Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Fantastic Four #45

1st InhumansMarvel - Dec. 1965

Key Issue Notes
First appearance of Crystal
First appearance of Karnak
First appearance of Triton
First appearance of Lockjaw
First cameo appearance of Black Bolt

Welcome back to the Inhumans key issues post, and in terms of Inhumans key issues, this one is a biggie. In this issue, we get to meet for the first time, most of the remaining members of the Royal Family that we haven't seen yet. There are a few that don't make their appearance in this issue, but I will get to some of them in the near future.

It's already been confirmed that every character that makes their first appearance in this issue will be featured in the new Inhumans T.V. show that premiers later this year.

Now, there's so much key issue goodness in this issue that I'm not entirely sure where to start. I guess I'll just follow along with the comic and talk about the characters as they appear.

1st Crystal and Lockjaw
Lockjaw and Crystal
After the long battle with Gorgon and Dragon Man that started in the previous issue, Johnny Storm (Human Torch) decides to go for a walk to "clear the ol' cobwebs". As he walks past an alleyway in a not so good part of town, he sees a beautiful woman that he instantly falls for. She is startled when he tries to talk to her, and immediately there is a huge gust of wind that blows around a lot of garbage and debris. After the wind subsides, the beautiful girl is nowhere to be found. This beauty is the Inhuman known as Crystalia Amaquelin, or Crystal for short. She has the power to manipulate the four elements, earth air wind and fire, but she can also manipulate electricity.

Now, Johnny can't get this beauty out of his head and decides to go back to the part of town where she pulled the ol' slip on him. Eventually, he see her again, and again, she tries to run away from him again, this time setting a pile of wood on fire as a distraction. As Johnny "Flame's On" to absorb the fires energy, Crystal see that he has powers just like she does, and decides to invite him to her "home" to meet her family.

Karnak and Triton
This is when we get to meet Lockjaw. He is an Inhuman that looks almost exactly like a giant, over-sized bulldog, with antenna protruding from his massive doggy forehead. Crystal needs Lockjaw to get her home, because he has the ability to create portals and teleportation. So Lockjaw creates a portal, and Crystal and Johnny walk on through to meet the fam.

Now that we're under the city, and in the home of the Inhumans, we quickly meet most of the remaining members of the Royal Family, except for Black Bolt that is. We're told that he "isn't home right now".

So moving on, we meet Karnak. When we first see him, he is standing in front of a monolith of marble, studying it. With one swift chop, the giant block is obliterated, and turned into a million much smaller pieces of marble. You see, Karnak has the ability to find the weak spot in any object, making it easy for him to destroy it.

1st Black Bolt
We finally meet Black Bolt
Johnny's cover is blown when he runs into Gorgon and Medusa. He has already had run in's with these two and they know that Johnny is not an Inhuman, like they are. This is also the time that we meet Triton, and as his name might suggest, he is an aquatic member of the family. He cannot live out of the water without his special aquatic suit.

Realizing that Johnny Storm isn't who he was pretending to be, the Inhumans try to set a trap for him, but ultimately he escapes and is able to summon the rest to the Fantastic Four. They arrive at the home of the Royal Family to do battle, when, on the very last page, in the very last panel, we finally get to see Black Bolt. But, we'll have to wait until the next issue to find out more about him, and what happens to our heroes.

UK Pence Edition
This is one of the Silver Age comics that has a UK Pence Edition. Not every comic from this era does, and I'm not sure why. I thought that Marvel would try to get as many foreign readers as possible, and doing that with the occasional issue seems less likely to do that. Oh well, I'm sure they have their reasons. 

Anyway, like I've mentioned in earlier posts, the only real difference between the UK version and the U.S. version, is in the corner box art. There you'll see 10d instead of the 12¢ that we use here in the States. Other than that, I believe the cover is identical. I can't be 100% sure since I haven't seen a copy, but I'm rather positive that the indicia on the first page will reflect the price difference as well.

This comic is not a sleeper of not a well known key issue by any means. Once there was talk of a movie, people started pulling out their copies and sending them in to be graded. So, census numbers for this issue are up there. Not insanely high, but up there. So far, there have been 1,692 copies graded, with most of them being low to mid/high grades between 4.0 VG all the way up to 8.0 VF. There are some graded higher than that, with 5 being graded at the highest 9.8 NM/M

CGC was nice enough to put the UK edition under a separate label and have a separate census for it. So, for the very under printed UK edition, CGC has so far only graded 11 of them so far. 

