Special Edition: True Seconds

 

Greetings CBSI and welcome to the first edition of True Seconds.  Topher needed a break this week to do some experiments with dinosaurs and toast (inside joke) so I am stepping in with something fun that we both would like to discuss on the site more often which are second appearances.  

Second appearances are an awesome way to invest in a character who’s first appearance has gone out of reach for most people. But anyway enough of that let’s move onto the books!

 

2nd Mary Jane Watson/1st full and 2nd Rhino:

 

Okay so maybe this is cheating but I want to talk about both these books together for essentially the same reason although issue 42 is the second appearance of the Rhino so I think we’re on theme.  The market seems to have decided that the (non variant) book to invest in for MJ is Amazing Spider-Man #25 which I think is way off base.

That’s a great book don’t get me wrong but hardly relevant to MJ.  Issue #25 also contains the 1st appearance of Spencer Smyth and the Spider Slayer which I think are reason enough for it to hold value on it’s own so anyone who has already invested money can rest easy, but how many people have actually seen this 1st cameo?

Let me show you for those who haven’t.

 

 

This is a funny gag for sure but a milestone appearance? I don’t think so.  

So onto my thoughts on issue 38, and if you’ve read that book and are already calling me a hypocrite let me make my case.  Amazing Spider-man #38 IS a milestone issue. If you didn’t already know this issue would be Steve Ditko’s last.

Any comic book historian can tell you lots of anecdotes and theories as to why; but the quick rundown is Steve Ditko felt that he was not being credited fairly for the amount of work he was doing on Spider-Man.

There are varying reports of how hands-on Stan Lee was with his story ideas but Ditko was sometimes credited as “Plotting” the issues. Ironically the first time this would happen was with Amazing Spider-Man #25, the issue we were just discussing. By the time the series reached issue 38 Ditko would call it quits.

He apparently was in such a hurry to quit that he didn’t even submit a cover for the issue, so it was decided to use panels from inside the book with some text boxes added for flair. All of that is enough for me to like this book for the historical significance alone but it does also contain the second appearance of Mary Jane and here it is.

 

 

Dangit Steve you got us again!  The first gag is a little funny to me, but doing it twice I find really funny.  Now I know I just said that this kind of appearance doesn’t warrant a huge increase in value, but this book is priced like any other issue that doesn’t matter and that is criminal.  

Right now with a little effort you can buy a VF copy around $100 and I think that is an awesome investment.

So for those of you who had a clear picture of Mary Jane’s first appearance in your head, you might be thinking that’s not what I had in mind and that’s why I also wanted to have a brief discussion on her first full appearance in issue 42.  

This is the appearance that I always think will be the most iconic and most important of her early appearances; yet the market doesn’t seem to treat it that way. Even anyone who hasn’t read this issue is well aware of the intro, even if they don’t know where it originally came from.

 

 

Now for those of you well versed in the cameo vs full appearance debate, I think this one is easy to decide and CGC even labels this issue as her first full appearance.  Yet there are still people listing this book on eBay as things like 3rd Mary Jane and 1st time Mary Jane’s face is revealed.

THIS IS HER FIRST APPEARANCE!

Everything else is just a cameo because you don’t actually see her.  Even if it wasn’t, this panel is so iconic that this issue deserves a huge amount of love. Honestly, before I started looking into it I always assumed that it did, but some research put things into context.

As a reference point because they are basically the same age, The Rhino makes his first appearance in issue 41.  Back in May there was an auction for a CGC 8.0 copy of ASM 42 that ended at $179.95 and to contrast, there were 7 auctions for CGC 8.0 ASM 41 in May and the average price they ended at was $500.67. Really?!

Is the market saying that The Rhino is a more important character than Mary Jane Watson? I certainly don’t think he is. The argument I would predict people making is that 41 has a better cover but does it really?

 

 

Maybe it’s my dislike of The Rhino’s original costume but I actually like the cover to 42 better.  Because the cover of 41 reuses a panel from the issue (Spider-Man was added into the background) there basically isn’t anything Behind The Rhino but white emptiness.  

The Background to 42 isn’t that detailed either, but at least there is some sense of location. I could rant about this all day but really what this all comes down to is that MJ is an incredibly important character to the Spider-Man mythos and the value of these books should reflect that!

 

*Author’s Note*

This article was completed before I heard about the passing of Steve Ditko and I was very sad to hear it.  Rest in peace, you’ve touched more lives than you will ever know.

 

2nd Hobgoblin:

 

Three Spider-Man books in one week?  What can I say we write about what we know. If you’ve never noticed, this book is actually labelled by CGC as “1st Spider-Man vs Hobgoblin Battle” which I’ve always thought was an interesting way to put it, but I think I know why.  

I would submit to you that if the market hadn’t already completely decided that 238 was the first Hobgoblin, they would be labelling 239 as the 1st appearance. Sound crazy? Well let’s take a look at what’s happening here.

ASM 238 always held a lot of collector appeal, because it has an iconic cover and it contains an insert of the “Lakeside Tatooz”; which meant a lot of issues are considered “incomplete” and collectors were always after the issues with the insert.  

Because Hobgoblin appeared on that iconic cover the masses always said this was the first appearance, but if you’ve never seen the appearance in this issue I will show you.

 

 

That’s it. The last panel of the issue is the only one he actually appears in.  To be clear there is a shadowy figure talking in other panels, who is clearly the Hobgoblin but nothing is actually shown.

So here’s my argument: if we are being consistent this appearance should be considered a cameo.  There are numerous examples of similar appearances being labeled a cameo but here are a few:

 

 

All of these appearances have always been treated as cameos and I think if it weren’t for the cover of ASM 238 it always would have also.  I think all of this would be easier if we all agreed to a hard and fast rule that if they show a character, and they are named, that is a first appearance.  

But my feelings on 1st appearances vs cameos aside, issue 239 has already started to creep up in value but it isn’t something I see a lot of people talk about and I have found it a couple times in back issue bins.  Plus, for those who like a challenge there is a 75 cent Canadian newsstand variant! I think these are a great pick up if you can get a good price.

That’s all for this week.  I hope I could at least make everyone’s week without Topher’s spec go by a little bit faster and I’ll see you in a couple weeks!

3 comments

  • Lebednik

    great write up. thx

  • Also MJ was mentioned in ASM 15. That’s a very long time for a character to be fully developed. There’s got to be back story on why it took them that long to fully show her. The only thing I can think of is they put her on the back burner because of Gwen Stacy. Finally Romita Sr. decided to fully showcase her and used Ann Margaret from Bye Bye Birdie as an influence for her look.

    • There’s not really that much of a story. At first it was a running gag that Mary and Anna were trying to fix Peter up with some girl who had to be ugly and desperate, which leads into the appearance in ASM #25 where where Peter’s on-again-off-again Betty Brant and Liz Allen (who wanted Peter) actually see MJ and are blown away by how beautiful she is. After that, you had Peter graduating, establishing the college cast, and paying it off probably wasn’t a priority. It’s actually kind of surprising that Ditko brought her back again in his last issue, but it helps set up her actually appearing for real.

      I’ve just missed getting cheap #42s a few times. I completely agree it’s the book to get.

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