Thursday, September 29, 2016

Marvel Family #1

Fawcett Publications - Dec. 1945

Key Issue Notes
First appearance and origin of Black Adam
Origin of Captain Marvel retold
Origin of Captain Marvel Jr. retold
Origin of Mary Marvel retold
Origin of Uncle Marvel retold

This is kinda old news by now, but if you still haven't heard, the wrestler turned actor Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson has been given the role of Black Adam in the upcoming Shazam movie.

I have to be honest, I'm questioning if that was a good move to cast him for the part. Don't get me wrong, he seems like a nice enough guy and all, but he isn't the greatest actor the world has ever seen. Well, enough with my personal views on the matter, let's get into some details about this comic.

First and foremost, this issue of Marvel Family has the first appearance of Black Adam. Long before DC Comics obtained the rights to the character, Fawcett Publications created Black Adam as a one off villain to go up against Captain Marvel and the rest of the Marvel Family.

Black Adam
There is also a very brief origin of the character in this issue. It seems that Black Adam was born in Egypt about 5,000 years ago and went by the name Teth-Adam. He was summoned by the wizard Shazam and given incredible super human powers, and declared him now be called Mighty Adam. Shazam was expecting him to fight the evils of the world, but Mighty Adam soon became power hungry and wanted to take over the world with the help of his new powers. Shazam was not pleased with his creation and banished Mighty Adam to the farthest star in the universe, but not before renaming him Black Adam. Adam vowed that he would return to Earth to seek revenge on the man that had banished him. It took him 5,000 years to do it, but he finally reached Earth only to find that Shazam was no longer alive.

Click to enlarge
Let's move on to the origin of Captain Marvel. A young orphan, Billy Batson, was summoned by Shazam, the same wizard that created the evil Black Adam. Knowing that he wasn't long for this world, Shazam summoned Billy to him, and transferred his powers to the young lad. Once Billy said the name of the old wizard, a quick flash of lightening and clap of thunder later, Billy was transformed into Captain Marvel. Shazam died immediately following this when a chunk of stone collapsed onto him, but his spirit arose from the debris to help guide the new superhero.

Captain Marvel Jr.
This comic also briefly tell of how Freddie Freeman became Captain Marvel Jr.. Apparently Freddie was severley injured and crippled in a accident. Captain Marvel takes the injured teen to the spirit of Shazam to see if he can be saved. Shazam tells the Captain that the only way to save Freddie is for Captain Marvel to give some of his power to poor Fred. After Freeman says the name of Captain Marvel, a quick flash of lightening and clap of thunder later, Freddie Freeman is now Captain Marvel Jr.

Mary Marvel is actually Mary Batson, Billy's long lost sister. She is able to become Mary Marvel simply because she is the sister of Captain Marvel. She says the name "Shazam" and a quick flash of lightening and clap of thunder later, she becomes Mary Marvel.

Mary and Uncle Marvel
There is a fourth member of the Marvel Family. This character would be Uncle Marvel. He is somewhat of a fraud superhero. He has no powers, but when one of the other Marvel's turn into their alter ego, he quickly changes into his Uncle Marvel costume. I guess that should be his super power. Being able to change clothes in the time it takes for lightening to strike.

So, after Black Adam finds his way back to Earth, he meets Captain Marvel and Captain Marvel Jr. They duke it out, blow for blow, but none of the punches do any damage. It kind of reminded me of the battle between Superman and General Zod in the Man of Steel movie, but without all of the collateral damage. Anyway Black Adam escapes. For some inexplicable reason, the two Marvels change back into Billy and Freddie and go to see the spirit of Shazam. When they get there, they are gagged and bound by Adam, and helpless to save themselves. In comes Mary and Uncle Marvel to save the day. Shazam tell Uncle Marvel that the only way to defeat Black Adam is to trick him into saying the wizards name. Well, he is tricked and say the magic word and turns back into the mortal Teth-Adam. Due to his age, his body immediately start to wither and decay... well that's the short story anyway.

Obviously, the character doesn't stay dead, like most comic characters, and is resurected by DC Comics in Shazam #28. I'll get more into that comic in the near future, so stay tuned.

