Hello, and welcome back to our weekly column where we take a look at a few undervalued or overlooked comics from one of each of four comic book eras – Golden Age, Silver Age, Bronze Age, and Copper Age. It’s all in an attempt to find value for you, the comic book investor and collector. Whether you’re a high roller or a bargain shopper, there will be something in here for everyone. This week, it’s the Copper Age. Let’s get started.
First Crisis in the DCU
When you think of 1980s DC Comics, one of the first books that likely comes to mind is Crisis on Infinite Earths #1. The magnum opus of Marv Wolfman and one of THE great comic book artists, George Perez, this series set the stage for a new DC universe by destroying multiple realities and merging the best together.
Fans loved the series. Especially the way that it showcased Perez’s ability to fit dozens of characters onto one page, and then dozens more onto the next. However, Crisis had one major thing going against it: competition.
Marvel had released the first issue of their own blockbuster series, Marvel Super-Heroes Secret Wars #1, less than a year prior. Fans picked sides and have been doing so ever since. When compared to Secret Wars #1, Crisis on Infinite Earths #1 is an undervalued comic.
There are 2,369 copies in the CGC census for Crisis #1, a little more than half of the 5,562 graded copies of Secret Wars #1 in the CGC census.
In a 9.8 grade, although it’s come down from its $783 peak, Secret Wars #1 still has an FMV of $450 and a 30-day average sales price of $491.
Crisis #1 just reached its top price in a 9.8 grade – $385 in an eBay auction on May 8, driven no doubt by the untimely passing of Perez. Even at that price, it’s still an undervalued comic.
Crisis and Secret Wars will always be compared to each other. However, that doesn’t mean that Crisis should be found wanting in the eyes of collectors. It’s one of the great comic book mini-series. It set the stage for the evolution of the DC Universe, and for the rest of the Copper Age. It should be near the top of any Copper Age collector’s list of must-have comics.
Manga Comes to America
In the 1980s, for most comic book collectors, Japanese manga was more myth than reality. Most had heard of manga and a few had even seen them. However, unless you knew Japanese, no one had read them. While there were a few English translations prior, Lone Wolf and Cub #1 was the first major exposure to manga that most collectors experienced.
Reprinting a 1970s manga series, Lone Wolf and Cub #1 was published by First Comics in 1987 and, aided by a cover and an introduction by Frank Miller, the prestige format book sold well upon release. The price point of $1.95 was high at the time, however, and the sales stagnated, leaving dealers with a number of copies that could be found in the cheap bins for many years.
Fast forward thirty years…
Lone Wolf and Cub #1 had yet to crack the $100 price point for a 9.8 graded copy. It wasn’t until March 2020 that this comic reached $150 for a 9.8. It briefly dropped back down below $100 and then rose to a peak of $215 in November 2021. The book has been falling since.
The trajectory is similar to many books over the past two years. However, the upward trend line is nowhere near as steep as others. Not only is Lone Wolf and Cub #1 undervalued, but it’s also overlooked, as evidenced by the slim 283 copies in the CGC census. New manga currently outsells new comic books. Sooner or later, collectors are going to start looking for early manga. Then, one of the earliest English translations, the one that proved manga could work in America, is going to be a much sought-after comic.
Penance Stare and Wicked Chain
You can’t revisit Copper Age Marvel without remembering Ghost Rider #1. Danny Ketch was the next Ghost Rider after Johnny Blaze, and his debut – from Howard Mackie and Javier Saltares – was a big hit for Marvel. It’s easy to forget how popular Ghost Rider was in the early to mid-1990s; he was everywhere.
While not forgotten since, Danny Ketch definitely plays second fiddle to Johnny Blaze in the minds of most collectors. Johnny Blaze’s first appearance in Marvel Spotlight #5 is considered one of the top Bronze Age comics for investors. Danny Ketch’s first appearance is considered a symbol of 1990s Marvel bloat.
Much of the conjecture regarding Ghost Rider and the MCU focuses on Johnny Blaze. Still, there’s no reason to think that it couldn’t be Danny Ketch who appears in the MCU. (Or even both Blaze and Ketch?) This makes the recent plummeting of value for Ghost Rider #1 a bit of a head-scratcher. Sure, there are plenty of graded copies in the CGC census – 2,231 to be precise. But there’s little reason that this book should have fallen from a peak of $823 in a 9.8 grade in October 2021 to its two most recent sales on May 15 for $300. Both sales were on eBay; one a fixed price, the other in an auction.
With prices so low for a Copper Age key like this, one that has plenty of potential to rise in the future, now looks like it might be the time to act. This is definitely a currently undervalued book.
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.