Spider-Man In Black: Zeck Art Sells for 3.36 Million

by Patrick Bain

011422C-1024x536 Spider-Man In Black: Zeck Art Sells for 3.36 MillionI am the Spider-Man in Black–art illustrated by Mike Zeck for Secret Wars 8 Page 25 shocked the world last Thursday.  When the Washington Post, Huffington Post, and even the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette feel the need to report on comics, you know something big happened.  Big has a number; $3.36 million for the original art that debuted Spider-Man’s alien costume (seven months late).

The spider-MAN IN BLACK

Marvel-Super-Heroes-Secret-Wars-8-Page-25-by-Mike-Zeck-202x300 Spider-Man In Black: Zeck Art Sells for 3.36 MillionWell, you wonder why I always dress in black,
Why you never see bright colors on my back,
And why does my appearance seem to have a somber tone.
Well, there’s a reason for the things that I have on.

Johnny Cash, the original Man in Black, and Men in Black Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones have nothing on Spider-Man after last week’s Heritage Auctions sale.  With 2022 marking sixty years of Spider-Man, it’s hard to believe that the black costume introduced in Amazing Spider-Man #252 (1984) has been around for more than half that existence.

Of course, Spidey’s alien symbiote black duds have rocked the comic industry since Venom’s first full appearance in ASM #299 (1988).  But Peter Parker and his costume suffered through a four-year love-hate relationship before things really got wild for the web-slinger.

Don’t Bury the Lead or Ultimate Wardrobe

Marvel-Super-Heroes-Secret-Wars-8-Page-24-by-Mike-Zeck-e1642394708250-300x144 Spider-Man In Black: Zeck Art Sells for 3.36 MillionI’m taking my time providing specifics of an art sale that everyone has already heard about.  Maybe because I’m still disgruntled from falling short in my bid to own Amazing Fantasy #15 as part of a bound collection.  That miss on a beautiful Spider-Man artifact is nothing compared to the collectors who fancied the possibility of owning original art from Marvel Super-Heroes Secret Wars featuring the origin of Spider-Man’s black costume.

Amazing-Spider-Man-252-194x300 Spider-Man In Black: Zeck Art Sells for 3.36 MillionI can imagine the first fans to notice the upcoming auction thinking to themselves, “hmmm, $50 grand will stretch me, but I think I can do it!”  Of course, fifty grand is WAAAY more than other Mike Zeck interior pages had previously sold for.  Then as bids came in, think of the alarm as the half-page splash kept escalating past 100 grand, past 200 grand.  Some people probably thought, this is ridiculous, but I could go half a million, no, one million dollars for this picture of Spider-Man wearing the costume that Venom will make famous!  You already know the heartbreak hotel felt by the little guys who dreamed in the thousands when at least two high rollers ran the price well beyond any previous Heritage Auctions comic art sale.

Black Costume First Appearance

Amazing-Spider-Man-252-Homecoming-title-page-193x300 Spider-Man In Black: Zeck Art Sells for 3.36 MillionCounter to conventions, the monster Zeck art sale for the Spider-Man in Black did NOT correlate to a first comic appearance.  Secret Wars 8 hit the newsstand 7 months after fans saw the cover of ASM 252.  And check out the awesome page 4 for the TRUE first interior appearance.

So, is it mind-blowing that the origin of the costume garnered such interest with so many prior costume appearances?  Or, maybe the owners of ASM 252 cover and interior art are already increasing home security and contacting their tax accountants.

By the way, I’m no Venom-ophile.  If you know the history and rationales for Venom collectors, feel free to comment on why this page stood out.  I’d also like to know if the Marvel editors had a grand four-year vision for the alien costume.  I suspect it was a simple marketing ploy to update the character.

More Mike Zeck Art including Spider-Man in Black

Peter-Parker-Spectacular-Spider-Man-132-by-Mike-Zeck-and-Bob-Mcleod-1987-e1642429532604-202x300 Spider-Man In Black: Zeck Art Sells for 3.36 MillionI alluded to previous Zeck art sales.  Prior sales prices are solid, but not phenomenal.  Fans appreciate Zeck’s skills, especially for his work on Captain America and Punisher.  I checked past sales for Zeck art at HA, ComicConnect, and ComicLink.

  1. Marvel Super-Heroes Secret Wars #8 page 25 (half splash CAT score R7) – 1/14/2022: $3,360,000
  2. Marvel Super-Heroes Secret Wars #8 page 24 (first contact with black orb CAT R6) – 1/14/2022: $288,000
  3. Spectacular Spider-Man #132 cover (Spider-Man in Black Costume CAT C7) – 4/2020: $51,600
  4. Spectacular Spider-Man #132 page 4 (ComicLink Black Costume CAT  R7) – 5/2018: $19,015
  5. Captain America #268 cover (ComicConnect features Defenders CAT C7) – 2014: $10,400

Note the Grand Canyon-sized divide between last week’s sales and prior sales.  Like Spidey at the end of ASM #251 getting sucked into some “futuristic version of Stonehenge”, I don’t know where this will lead.  Safe to say, it’s ‘Beyonder’ me.

