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The Comic Speculator

by Matt Baum (03/24/08).
Cover of New Gods #1
Cover of Mister Miracle #1
Cover of Forever People #1
Cover of Jimmy Olsen 133

Welcome back to the Comic Speculator, where each week I talk about affordable collector comics that may not be undervalued for long. This week, I’ll be discussing Silver Age comic legend Jack Kirby’s early works for DC comics.

Currently, Kirby’s New Gods are being killed off in the pages of DC’s “Death of the New Gods” in preparation for this summer’s crossover event, “Final Crisis.” With the death of the New Gods in full swing, now is a perfect time to take a hard look at Kirby’s DC Fourth World work while it’s still very affordable.

Shortly after his split with Marvel in the late 1960s, Kirby began writing and drawing four different series for DC that would later be known as his Fourth World concept. The three Fourth World series were Forever People, Miracle Man and The New Gods.

The Fourth World concept centered on the god-like inhabitants of two warring planets, New Genesis, home of the New Gods and Apokolips, home of Darkseid and his evil minions. Kirby’s epic storytelling, along with his famous art style and revolutionary layouts, gave these comics a psychedelic-science-fiction feel that readers had never seen before – and possibly were not ready for.

Both Forever People and the New Gods were canceled in 1973, presumably for sales reasons, thereby ending Kirby’s cosmic epic. Both Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen and Mister Miracle would continue, but issue #148 of Superman’s Pal was the last issue that dealt with the Fourth World storyline and Kirby would leave Mister Miracle with issue #18. Since then, avid Kirby fans have been slowly and quietly buying up undervalued issues of Fourth World comics for next-to- nothing while on-line bidding wars over Kirby’s 1960s Fantastic Four work for Marvel pushed prices out of the range of the average collector.

Kirby introduced his Fourth World concept in the pages of Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen when he took over the creative duties with issue #133. Kirby’s first issue of Superman’s Pal sells for $85 in near-mint condition and, when compared to the $41,000 price tag on the first issue of Fantastic Four, it’s very affordable and relatively easy to find in worse condition. Kirby’s second issue of Superman’s Pal would later turn out to be the more collectible due to the introduction of his Fourth World Villain and arguably most well-known character, Darkseid, a cosmic despot who seeks to control the universe using the anti-life equation. Darkseid’s first appearance currently sells for $100 in near mint condition but that price has been steadily climbing. All of Kirby’s Fourth World titles have recently seen huge jumps in price as his DC work is becoming more sought-after; both Forever People and Mr. Miracle #1 (1971) are selling for over $100 and New Gods #1 routinely sells for more than $120.

As Kirby’s DC work becomes sought by comic collectors, watch for the prices of the Fourth World titles to go up exponentially – especially if the New Gods are going to play a large role in this summer’s Final Crisis event. Big crossovers with top-notch talent translate into big sales, which creates more interest in the origins of the characters involved. If you are looking for Kirby’s Fourth World titles, now is a great time to pick up these back issues. Conversely, if you are looking to sell your Fourth World books, it might be worthwhile to wait a few months to see if Final Crisis spurs even more interest in these undervalued series.

Until next time, free to post to the forum topics in the comic books community and tell me what you’re reading/collecting. Also check out my other blog, This Week in Geek, where I discuss the new comics of the week that could be tomorrow’s collectibles. If you have any questions about these books or anything else in the comic book world, feel free to contact me or post your question in the Comic Book community forum.

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