Comic Book Collecting and Investing: Key Issues and Storylines

Updated on June 9, 2020
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I have many interests and an inability to make up my mind about which one to focus on. That's how I came up with my name: ControlledChaos1.


Looking for Key Issues for Your Comic Book Collection?

Due to the recent surge of superhero movies, I've recently found the joy of comic book collecting again (with about a twenty-year absence from the hobby). I still had some of my original collection and began to go through them looking for what key issues I was missing. I came up with a list and began to try and track down the comics I needed. I found out one thing very quickly: COMIC PRICES HAD GONE UP BIG TIME!

This is, of course, what all collectors want, but I found that a lot of the newer stuff (from the 1990's and 2000's) demanded lots of dollars to take them home. This fact was a little worrisome, but unless you were buying CGC slabbed high-graded issues, the prices were still manageable if you had some disposable cash laying around. The desire to read, collect and profit (every now and then) from comics was still strong in me, so I decided to do so.

This article is a bit of a selfish one, I'll admit, as the key comic issues and storylines found below are the ones that I want to get for myself. They'll have a few notes along with them and won't be in any kind of real order, but all of them are worth adding to your collection. Thanks for stopping by and taking a look, and hopefully you'll get some ideas on what comics you want to add to your collection.

Comic Investing / Collecting 101 (Biggest Mistakes)

Strange Behavior?

Do you read the comics you buy?

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Fantastic Four #112 --------------- Batman Adventures #12
Fantastic Four #112 --------------- Batman Adventures #12

Key Comics to Invest in

  • Fantastic Four Vol 1 #112, July 1971 "Battle of the Behemoths": While this is not the 1st Hulk vs. Thing story (that happened back in Fantastic Four #25), this one does have the best looking cover. It's fairly affordable, but because it's black, it's very hard to find in NM condition.
  • The Batman Adventures #12, September 1993 "Batgirl: Day One": This is the first comic book appearance of Harley Quinn. Although Harley had a solid following up until the movie Suicide Squad came out, Margot Robbie's performance of that character made the price sky-rocket. This is one that I will probably hold off on buying unless I find it for a very good price; trading for it wouldn't be out of the question, but I wouldn't give up the moon for it.
  • Swamp Thing Vol 2 #37, June 1985 "Growth Patterns": Although you'll find the first cameo appearance of John Constantine (Hellblazer) back in issue #25, this is his first full appearance. The fact that Alan Moore did the writing keeps it in demand as well. They tried to put Constantine on TV and film, but so far, it's been nothing to brag about. One day, they'll do this character right and this issue will have much more interest.
  • Conan the Barbarian #1, October 1970 "The Coming of Conan": This is the 1st appearance of Conan and still a very underrated comic. This is a Silver Age book that will most likely always hold its value, and could go up significantly if a quality TV show or movie is made.
  • Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen #134, December 1970 "The Mountain of Judgement": This is one of DC's best villain first appearances; the 1st appearance of Darkseid. It's only a matter of time before he's on the big screen, and if they do him right, he should look awesome.

Not Interested in DC or Marvel? Try Valiant Comics

Key 1st Appearances of the Valiant Universe

  • Archer & Armstrong #0 (1992 Series): 1st Archer, 1st Armstrong.
  • Eternal Warrior #4 (1992 Series): 1st cameo of Bloodshot.
  • Magnus Robot Fighter #5 (1991 Series): 1st Rai.
  • Shadowman #1 (1992 Series): 1st Shadowman.
  • Shadowman #8 (1992 Series): 1st Master Darque (key villain).
  • Shadowman #13 (2012 Series): 1st appearance of Punk Mambo.
  • Solar: Man of the Atom #3 (1991 Series): 1st Harada (major villain).
  • Solar: Man of the Atom #10 (1991 Series): 1st Eternal Warrior.
  • X-O Manowar #1 (1992 Series): 1st X-O Manowar.

