Batman’s villains are making more news than the hero these days. With the rogue’s gallery’s Golden Age keys out of reach for many, here are the Silver Age comics you’ll want on your Christmas list.
When it comes to collecting key issues, Marvel dominates. Part of this – in fact a very large part – can be attributed to the success of the MCU. The other factor is cost. Certainly, Marvel’s “holy grails,” like Amazing Fantasy #15 or Fantastic Four #1, have price tags that match their grail status, but there are so many other Silver Age keys that are at least somewhat affordable. DC, on the other hand, is such an old publisher that the first appearances are nearly all Golden Age comics. That means they are even harder to find and carry an even higher cost.
All that being said, with the success of Todd Phillips’ Joker and all the recent news and rumors surrounding director Matt Reeves’ The Batman reboot isn’t necessarily spurring prices because the rogue’s gallery of villains’ keys are so expensive already. What’s a Batman fan to do? Opt for the first silver age appearances, of course.
Like his mysterious origin, finding a definitive Silver Age debut of the Joker is an enigma all its own. Many in the collecting community distinguish the Silver Age as beginning in September 1956 with Barry Allen’s premiere in Showcase #4, which points to June 1957’s World’s Finest #88 as being the first time the Joker appeared during the Silver Age. (It’s also the first time the Joker teamed with Lex Luthor, so there’s that.) Others say it was Batman #97, an issue that was published in February 1956, which would predate Showcase #4. The problem is that there’s no official recognition as to what issue marks Joker’s first appearance in the Silver Age. One possible reason for this is that he was such a popular villain from his inception that there was never much of a lull between his appearances like there was for the Riddler or Penguin. Leaving this question a mystery, however, seems fitting for the character.
It was recently announced that Paul Dano will bring the Riddler back to the live-action comic world. If you want Riddler’s first appearance, you’ll have to fork over a hefty sum for Detective Comics #140 from 1948. If you don’t have the budget for that one, aim for Batman #171. I am not here to convince you that this 1965 issue is cheap; after all, a low-grade 3.5 recently sold for $249. However, it’s much easier on your budget than the aforementioned DC #140, which can crack the $2k mark for even a 0.5.
Along with Paul Dano, Zoe Kravitz will be joining the cast of The Batman as she brings another live-action iteration of Catwoman to movie screens. If you are like the rest of us normal people and can’t afford Batman #1, then 1966’s Lois Lane #70 will be the next best thing. The price range for this issue varies widely. The highest grade sold this year was a 9.2, and it sold for over $1k, while the lowest grade that’s traded hands in 2019 was a 2.5, which brought $93 in February.
Jonah Hill may not be sporting the tuxedo for The Batman, but someone will be playing Penguin in the upcoming film. Like most other iconic Batman villains, Penguin debuted in the Golden Age, first appearing in 1941’s Detective Comics #58. In 1963, he debuted for the Silver Age of DC Comics in Batman #155. In May of this year, a 9.4 sold for $3,480. On the opposite end of the spectrum, a 1.0 sold for $58 earlier this month, so there’s plenty of options to fit your budget.
MORE TO COME
With the extent of Batman’s rogue’s gallery, I barely scratched the surface with today’s list, and that’s why I’ll follow up with a second round of silver age Batman keys in the coming days.
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