyonder. That makes this his first appearance, albeit he only appears as a luminescent glow with a voice. Imagine how high the prices on this comic will soar if the Beyonder appears in the MCU? Right now, with no movie connection, the first issue has a FMV of $140.00 in 9.8 grade. Long term trends show mostly positive numbers, especially on higher grades. Over the last three months the trend has been a sharp downward trajectory. The biggest loser over the last 12 weeks being the same 9.8 grades after 22 sales (currently negative -22.6%, last three eBay sales: 07/27/2019 = $110.00; 08/02/2019 = $99.00; and 08/05/2019 = $109.48). Perhaps a good time to buy as this will likely rise again in the future.

 

 

 

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Marvel Super-Heroes Secret Wars #2 (June 1984) – Second issue in titled series

With a FMV of $240.00 for 9.8 copies, issue #2 is the second most valuable issue in the run. Why? Maybe it’s the Magneto cover by Mike Zeck. In any case, a similar pattern regarding value: all positive in the long term (last 15 years) but short term is actually mixed so returns resemble SW #8 more than issue #1. 9.8 copies are down negative -20.6 percent after 8 sales (last eBay sale on 08/02/2019 = $53.00: ouch!), but 9.6 and 9.2 grades are the big winners for this comic over the last 12 weeks. 9.6 is showing positive +151.8% roi after 2 sales (last sale on eBay 08/06/2019 $70.99) and 9.2 is positive + 247.7% after 2 sales (last sale: eBay 07/28/2019 = $39.99). Definitely a good time to buy if you can find a 9.8 for $50.00 or less.

 

 

 

 

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Marvel Super-Heroes Secret Wars #4 (August 1984) – Iconic Hulk Cover

This issue got a boost when the iconic Hulk holding up 150 billion tons of rock cover got an homage nod in a scene in ‘Avengers: Endgame’. As a result, it jumped to a FMV of $120.00. This shows the familiar pattern of long term growth on almost all grades (excepting, in this case, 9.2) and short (3 month) returns as sharply down. In the case of SW #4, 9.8 grades over the last few months are down negative -31.8% after 9 sales. The last 3 eBay sales are: 07/15/2019 = $125.00; 07/15/2019 =$100.00; and 08/04/2019 $49.00.

Barring another movie catalyst (which is unlikely), this issue may take a while to come back. I think it will trend down for a while still.

 

 

 

 

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Marvel Super-Heroes Secret Wars #7 (November 1984) – First appearance of Julia Carpenter (Spider-Woman II)

I’ll end with an issue you should have in your collection. Secret Wars #7 is important because it’s the first full appearance of Julia Carpenter. This is certainly what accounts for its FMV of $130.00 in 9.8 grade. With this comic long term returns are mostly positive but mixed, while short term sales data (12 weeks) shows sharp decline all across the grade spectrum: currently it is down negative -32.2% in 9.8 after 17 sales. Whereas at one point a 9.8 was selling for almost $200.00, the last copy sold on eBay for $124.99 (08/09/2019). This comic is, however, probably still undervalued and strong growth can happen especially if the MCU introduces Julia Carpenter instead of Jessica Drew as Spider-woman.

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2 comments

Christopher August 12, 2019 - 2:41 pm

Great article. The possibilities are literally endless with MCU, and the 80s-90s had some of the highest quality, most in depth and satisfying character arcs as the public demanded more personalized stories of character development. Really turning out to be a “new golden age” of creators, writers and pioneers for comics. I am living my childhood dreams and 45 years of collecting every time I walk into a theater into one of these movies.

Reply
Earl Thomas August 12, 2019 - 9:03 pm

Enjoyed your article,I’m glad I bought that series then with even a few doubles.

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