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Comic Book Collecting and Investing: Key Issues and Storylines

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Writing is one of my several hobbies, and lists like the one below help me with writer's block every now and again.

Collecting comic books should be fun.

Collecting comic books should be fun.

Looking for Key Issues of Comic Books?

News flash: Comic book collecting has changed... big time. 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! Comic books were once again popular, and though some were overpriced, some weren't, and dollar bins were still a thing.

This article is a bit of a selfish one, as the desire to read, collect and profit (every now and then) from comics was still strong in me. The key comic issues and story lines 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?

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 cover if almost all black, it's very hard to find in NM condition; every little spine tick can be seen.
  • 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 right up until the movie "Suicide Squad", 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.

Comics Knowledge Leads To Great Collecting Choices

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.
A great Punisher cover and a key 1st appearance of a cool character.

A great Punisher cover and a key 1st appearance of a cool character.

More Collectible Comic Books - Key Issues You Can Count On

  • 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 I'm willing to bet you can get it for a lower price after the hype dies down.
  • 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 go in and out of popularity, which gives you an opportunity to buy them at a cheaper price... you just have to be patient.

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

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)
  • Satana: Vampire Tales #2 (October 1973)
  • Starfire: DC Comics Presents #26 (October 1980) Note: This issue is also the first appearance of Cyborg and Raven.)
  • Supergirl (Kara Zor-El): Action Comics #252 (May 1959)
  • Vengeance, Daughter of Bane: The Joker #2 (April 2021)
  • Witchblade: Cyblade / Shi The Battle for Independents #1 (January 1995)
  • Zatanna: Hawkman #4 (November 1964)

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. Neal Adams covers are always in great demand.
  • Nick Fury Agent of Shield Vol 1 #4, September 1968 "And Now It Begins": This artwork by Jim Steranko is the first time I had ever bought a comic based solely on the cover. I didn't even follow the series up until that point; I became a huge fan of the series.
  • Cry for Dawn #5, January 1991: Another comic that was partly bought because of the cover (solid stories in here too). There is a second printing that shows Dawn from a different point of view that I also have an issue of.
  • 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.
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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 The Long Halloween #1-13 (A 1996 limited series which continues the story of Batman Year One.)
  • 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)

First Appearances From Independent Comics (AKA Not Marvel or DC)

  • Cassie Hack: Hack / Slash Euthanized #1 The Strange Story of Cassie Hack (April 2004) by Devil's Due Publishing
  • Invincible: The first full appearance that wasn't a preview was in Invincible #1 (January 2003). Some notable preview appearances were in Savage Dragon #102 (August 2002) and Tech Jacket #1 (November 2002).
  • Sabrina Spellman: Archie's Madhouse #22 (October 1962)
  • Spawn: Spawn #1 (May 1992)
Some heroes don't make many appearances.

Some heroes don't make many appearances.

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-)

A Collector Grading a Comic

Professional Comic Book Grading

If you are really interested in being a stickler for high grade comics, you can either do your research and practice grading comics until you get better at it 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

CBCS graded comics seem to take longer to sell and seem to get lower prices than CGC graded comics at the moment due to popularity, but both companies do a very decent job.

Investing in Comics vs. Collecting Comics (100 Most Controversial Comic Books to Invest In?)

Investing or collecting controversial comics is a risky strategy that may or may not pay off in the future. Most collectors only have these comics in their collection because they collect the series or character, but there is a case that can be made for investing in certain issues.

Really controversial comics are usually not treated well at the time of their release. This reality can become better or worse over time depending on how the majority of people feel about the content. This can lead to fewer issues existing and those that do are not in high grade. A few pointer if investing in comics like these:

  • The better the artwork (especially the cover art) the better.
  • Condition is key unless it's for your personal collection.
  • If the issue is part of a key run or story line, it will be sought after by regular collectors.

© 2017 Don

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