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Comic Book Cash, Issue #007 -- Focus on Potential Bronze Age Investments
October 20, 2014

Comic Book Cash #8 -- Finding Brass in the Copper Age

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Let's get Copper toned!

Finding Brass Amongst the Coppers: Alternative Investment Picks from 1983-1993

Last time, I highlighted ten Bronze Age books which had the potential to either break out and become mega-keys, such as Detective Comics #359, or to take off with the announcement of movie or TV news, such as Amazing Spider-Man #149.

This time, I'll focus on the eighties, which is otherwise known as the Copper Age. An industry friend of mine recently commented, "What I've never seen happen before is the Copper Age stuff selling as well as it is now. It wasn't like that a few years ago."

The rise of the Copper Age has created more opportunity for we comic book investors. However, the risks are greater, simply because there is so much of this kind of material around.

Managing Risk in a Market of Commonplace Material

Take a true Copper Age key, Amazing Spider-Man #300 (first full Venom by McFarlane). This book is as common as dirt! It's in virtually every collection I'm offered from the period. Yet (as with the later New Mutants #98), huge demand keeps the price buoyant.

The combination of ASM #300 being a key issue and part of the world's most collected series makes it a must-have among collectors, and an ever-present whenever they want to cash out. CGC 9.8s are actually pretty scarce in the market, and approaching $1,000.

While keys like this won't go away, support for them might soften if the market declines. And the kind of books I will be looking to highlight in this article are more risky yet.

They are, for the most part, books which can hopefully break out and jump up in value. If they do, expect lots of dealers and investors to bring copies to market – deflating the prices sellers will receive. Let's look at an example of how this works...

New Mutants Annual #2: a Great Lesson in the Typical Supply and Demand Cycle in the Copper Age

A good example of this is New Mutants Annual #2 - first US appearance of Psylocke (Betty Braddock's first true appearance was Captain Britain #8, which is much scarcer in high grade and fetching $1,000+ in CGC 9.8).

New Mutants Annual #2: a Demonstration of Supply and Demand in the Copper Age
New Mutants Annual #2: a Demonstration of Supply and Demand in the Copper Age

There are lots and lots of Annual #2s available for sale. The character is hot enough to drive the price up, but demand is not hot enough to make it break out in the way that New Mutants #98 has done.

Prices in the marketplace are actually falling for Annual #2: CGC 9.8s sold for an average price of $360 in 2013, but are averaging $324 this year (though the last sale was $361).

This book also perfectly demonstrates the folly of buying Copper Age books in anything but the top grades. Look at the prices of 9.6 to 9.2 (I believe the 9.4 is a fluke):

2012 average 2013 average 2014 average
CGC 9.6 $48 $184 $128
CGC 9.4 $76 $86 $103
CGC 9.2 $60 $90 $57

So tread lightly. You need to be extremely picky about condition when investing in Copper Age comic books. 1980s comic books are seldom-to-never hard to find. Demand the highest standards in condition when you buy these books for potential return; consider pushing the boat out now for graded 9.9s, if you can find them.

And when it's time to sell, be quicker to cash in than you might be with Silver or Bronze investments. Be happy with a good return on these common issues, and don't get seller's remorse if you don't time the top of the market.

Better to be a seller in an upward trending market, than trying to get what you can in a downturn.

You should also be able to find some or most of these at garage sales and charity shops, when owners dump or donate them.

Amazing Spider-Man #361: First Carnage

This is a really easy recommendation, as the book has already pretty much broken out. However, I challenge you to put together a set of all three prints in CGC 9.8 shape or better.

The 2nd print on this book is already approaching the price of the 1st, and 3rd printing is sure to appreciate too as collectors look for another challenge. The silver cover of the 2nd print is way cooler than the first, too.

CGC 9.9s are pretty rare in general, but the support for this issue means if you can afford one, that is where I would invest my cash. Long-term, 9.8s of ASM #361 are just going to become more and more common, as we saw with Wolverine Limited Series #1, but 9.9s remain a solid bet.

