It’s time for more Undervalued and Overlooked Comics! We identify a few issues each week that could be overlooked, undervalued, or both, and may be worth considering for your collection. This week, we’re looking at comics from the Copper Age. Let’s get started.
A New Spider-Man Comic
In 1985, Marvel decided that two solo Spider-Man series were not enough for fans and collectors. Marvel Team-Up had ended earlier in the year, reducing the number of Spider-Man books down to two for the first time since 1976. That couldn’t stand!
Thus was born Web of Spider-Man #1. This first issue – and the series in general – is a very undervalued Spider-Man book. The first thing to note about this comic is the striking Charles Vess cover. Vess was one of the best cover artists around from the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, and this is one of his most well-known pieces.
This comic saw a significant spike in value in 2021, as did just about every comic. With over 8,000 copies in the CGC census, it’s not as if Web of Spider-Man #1 could be called an overlooked comic. Currently, the FMV stands at $230 for a 9.8 graded copy. This strikes me as a very affordable nearly 40-year-old first Spider-Man issue. Even more affordable is the $85 FMV for a 9.6 graded copy. This is a Copper Age book that, while not overlooked, can be considered undervalued, and is definitely worth considering for your collection.
The First Variant Cover
In 1986, DC pulled off a coup by coaxing John Byrne away from Marvel to take on Superman. It’s hard to understand nowadays what a big deal that was, but it was monumental in the 1980s, so monumental that DC decided to publish The Man of Steel #1 with two different covers – one for the direct market, the other for newsstands.
As happens nowadays with variant covers, this was met with a great deal of consternation; fans gobbled up both copies. Unfortunately, while DC changed course with many of their books, bringing new vitality and fans to properties that had been ignored for decades, longtime fans weren’t having it. As DC changed course once more a few years later (and seems to have been doing ever since), books like The Man of Steel #1 were consigned to the dustbin of history.
Taking a look at the newsstand variant of The Man of Steel #1, we see a comic with only 199 graded copies in the CGC census, a low enough number to consider this an overlooked comic. The FMV for a 9.8 graded copy is strikingly low at $100. Moreover, the sinking numbers from the 2021 bubble show this to be a comic that will likely dip below $100 very soon.
The direct market edition of The Man of Steel #1 does appear to be slightly more highly regarded than the newsstand edition. There are 516 graded copies in the CGC census and the FMV for a 9.8 currently stands at $120, although it, too, is dropping quickly.
Both versions of this comic are overlooked and undervalued. They’re representative of a time when DC was making bold moves to remain competitive in the marketplace and was really pushing the creative envelope.
Mike Grell’s Indie Hit
Although his name is virtually unknown to comic fans below a certain age, Mike Grell was very much a big deal in the 1980s. Coming off successful runs on Green Lantern and Warlord, Grell first tried his hand at creator-owned work with Starslayer #1, published by Pacific Comics in 1982. However, Pacific had some major organizational problems and would soon go bust after Grell took Starslayer to First Comics.
Shortly thereafter, he would begin work on his magnum opus that began with Jon Sable: Freelance #1, released in 1983. Sable told the story of an Olympic athlete and big game hunter turned mercenary and his sometimes violent exploits.
There are only 89 copies of Jon Sable: Freelance #1 in the CGC census, a very low number for a seminal work by a then-popular artist. The FMV for a 9.8 graded copy stands at a ridiculously low $90; based on the one-year average of $79, you could probably find a copy for even less than FMV. This is a real shame.
Jon Sable: Freelance #1 was one of the first big independently published hits of the 1980s and would help pave the way for bigger hits at Image and others in the 1990s. This is definitely an overlooked and undervalued Copper Age gem.
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Next Week: Golden Age Undervalued & Overlooked
Well, that’s all we have time for this week. Join us next week as we take a look at some undervalued and overlooked Golden Age comics.