Welcome back to Hammer Drops, where we read the tea leaves of realized prices for insight into future auctions! Today we’re looking at lots from our September 30th, October 3rd, and October 14th sessions. Specifically, we’re looking at what they say about the concept of Key Issues and value.
The lots we’re looking at this week include two copies of Marvel Spotlight #5, 1st appearance of Ghost Rider, and one copy of Fantastic Four #52, first appearance of Black Panther. On September 30th, a Very Good Plus copy of Marvel Spotlight #5 sold for a solid $500. On October 3rd, only days later, a Very Fine Plus copy sold for $1,200. For those unaware, comic grades come on roughly a ten point scale from One (Poor or Filler shape) to Ten (Mint), with Very Good Plus being a five and Very Fine Plus standing about an eight. It’s a somewhat subjective scale, so other definitions may vary, but that’s the gist of things.
The Fantastic Four #52 from October 14th was in the Very Good Minus range, about a 3/10. It still managed to sell for $275, more than half of what a book in considerably better shape went for a few weeks prior and a dang good price for a lower grade book. Why might that be?
Teachable Moment: Characters Matter
Black Panther has become one of Marvel’s more prominent characters thanks to his appearances in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which has buoyed the value on his key appearances. That includes specimens that are a bit beat up, though one must consider that it is still proportional to condition.
I’ve witnessed this in my personal collection: a neighbor, knowing I liked comics, gave me a valuable-but-not-overly-expensive comic as a gift back in 1999. According to his online research, printed out and tucked into the bag and board, it was going for about $60 in Near Mint condition at the time and the VG one he gave me would have fetched about $20. Fast forward eighteen or so years and Iron Man #55, 1st appearance of Thanos, was worth considerably more money thanks to the hype for Avengers: Infinity War, with coverless copies (generally an honorary 1 out of 10 automatically) selling for that $60. Mine sold for a couple hundred, which I immediately blew on dental work.
The takeaway here is that while condition matters, Key Issues and the characters they debut matters quite a bit as well. If you have a 9/10 copy of The Human Cannonball‘s 1st appearance, you’ll be lucky to get $10 for it. Conversely, you can have a coverless copy of a Marvel Cinematic Universe favorite’s debut that commands over $100.
For that reason, among many others, you should probably let experts like your friends at Back to the Past look at the big pile of coverless comics you found in your childhood bedroom before you drop them in the paper dumpster up at the school (you know the one). It’s also why you should keep coming back to Hammer Drops for tips & tricks every other week!