Click to enlarge
As I expected, there aren't many copies of this book that have already been graded by CGC. As of this writing there are only 78 listed on their census, and most of them are low to mid grade copies. You see, this comic came out in a time when most kids went in and bought copies of their favorite titles, read them to hell, and eventually they got tossed in the trash. Those that didn't go into the trash were left in pretty bad condition.

There are a few nice high grade copies, but not many. The highest graded copy listed on the census is a very respectable Universal 9.4 NM. If you're able to find this copy for sale, don't expect it to be cheap. The Overstreet Price Guide has 9.2 NM- valued at $7,000, so you can expect and already graded 9.4 NM to go for at least a few thousand dollars higher.

While I'm talking about Overstreet, values listed in the price guide for this comic have gone up a lot over the past two years. A 9.2 copy of Marvel Family #1 was only valued at $2,800 in the 44th edition of the price guide. That is a huge jump in a very short amount of time.

Values for Marvel Family #1 on GoCollect
Instead of looking at "guide" prices, let's take a look at some actual sales prices over the last few years. It wasn't that long ago that you could snag a nice copy of  this comic for a very reasonable price. Back in 2010, a very nice CGC 8.0 VF copy sold at Heritage Auctions for only $657.25. That's no longer the case. Fast forward to now and prices are much different. The last sale on eBay for a 5.0 VG/F copy ended up dropping at $2,500. That's a long way from where it was six years ago.

If you were lucky enough to have a copy of this comic in your collection before the hype started to hit and more people knew about this comic, then you will probably make out like a bandit. Now might be the time to throw it back out on the market. I'm not sure how much more room there is for any growth on this comic. It's definitely at a peak now, and how high the next peak will be remains to be seen.

Find a copy here
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Friday, September 23, 2016

Uncanny X-Men #221

Marvel - Sept. 1987

Key Issue Notes
First appearance of Mister Sinister

Could it be that we've found out who the main villain in the upcoming Wolverine 3 is? Well, if you listened to the commentary on the X-Men: Apocalypse Blu Ray or DVD, you've probably heard from Bryan Singer that it will be Nathaniel Essex, better known as Mister Sinister.

Director James Mangold recently put a little twist to this story when he tweeted out that he has never heard of the "Sinister guy", so will he be featured in the movie, or won't he? Either way, this comic has seen some attention since the release of X-Men: Apocalypse, merely out speculation, because of an appearance of someone that looked like he could been this Sinister character in the end credits scene. So, for Mr. Mangold's sake, I guess I should tell you a little about this Sinister fella, and his first appearance in this issue.

Mister Sinister
When were first introduced to Mister Sinister, we see that he has enlisted the Marauders to carry out one of his missions. This mission is to make Madelyne Pryor disappear. It's not known why he wants her gone, since it's never disclosed in this issue. The Marauders end up kidnapping Pryor from her hospital bed, but soon go face to face with the X-Men.

In a later issues, we learn that Mister Sinister wanted to get rid of Madelyne was because she was starting to get her memories back. You see, Mister Sinister created Madelyne Pryor. She is a clone of Jean Grey. He created the clone because he figured out that if Jean Grey and Scott Summers (Cyclops) were to have a child, that he/she would be one of the most powerful mutants, powerful enough to take down Apocalypse. But since Jean was under the influence of the Phoenix Force and very unstable at the time, he created Madelyne Pryor for the purpose.

The Marauders
Nathaniel Essex was a brilliant biologist in the mid 1800's. He theorized that the combining of genes from certain individuals would result in the mutation of the offspring over time and create superior beings, like Jean Grey and Scott Summers would. Essex was considered on of the greatest scientific minds of his time by some, and dangerous by others. He was eventually given is powers and immortality by the first mutant, Apocalypse, and took up the name Sinister.

Finding print run numbers for comics that came out at this time isn't an easy thing to do. I couldn't find any information while doing my research for this comic, but I'm sure they are not in short supply. Doing a quick search on eBay or other online comic shops turns up many results, a lot of them ungraded.

As for graded copies, there have been 1,405 copies graded by CGC thus far. It's no surprise to me that most of these copies are in very high grade. Of those graded, 1,128 are graded a 9.4 NM or higher. Most of the copies are a very high 9.8 NM/M (595 copies) while three of them are graded at a highest 9.9 Mint.

