April was a banner month for all things Superman. The best-selling comic book last month was Action Comics #1000 which sold well over 400,000 copies. The best-selling hardcover graphic novel was Action Comics: 80 years of Superman. But it was a bitter sweet success for the Superman franchise since along with the uptick in sales in April, Margot Kidder passed away on May 13. For Gen-Xer’s into comics (like me), Kidder’s career was synonymous with her lively portrayal of crack-reporter Lois Lane in the Alexander and Ilya Salkind produced ‘Superman’ films. For younger readers it may be hard to understand what the big deal was about these late 1970s-early 1980s Superman movies. If you’re used to today’s CGI fests and slickly produced affairs you’ll probably find the 1978 Superman movie slightly campy as well as distinctly lacking in spectacle. But in 1978 it was a different story. Not only did the movie look great by late seventies standards (as it should, it cost a small fortune to make- 55 million dollars -which at the time made it one of the most expensive movies ever made); but as regards superhero movies in 1978 it really was the only game in town. Plus Christopher Reeve, as most comic fans will still admit today, made an excellent Superman and it was because of this film that Margot Kidder officially became my generation’s most iconic version of Lois Lane.
In this post I’m going to discuss key comics related not directly to Superman but instead to his supporting cast of characters. Focus is especially placed in this entry–in honor of Margot Kidder’s passing – on Lois Lane. The Lois Lane comic book series was published by DC comics from 1958-1974. Believe it or not, this run contains some important key issues as well as some important sleeper keys.
Showcase #9 (August 1957)
In an age where Zach Snyder has made Superman a grim outcast, and the latest Superman connected franchise (the Krypton live action series) plays more like Macbeth in space than anything else, it’s difficult to see the appeal of a free-wheeling and, quite honestly, goofy Silver Age series like Lois Lane. But it’s precisely the innocent fun and offbeat stories that fans of Silver Age comics will say makes them so enjoyable. Comics are supposed to be fun after all. Silver Age Superman was always fun. All the more so, when it delved into stories about the world of Metropolis and the supporting cast of the ongoing regular Superman series. This is the first appearance of Lois Lane as lead character and title of a Superman story. By 1958 Lois Lane would see the launch of her own comic series, largely as a result of the success of these tryout appearances in the Showcase title. The stories are pure goofball fun. 6.0 and 2.0 grades have produced the best returns on this one.
Superman’s Girlfriend: Lois Lane #1 (April 1958)
After her title launched it was an immediate success. It seems that everything related to Superman was a goldmine and DC was milking it hard in the early 1960s. In fact, by 1962 DC’s Lois Lane comic was the third best-selling comic book of the year, falling behind only Superboy and Superman’s flagship title at positions 2 and 1 respectively. This 1958 comic can often be found in low grade, high grade copies are rare and subsequently expensive. A 9.4 (if you can find it) will cost you up to 175,000 dollars, best returns have been on 6.0 which currently has a fair market rate of 1,950 dollars according to Gocollect.com
Superman’s Girlfriend: Lois Lane # 17 (May 1960)
This comic is the sleeper key that features the second appearance of Brainiac. When first appearances take off in price, a major character’s second appearance almost always heat up too. The first appearance of Brainiac (in Action Comics #242) is becoming a mega-key in higher grades and impossible to find for less than a thousand dollars in any grade above a 3.0. For that reason, it’s probably a good idea to keep an eye on Braniac’s second official appearance. An 8.5 sold in a Heritage auction last week for only $163.30.
Superman’s Girlfriend: Lois Lane #70 (November 1966)– First Appearance of Silver Age Catwoman
This is the central key issue of the entire Lois Lane run. And the reason is simple: Catwoman. The first Silver Age appearance of Catwoman can be found here and insofar as Silver Age keys go, it’s on the cheap side. The Penguin, along with Batman and Robin, also make cameo appearances. If you pay more than $800 for an 8.0 or under, you’re paying too much. Best returns on investment so far have been to 3.5 and 7.5 graded copies. But compare this issue in 9.6 grade [which currently commands an average of 2,900 dollars] to other Batman keys from the same period. Batman #181 (first Poison Ivy) in 9.6 will cost you 9,250 dollars, and Batman #171 (First Silver Age Riddler) will, in 9.6 grade, cost you 34,000 dollars. By comparison, the first Silver Age Catwoman is a relatively affordable Silver Age mega-key.
Honorable mentions: Lois Lane #20 (Oct. 1960) with an early appearance of Supergirl outside of the Action Comics secondary feature she was then relegated to. Lois Lane #71 (January 1967) which is the second appearance of the Silver Age Catwoman. Lois Lane #106 (November 1970), contains a story with an (in)famous take on race-relations “I am Curious (Black)!” which is also probably one of the strangest Lois Lane stories in a series that had more than its share of strange and goofball stories. For some reason, this book regularly fetches consistently high prices. Other than the second ‘Rose and Thorn’ appearance, however, there’s not a lot happening here and it’s not recommended as a long term investment since its price might drop like a stone once the novelty factor wears off (think: Star Wars #49 after The Last Jedi came and went).