Comic Book Values
Introduction to Marvel Comics #1
The original Marvel Comics series (renamed Marvel Mystery with issue #2) published by Timely Comics is one of the most important in comic book history, rivaling DC’s Action Comics. In fact, at times over the past few decades, Marvel Comics #1 has ranked as the most valuable comic book of all, although it now ranks #6 on 2019 Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide list of Top 100 Golden Age Comics. The primary artists early-on were Carl Burgos on the Human Torch, Paul Gustavson on the Angel, and Bill Everett on Namor, the Sub-Mariner. The first two were making their first appearance in Marvel Comics #1, while the Sub-Mariner had already appeared in Motion Picture Funnies #1, a failed movie-theater comic premium.
Marvel Comics began its run in 1939 and is rare. The 2019 Overstreet currently estimates a low-grade, but complete copy (GD 2.0) is valued at $43,200 and a near-pristine copy (NM- 9.2) at $720,000. In real-world terms, the book consistently fetches higher than Overstreet guide values. In 2015, for instance, Heritage sold a copy in 4.0 for over $65,000, and a copy in .5 with a detached cover for over $22,000. In contrast, the last issue is valued in the 2019 Overstreet at $406 in 2.0 and $7,100 in 9.2. Considering that the direct lineage of Marvel Comics #1 includes 1960s-era Marvel Age titles/characters such as Fantastic Four, The Incredible Hulk, The Amazing Spider-Man, Iron Man, Thor, Ant-Man, Dr. Strange, and the X-Men, all of whom are enormously popular even today, it is difficult to overestimate the importance of the 1939 comic book that started it all.
Brief History of Marvel Comics #1
The first issue’s initial pressing of 80,000 copies sold out, prompting a second printing, which has the original October date blacked out and replaced by a November date. With issue #2, the title became Marvel Mystery Comics and would run for 92 issues over 10 years before again changing names to Marvel Tales where it became a horror book and finally ending with issue #159.
The Marvel Mystery run featured many characters that would be familiar (at least by name) to readers during the Marvel Age of the 1960s & 70s including Human Torch, Sub-Mariner, Ka-Zar, Angel, Captain America, Electro (a robot), and the Vision. Some great artists graced the pages by the likes of Alex Schomburg, Jack Kirby, Bill Everett, Jimmy Thompson, Carl Burgos, Paul Gustavson, and others.
How much is Marvel Comics #1 worth?
According to the 2019 Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide, a 9.2 copy is valued at $720,000. Marvel Comics #1 is 6th on the Overstreet Top 100 Golden Age Comics.
What is the most expensive Marvel Comics #1 sold at auction?
Marvel Comics #1 joined the million-dollar club in 2019 when the Windy City Pedigree CGC 9.4 sold for $1,260,000.
What Marvel Mystery comics are valuable?
Marvel Mystery Comics #9
In 2009, a CGC 9.4 issue sold for $107,550. This is regarded as the first battle between two super-heroes, Human Torch and Sub-Mariner.
Marvel Mystery Comics #2
The first issue of the renamed title sold for $70,000 in 2017 for a CGC 9.0 copy. The Angel sports his first cover.
Marvel Mystery Comics #44
The San Francisco Pedigree CGC 9.4 sold in 2020 for $55,200. The Human Torch comes to the rescue of the Kremlin, destroying NAZI planes on this classic Alex Schomburg cover.
Marvel Mystery Comics #4
Another pedigree, Billy Wright, in CGC 9.2 sold for $50,787.50 in 2012. Schomburg once again provides the art on Sub-Mariner’s 1st cover as he tackles a NAZI submarine.
Marvel Comics #1 Cover Art
Martin Goodman called on popular science-fiction pulp artist Frank R. Paul for the 1st cover. The art has never surfaced.
Original art to Marvel Comics #1
One page is known to have survived. Page #12 of the Sub-Mariner story by creator Bill Everett sold at Heritage Auctions in 2005 for $86,250.
Other original art to Marvel Mystery Comics
How scarce is art from these series? Heritage Auctions has only sold cover recreations to the series by Alex Schomburg, C. C. Beck, Joe Simon, and a couple of unknown artists. Schomburg is the king of recreations with his Marvel Mystery Comics #56 cover selling for $40,630 in 2016, #66 for $17,925 in 2009 and #43 for $14,340 in 2010. Joe Simon’s top effort comes with his recreation of Marvel Mystery Comics #12 selling for $2,390 in 2018 and C. C. Beck whipped up a nifty recreation of Marvel Mystery Comics #8 that sold in 2003 for $1,552.50.
Characters from Marvel Comics #1
The first issue of Marvel Comics introduced an android superhero known as the Human Torch, a costumed detective named the Angel, a mutant anti-hero named Namor, more commonly known as the Sub-Mariner and his cousin Dorma, a western hero by the name of the Masked Raider, and from the pulps making his comic debut, Ka-Zar.
