Spider-Man this… Spider-Man that… Is his popularity all a ruse? Because when we take a closer look at a random sampling of Spider-Man and his other spider family books, we find the long-term spec opportunities to have a poor outlook.
The most important key has got to be Spider-Man’s first appearance. Looking that up, we find that it occurred in Feature Comics #66 (1943), published by Quality Comics. The villainous Spider-Man used a giant robotic spider named Herman to attack the workers of a local factory. Unfortunately for Spider-Man, the factory owner’s niece was none other than Dianne Grayson, the Spider Widow.
The market for this key book is exceedingly small, which is rather confusing because I hear that there are tons of movies made about Spider-Man. Even the CGC census only contains 3 graded slabs. Clearly, preservation of Spider Man’s first appearance book wasn’t worth the mylar. Sure, the FMV reaches four figures at the higher grading end; but it’s nowhere near the likes of the other Avengers’ first appearance books.
Maybe it’s this other Spider-Man that’s the one everybody likes? Just four years later, a second, different Spider-Man villain appeared in Whiz Comics #89 (1947), published by Fawcett Publications. He does seem to be more capable, going toe to toe with the likes of Captain Marvel. This Spider-Man was smart enough to invent a satchel-like bag that squirts out spider webs. So cool, he even got to be featured on the book’s cover when the other Spider-Man didn’t.
Looking at the Whiz Comic #89’s market, we only find a marginally higher level of activity. Even with the larger CGC census and sales volume, the book has barely budged with all the Spider-Man movies that have released. How unpopular can Spider-Man be that his key 1st appearance book resists the usual movie bump?
He’s got a spider name, and he’s a man. Maybe people keep using “Spider-Man” when they’re really referring to the Tarantula? He does make his first appearance before the aforementioned Spider-Men. And he has the super unique ability to stick to walls and shoot spider webs. Super unique. This one’s got to be it.
The Tarantula’s first appearance book is the Star-Spangled Comics #1 (1941). Compared to the books mentioned so far, this book has a much larger sales volume and overall market value. The oddity is that the market activity for this book has a higher correlation to the Star-Spangled Kid appearing in the Stargirl television series than any of the Spider-Man movies. If this is the spider man that everyone likes, the outlook for his first appearance book in terms of Spider-Man speculation is very poor, considering that a single small screen debut of another hero can contribute more to the market value than this spider man’s multiple big-screen appearances.
With so many spider characters getting their own spinoff shows or movies nowadays, surely Spider-Girl’s next. She first appeared in Adventure Comics #323 (1964), in which she failed to qualify for the Legion of Super-Heroes. But it probably wasn’t her first choice anyways, a safety club. The Legion of Super-Villains, which she later joins, was really her top pick. Unlike all the other spider-characters so far, Spider-Girl doesn’t need to rely on cheap spider-themed trinkets. Her superpower was the ability to manipulate her hair to do anything she wants. While this ability is impressive, unfortunately, the market for her first appearance book is the complete opposite. Likely the worst of all the ones here.
Also making her appearance in a similar timeframe was the Spider Widow, with Feature Comics #57 (1942). She’s probably the most unique among the spider bunch in both superpower and appearance. She could actually mind control real spiders; specifically, black widows. Hence the “widow” portion of her name. Instead of the typical spandex and athletic appearance, her costume of choice was that of an old, green witch.
Feature Comics #57’s market is similar to the other Golden Age books above; low CGC census and low sales volume. Sure, a 9.6 went as high as $900, but it’s too difficult to really extrapolate anything from that. Even with the current superhero trend popular in TV and movies, Spider Widow’s character design probably doesn’t put her near the top of any lists for live-action adaptation, even with how weird a Spider-Man multiverse can get.
After taking a close look at a random sampling of Spider-Man and other spider-characters, it’s difficult to see what all the fuss is about. Not worth the spec.