Punisher Mini Series #3 ------------ New Mutants #98
Punisher Mini Series #3 ------------ New Mutants #98

More Important Issues to Add to Your Comic Collection

  • Punisher Mini-Series #1-5, January - April 1986: As far as Punisher key issues go, this series is more desirable to me than many of his earlier appearances; second to only his first appearance in Amazing Spider-man #129 as a matter of fact. This is the Punisher's first solo self-titled comic, and one in which we don't see him co-mingling with superheroes so much. Don't be misled by issues saying "four-issue limited series" as they are in fact, five. There is a trade paperback that collects these issues titled "Punisher: Circle of Blood".
  • New Mutants Vol 1 #98, February 1991 "The Beginning of the End, Pt. 1": Lots of love for this one, but you'll want to pick it up because it is the first appearance of Deadpool (and Domino, to a lesser extent). The movie made it crazy expensive, especially if looking for a CGC graded copy in the NM range, but somewhat affordable if you're willing to go for a lower grade.
  • Amazing Spider-man Vol 1 Annual #1, October 1964 "The Sinister Six": First appearance of the Sinister Six. This bad-guy team is made up of Kraven, Electro, Doctor Octopus, Sandman, Mysterio and The Vulture. Spidey has his hands full in this story.
  • Crime Patrol #15, December 1949: This EC Comics Golden Age classic contains the first appearance of the Crypt-Keeper. You may remember this ghoulish host from the HBO horror series Tales From the Crypt that aired in the 1990's. Horror comics aren't hot right now, which makes it the perfect time to invest in them.

You'll Almost Always Find Powerful Scenes in the Most Sought-After Comic Books

Reasons to Collect

If you buy comics only for investment, keep in mind that demand for comics is fickle. No collectible is guaranteed to go up, though it does help if a good movie helps introduce newcomers to the characters. Just keep in mind that you may not get out of it what you put into it; that's why it's good to collect for enjoyment and investment, instead of for investment alone.

Comic Book 1st Appearances by Character

  • Bishop: Uncanny X-Men #282 (November 1991)
  • Black Canary: All-Star Comics #42 (August 1948)
  • Black Widow: Tales of Suspense #52 (April 1964)
  • Colossus: Giant-Size X-Men #1 (May 1975)
  • Emma Frost (White Queen): Uncanny X-Men #129 (January 1980)
  • Green Arrow: More Fun Comics #73 (November 1941)
  • Judge Dredd: 2000 A.D. #2 (March 1977)
  • Justice Society of America: All Star Comics #3 (December 1940)
  • Luke Cage: Hero for Hire #1 (June 1972)
  • Mystique: The 1977 series of Ms. Marvel #16 and #17 are the first and second appearance of the character, but only as cameos in each issue. The first full appearance takes place in issue #18.
  • Red Sonja: Conan the Barbarian #23 (1973) has a brief cameo of her, while issue #24 contains her first story and great artwork from Barry Windsor-Smith.
  • Rocketeer: Starslayer #1 (Feb 1982) is the cameo, while his first full appearance is in issue 2.
  • Rocket Raccoon (Key member of the Guardians of the Galaxy): Marvel Preview #7 (Q2 1976) Note: The 2nd appearance and 1st cover appearance is highly sought after and can be found in Incredible Hulk #271 (May 1982)
  • Sabrina Spellman: Archie's Madhouse #22 (October 1962)
  • Satana: Vampire Tales #2 (October 1973)
  • Spawn: Spawn #1 (May 1992)
  • Starfire: DC Comics Presents #26 (October 1980) Note: This issue is also the first appearance of Cyborg and Raven.)
  • Witchblade: Cyblade / Shi The Battle for Independents #1 (January 1995)
  • Zatanna: Hawkman #4 (November 1964)

Awesome Comic Covers!

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Deadpool #54 (Punisher vs Deadpool)Batman #251 (The Joker)Nick Fury Agent of Shield #4Cry For Dawn #5Wonder Woman Volume 2 #72Crisis On Infinite Earths #7 (Death of Supergirl)
Deadpool #54 (Punisher vs Deadpool)
Deadpool #54 (Punisher vs Deadpool)
Batman #251 (The Joker)
Batman #251 (The Joker)
Nick Fury Agent of Shield #4
Nick Fury Agent of Shield #4
Cry For Dawn #5
Cry For Dawn #5
Wonder Woman Volume 2 #72
Wonder Woman Volume 2 #72
Crisis On Infinite Earths #7 (Death of Supergirl)
Crisis On Infinite Earths #7 (Death of Supergirl)