Plot Summaries of Marvel Comics #1
The cover feature of Marvel Comics #1 begins with Professor Horton holding a press conference to reveal his creation of the first android. He reveals that there is a problem associated with his discovery, and reveals a man in a glass capsule who he calls the Human Torch. When any air enters the chamber, the man’s body starts on fire. Although Horton agrees to seal the man into a steel tube, the tube later explodes because there is a leak in the tube that allows air inside. The Human Torch then runs through the city, confused about why everything he touches starts on fire.
The Six Big Men are wreaking havoc and the city fathers council to decide what to do. “Hire the Angel” is suggested and approved because he works outside the law and will clean up the city. But before they adjourn, a rock with a note is thrown through the window. It’s from the Angel and he lists the Six Big Men plus an unknown Boss he plans on dealing with, no charge. And clean the city he does, either personally murdering or sending them to their deaths and resolves the case in the last panel, with a confrontation of the Boss.
Our third story opens with a salvage diver rising to the surface. Something’s fishy with the wreck below. It’s decided to send down two men. Once at the bottom, they spot what looks like a swimmer, but that’s impossible! From a distance, the young sea prince spots the two men and thinks in those outfits, they must be robots of some type. He quickly moves to subdue the ‘robots’ by severing their control wires (actually their oxygen). He then pushes the salvage ship upon a reef, splitting the vessel in two. Returning with his two dead men as trophies, Namor presents them to his holy man who is amused but asks to see what’s inside. With helmets removed, the Sub-Mariner is surprised to learn these are men. Narmor’s mother the queen quickly soothes him and congratulates him for striking the first blow against the surface people. She relates to Namor how in 1920 a research ship came to the southern seas near Antarctica and positioned itself directly above Atlantis. Dropping explosives over the side, Atlantis was being devastated. Princess Fen, Namor’s mother, was directed to go to the surface and use her ‘female wiles’, to spy upon the surface men. Posing as a stowaway, she is accepted by the crew and after learning their language, falls in love with Commander Leonard McKenzie who she repeatedly tells Namor that he’s a nice man. They marry and she continues to report back to her people. Fen reports that the surface people are too strong but as the Atlantians prepare to launch a strike, another barrage of explosives destroys many in the army. Beaten, they decide to migrate until their numbers are strong once again. The last four pages are new material added to the 8-page story in Motion Picture Funnies, tell of Namor and Dorma’s first attack against the surface people, destroying a lighthouse.
Cal Brunder, the powerful rancher of Cactusville, is buying out all the local ranchers. Jim Gardley will have nothing of it and rather forcefully sends Brunder’s lacky back to tell him so. But Bunder frames Gardley and the local sheriff is in the pocket of Brunder so it doesn’t look good. Feigning sickness, Jim lures the sheriff into his cell and overpowers him. Making good his escape, Jim Gardley decides to return to town and clean it up but must disguise himself and thus is born the Masked Raider.
A straight adventure story by the name “Jungle Terror” Is next. At the Florida plantation of Professor Roberts, nephews Ken Masters and Tim Roberts are worried. They haven’t heard from their uncle in three months since he left to find the diamonds with hypnotic powers he heard about from a tribe in the Amazon. Ken and Tim decide to fly down there and find their uncle in this not-a-gem of a story.
Anchoring Marvel Comics #1 we have John Rand, owner of a rich diamond mine in South Africa, is flying his wife Constance and young son David from Johannesburg to Cairo when the plane develops engine troubles over the Belgian Congo. The three survive John’s crash landing but Constance has a broken leg. Temporarily stranded. John sets fires and waves a large trampoline to attract passing rescue planes to no avail. David meanwhile has no fear of the jungle creatures and seems to have the ability to make friends of them all, even picking up their various languages. Constance succumbs to jungle fever and passes. John makes plans to travel 200 miles to the closest ‘white settlement’ when a storm whips up. Trying to reach the safety of a nearby cave, John is struck by a tree. With the storms passing and John recovering his wits, David asks if they would be going home soon. John responds that they are home, with no real memory of the outside world. David is delighted. Both thrive in the jungle for years. Once, David saw Zar (the Mighty Lion), stuck in quicksand up to his haunches. He quickly found a large branch he could toss Zar’s way so that Zar could pull his way on top of them and escape. One day, the smell of smoke brought John and David to a sight where a white trader was forcing natives to pan for him. David told the white man to leave and trouble ensued resulting in John’s death. Zar tells David that he can live with him in his cave and shall forever be known as Ka-Zar, brother to the Mighty Zar.
How rare is Marvel Comics #1?
Like Action Comics #1 and Detective Comics #27, there are fewer than 100 copies certified by CGC. Very difficult to find.
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