Tales of Suspense #39 (Marvel, 1963)
The Comic Speculator is a blog written by WorthPoint Comic Book “Worthologist” Matt Baum that takes a look at each week’s hot new comics and back issues and the comic market place in general. Prices discussed here are taken from the Overstreet Guide to Comics (OVST), Comicspriceguide.com (CPG) and current online auction sales. Sales numbers and rankings are courtesy of ICV2.com. Lists of new comics are courtesy of Previews World and Comics List. Make sure and click on the links to learn more about the titles and creators discussed here. The codes under the prices of new titles discussed are Diamond Comics order codes that can be used to help your local comic retailer in ordering the issues discussed. If you want to hear what this nerd sounds like you can catch him on his podcast, the Two-Headed Nerd Comicast, where he and his friend Joe discuss the latest comic news, review some new comics, and answer your questions.
The Back Issue Report
As faithful readers might remember, last week we were discussing the Marvel Now relaunch and took a look at Deadpool’s many #1’s. The “Merc with a Mouth” wasn’t the only one to launch a new series this week. Iron Man also has new #1, complete with a new creative team, so what better time to take a look at a few of the Armored Avenger’s key Silver-Age appearances and #1 issues.
Tales of Suspense #39 (Marvel, 1963): When talking about Iron Man, you have to start with Tony Stark’s first appearance. Iron Man was created by writer Stan “The Man” Lee, scripter Larry Lieber and designed by legendary Marvel artists Jack “King” Kirby and Don Heck. At the time, Tales of Suspense was a Sci-Fi anthology comic and Iron Man could have very easily been another throw-away character had sales not spiked with his first appearance. Tales of Suspense #39 has long been considered a “holy grail” Silver-Age comic, but after Iron Man starred in his first movie in 2008, it has become one of the most expensive Silver-Age comics and highly sought after.
Back in 2008, a copy of TOS #39 in CGC #9.4 sold for $147,500 in a private deal brokered by PedigreeComics. After that, things went nuts, with the issue routinely selling for more than $145,000 and the highest-graded issue, a CGC 9.6, sold for an amazing $375,000 in April of 2012 at ComicLink. Today, in CGC 9.8, the issue guides for $144,000 but here’s the catch. The CGC census lists zero copies in 9.8 condition (and only three in 9.6), so we really have no idea what it would sell for. With the previous sale of a 9.6 selling for $375 Grand, I would guess a 9.8 could clear $400,000 easily.
Iron Man and Sub-Mariner #1 (Marvel. 1968)
Iron Man and Sub-Mariner #1 (Marvel. 1968): In May of 1968, one month after Tales of Suspense #39 hit the racks, Iron Man would get his own series. But in April, writers Archie Goodwin and Roy Thomas, along with artist Gene Colan (who would pencil the iconic Iron Man #1, 1968, cover), gave fans this one-shot that came with the tag line “Special Once-in-a-Lifetime” issue. How do you pass that up? Currently, the comic guides at $1,440 in CGC 9.8 condition and $720 un-slabbed. Both these prices seemed low, but after checking the CGC Census, which lists 443 issue in 9.0 condition or better, it seems there’s still a lot of these comics out there in great condition.
Iron Man #1 (Marvel, 1968)
Iron Man #1 (Marvel, 1968): Fast-forward one month and Iron Man finally gets his own series, written by Archie Goodwin with art by Gene Colan. Side note; Iron Man #1, 1968, is easily my favorite Silver-Age cover and possibly my favorite Marvel cover. Believe it or not, high-grade issues of Iron Man #1 are still available for very affordable prices. Really! Un-slabbed, you can find this issue in 9.0-plus condition for around $1,000 (I know, a grand for a comic sounds anything but “affordable,” but compared to some other Marvel comics from the same time, trust me, it’s a steal). In CGC 9.8 condition, this issue guides for $10,800. But, as it would turn out, Iron Man #1 is one of those rare titles that the CGC Census lists two copies in 9.9 condition. How rare is that, you ask? According to ComicLink President Josh Nathanson, “There have been over 300,000 Silver Age comic books graded by CGC, yet only 27 of them have received the grade of CGC Mint 9.9.” So, very rare indeed. Last November, ComicLink auctioned off an Iron Man #1 in CGC 9.9 and it sold for a whopping $69,600. Just a smidge higher than what the 9.8 copy guides for.
Silver-Age Iron Man comics have proven to be a better investment than just about any stock on the exchange and the scary part here, with the popularity of the Iron Man and Avengers movies, the price of Iron Man #1’s are going to continue to climb from here.
Matt Baum is WorthPoint’s comic book Worthologist. If you have any questions about these books or anything else in the comic book world feel free to contact Matt or post your question below in the Comic Book Forum in the WorthPoint Forums, located in the Community tab. You can also reply to this article in the “leave a reply box below. If you need more comic-nerd in your life, you can follow Matt on Twitter, where he’s always screaming about something nerd-related. Thanks to all Matt’s new followers and keep the comments coming!
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