ASM #361: first Carnage. Try Finding All Three Prints in NM!
ASM #361: first Carnage. Try Finding All Three Prints in NM!

2012 Average: $130
2014 Average: $188
Percentage increase: 45 percent

Avengers #257: First Nebula (Daughter of Thanos)

Her appearance in Guardians of the Galaxy is just the beginning. Nebula (as is surely true of Thanos himself) is not a done deal in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Another pretty common book that has the potential to keep increasing as the sci-fi angle Marvel's pursuing with the movies continues. You can still find this one languishing in dealer stock for single digits...

Avengers #257 Should be Easy to Find in Copper Collections
Avengers #257 Should be Easy to Find in Copper Collections

2012 Average: $35
2014 Average: $126
Percentage increase: 260 percent

Batman #436: First Tim Drake/Origin of Robin

Another issue with the potential to break out is this Copper Age minor key. Tim Drake assumes the mantle of Robin, and this is his first appearance. Batman is DC's Spider-Man; his titles tend to be more strongly collected than other DC staples.

9.8s are currently pushing $150 each, which is gratifying for a book which can still be dug out of dollar bins if you look carefully.

Batman #436: Love or Hate Robin, He is Money in the Bank...
Batman #436: Love or Hate Robin, He is Money in the Bank...

2012 Average: $57
2014 Average: $135
Percentage increase: 136 percent

Daredevil #254: First Typhoid Mary

Will Daredevil ever break back into the big time? If he does, then there will be some minor keys which have the potential to increase.

DD #254 is a perfect example, introducing a Catwoman-style anti-heroine and love interest. The perfect foil for a TV or movie Daredevil. This book needs some help though! It's been static for a while.

Daredevil Fans Know How FF Fans Feel...
Daredevil Fans Know How FF Fans Feel...

2012 Average: $168
2014 Average: $163
Percentage increase: -2 percent

Fantastic Four #211: First Terrax the Tamer

Pity the FF fans! For those of you accustomed to searching for issues from #1-52 and then #66, #72 and #112, now there is a later issue deserving of some attention.

It would not surprise me if Marvel did a Guardians of the Galaxy on unsuspecting FF fans when the reboot finally occurs, dragging up some really obscure bad guys and plotlines, and rescuing some books from dump bins in the process. Rumor mongers believe Terrax has the potential to be one of them, making this a decent gamble.

FF #211: Terrax Who? (The Next Star Lord or Groot?)
FF #211: Terrax Who? (The Next Star Lord or Groot?)

2012 Average: $74
2014 Average: $157
Percentage increase: 112 percent

Omega Men #3: First Lobo

I don't get the Lobo thing myself, but plenty of collectors love him. This book has already broken out, but I think it has the potential to establish itself as a new Copper Age mega-key like New Mutants #98. All it needs is the right movie or TV deal and the feeding frenzy will begin.

There are plenty around, so don't buy lower than CGC 9.8. There are currently no 9.9s in the census...

Give Your Portfolio a Lobo-tomy with Omega Men #3
Give Your Portfolio a Lobo-tomy with Omega Men #3

2012 Average: $73
2014 Average: $123
Percentage increase: 68 percent

Wolverine #10: Sabre Tooth vs Wolverine Fight

A classic white cover (which shows dirt and damage of any kind) and two of Marvel's best-loved mutant characters makes this a great investment. Prices are pretty static right now, but this book has a long way to go in my opinion.

Again, 9.8 or higher is the smart money. You can also make money buying up crisp raw copies for future grading and resale.

Wolverine vs Sabre Tooth. 'Nuff Said!
Wolverine vs Sabre Tooth. 'Nuff Said!

