I’m happy to bring you the latest quarterly installment of undervalued comics in 2021. If you missed any of the previous versions of this column for this year or the past two years, you can find them all here.
We have had plenty of movie, television, and casting news this year. We have plenty of speculation about the future of certain characters, will DC survive until 2022, and the hot upcoming series. With all that bouncing around in our heads, how can we find some hidden value gems? What are some undervalued comics?
Let’s dig in for Spring 2021:
Doctor Strange #169
We’ve seen and heard enough about the upcoming phase four of the MCU to know that Dr. Strange is going to play a MAJOR role moving forward. We knew about the movie and its tie-in to the upcoming Spider-Man movie and the just-concluded WandaVision show. But one of my favorite theories moving forward is that Stephen Strange is the order-magic ying to Scarlet Witch’s chaos-magic yang.
These two could be pitted against each other – or paired up together – for a long time coming, instantly making Strange’s first appearance in a solo title that much more interesting.
Doctor Strange #169 is not the first, second, third, or even tenth appearance of Dr. Strange. It doesn’t introduce any new characters or villains. It is simply an expanded retelling of Strange’s origin story, but Marvel didn’t just hand out solo titles to anyone. After Strange became the star of Strange Tales in the mid-1960s, it became clear he needed his own book. Marvel ended Strange Tales after issue 168 (until the 1970s) and retitled it as Doctor Strange with issue #169.
Especially for a Silver Age key, this book has failed to really take off in value. In fact, as recently as the last week of 2020, you could score a CGC 9.2 copy for under $1,000. 9.4 copies are still under $2,000 and 9.6 just crossed the $3,000 threshold. As you can imagine, this makes the down-grade books extremely affordable. A CGC 6.5 copy sold in February for under $250. Key or no key, that choice is up to you. But this is simply too cheap for Doctor Strange’s virgin voyage as a solo book. This is the definition of one of the many undervalued comics.
Avengers #85 (and potentially Avengers #86)
Speaking of the multiverse, tracing the history and origin of the Multiverse in Marvel’s comic history is a complicated and arduous exercise. You can quickly get sucked down a rabbit hole of did the multiverse first appear in comics, in animated TV shows (1967’s Spiderman series which was referenced in the post-credits scene in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse), or into Marvel Handbooks.
One thing is for certain, however. One of the earliest known references to another reality or universe in the greater Marvel, Earth-616 history is when the Squadron Supreme is introduced in Avengers #85 in February 1971. Tying a big bow on this whole WandaVision craze, Avengers #85 centers on how Wanda, Vision, and Quicksilver mysteriously end up on an earth that is not their own. They come to realize that every encounter, hero, circumstance, and obstacle is unrelated to their own version of earth. The idea of tying these characters together in an alternate reality might very well be a plot point we see in the MCU going forward.
They certainly aren’t going to just stop using Wanda and Vision now that the show is over. Where do they take them? The Multiverse seems to be as good a place as any.
Add in the fact that Hyperion and many of the other Squadron Supreme members are about to be featured in this spring’s Heroes Reborn offerings from Marvel and we may just have a new key issue developing with the first mention of not only these new heroes but also an alternate earth.
There are fewer than 350 copies of this book on the CGC census, but prices are still very reasonable. All available sales data show that a CGC 9.6 copy of Avengers #85 sells for under $1,000. There are a few copies of 8.0 out in the world, and you can easily snag one for under $200.
Detective Comics #411
Let’s go back to 1971 to look at a major DC key that could potentially have some modern tie-in potential. Detective Comics #411 introduces us to Talia al Ghul, daughter of the notorious Ra’s al Ghul.
DC comic fans are aware that Talia and Batman’s Bruce Wayne had a child named Damian Wayne who eventually took up the mantle of Robin, but left it behind in Detective Comics #1033 after the death of Alfred Pennyworth. He decided Batman’s form of superhero justice was not for him. After suffering from so much personal loss, Damian moves on, leaving Batman to serve as a solo act again.
However, DC has recently introduced an ongoing Robin series dropping in April that features young Damian Wayne forging his own path to fighting crime and coming out from under Batman’s shadow. DC is preparing two backup stories as well. Batman #106 and Detective Comics #1034 will introduce the Robin story and there have been multiple rumors that Damian will encounter or face off against his mother in some capacity.
That rumor has sent Talia al Ghul back to the forefront of Batman stories and when those books hit shelves, her first appearance might start seeing a steady climb. Presently both CGC 9.2 and 9.0 copies are selling for under $1,000. The last CGC 7.5 copy sold in our database was under $300! Simply too cheap for a character who has been an integral part of Batman’s story for 50 years.
Grab one before the al Ghul family tree starts heating up again.
What undervalued comics are you seeing out there? Let me know what you’re buying in the comments!