At the end of 2019, I felt a little bit like a comic hypocrite. I had believed – and proclaimed! – for the longest time that Daredevil was my all-time favorite character. Glancing at my Daredevil collection, however, I noticed all I had was the first issues of the current Chip Zdarsky run (which is astounding, by the way), about 20 issues in the range of Volume 1 numbers 7-200 and a sprinkling of interesting issues since the end of the Frank Miller run in the mid-1980s.
Once 2020 rolled around, I decided to change that.
- Daredevil #1 had to be bought with funds from selling comic books or writing about comic books. I’m not made of money, after all.
- I did not want reader copies of anything. VG is fine, but nothing below VG- grade.
- Silver Age issues had a price ceiling of $70
- Bronze Age issues under #100 had a price limit of $40
- Issues #101-#200 had to be under $20 unless it was a key issue (first Elektra, first Bullseye, etc.)
With those rules in place, I was ready to go. Here is a recap of my journey.
I have written a couple times about my thoughts on Daredevil #1 and my process to acquire it, so I won’t rehash all of that here today. All that needs repeating is that my initial thought process was that I was sure it was an undervalued key, maybe the MOST undervalued key from Marvel. So I wanted to act fast.
I’m glad I purchased it in April (CGC 3.5 for $1,250) because if I had waited even six months, it would have been about 75% more expensive in that grade. I certainly did my homework, researched the best options for weeks, and was able to pull the trigger through a protected direct sale on Instagram, avoiding taxes and fees on eBay.
Staying true to my word, I had a couple comic sales on IG in the spring and used that money plus some GoCollect blogging funds to procure my favorite comic in the collection. The fact that it has now doubled in value was just a bonus.
If I had not already had these two in my collection when I started, I doubt I would have been able to stick to my self-imposed rules. Even before the Daredevil hype in the last quarter of 2020, these two were climbing in price.
Daredevil #7 is a crossover with Submariner and is the first appearance of Daredevil’s red costume. While I am team #yellowsuitforever, this is a landmark moment in Daredevil’s history and does not come cheap.
For a couple reasons, Daredevil #16 has become a hidden gem among Daredevil fans. First, it is his first crossover event with Spider-Man and was mirrored by Spider-Man #16, which is a crossover event with Daredevil.
But what has made DD #16 increasingly popular is it represents the first time where Spider-Man is drawn by the incomparable John Romita. Add in the fact that it’s early Silver Age and you have a tricky book to find at reasonable prices.
An Under-the-Radar Hard Book to Get: Daredevil #115
Daredevil #115 proved to be a difficult book to grab at $20 or less for one simple reason: it is one of three Marvel comic books that features an ad for Hulk #181, the first full appearance of Wolverine. In the end, I had to break ranks here a bit and I ended up getting a decent condition raw copy for $24.
As has been written in these pages before, these books with ads for mega-keys have become quite popular among collectors and the sellers are catching on quickly. It was also difficult – nee impossible – to find a direct seller who was willing to part with this book for a cheap price. Most hardcore comic or Daredevil fans know what they have and were content to hold on to this issue.
The Book That Made Me Laugh: Daredevil #101
When I purchased Daredevil #101, I did not know it would contain an appearance by the best (read: worst) villain of all time. If you are not familiar with The Screamer, you should pause here and go look him up. After you do, you are left with three options:
a. He is the worst villain ever
b. He is the worst worst villain ever
c. All of the above
If we are making a list of the most “what were they thinking” villains in Marvel history, The Screamer would be near the top of the list. That sounds like a good idea for a blog post…
Best Find In The Wild: Daredevil #3
Back when we were allowed to go do things like attend comic-cons and shows, I would constantly hunt for issues I needed. That was early in the process, so I had a long list to acquire, but I did have a couple huge successes.
Back in the first part of 2020 I went to a small show here in Houston and stumbled across a really nice copy of Daredevil #3 for right at $60. Maybe $65. For the third overall issue, I was worried I would end up paying a hefty price, but I was able to secure the first appearance of The Owl under my price range.
Last Book I Purchased: Daredevil #8
One huge mistake I ended up making in hindsight was not buying an early Silver Age issue in the first six months of the process. Over the first nine months of the year I never was happy with what I could find for Daredevil #8, the first appearance of Stilt Man and second red costume, and therefore never pulled the trigger.
By the time Fall 2020 rolled around, anything under issue #10 was priced way up from early in the year and was near impossible to secure a “deal.” By the end of the year, I was panicking. Was I going to have to just splurge and bend my rules?
I don’t know if the comic gods were smiling on me or what, but then the unthinkable happened. On December 27th I stumbled across an auction for issue #8 that had one day left and only one bid at the initial bid price of $30.
I graded it a FN- minus copy, so I put in my max bid price of $70. I saw that I was winning it at $31.50, and waited and see what would happen. Almost 24 hours later there was no movement. The last-minute approached and still no other bids came in. I watched as the seconds ticked down, confident that the price would shoot up in the last 10 seconds like with most other auctions.
When the timer ran out and my phone refreshed, I saw that I had won the book. For $31.50. I have no idea how that happened, but I choose to just consider it my reward for a year’s worth of hard work.
There were some interesting times and some hard lessons learned throughout the process, but if you are considering building a run, I absolutely say go for it. It’s incredibly rewarding and satisfying to watch those boxes fill over time.
From my experience over the last 12 months, here is the advice I have for anyone planning a run:
- Just do it. If you have something you have been wanting to start, just start it. It will force your brain to stop and look each time you run across something you are missing. Then, you can evaluate whether it’s a good deal or something you can pass up.
- Make the goal public. On January 1, 2020 I put the goal out on Instagram, which had two positive effects. First, I was inundated with messages from people who were looking to get rid of Daredevil books. I could sift through those and determine which were worth pursuing. Second, it made me accountable to friends or chat groups that knew about the goal.
- Set a goal that falls in the middle ground between too easy and too hard. Make a goal that’s too easy to achieve and the accomplishment doesn’t feel as great. Make it too hard and you will be constantly bombarded with thoughts that you will never get there. The goal should be ambitious, but attainable.
What’s Next in 2021?
For 2021, I have a new goal of collecting all Tales to Astonish issues from TTA #27 (first appearance of Ant-Man) to the end of the volume with TTA #101. This is a more ambitious goal in terms of dollars, but requires finding only about 38% of the number of books in the Daredevil run, so we will see what happens. I’ll see you back here in this space a year from now to let you know how I did.
Have you built any runs? What was your experience? Let me know in the comments!