Some Comics Are Highly Valued by Collectors Because of the Cover Art

  • Deadpool Vol 1 #54, July 2001 "End of the Road Pt. 1": Two very hot characters on a cover done by an excellent artist has made this one a little difficult to find at a decent price. The credit to this 2001 cover goes to artist Steve Dillon.
  • Batman #251, September 1973 "The Joker's Five-Way Revenge": A classic 1973 Neal Adams cover with the Joker.
  • Nick Fury Agent of Shield Vol 1 #4, September 1968 "And Now It Begins": This artwork by Jim Steranko is the first time I ever bought a comic based solely on the cover. I didn't even follow the series up until that point.
  • Cry for Dawn #5, January 1991: Another comic that at least partly was bought by me because of the cover (solid stories in here too). Joseph Michel Linsner introduced Dawn to the world in this short story mini-series.
  • Wonder Woman Volume 2 #72, March 1993 "The Song of Creation": A 1993 cover in which Brian Bolland draws Wonder Woman with equal amounts of sexuality and strength.
  • Crisis On Infinite Earths #7, October 1985 "Beyond the Silent Night": A 1985 mini-series in which the DC universe is turned upside down. As you can tell by the cover, one of the worst was the death of Supergirl. Surprisingly more collectors buy this key issue because of the striking artwork by George Perez.

Swamp Thing #1 -------------- Werewolf By Night #32
Swamp Thing #1 -------------- Werewolf By Night #32

More Must-Own Comics

  • Swamp Thing Vol 1 #1, November 1972 "Dark Genesis": The first appearance of Swamp Thing (House of Secrets #92) is way out of reach for most collectors, but this one has a lot going for it. Bernie Wrightson's amazingly creepy artwork, along with the fact that this has the 1st appearance of Anton Arcane (major villain) makes it a buy in my mind.
  • Werewolf by Night Vol 1 #32, August 1975 "The Stalker Called Moon Knight": Moon Knight makes his debut in this one. He's kind of a Marvel version of Batman, only with more of a supernatural origin story.
  • New Teen Titans Vol 1 #2, December 1980 "Today... The Terminator": First appearance of Deathstroke the Terminator. His 2nd appearance is issue #10.
  • Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane Vol 1 #70, November 1966 "The Catwoman's Black Magic!": First Silver Age appearance of Catwoman. Who would of thought to look for a key issue of hers in a Superman book?
  • Savage She-Hulk #1, February 1980 "The She-Hulk Lives": Introduction of the counterpart to the Hulk... She-Hulk. This is a character who I think would do great as a part of a team.

Tips for Collecting Comics

Great Comic Book Stories to Read (Get These in TPB Form or Individual Issues)

  • Astro City #1 - 3 (1996 2nd Series)
  • Batman Year 2: Detective Comics #575 - 578 (1987)
  • Hellboy In Hell #1 - 10 (2012)
  • Kingdom Come #1 - 4 (1996)
  • Locke & Key #1 - 6 (2008)
  • Planet Hulk Storyline, Incredible Hulk #92 - 105 (1999 2nd Series)
  • The Infinity Gauntlet #1 - 6 (1991)
  • Watchmen #1 - 12 (1986)

Comic Hauls

Comic haul videos are a good way to discover new comics and key appearances that you may not have known about. They are quite a few to choose from and they run the spectrum as far as quality, but almost all are done by people who love collecting comics. Just try not to get caught up in the hype and overspend when trying to find copies of the ones you want.

Some Notes on Grading Comics

Be aware that what condition the comic is in when you buy it will play a huge role in how much you get out of it when you try and sell it. The better it looks, the better it will sell. Some collectors don't care too much about looks as long as the comic is in decent shape, but most do care and put a lot of emphasis on the grade. The higher the grade, the more it costs, and eventually the more you will make when and if you decide to sell or trade the book.

Comic Book Grades

10.0 (Gem Mint / Perfect)
7.5 (VF-)
3.0 (G / VG)
9.9 (Mint)
7.0 (F / VF)
2.5 (G+)
9.8 (NM / M)
6.5 (F+)
2.0 (Good)
9.6 (NM+)
6.0 (Fine)
1.8 (G-)
9.4 (Near Mint)
5.5 (F-)
1.5 (F / G)
9.2 (NM-)
5.0 (VG / F)
1.0 (Fair)
9.0 (VF / NM)
4.5 (VG)
0.5 (Poor)
8.5 (VF+)
4.0 (Very Good)
8.0 (Very Fine)
3.5 (VG-)

Variant or Limited Edition Comic Book Covers

These have been around before, but have gotten really big lately. Most of them are hard to find, but worth searching out by some due to the amazingly different artwork and low print runs they have. It's always cool finding one of these when digging through long boxes.

A Collector Grading a Comic

If you are really interested in being a stickler for higher graded comics, you can either do your research and practice a lot or buy books that have already been graded by third party grading companies. There are two that most collectors use in particular:

  • CGC - Certified Guaranty Company
  • CBCS Operations

© 2017 Don

Any Suggestions on Which Comics to Invest in (Or Collect)?

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