Undervalued Comics #49: Darth Vader Key Comics

Darth Vader is arguably one of the most popular Star Wars characters. However, the speculative markets seldom discusses his key issues, probably because Darth Vader is already so well established.

Instead, we are seeing prices of other Darth shot up exponentially. The latest being Darth Bane in Jedi vs Sith #1 as well as Darth Revan in Knights of the Old Republic #9 and Star Wars Tales #23.

So, besides Star Wars #1, what are other Darth Vader key comics that might appreciate in value? To answer this question, let’s take a look at the following checklist:

  • First appearance
  • First solo story
  • First series
  • Second appearance
  • Origin
  • Covers

The above are an easy way to look for a character’s key comics. First appearance is of course the most desired. However, once that is well known or have appreciated in value, collectors tend to zoom in on the others.

Among the rest, second appearance used to be pretty significant. It is still so for some silver age books but it has become less and less desirable for copper and modern books. Here is an article that I wrote which examine the price performance of 2nd appearances of bronze age characters.

Instead, the first solo or first series is becoming more popular among collectors. Below are comics that represent Darth Vader’s first solo and series, as well some cool covers.

Star Wars #21

Date of Publication: 1979
Sale number: 278,759

Key strengths of this book
1. First solo story of Darth Vader


This book contains the first solo story of Darth Vader and has been pretty under the radar. It reminds me of Marvel Superheroes #20, which contains the first solo story of Doctor Doom.

I recommended that book years ago in this article on Doctor Doom key issues. At that time, I was also trying to find other key issues for this great character besides Fantastic Four #5. Since that article, Marvel Superheroes #20 has appreciate quite a bit and I hope the same will happen for this Darth Vader’s first solo as well.

Besides the solo story angle, another similarity with Marvel Superheroes #20 is the all black cover. So it should make for a tough book to get in 9.8. Below is some statistics from the CGC census

  • 75 copies in 9.8 out of 222
  • 33% 9.8 to Total Copies ratio

Despite the similarities, I will not want to compare the price performance for both books as they belong to different timelines. Also, Doctor Doom is a class by himself.

Instead, the right comparison might be other Star Wars books.

Issue9.8 copiesTotal9.8 to Total RatioPrice
Star Wars #217522233%USD170
Star Wars Annual #32510723%USD325
Links above are to Ebay. If you buy something, I will get a commission from Ebay as part of its affiliate program. If you want to support my research, using my links to buy from Ebay will be the best way.

One relevant book to compare to is Star Wars Annual #3, which features a classic Darth Vader cover. There is no other significance within the book so it is a pure cover play.

As you can see, Star Wars Annual #3 is now a USD300+ book in 9.8. In contrast, Star Wars #26 in 9.8 is only USD170. However, the latter has arguably more significance due to it being the first Darth Vader solo.

If the market agrees with me, we can see a potential 100% or more returns on this book.

Vader’s Quest #1

Date of Publication: 1999
Sale number: 40,820

Key strengths of this book
1. First Darth Vader’s series


Vader’s Quest #1 is the first series starring Darth Vader. It is a 4 issue mini series from Dark Horse. In fact, most of the Darth Vader Dark Horse series were in such formats.

This story takes places after the events of the first Star Wars movie, whereby Vader is trying to hunt down the pilot who destroyed the Death Star. He hired a bunch of bounty hunters who made this first appearance in this issue but they are all pretty minor characters.

The main draw of this book is still being Darth Vader’s first series, similarly to Gambit #1, Blade #1 etc from the 90s.

Since this is a 90s book, there is a cover gimmick as well. Specifically there is a gold foil logo variant that has 5000 copies so it will make for a better book to get. There is of course the newsstand edition as well.

The last section of books to considered are the covers. These are always tricky to do as everyone has a different opinion on what is a good cover.

However, as Star Wars Annual #3 has shown us, if you get it right, covers can be a good investment as well. Below are the 3 covers that I am considering.

These issues are

All three are black covers which should make high grades more difficult to come by. Prices on these are still in the $100 range so they have lots of room to move.


Buying key comics for a Tier one character like Darth Vader is always a no-brainer. The key is to identify the right ones to invest in as they may not be as obvious as a first appearance.

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