2012 Average: $91
2014 Average: $98
Percentage increase: 8 percent

Uncanny X-Men #221: First Mr. Sinister

A few years later comes X-Men #266 (first Gambit), another book which did break out, but has since met stern price resistance - there are simply too many of them around. Uncanny #221 is rising fast, but again, may fall back as more copies are graded and sold.

Another minor key with breakout potential is X-Men #244 (first Jubilee). You should also check out the first Jim Lee art in #248, another book which is warm right now.

Call Me Mr. Sinister
Call Me Mr. Sinister

2012 Average: $69
2014 Average: $179
Percentage increase: 159 percent

Incredible Hulk #255: Classic Hulk vs Thor Battle

This one comes a little early (1981), but for some people the Copper Age starts in 1980, so I'm going to squeeze it into this roundup.

Hulk vs Thor issues got hot after the Avengers movie raised the stakes on this classic crossover rivalry. The values of this issue have ballooned, and its earlier publication date probably gives it some insulation against over-supply: there simply won't be as many high grade copies to flood the market with.

Hulk vs Thor: Risk vs Reward
Hulk vs Thor: Risk vs Reward

2012 Average: $59
2014 Average: $120
Percentage increase: 100 percent

Miracleman #1 Regular Edition: Alan Moore

This Superman knockoff will never be reprinted, due to Moore's refusal to allow it, and so this 24-issue series has earned itself something of a cult reputation.

Everybody knows about the Gold edition of #1 (now a $2,000 book in CGC 9.8!), but even a plain ol' regular #1 is appreciating as fans, well, appreciate the quality of this classic mid-80s series. #23 and #24 are also expensive due to their reputation for being hard to find in high grade. There seem to be enough around, however, to meet demand.

Miracleman is an Alan Moore Classic
Miracleman is an Alan Moore Classic

2012 Average: $65
2014 Average: $104
Percentage increase: 60 percent

New Mutants #16: First Warpath

For those of you accustomed to asking only for #87 and #98, here's another issue in this series to look for – one that is probably still in a lot of dollar bins.

Investors should be on the warpath for this easy-to-find book, as the price is still rising. New Mutants #1 is also finding some love after years in the wilderness.

New Mutants #16: an Early Issue to Hunt For
New Mutants #16: an Early Issue to Hunt For

2012 Average: $66
2014 Average: $134
Percentage increase: 100 percent

Spawn #9: First Angela

I find it very difficult to recommend any issue of Spawn as a potential investment. With two MILLION copies of #1 printed, it's impossible to believe that Spawn #1 CGC 9.8s are selling for nearly $80! Collectors, eh.

The first appearance of Angela is well-known to Spawn fans and dealers alike, and so it will be tougher to find these in bargain bins. But you might still come across them in collections. We still get plenty of people trying to offload late 80s-mid 90s stuff. Cherry pick if you can.

Todd McFarlane: an Artist Who Should Stick to Drawing
Todd McFarlane: an Artist Who Should Stick to Drawing

2012 Average: $33
2014 Average: $71
Percentage increase: 115 percent

Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #64: First Cloak and Dagger

The red-headed stepchild of Amazing Spider-Man seldom excites, but this issue (and the well-known Spectacular Spider-Man #27, first Miller Daredevil) are exceptions. Will Cloak and Dagger ever star in a movie? If so, then this issue has huge potential to increase in value.

Spectacular Spider-Man #1 is also a minor key, but it is too early for this roundup.

Cloak and Dagger: Due for a Movie?
Cloak and Dagger: Due for a Movie?

2012 Average: $198
2014 Average: $253 (but last sale was $280)
Percentage increase: 25 percent

Your Opinion Matters!

If you have any ideas for extra books that might deserve a place on this list, then please write to me. I'll happily include them in a future newsletter and credit you for the help.

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As usual, buy what you can afford and enjoy, and you can't lose. Don't overlook the key issues -- obvious is not always a bad thing in investing -- but these have a chance to spring a few surprises in the years to come.

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Cheers

Ashley Cotter-Cairns Editor, Sell My Comic Books

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