This comic has seen a lot of action in the market lately, especially on Sept. 12th, when the news about Mister Sinister's appearance in the Wolverine movie hit the web. It looks like everyone started scooping up all of the high grade copies on eBay they could find. There were 21 sales of this comic on that day alone.

Values for Uncanny X-Men #221 on GoCollect
Since there are so many copies of 9.8 NM/M out there, let's take a look and see how they've performed. When we go back to early 2011, this was pretty much considered a bargain bin comic. You could snag an already graded copy for around $40-$50. Values shot up to the mid $100 range a couple years later in 2013 and hovered there for quite a while. Then, in about May of this year, it shot once up again to around $250-$300 range, probably because of speculation that it was Mister Sinister that was in the end scene of X-Men: Apocalypse. Now all of the sales that happened on Sept. 12 range between $175 up to $249.95, and that's where they have been since then.

There have been a few sales of 9.9 Mint copies too. Back in 2009, a copy sold at Heritage Auctions for only $418.25. Fast forward to 2014 and we see a copy dropping for $750 on . Not a bad increase and still somewhat affordable for a comic in that grade. It will be interesting to see what a copy would go for now.

So Much Fun! Inc. variant
We have a "So Much Fun" copy of Uncanny X-Men #221 out there for all of you variant and rare comic hunters out there. These copies are easy to spot from the original cover. If you look, you will see under the title is the word "Classic" and in the UPC box, it reads "Distributed by: So Much Fun! Inc." I've included a picture for reference. I have no idea who So Much Fun! Inc. is. I couldn't find any information at all on them. However, it's estimated that the print run on this variant is about 5,000 copies. There are only 19 of them listed in the CGC census so far. The fine folks over at CGC recognize it as a second print, but they do make note of the So Much Fun variant on their label. Don't expect this comic to be and easy find. As of this writing, I could only locate 4 copies available on eBay, Two graded and two ungraded. If  you're looking to snag one of these hard to find variants, then click here.

I'm not sure if this comic has reached a peak or not yet, or, if it hasn't, how much more potential that it has. I myself am weary about snagging a copy now, but if you feel that it has more room to grow as an investment, then you should go for it. If I were to snag a copy, I'd probably go with one of the variants, if I could get it for a decent price. As always, I leave the decision to you.

Find a copy here
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Friday, September 16, 2016

Amazing Spider-Man #238

Marvel - March 1983

Key Issue Notes
First appearance of Hobgoblin

This is the last of the Amazing Spider-Man key issues that I'm going to do from the leaked cast list that I've mentioned on here before. Don't worry, there will definitely be more key issues from this series, since it's loaded with them.

This comic holds the first appearance of the Hobgoblin. Since Ned Leeds is going to make an appearance in the new Spider-Man movie coming out next summer, I thought I'd tell you a little about this key.

Before this comic came out, fans were clamoring and writing into Marvel to bring back the Green Goblin. Marvel decided against bringing back the iconic Spider-Man villain, and opted instead to create a whole new goblin character, so they came up with Hobgoblin.

Why am I mentioning this comic you ask? Well, when the Hobgoblin is first unmasked in Amazing Spider-Man #289, it is Ned Leeds that is under that goblin mask. After some controversy over at Marvel, resulting in people getting fired, they changed the identity of Hobgoblin to Roderick Kingsley instead.

It seems that it was never intended for Ned Leeds to become the Hobgoblin in the first place. It was always Roger Stern's idea for Hobgoblin to be Kingsley instead of Leeds, but when he left writing for Amazing Spider-Man after issue #150, the creative team that took over had different plans for the character. If you're interested in learning more about the history of Hobgoblin, there is a great article on it right here.

In this issue, while Aunt May is converting her home into a "boarding house for senior citizens", Spider-Man chases down some bank robbers that sped by and almost ran them all over. One of the robbers is able to get away through the sewers and stumbles upon Norman Osborn's secret lair where he kept all of his Green Goblin gear. The robber, that goes by the name of Georgie, shows a mysterious, shadowed figure the lair, and that's pretty much how the Hobgoblin came to be. Obviously we never see this mysterious figures face or hear his name in this issue.

