High Grade Keys

I am going to try something a little different this week. I am going to compare similar characters/storylines from the Copper/Bronze ages in quiz form (books will be revealed with recommendations at the end).

Since there are no print runs for these eras, I am going to use CGC census numbers, just as reference. I am also only going to use the highest grades possible (9.6 and above). Average sales are based on the last 6 months.

Let’s see if our want list matches up with what the numbers say…

Scenario #1: Origin Stories

1) 10.0: 14 copies.
9.9: 43 copies.
9.8: 1331 copies. Sells for $138.
9.6: 642 copies. Sells for $81.
2) 10.0: 0 copies.
9.9: 0 copies.
9.8: 372 copies. Sells for $160.
9.6: 333 copies. Sells for $60.

Both issues feature origin stories of iconic characters. Both issues have iconic covers. Which would you buy?

Scenario #2: 1st Appearance of a Major Villain

1) 9.9: 1 copy.
9.8: 310 copies. Sells for $475.
9.6: 376 copies. Sells for $250.
2) 9.9: 10 copies.
9.8: 568 copies. Sells for $1000.
9.6: 1711 copies. Sells for $410.

Both issues feature villains who have had their own title. They have also both been featured in either TV or film. One has the villain on the cover, the other does not. One is a true first appearance, the other had prior cameo’s. Which would you buy?

Scenario #3: 1st Appearance of Minor Heroine

1) 9.8: 34 copies. Sells for $408.
9.6: 36 copies. Sells for $139.
2) 9.8: 51 copies. Sells for $365.
9.6: 88 copies. Sells for $159.

Both feature athletic female characters. Both are of characters who are/will be in TV or film. Which would you buy?

Scenario #4: Popular Major Character

1) 9.9: 13 copies.
9.8: 1189 copies. Sells for $373.
9.6: 1667 copies. Sells for $186.
2) 9.9: 3 copies.
9.8: 357 copies. Sells for $285.
9.6: 351 copies. Sells for $150.

Both are very popular characters, but not main characters. Both have been featured in their own titles. 1 has an upcoming movie. Which would you buy?


Scenario #1:

Book #1 is Batman: The Killing Joke. Book #2 is Batman #404. Clearly, TKJ is much easier to find in high grade, but it sells for a similar price in 9.8 and more in 9.6. Batman #404 is the bargain.

Batman: The Killing Joke

Batman: The Killing Joke

Batman #404

Batman #404

hold buy

Scenario #2:

Book #1 is The New Teen Titans #2. Book #2 is Amazing Spider-Man #300. Yes, Venom is more loved than Deathstroke, maybe. Yes, ASM #300 has been cover swiped a million times. And yes, Todd McFarlane is more popular than George Perez, but does the book that is twice as plentiful deserve to be selling for twice the amount?

New Teen Titans #2 (1st Deathstroke)

New Teen Titans #2


Amazing Spider-Man #300

buy hold

Scenario #3:

Book #1 is Marvel Team-Up #95 1st Mockingbird. Book #2 is New Mutants Annual #2 1st Psylocke. This one is a push. Both appear to be priced accordingly based on their rarity (although the MTU 9.6 may be a little undervalued).

Marvel Team-Up #95

Marvel Team-Up #95

New Mutants Annual #2

New Mutants Annual #2

hold hold

Scenario #4:

Book #1 is Uncanny X-Men #266 1st Gambit (full). Book #2 is Tales of the Teen Titans #44 1st Nightwing. Yes, Dick Grayson had been around for decades and Remy LeBeau had not. Remember, though, UXM #266 is not his true first appearance either. TTT #44 is a much more difficult book to find in high grade and comparatively, is undervalued.

Uncanny X-Men #266

Uncanny X-Men #266

Tales of the Teen Titans #44

Tales of the Teen Titans #44

hold buy

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  • Avatar

    Great article! Takes the hype out of it and makes you think about the logic.

  • eddiez

    love this article, i have done the comparison with first issues at low grade
    And the buy hold is a sweet feature

  • emiobeg

    Thanks again for the information. As a rookie I find the Hold and Sell info very helpful to understand this whole biz.

  • comickiller72

    That struck a cord with me when you said Mcfarlane was more popular than Perez. I would say that Todd is a better businessman to real comic fans that know there history Perez is a GOD! To me anyway..

    Anyway I do agree with the analysis of what should be bought or held! Nice critique. Keep them coming!

    • Ben Steiniger

      I agree with you comickiller72. McFarlane is a great businessman. I guess maybe I should have said, more popular in modern art. I think maybe that is my point. Why is ASM 300 valued so much higher than NTT 2 when you have hot iconic characters, artists, etc. and NTT 2 is harder to find in high grade? Either NTT 2 has a lot of room to grow, or ASM 300 is overvalued…I would think the former is probably more in line.

  • Avatar

    TKJ, one of the best covers ever imo.

    Interesting analysis. Thanks for sharing your findings!

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