Recently, many Silver Age keys such as Daredevil #1, Silver Surfer #4, and Fantastic Four #48 shattered previous records. If you’re experiencing FOMO and feel as if you have been priced out of the Silver Age, don’t fret, there are still plenty of ignored Silver Age gems out there looking for some love. I present to you one such example: The Incredible Hulk Annual 1: King Sized Special. Let’s take a look at this classic and breakdown if picking up a copy might be a smart play.
Last year the collectibles market became increasingly difficult to navigate. Key issues from all ages have been breaking records on a weekly basis, causing many heated debates about rampant speculation and the health of the market. While I find that the prices for many Copper and Modern Age books are artificially inflated and due for a downward correction, I believe the Silver Age has been long overlooked in favor of trendier books. That dismissal has come to an end.
When in Doubt, Invest in History
I won’t lie, the comic market has been pretty confusing for me in the past year. Most of the grails I hoped to scoop up have either doubled or tripled in price and I refuse to pay historically high prices. The keyword is “most”. You’ll often see collectors using finance terminology reserved for stocks when referencing their comic investments. One of those frequently borrowed phrases is “blue chip” comic, meaning a comic that performs reliably in good and bad times. These types of comics may not increase in value 500% overnight, but you won’t get fleeced either. They will always be desirable and as a result, retain their value.
In times such as these, when a possible economic downturn is looming, blue chip, Silver Age comics are worth considering. They typically have historical and cultural significance independent of the MCU or DCU and will continue to be relevant in years to come. There have been many discussions lately about comic books transcending from a niche interest to a broader American pop culture phenomenon. I agree and think many Silver Age books will be at the forefront of this movement. The Incredible Hulk Annual #1 is one of those special comics. This book is painfully undervalued, but don’t expect that to last for much longer. The sharks are circling.
1968 gave us some of the best comic book covers of all time. Jim Steranko’s enduring relevance is evident with the countless tributes to his work decades later, a reliable measure of any given issue’s importance. More specifically, you can find plenty of homages to The Incredible Hulk Annual #1 anywhere from comics to album covers to street art. The crumbling Hulk logo is iconic. It is some of the most imitated cover art there is. There have been tributes in Deadpool, Thanos, Venom, Ninja Turtles, Immortal Hulk, and most recently in the new Maestro series. If you’re a Todd McFarlane fan, you know he only parodies absolute classic covers and himself (which is hilarious). He has paid homage to Action Comics #1, Amazing Fantasy #15, his Spider-Man covers, and our Hulk Annual. That’s it. Steranko’s Hulk cover is considered the best, by the best.
Will Hulk Smash Records?
I have to admit, I am a little biased when it comes to The Incredible Hulk Annual #1. It’s definitely a top-five all-time cover for me, and if someone told me it had their number one spot, I wouldn’t argue. It isn’t a major key outside of its cover art, but neither is Silver Surfer #4. SS4 has doubled in value in the last year just from classic art alone, so why can’t Hulk? Last year I came across a 9.0 Hulk Annual listed for $350 and I remember thinking that was an absolute steal considering the broader significance of the issue. Since then, GoCollect data shows us that the fair market value for a 9.0 has increased to $600. A 9.0 sold the other week on eBay for $1000. Clearly, I am not alone in my thoughts. Hulk is on the move.
The question is: Does the Incredible Hulk Annual #1 have room to grow or has its ship sailed? It’s impossible to tell the future, but if we compare it to Silver Surfer #4, which was released a year later and shares a similar status in my mind, I’d bet Hulk Annual soon breaks all previous records. A 9.0 Silver Surfer #4 has an FMV of $2050 while 7.0s have been selling for $1500 or so. GoCollect data shows us a 7.0 Hulk Annual has an FMV of $270. This is despite the Hulk Annual having a much smaller graded population than Surfer #4.
For the sake of being thorough, let’s also take a look at Beta Ray Bill’s first appearance, Thor #337. There are as many 9.8s for Thor #337 as there are Hulk Annuals in every grade. Thor #337 has inexplicably been selling for upwards of $900 despite this extremely high CGC population. I can’t rationalize this or other newer books selling for more than a low population, Silver Age classic like The Incredible Hulk Annual #1. A correction is coming and well deserved. While the highest grades don’t necessarily have accessible entry prices, many of the lower grades are comparatively affordable and deserve some analysis. I especially like this book as an investment in the 7.0 and 8.0 grades. Worst case scenario, you have an awesome slab for your wall.
From the flood of variants being released to McFarlane’s Hulk #340, and most recently to Miller’s Wolverine #1, the last several years have been a boon for comics with highly sought-after covers. Many collectors treat graded comics as displayable investments and place them side by side with other valuable pop art, such as Murakamis and Bearbricks. Combine that with the general gold rush atmosphere of the comic market right now and I think The Incredible Hulk Annual #1 and other comparable Silver Age gems will soon take off and never look back. I know I’m looking forward to the fireworks when the next high-grade copy hits the market. Get your popcorn.
What do you think of this crazy comic book market right now? Which books are overheated and which are undervalued? Drop a comment and discuss.