I have no idea is this is a true indication of the ratio of UK editions. It may be, but if a lot of copies are still in the UK, collectors might not want to spend the money to send them over seas to have it graded. I'm sure it costs them quite a lot more to have comics graded that it does for us over here.

Values of Fantastic Four #45
on GoCollect
If you were lucky to have this comic in your collection before any movie or T.V. show hype, then you were able to make a little bit of money on it if you threw it on the market. You probably still could.

Before they hype, this wasn't a comic that was on anyone's radar, and was most likely only being bought by Fantastic Four or Inhumans fans, not the speculators and investors that are buying them up now. I'm going to use a nice, high grade 9.2 NM- copy as an example. All the way back in Nov. 2012, a copy sold for only $670. That's really not to bad for a high grade Silver Age key issue. only about a year later, another CGC Universal went for $865. That's not a bad bump in value, but it's still well under the $1,000 mark. Then the hype hit.

Soon after, this comic hit that $1,000 mark, then the two, then three, and even the $4,000 mark. In fact, the latest sale on eBay for a CGC Universal 9.2 NM- copy of Fantastic Four #45 sold for $5,400. Wowza that a lot of dough. But in all honesty, I can't see this comic sustaining that price as it moves forward. Some of the lower grades have already seen a slight downturn in terms of sales, as you can see by the all of the red on the chart to the left. This is usually the case in today's market. One loses interest in a comic when the next hot comic hits, sending values for this particular comic down.

So, if you like the Inhumans, and want to snag their first appearance in this issue, you may want to hold off for just a little bit longer for the prices to come down a little bit more. Maybe once the T.V. show finally airs. However, I don't think you'll ever be able to get it for the prices that they once were, but I'm sure you'll be able to get it a little cheaper than they are right now. Happy hunting.

Find a copy here:
eBay - ComicLink - MyComicShop - ComicConnect

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

All-Star Comics #8

1st appearance of Wonder WomanDC Comics - Dec. 1941 / Jan. 1942

Key Issue Notes
Doctor Mid-Nite and Starman join Justice Society of America
First appearance of Wonder Woman
First appearance of Steve Trevor
First appearance of Hippolyte
First appearance of Mala
First appearance of Colonel Darnell
First appearance of Paradise Island

CGCThe release of the newest Wonder Woman movie is fast approaching, and the early reviews of the movie are generally positive, but me, I'm still skeptical. The rumors flying around in the early production of the movie were far from good. And, if you count the other not so good DCEU movies, Batman v. Superman and Suicide Squad, it seemed that this movie was going to be a disaster. Also, I haven't been overly impressed with the trailers that have been released so far either, but that's just my opinion. So, I'm going into this with some pretty low expectations, but who knows, I may be surprised.

Anyway, I thought now might be a good time to share with everyone Wonder Woman's first appearance in comics. For that, we've got to go all the way back to 1941, in the pages of All-Star Comics #8. In the back, after the adventures of the members of the JSA have their fun kicking ass and dishing out justice, We get to meet Princess Diana, daughter of the Amazonian Queen Hippolyte.

Princess Diana AKA
Wonder Woman
Before I get too much into that, I guess I should give you a little more backstory and information about the inhabitants of Paradise Island. This island is the home of the immortal Amazons, who just happen to be made up of entirely females. They are all considered "Wonder Women", so at the beginning of this story, there isn't an individual Wonder Woman... yet.

At the beginning of this story, Princess Diana and another Amazonian see an out of control airplane crash land onto Paradise Island. When the go to investigate, they end up pulling out the injured pilot, Steve Trevor and they rush him to the hospital. Now keep in mind that most of the women on the island have never seen a man before. This may or may not have an effect on the story a little later on.

After the Queen hears about a "man" being on the island, she uses the Magic Sphere, which isn't a sphere at all, to learn who this man is and how he ended up there. In a nutshell, two Nazi spies capture Captain Trevor to make it look like he was bombing his own airbase. But, in the middle of the plan, the Captain wakes up and takes control of the plane, that was being controlled remotely by the Nazi's. His plane eventually runs out of gas and he crash lands onto Paradise Island.