Look Out!!
I don't have any print run numbers, but looking at the CGC census, I'd say that it was fairly high. As of this writing, there have been 3,790 copied graded by them so far. Many of these are high grade copies with the most being 9.6 NM+ with  809 copies. There are 327 9.8 NM/M copies listed along with two graded a whopping 9.9 M, that being the highest grade for this comic. There are some low grade copies out there too. There's one that got graded a 0.5 Poor, which makes me wonder why anyone would want to submit that copy in to be graded. It's not like it's going to sell like the 0.5 copy of The Walking Dead #1.

Tatooz insert
This comic came with a Tatooz insert. Copies that still have this insert still intact sell for much more than the copies that have had it removed. This really isn't a problem if you're buying an already graded copy, since it will be stated on the label, but if you're buying a raw copy, look to make sure that the Tatooz are still in there.

Now, this isn't a speculation comic by any mean. It's a well known key issue, but I am speculating that Hobgoblin may show up in a future Spider-Man movie. It may also be that Ned Leeds is just going to be playing a love interest of Betty Brant's too, but you never know what those Hollywood types will do. It seems like they never follow what happens in the comics anyway.

Values for Amazing Spider-Man #238
on GoCollect
There have been a lot of eBay sales over the last few years. Most of the sales have been for 9.6 NM+ copies, which makes sense since they are the most abundant of all the grades. Sales for this grade have been hovering around the $200-$250 mark for the last few years, with a few sales going a little higher or lower than that. It seems like the lower grades have seen a nice little rise in value over the last few months. Could it be that people are scooping up cheaper copies hoping to cash in on the Hobgoblin appearing on the big screen some day? Possibly.

This is still an affordable key issue comic of a popular Spidey villain, and you're not going to break the bank for a nice high grade copy. Whether Hobgoblin shows up in a future Marvel movie or not, this is a pretty good comic to snag, especially if you're a fan of Spider-Man.

Find a copy here
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Friday, September 9, 2016

Amazing Spider-Man #18

Marvel - Nov. 1964

Key Issue Notes
First appearance of Ned Leeds

Up next on the leaked cast list from the Spider-Man: Homecoming movie, is the first appearance of Ned Leeds in The Amazing Spider-Man #18

Ned plays a pretty important role in the world of Spider-Man, as he would eventually become one of the characters to suit up as the super villain Hobgoblin. That doesn't come until much later, so I'll get more into that in my next post.

For now, we'll stick to who Ned Leeds is as he pertains to this issue and his other early appearances. In these early issues, he started out as a rival love interest of Betty Brant, who is also the love interest of Peter Parker.

In this issue, Peter is caring for is very ill Aunt May. He is being called a coward by everyone, especially J. Jonah Jameson, because he is avoiding confrontations with all of the villains in the city because he doesn't want to leave his ailing aunt all alone if something were to happen to him. During this time, Peter is also avoiding Betty and she becomes upset with him. Then she meets Ned and the awkwardness begins.

Betty Brant and Ned Leeds
Ned Leeds is a journalist at the Daily Bugle, the same newspaper that Betty works at. After the breakup between Betty and Peter, Ned comes into the picture and takes Peters place as Betty's boyfriend. As time went on, he eventually proposes to her and they get married.

CGC notes this as the first appearance of Ned Leeds, however it should probably only be considered a first brief or first cameo appearance, since he only shows up in two panels of this issue. We'll have to see whether this changes in the future. He isn't even named until the next issue in ASM #19, when he is finally introduced to Peter.

This issue also has the third appearance of Sandman. I have yet to write about him, but I will get around to it eventually. All I ask is for a little patience. So many key issues and so little time.

And speaking of CGC, lets take a look at some census numbers. To date, there are 1,163 copies listed on the census. Most of these copies are solid mid to high grade 6.5F+ to 8.0VF. There are quite a few high grade copies as well. There are 175 copies between 9.0 VF/NM to the highest grade 9.8 NM/M, which is only three copies.

Values for Amazing Spider-Man #18
on GoCollect
There hasn't been anything drastic in way of sales skyrocketing recently. I couldn't find any information for 9.8 NM/M copies, but there are a few sales for 9.6 NM+. The latest CGC sale on eBay, which was in July of 2015, ended up selling for $4,529.43. That is only up from $4,200 in 2013, which is still a good chunk of change. There was also a sale on ComicLink that recently sold for slightly more than that at $4,636. Now, that is a lot of money for a high grade copy, but if you're looking for something that is a little more affordable (depending on what your definition of affordable is) you only have to go down a few grades to a 7.0 F/VF copy. You can probably still snag a copy at this grade for under $300, or if you're really lucky, under $200 like some lucky guy did on Aug 10 of this year. If your idea of affordable is a little higher or lower than that, then you can either go a few grades up or down, depending on what you can afford.

