It’s almost as if the radioactive villain club got together and decided on the trademark pose. A common cover complete with: a villain with see-through biology that showcases the skeleton, right arm that’s raised for a strike, towering over the hero and grabbing him by the neck, a weakened hero partially submerged in water (optional), and shorts.
One of the most recent and popular radioactive villains to strike the pose is Doctor Frye with his first appearance in Immortal Hulk #2 (2018), a standout entry in the hauntingly awesome Al Ewing series. Bruce Banner continues his journey of introspection that just packs on layers of psychology. In Immortal Hulk #2 when Banner investigates a series of mysterious deaths, he comes upon Doctor Frye, whose experiments in radiation and their consequences almost mirror his own. Unfortunately for the two doctors, the Hulk is a little less than sympathetic.
With cover art by Alex Ross, Immortal Hulk #2 has managed to find a high place in the market; especially in comparison to the other main prints of the Immortal Hulk series, even twice as much as the CGC 9.8 and 9.6 FMVs of Immortal Hulk #1. Despite the high sales prices of the book, it has been trending down over the last year; sales data for CGC 9.8 and 9.6 are shown below. Near the start of 2019, CGC 9.8 slabs went as high as $450, and CGC 9.6 at $220. Most recently, it has hit lows of $200 and $50 for 9.8 and 9.6 grades; a loss of over -55% and -75%, respectively. With more room to fall, it wouldn’t be surprising if Immortal Hulk #2’s sales prices continue the decline until they match those of the aforementioned Immortal Hulk #1. Not so immortal after all.
Long before Doctor Frye made his debut, there was Dr. Phosphorus (aka Dr. Alexander Sartorius) with his first appearance in Detective Comics #469 (1977). Surely the similarities of the pose, action, character design, hero in water, etc are a little more than just coincidence. The artists of this cover were Jim Aparo and Tatjana Wood. When the citizens of Gotham all start to fall ill to a mysterious poisoning, Batman’s investigations reveal the source to be the radioactive Dr. Phosphorus poisoning the city’s water supply. On a side note, is there another instance of this radioactive cover composition before this book?
The current market for graded copies of Detective Comics #469 is very low in volume. Most of the action is with CGC 9.8 copies, while CGC 9.6 and 9.4 have been flat for the last decade. There were two notable spikes, one in winter 2014 and the other in 2017; which again, affected 9.8 much more than the other grades of the book. Despite the low overall sales volume, recent sales of the grades appear to have receded back to the baseline levels. Compared to the above Immortal Hulk #2, at least Detective Comics #469 isn’t trending downwards.
To round out the radioactive list, we have the cover of Thor: First Thunder #4 (2011); featuring Radioactive Man (aka Dr. Chen Lu) towering over Thor. It would appear that a prerequisite to becoming a radioactive villain is to also obtain a doctorate. Outside mentioning the cover for the purposes of this collection, there isn’t too much key significance to Thor: First Thunder #4. The book can be found in the dollar bin.
However, if you’re looking for Radioactive Man’s key book, his first appearance was in Journey into Mystery #93 (1963). The latest sale of note is a CGC 9.2 copy sold in Nov 2019 for $2,160. The overall market trend for Journey into Mystery #93 is slightly positive, but it also comes with a very low volume; placing it just ever so slightly at a better performance than the other books mentioned above.
“I can see a door. A… a green door… and… and there’s someone looking through it.” – Del Frye
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