The Magic (Sphere)??
As Steve Trevor lays unconscious in the hospital bed, he is being watched over by Princess Diana, and she somehow, miraculously, manages to fall in love the the guy. Yup, she's never talked to the guy, knows almost nothing about him, but still falls for him anyway. Maybe it's the uniform. Women are a sucker for a man in uniform.... aren't they? You gotta love those Golden Age stories, as ridiculous as they can be at times.

Anyway, in order to preserve their way of life, they have to get the injured Capt. off of the island. In order to figure out who would accompany him, they held a tournament to see who was the strongest and fastest of them all. Against her mothers will, Princess Diana enters the tournament, wins, and then becomes the true Wonder Woman. I know, it doesn't sound exciting, but this is a Cliff's Notes version of the story.

Officially part of the team
Well, that's it for the origin of Wonder Woman, but now I have to cover the rest of the key issue notes. I suppose I'll start with Colonel Darnell. He is the man that approves Capt. Trevors mission before he is captured by the Nazi's. The dear Colonel isn't an overly used or important character in the DC Comics universe, but it is a key issue status so I figured I'd mention it.

Finally we have the first appearance of Mala. She is the Amazonian that battled Princess Diana for the final spot in the tournament where the Princess finally won. She also only has a handful of appearance and isn't an overly important character.

The last of the key issue notes is the induction of Doctor Mid-Nite and Starman into the Justice Society of America, after they proved their worth in their parts in taking down Prof. Elba, also known as Prof. Able (Elba spelled backward), and his Insanity Serum.

This comic came out in a much different era than the one that we're in now, with every issue, no matter how important, getting 10 to 20 different covers. So, for all of you variant hunters out there, I'm sorry to disappoint you, but there are exactly zero variants for this issue that I could find. There are some reprints of this issue, for example, the Millennium Edition that came out in 2001. If you're looking for a more affordable option for this comic, that may be the way to go.

Comic books, in the early days, weren't considered collectors items or investments. Most of the time, they were read, passed around to friends and read some more, and ultimately thrown in the garbage. So, CGC census numbers for this particular issue are really low. To date, there have only been 143 copies graded by them. I find it hard to believe that DC Comics had a low print run for this issue, I'm just assuming that most of the copies ended up in a landfill somewhere.

As I'm looking over the census numbers, I see that most of the copies that have been graded are in the very low .5 Poor grade to the only slightly better, but still low 5.0 VG/F.

There are a few high grade copies out there, with the highest topping out at 9.0. There are five copies at that grade, but three of them will have the purple Restored label attached to them. Even with those purple labels, copies of this comic are going to cost you some bucks as you'll see in the next section.

Values of All-Star Comics #8
on GoCollect
All-Star Comics #8 has always been a sought out comic and had a high price tag. It does feature the first appearance of one of DC's most recognized characters after all. But, like most comics in today's market, it has had a significant boost in value since it was let known that Wonder Woman was going to be in the DCEU and have a movie all of her own.

Let's looks at some sales and you'll see what I mean. There aren't to many data points on GoCollect, my regular go to site for sales information for graded comics. But for the sales that there are for a CGC Universal copy in a very low grade 1.0 Fair copy, the increase in value is astounding. In June of 2014, a copy at that grade sold for $5,495. That's nothing to shake a stick at for such a low graded copy. Jump ahead to Feb. of 2016, less that two years later, and a copy at that same 1.0 Fair low grade sold for $19,500. I nearly pissed myself when I saw that.

Now let's head over to Heritage Auctions and check out some of there sales. They have a lot more information over there so I can get some better examples. For this, I'm going to compare sales for CGC Universal 5.5 F- copies.

All the way back in July of 2002, a copy of All-Star comics sold at Heritage for $5,175. That's not too bad for a decent looking copy. Move ahead about a year and a half to Feb. of 2004, a copy sold for $6,037.50. Not a bad jump in price if you were able to snag it for about five grand a couple years earlier. Now, when we look at the latest sale for a 5.5 F- copy in Nov. 2014, the price tag on that beast was $44,812.50...... Holy S#!t!! I have a feeling that is going to me out of most peoples price range.

If you have that kind of money to spend, there are surprisingly a fair amount of copies to be found online, especially on eBay. As always, I'll provide the link for you just in case you're feeling like adding a piece of comic history into your collection.

Find a copy here
eBay - ComicLink - MyComicShop - ComicConnect