The Comic Speculator – Back Issue Report 12/14/2010

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), (CPG) and current online auction sales. Sales numbers and rankings are courtesy of 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.

The Back Issue Report:

It’s time for another look into the seedy underworld of the back issue comic market. Join me as I dig through dusty, digital crates to find nerdy comic treasures, both new and old.

Gold and Silver News

Heritage Auction Galleries put up record sales numbers on two key Golden-Age comics, including a restored copy of Action Comics #1 CGC 6.5 (DC, 1938; first Superman) that sold for $143,400.00, the highest price ever for a restored comic, and a copy of Detective Comics #27 CGC 7.5 (DC, 1939; first Batman) that sold for $492,938. The comics were part of Heritage’s Vintage Comics and Comic Art Auction that ended on Nov. 18.

Action Comics #1 CGC 6.5

Detective Comics #27 CGC 7.5

This copy of Detective Comics #27 was purchased in 1939 for a dime by the only owner, Robert Irwin of Sacramento, Ca., who forgot he owned the comic until the early 1990s. Not a bad investment, Mr. Irwin.

In less successful auction news, the highly publicized auction for Fred Ray’s famous Golden-Age cover of Superman #14 reached a record high price of $402,111, but did not sell due to the even higher reserve price. The piece, along with the cover of Detective Comics #69 that didn’t sell for $213,000, were both part of the Jerry Robinson collection that Comic Connect had featured in its November Event Auction. Vintage art experts had expected very high reserves on the pieces, as Ray had been reluctant to break up his collection in the past. I guess if I had spent years putting together one of the most impressive Golden-Age collections of both comics and original art in existence, I’d have trouble parting with it too.

Bronze-Age and Beyond

Gold- and Silver-Age comics weren’t the only ones breaking sales records at Heritage Auctions last month. Green Lantern #76 (DC, 1970)—which jumped ahead of Incredible Hulk #181 and Giant Size X-Men #1 to become the highest valued non-variant Bronze-Age comic in this year’s edition of the Overstreet Guide to Comics and is widely considered to be the first Bronze-Age comic book—sold for the record-breaking price of $37,343. This sale not only concretes GL #76’s place as the most valuable Bronze-Age comic, but beats the previous record by $5,000. See my Bull vs. Bear section below for more on GL #76.

In the same Heritage Auction, the original Page 1 art of Watchmen, drawn by Dave Gibbons, sold for $33,460. See my last TCS-BIR for the history of the page.

Sell Out News

These could be the hot back issues of the future, so pay attention and buy now or pay way too much for them later. The sell-outs discussed here are at the distributor level meaning there may be copies still available at your local comic shop. If they are still there, then go buy ’em, fool!


Detective Comics #871

Scott Snyder (writer, American Vampire) and artist Jock’s (Losers) first issue of Detective Comics #871 has sold out at diamond and DC is rushing a second-printing, scheduled to ship on Dec. 22. First-printings are still out there, this was the first part of a new Batman INC storyline featuring a new creative team, so orders on the comic were high, but you might want to pick this one up now if you missed it.


Artifacts #3

Artifacts #3 continues the sellout streak for Image’s latest Witchblade/Darkness crossover. There still seems to be plenty of these online, but issues #1 and #2 are getting harder to find. There’re also at least five variant covers for each issue, and all of them seem to be selling well. Most recently, 1:100 foil variant covers of issue #2 jumped from $29 to northwards of $50.



Heroes for Hire #1 may or may not have sold out yet but Marvel has announced a second-printing to ship on Jan. 12.

OCT108165 HEROES FOR HIRE #1 Second-printing

My guess is a press release is coming soon. There’re plenty of issue #1 variants on eBay, but not a lot of regular covers. Buzz is really starting to build around this title and it wouldn’t surprise me to see prices climbing on first-printings very soon.

Bull vs Bear

Buy or sell? Every week I get asked “what’s hot in comics these days?” Well, here’re a few comics that are either moving right now or just begging to be added to your collection . . .


Green Lantern #76

Green Lantern #76 (DC, 1970). So, there’s all the stuff I mentioned above about Overstreet and the recent Heritage Auction. In addition, it’s important to take a look at what’s happened to the demand on this comic for the last few years. Back in 2007, copies of GL #76 in CGC 9.0 condition were selling for a little more than $1,000. Now, copies in the same condition are selling for almost $2,500 and copies in better condition are breaking records for values of Bronze-Age comics. With this most recent Heritage Auction for a GL #76 breaking the record for most-valuable-Bronze-Age-Non-Variant-Comic, you can bet other collectors will take notice and copies in all conditions should see higher prices than ever before. Just last week (Dec. 4), an unslabbed copy listed as Very Fine sold for $698 on eBay. Looks like I can mark this one off the list of comics I’ll ever be able to afford.


Luke Cage: Hero for Hire

Luke Cage: Hero for Hire (Marvel, 1972). Want to make a relatively quick buck selling Luke Cage comics? As of recently CGC graded and high-grade issues of Hero for Hire have been selling for good money. Recently, an issue #2 (first appearance of Diamondback) in CGC 9.6 sold for $90 and high-grade #1’s are selling for more than $100 unslabbed. So why am I saying buy and not sell? You can still find runs of Luke Cage: Hero for Hire for very reasonable prices, and if you take the time to CGC them, you can turn the issues for a good profit. Especially with sellers asking for more than $2,000 for #1’s in 9.6. Not that they’ll see that money any time in the next five years, but if you can find a high-grade copy of issue #1—something that would grade out at CGC 9.8—you could be sitting on a $1,000-plus comic. Currently, the CGC census lists 34 copies of issue #1 in 9.6 condition and only two in 9.8. I’m not sure what a slabbed first issue in 9.8 would sell for, but it would certainly be worth the initial investment of $80-$90 for a Near-Mint copy and the $23 for CGC submission.


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 “comments” section below. Also, you can follow him on Twitter, where I’m always screaming about something nerd-related. Thanks to all Matt’s new followers and keep the comments coming! Want to know what your comics are worth? Join WorthPoint to search its database or use its “Ask A Worthologist” feature. Remember to post the title, issue number and cover price. And finally, a word to the Federal Trade Commission; all the comics discussed here are purchased solely by the writer, who receives no gifts or free merchandise from any publishers, even though he would graciously accept them.


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