The Rise, Fall, and Rise of a Silver Age Key

by John Gerlach

Silver-Age-Key-300x157 The Rise, Fall, and Rise of a Silver Age KeyAs I write this blog, Avengers #57 is #1 on the GoCollect What’s Selling List for Silver Age comics.  

How things have changed!

Avengers #57 is a great illustration of the ups and downs of the Comic Book market and what impact external forces have on value over time and the lessons we can learn.

Avengers #57 (1968)

ezgif-3-f60c5e24ca49-202x300 The Rise, Fall, and Rise of a Silver Age KeyWhy is this issue a key?  Here are some reasons:

  • Firstly, it is the first appearance of The Vision in the Silver Age.  Not to be confused with the Golden Age Vision (aka Aarkus).  
  • The cover.  The art of John Buscema and George Klein makes this issue one of the landmark issues of the Silver Age!  The Vision looks like a rock star with a great haze and light show in concert!  In addition, this cover was reprinted in Marvel Super Action #18 (1977) and homaged many times.  

The Rise, Fall, and Rise of Avengers #57

The current FMV of a graded 9.0 Avengers #57 is $1100.  Pricey, but not crazy. At least, not for a Silver Age key in high grade.  However, notice the journey of a 9.0 graded copy:

  • 2013 FMV was around $565
  • 2014 FMV jumped to $875 (Avengers: Age of Ultron is announced with a May 1, 2015 release date)
  • 2015 FMV continued to rise to $1111 (Avengers: Age of Ultron is released)
  • 2016 FMV dropped to $940
  • 2017 FMV continued to slide to $768
  • 2018 FMV bottomed out and stabilized at $776
  • 2019 FMV rose to $897
  • 2020 FMV increased to $934
  • Current FMV is up to $1100

Obviously, Avengers: Age of Ultron is the big factor.  Here was a movie that featured The Vision, and we all know that movies increase value.  Still, let’s dig deeper:

Avengers #55:

ezgif-3-9fca6475cb44-204x300 The Rise, Fall, and Rise of a Silver Age KeyAvengers #55 has the first full appearance of Ultron.  In addition. the cover art of Avengers #55 was done by John Buscema and George Roussos.  The battle cover features nine characters in full-action mode.  Later, the cover was reprinted in Marvel Super Action #14.  

The FMV of a grade 9.0 Avengers #55 is $290.  What is the journey of Avengers #55 in a 9.0 graded copy?

  • 2013 FMV was $225
  • 2014 FMV rose to $434 (Avengers: Age of Ultron is announced with a May 1, 2015 release date)
  • 2015 FMV dropped to $360 (Avengers: Age of Ultron is released)
  • 2016 FMV kept dropping to $295
  • 2017 FMV continued to slide to $218
  • 2018 FMV stabilized at $217
  • 2019 FMV rose to $240
  • 2020 FMV continued to rise to $255
  • Current FMV is $290

Avengers: Age of Ultron also featured Ultron as a key character. Obviously, the movie had a big impact on the value of the comic.

Lessons Learned (painful and not-so-painful)

(1) Don’t buy a comic when it is in the “hype” zone.  (OK, some of this is from my personal mistakes).  The Avengers’ #57’s “hype zone” from the movie was basically two years before the movie’s release until the actual release.  As a result, the value rose those 2-3 years but then didn’t sustain.  

(2) A key is a key is a key.  Avengers #57 has risen, fallen, and then risen again in value.  Remember, a key issue will usually recover from price drops and grow in the long-term after external forces go away.  Don’t make the mistake of Lesson #1, but don’t compound the mistake of Lesson #1 by selling on the down-swing.  Hold on and a key will recover its value in the long-term.   

(3) Lastly, know why a key is a key.  The market has basically said: Avengers #57 is a key and Avengers #55 is not in the same league.  However, Avengers #55 has lots going for it, and is, in fact, very similar to Avengers #57  Still, the reasons #57 is valued higher are reasons to choose one issue over another for a long-term hold.  

Ultron: “You’re unbearably naive.”

Vision: “Well…I was born yesterday.”

Vision might have been born yesterday, but you weren’t. Join the ranks of other successful collectors with a GoCollect premium membership!

Footer_Upgrade_Premium_12.3.2020_Orange The Rise, Fall, and Rise of a Silver Age Key

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Joe March 20, 2021 - 8:08 pm

Interesting to note that even after it started dropping, avengers #57 never dropped below the 2013 price when it started its slide while avengers #55 did. Could this be that villains keys aren’t as sustainable or at least as sought after (and hence not as pricey) as hero keys?

octoberland March 21, 2021 - 2:24 pm

I tell this to everyone I know. Broad strokes here to make the point. Once that price jumps walk away. It’ll likely fall back. Another great example is NM98. It was cratered a couple years back. Now…yikes. Villain keys especially are not worth buying into once they go off. Even Thanos is retreating and it has Drax / Starfox helping support it. Just be patient. If you miss out, you miss out with a nice chunk of change in your war chest to go after another key that hasn’t gone off. If you still want it, another entry point will present itself.

Once you are in, though, do not panic sell on hero keys (or probably any key truthfully). They will correct to levels and then continue on the steady rise. Sell once they regain that value even if it is an extra 3-5 years. You already have it, so enjoy the ride!

I think the biggest point you suggest is starting to learn that not all keys are equal. Just because Hydro-man raw copies jumped to nearly twice the cost of a raw Avengers Annual 10 a few years back, it does not mean Hydro-man was the key to own. Hydro-man was the book to sell. Keep buying those AA10 given the choice.

Nice write up!

– Craig Coffman


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