Sub-Mariner: Historic Golden Age Keys

by Matt Tuck

061421C-1-300x157 Sub-Mariner: Historic Golden Age KeysAfter more than eight decades, Marvel’s oldest superhero may finally be featured in live-action. Let’s shine a spotlight on the historic Golden Age keys of Submariner.


The hottest rumor in comics is that actor Tenoch Huerta has been cast as Namor for Wakanda Forever. The scuttlebutt is that the official announcement is coming any day now. Still, that is all hearsay until Kevin Feige confirms or denies it.

Casual MCU fans tend to forget that Namor was Timely Comics’ first superhero, debuting in 1939. That is why the potential casting of Namor is such a big deal. He is Marvel’s oldest character, and he has never been featured in live-action in 82 years.

With a character as historic as Namor, there are plenty of key issues to choose from. He falls into the DC Comics predicament, though. Having debuted in 1939, which makes the Submariner only a year younger than Superman, his key issues span the Golden Age and into the early days of Marvel Comics in the Silver Age all the way into the Modern Age. That puts gigantic price tags on all his major key issues, even for the lower grades. However, if you can find a way to get your hands on any of these comics, you could be in for major profits if the rumors pan out.

Motion-Picture-Funnies-Weekly-1-203x300 Sub-Mariner: Historic Golden Age KeysMOTION PICTURE FUNNIES WEEKLY #1

This is among the most rare of all the Golden Age keys, and even harder to find than Action Comics #1 or Detective Comics #27. CGC has just eight total copies listed in its census. With three of those being restored, that leaves just five with the blue universal label. That makes this one of the rarest key issues in existence.

Timely Comics, which would go on to become Marvel Comics, published a small number of these 36-page, black and white promotional comics to be handed out in movie theaters in April 1939. This would mark the first comic ever published under the Timely banner ahead of the better-known Marvel Comics #1, which was printed that November.

While it doesn’t get the publicity as other Golden Age keys, Motion Picture Funnies Weekly #1 is a historical treasure among comics with the prices to prove it. The last known graded copy to sell online was a 3.5 that earned $27,500 in June 2017.

Marvel-Comics-1-199x300 Sub-Mariner: Historic Golden Age KeysMARVEL COMICS #1

The Submariner publication story reads like a history book for comics. Seven months after he appeared in Motion Picture Funnies Weekly, his first appearance and origin would be reprinted in the holiest of holy grails, Marvel Comics #1. This issue would also mark the debut of the original Human Torch. 

The highest graded MC #1 to ever trade hands online was a 9.4, an astounding find that is part of the Windy City pedigree collection. In November, 2019, it sold for $1,260,000. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the lowest grade ever sold was a coverless 0.5 that had a price tag of $10,000 in 2018.

marvel_mystery_comics_4-219x300 Sub-Mariner: Historic Golden Age KeysMARVEL MYSTERY COMICS #4

Compared to those two issues, practically anything would seem like a bargain. For all you Golden Age Submariner fans out there, I present his first cover appearance in Marvel Mystery Comics #4.

Cover collecting is becoming a bigger market each month, and having Namor’s first is worth the high prices it commands. Bear in mind that a 1.5 sold for $21,600 in April, but that is a steal when you put it alongside the $1.2 million Marvel Comics #1.

Sub-Mariner-Comics-1-221x300 Sub-Mariner: Historic Golden Age KeysSUB-MARINER COMICS #1

Two years after his debut, Namor would get his own wartime comic series, Sub-Mariner Comics. This would also be the same year that Timely unveiled another superhero war comic, Captain America Comics

In the past year, there have only been three grades of Sub-Mariner Comics #1 purchased online. The most recent was a 6.5, which brought $30,000 this past April. There also was a 7.5 that sold for $50,400 in July of last year, as well as a 5.0 that earned $18,000 in 2020.


We are not likely to see many of Namor’s Golden Age keys on the Hottest Comics index simply because of rarity. That will only make those handfuls of auctions for those 1930s and ‘40s issues that much more exciting and profitable for the lucky seller.

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Vince Guaglione June 17, 2021 - 12:25 pm

Oh my god, a GA blog post!!

Eric Haar June 17, 2021 - 2:45 pm

Interesting article, but one small point. Motion Picture Funnies Weekly wasn’t published by Timely. It was published by Lloyd Jacquet’s First Funnies/Funnies, Inc., who also packaged Marvel Comics #1, thus the reuse of the unpublished (other than samples) Sub-Mariner story. There were 4 pages added to the story for publication in Marvel #1 to meet page count. There’s an empty box on the last panel of page 8 where the original “To Be Continued” was erased.


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