In this post, I’m going to take a look at comics that can be considered key issues but are not as well-known as they should be. Hence: ‘sleepers’. Here, I’ll explore three Marvel sleeper keys and say something about why I think they’re worth seeking out. In my next post, I’ll take a look at three sleeper books from DC.
The comics listed below are all still under-valued in my opinion, and may make sizable gains in the future. This quality of course, makes them great potential investments if- that is- you’re willing to gamble.
The phenomenon of the sleeper key is hardly new or novel. Some comics are instantly recognized as valuable and important as soon as they hit the newsstand or comic store shelves (think The Dark Knight Returns or Giant Size X-Men #1, etc.); then there are comics that are certified keys but only become highly desirable years later. It’s the latter status that the following comics possess.
This is both a Daredevil and a Ka-Zar key. As such, I’m always surprised at how affordable this comic is. Part of that has to do with the undervalued status of a lot of early Daredevil. But there’s also the fact that Ka-Zar has been under-utilized by Marvel. In the 60s and 70s Ka-Zar was featured in multiple comics. From Daredevil and Spider-man to the X-Men, you couldn’t pick up a Marvel book without running into Ka-Zar. There’s no reason to think this fact won’t be recognized at some point in the future. If future interest in Ka-Zar grows strong enough to include him in the MCU, this comic will almost certainly see more attention as it features his origin story. The data: there are 238 copies of DD #12 on the CGC census. Current FMV for a certified 9.0 of this book is $170.00. To put that in perspective, the main Ka-Zar key, X-Men #10 (his Silver Age reintroduction) sells for $700.00. Returns on DD#12 have been mixed, with best numbers over the last year on 8.5 grades which have seen a positive +1.6% after five sales since March of 2018.
Steve Gerber was an always unpredictable writer. When he took over scripting duties for Marvel’s Man-Thing he introduced a classic villain, only to kill him and then reintroduce him as another character later on. Man-Thing has many very good overlooked issues in its run, but this comic is the sleeper of the series. Only 72 copies of this on the CGC census and current FMV for a 9.6 will run you $110.00. Over the last year, 9.6 copies have shown a positive +62.1% roi after 3 sales only to be outdone by 9.4 copies with a positive +68.3% roi after 5 sales over the last twelve months.
Admittedly this book may have already shed its sleeper status, but it might still have room for growth in the future. For a long time, however, this issue of Captain America was a definite sleeper. Captain America #180 features the first appearance of Steve Rogers as Nomad. It also features the first appearance and the origin of Madame Hydra as Viper. Finally, to top it all off, it has the first mention of the Roxxon oil conglomerate. The catalyst for pushing this comic into public attention, without doubt, was the interest generated by the Nomad persona adopted by Rogers in the last ‘Avengers’ movie. Looking at prices on this book bears that out. In December of 2013, this comic was still selling in certified 9.6 grade for under $80.00; jumping ahead to 2016 we see sale prices averaging around $300.00. If we look at the most recent sales (always on 9.6 grades) we find the following numbers: 07/17/2018 eBay sale = $435.00; 07/24/2018 eBay sale = $425.00, and the last recorded sale of a 9.6 went for $415.00 on 12/13/2018. That gives this comic a FMV of $500.00 in 9.6. In 9.8 that jumps to around $850.00. Returns over the last six months have been down but that’s after phenomenal increases over the last two years. One thing is certain, this is a Cap key and for more than just the first appearance of Nomad. While Captain America #100 and Captain America #117 are often touted as the important keys for the series, I think CA #180 has now earned a place on that list.