There is a nice 9.0 VF/NM copy available here for less that recent copies have been selling for. If you're interested in a high grade copy, you might want to think about this one, while it lasts anyway.

Marvel could have some interesting things in store for their cinematic universe by adding this character into the movies. Are they setting up something big like having our favorite webslinger go up against Hobgoblin in the future? Or is he just going to throw a wrench into Peter Parker's love life like he does in this issue? Only time will tell.

Find a copy here
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Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Amazing Spider-Man #46

Marvel - March 1967

Key Issue Notes
First appearance and origin of Shocker (Herman Schultz)

I don't know if you've seen the leaked cast list from the Spider-Man: Homecoming movie, but I decided that I'm going to do a few Amazing Spider-Man key issues from the names that appear on that list. The first issue I'm going to attack is Amazing Spider-Man #46, the first appearance of Shocker.

There was some concern that the leaked list was a fake, but with recent photos from the set of the movie, the list has more credibility. Here you can see what looks like Bokeem Woodbine all decked out in his Shocker costume. It's not exactly like it is in the comics, but it's a lot closer than some others that I've seen. Anyway, we'll see the costume in all of its glory when the movie hits theaters next summer.

The Shocker is another of the long list of characters that was created by Stan Lee, along with John Romita Sr., during the Silver Age. 

Bokeem Woodbine
as Shocker
When I was a kid I thought that Electro and Shocker had very similar powers. I figured that shock had more to do with electricity than what his powers really are. Essentially, The Shocker has a pair of gauntlets that he made that gives him the ability to shake and vibrate objects, not shoot bolts of electricity like I thought all those years ago. He originally made the gauntlets to open up safes and steal his fortune.

Before he became The Shocker, Herman Schultz was a just a two bit thief that landed himself in the big house a few times. While in jail, he came up with the idea to create a machine that could open any safe with vibrations. He used his creation to break out of prison and become the super villain that we know him as now. He also has a device that he used to deflect the punches of anyone that he's fighting, like Spider-Man in this issue.

The Shocker
That's about all there is for key issue worthiness in this issue. Well, I guess there is one other small key issue note to mention. In this issue, Peter Parker moves out of the house he shares with Aunt May, and moves into an apartment with his best bud Harry Osborn. That's it, nothing too important, but definitely a big step in the life of young Pete.

Since the cast list leaked, there has been an increase in demand for this comic. There have been a lot of sales over the past two weeks or so, but prices haven't really shot up as high as some other comics I've seen after a confirmation of a character appearing in a movie. I have noticed a lot more copies coming up for auction on sites like eBay, so maybe the market is getting diluted and it's keeping values down.

Values of Amazing Spider-Man #46
on GoCollect
As far as high grade copies go for this issue, there are a few. According to the CGC census, of the 842 copies already listed, 455 are graded 8.0 VF and higher, with three topping out at a 9.8 NM/M. There are quite a few Signature Series copies as well as a handful of Restored copies too. With the census being that low, you can bet that there are going to be a lot of raw copies out there that you can probably still get a deal on and send in to get graded yourself.

If you'd rather buy already graded, then you can still get this comic for a good deal. The most recent sales for some grades are only slightly higher than they were before the cast list was leaked. There has definitely been an increase, but nothing crazy so far. The most recent sale for an 8.5 VF+ went for $350, which is only up about $100 from sales at the end of last year, and 9.2 NM- have seen a slightly larger increase in value. The last sale of $750 has increased over $250 in about that same time span. There was one lucky SOB that nabbed a sweet 9.6 NM+ for only $195 on the 3rd of this month. Don't be expecting to find deals like that for this book anytime soon.

For all of you variant hunters out there, there is a UK version of this comic too. So far, there have only been 8 copies graded by CGC. How many copies of this variant are out there is beyond me, but I'm sure it's much lower that the US version. There is also a Mexican edition available, but I have even less information on that one that I do the UK version. Either way, these are both hard finds. I could only find one of each for sale on the world wide web.

Find a copy here
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