Hello, and welcome back to our weekly column where we’ll 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 – 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.
Alan Moore made his American comics writing debut with Saga of the Swamp Thing #20. You would think that, with his fame and notoriety, this would be a perpetually hot comic. Alas, this is not the case.
The focus of investors and collectors on first appearances related to the MCU has eclipsed what used to be a mainstay of the hobby. That being keys based on artists and writers. Moore was one of the biggest names in comics in the early Copper Age. He brought an adult sensibility and a uniquely British take to storytelling; it made for a completely different type of comic.
Without his work on Swamp Thing, there would be no Constantine or Sandman, or likely many other comics for mature readers. His work helped change the game.
While Moore’s work is rarely overlooked, in this case, being his first American work, it is undervalued. Prior to the sale price of $400 for a 9.8 in February, spikes for this book had traditionally been in the area of $250. Many times since 2013, the price has dropped down into double digits; most recently a sale that closed for $88 in September 2019. While we do have that recent $400 spike, remember that one spike does not make a trend. Likely, the next sale will be down in that $100 to $250 range. If it’s down around $100 again, that’s when you’ll definitely want to take advantage.
There’s only so far the market can go riding the MCU gravy train. Sooner or later, smart investors will start looking for value in books other than MCU first appearances. Saga of the Swamp Thing #20 is a key Copper Age book that is undervalued right now and should be considered a good long-term investment.
Having said what I did about the MCU doesn’t mean you should entirely ignore the moves of Kevin Feige and company. Of course, you shouldn’t let FOMO rule your collecting decisions as you chase after rumors. Rather, you should look smartly at the trends Disney and the MCU are trying to establish.
Disney+, being a primary vehicle of importance for both Marvel and their parent, Disney, has allowed Feige to widen the net and capture audiences or segments of an audience, which were previously unavailable when big box office numbers were the only goal.
Ms. Marvel is a perfect example. The trailer shows that this will be a show that skews very much younger-than-traditional Marvel fare; it will be focusing on teens and tweens. This has only helped to further the Champions and Young Avengers rumors. But what if the next link in the chain isn’t designed to hook more teens and tweens but go even younger, and reel in kids and their families? Remember – Feige has broadcast well in advance that the next move is not more of the same but, rather, to bring in an ever-widening circle of viewers.
Enter Power Pack. As Marvel’s only real family super-hero-based property, it fits the bill perfectly. Power Pack #1, as the first appearance of Power Pack, is currently an undervalued and often overlooked comic. While no longer dollar bin fare, as it was for decades, the book sees the occasional spike – a 9.8 went for $400 in September 2019 – only to fall. There would be another spike – a 9.8 going for $715 in August 2021 – only to fall again.
This year, the book has been hovering in the mid-$200 to low-$300 range. That’s a pretty low price for the first appearance of what could be a key property. Ask yourself: do you want to chase after an already overpriced first appearance of a character like Titania? (As an example – nothing against Titania.) Or buy low into a book that has a greater opportunity for long-term growth?
If you don’t know about American Flagg, you should. Published by First Comics in 1983, American Flagg is one of those books that helped define an era. It was hugely popular and won multiple industry awards for creator Howard Chaykin the first few years that it was in publication. It also showed that independent publishers could compete with Marvel and DC in the nascent direct market.
Regardless of movie or show rumors, this is an important book that is overlooked and incredibly undervalued. While a recent spike in March to $227.50 for a 9.8 graded copy shows that someone is paying attention to this comic, the high-water mark prior was $156 in July 2021.
As recently as January of this year, a 9.8 sold for as little as $93. That’s incredibly low for a book this historically important. Plus, one with a relatively small number of graded copies in the CGC census. Compared to other books of this era, at least.
Without the success of American Flagg, the idea of anyone being able to compete against the Big Two would have been little more than a pipedream. It would be surprising to see a vehicle like Image take off without someone showing first that it could be done. That someone was Howard Chaykin and his comic, American Flagg. Long-term investment potential in this hobby often rewards those who invest in historically important books, and American Flagg #1 is one of those books.
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.