The Tease for Here and Beyond

Amazing-Spider-Man-273-195x300 Spider-Man In Black: Zeck Art Sells for 3.36 MillionDanny Fingeroth teased the new costume in the letter column of ASM 251.  “But you will discover what happens to Spider-Man when he returns, complete with a new outlook on life and a new…but that would be telling!”  That’s one time when the editorial tease REALLY paid off.

I can’t wait to see what ASM 252 cover art by Ron Frenz and Klaus Janson could bring in now.  Also, Spider-Man in Black art abounds for interior pages by Frenz and Brett Breeding from the same issue, they should be a nice addition to someone’s Zeck art.

Meanwhile, Venom is the source of these speculations.  Consider articles by Norman Robinson on Venom Keys and Matthew Williams on Venom’s first appearance in Amazing Heroes.  And if you want to listen to Johnny Cash the Man In Black, try out the classic and punk version.

000080221A_Games_2-Footer Spider-Man In Black: Zeck Art Sells for 3.36 Million*Any perceived investment advice is that of the freelance blogger and does not reflect advice from GoCollect


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ABaer January 17, 2022 - 4:57 pm

Ch-Ching!!! I think Todd McFarlane bought one or the other….

Patrick Bain January 17, 2022 - 7:15 pm

Thanks for your eager interest in this current event, Andy! I would be curious to know the names of both bidders for this rarified air sale. I also liked your comment about a decimal place.

Damon January 17, 2022 - 7:35 pm

How much do you think the black Spidey pages that pre-date Secret Wars 8 have increased in value? Like Marvel Team Up #141-142, ASM, and Spectacular Spidey

Patrick Bain January 18, 2022 - 1:41 am

Hi Damon, thanks for chiming in.

I haven’t seen any sales that I can compare to yet. I mentioned the art by Frenz in ASM 252 but don’t know offhand about these other artists. Like all things comic book related (apparently), there is significant inflation right now. So for that reason alone prices have escalated. It’s fair to say that Venom’s (and Spider-Man’s) popularity will help these pages too. But, I wouldn’t go to crazy trying to pick up art that features Spider-Man in black costume just because he’s wearing the costume. The cover and first black costume splash of ASM 252 are probably ready to explode, everything else will probably be priced higher than people want to pay for a while, but won’t have as much sticking power.

spidertim January 17, 2022 - 10:57 pm

I think estimates before the auction were much higher than $50,000. It was valued at $300,000 but 10x that value is not that bad, is it?

Patrick Bain January 18, 2022 - 1:34 am

Thanks for your comment spidertim,
Where did you hear the estimates? I’m curious if anyone indicated this page had sold before? Based on the artist, there is no comparable sale that I found anywhere near those prices. Of course, it’s tricky because not everybody provides past sale results. Also, I wonder if those estimates were pre-sale hype, since as mentioned in the article the page was not at all a first appearance. But, it’s not hype if they get ten times the estimate, is it!

Chris January 18, 2022 - 11:42 am

I know the seller…he bought it at the Chicago comic con in the late 80’s. The sale was very inexpensive at the time, obviously the impact of Venom was not known at that time. When he talked with Heritage, they gave a very top end of 400K…but that was more of a hope than a good estimate from the way they expressed it…they were definitely thinking 100K for each page was doable. I saw a blurb that one of the main managers for comic art at Heritage thought 500K was possible, and maybe as high as 700K, but he did not really make this known, I think this was a private thought.

Patrick Bain January 18, 2022 - 7:40 pm

Interesting info. And those are some believable numbers, but still a wild stretch. As I said in the article, it makes me wonder what the cover art from Secret Wars 8 or ASM 252 could now bring in.

Chris January 18, 2022 - 12:00 pm

To add to SpiderTim, the 300K was probably from the pre-bidding, Heritage opens up the lots for pre-bidding well before the live event, and leading up to the live bidding, the main page was at 330K,

Patrick Bain January 18, 2022 - 7:39 pm

This makes sense Chris. I believe it was around $230K when I first noticed but I’m sure it took at least a few days to get there.

ABaer January 18, 2022 - 1:12 pm

I believe the bidding started at $330,000, but I’m not positive on that….

Chris January 19, 2022 - 10:21 am

You are correct.

Redskydigger January 24, 2022 - 6:37 pm

What is interesting about comic art is that it’s starting to be viewed as a way to invest money (and park it ) without having the tax man hunt you for the capital gains. The investor only pays the taxes when they sell the art. Or this investor can have their investments assessed and borrow against this investment to buy more assets to make money. People with money do this all the time within the art market.

Patrick Bain January 24, 2022 - 9:29 pm

Interesting comment about borrowing against the value of the art. So by virtue of paying 3 million for this art, is that a reasonable assessment of the art’s valuation?


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