Undervalued Comics #34 – Top Bronze Age Comics to Buy for 2020

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This article makes a case for investing in bronze age comics in the very fine range (8.0 to 9.0). It shows the kind of returns you can expect and provides trend analysis and data to back up these claims.

Analysis in the 8.0 to 9.0 grade are often missing in the community. What is often discussed is the highest grade like 9.6 or 9.8. That is because this is where money flows to first: the best possible grades that are still cheap.

However, with the high grades pulling the whole bronze age market up, it is creating the conditions for the very fine grades to grow.

I initially made this case in my article on bronze comics to invest in for 2020. This follow on article expands on this investment thesis and adds more evidence that the market is moving in this direction.

$1000 bronze age comics are no longer reserve for high grades

Everyone now knows that the major Bronze age first appearance comics command large sums of money in high grade. However, that is not always the case, even 10 years ago .

Below is what the Overstreet report from the Comiclink guys in 2017-18 had to say about the rise of Bronze age books

Josh Nathanson, Douglas Gillock and Rick Hirsch of Comiclink

It was not that many years ago that there were only a handful of valuable comics from 1970 and beyond that would sell for $1000 or more. In recent years that number has increased exponentially, thanks to the impact of Hollywood and the realization that books from these era ……are not as plentiful in high grade as once thought

This statement was given in the context of high grade (9.6 and 9.8) bronze age comics crossing the $1000 mark. It was meant to show that what was previously thought unlikely is now happening at a fast pace.

Fast forward 3 years later, the $1000 threshold is no longer something that only 9.8 and 9.8 bronze age comics can obtain. As the table below shows, bronze age keys in 9.0 and even 8.0 are breaking this price point.

IssuesCCG Copies in 9.0 (8.0) and above Price Value (8.0)
(CGC Census)
Price Value (9.0)
(CGC Census)
Marvel Comics
Hulk 181 (1974)2,789
(5,107)
USD 3,500
(1177)
USD 5000
(999)
Giant Size X-Men #1 (1975)2,325
(4,027)
USD 2500
(853)
USD 3000
(672)
Marvel Spotlight #5 (1972)532
(1,218)
USD 1100
(360)
USD 3000
(238)
Werewolf by Night #32 (1975)873
(1,588)
USD 1300
(326)
USD 3000
(310)
Amazing Spider-Man #129 (1975)3,356
(5,758)
USD 1300
(1212)
USD 1900
(1096)
Tomb of Dracula #10 (1973)888
(1,492)
USD 1000
(281)
USD 1300
(266)
Hulk #180 (1974)1,241
(2,218)
USD 800
(463)
USD 1100
(436)
Iron Man #55 (1973)1,163
(2,029)
USD 700
(406)
USD 1100
(363)
X-Men #94 (1975)1,446
(2,861)
USD 600
(723)
USD 1000
(591)
Amazing Spider-Man #101 (1971)667
(1,316)
USD 800
(326)
USD 1000
(252)
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.

If the trend a few years ago was for 9.6 and 9.8 bronze age comics to break the $1000 mark, the trend forward seems to be that very fine grades are also able to break the same price point

This is not because books in these grade are particularly scarce. Rather it is because a combination of the following:

  • More collectors now buying bronze age books due to Hollywood, thus increasing the demand necessary to power the price up for these very fine grade books
  • The high grade bronze books are out of reach of the average collector, hence leading to increase demand for the next level of grades.

As MCU starts its Phase 4, I expect this trend to continue, thus exposing a different set of investment opportunities.

Further evidence – comparison with 2017 values

From where we are currently, these 9.0 grade books at above $1000 seems like such a natural position. However, 3 years ago, it wasn’t that case.

In the below table, I compare those values I used in 2016/17 against their 2020 values. These numbers were taken from my articles on Tomb Of Dracula #10 value and the hottest bronze age books part one and part two.

IssuesCCG Copies in 9.0 and above 2016/17 Price Value (9.0)2020 Price Value (9.0)
Marvel Comics
Hulk 181 (1974)2,789Did not trackUSD 5000
Giant Size X-Men #1 (1975)2,325USD 1100USD 3000
Marvel Spotlight #5 (1972)532USD 800USD 3000
Werewolf by Night #32 (1975)873USD 1100USD 3000
Amazing Spider-Man #129 (1975)1,241USD 1150USD 1900
Tomb of Dracula #10 (1973)888USD 450USD 1300
Hulk #180 (1974)1,241Did not trackUSD 1100
Iron Man #55 (1973)1,163USD 920USD 1100
X-Men #94 (1975)1,446Did not trackUSD 1000
Amazing Spider-Man #101 (1971)667USD 300*USD 1000
*estimated. a 9.4 in 2016 cost only USD 940
-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.

Some summary statistics:

  • In 2016/17, only 4 books in the list crossed the USD 1000 price point. Most of them are crossing that number in very borderline manner. Only Hulk #181 crossed the USD 1000 convincingly.
  • In 2020, we have 10 books crossing the USD 1000 price point. That is increase of 250%. In addition, 5 of 10 surpassed the USD 1000 convincingly.
  • Characters who are not Tier A are able to break the USD 1000 price point with relative lower supply. These include characters like Ghost Rider, Moon Knight, Blade, Morbius. All their first appearance comics have less than 1,000 copies in 9.0 and above grades.
  • 4 books (Hulk #180 and X-Men #94 are estimated) are below the USD 500 mark. By reaching the USD 1000 mark, they have doubled the investment returns of the holders.
  • Only one book stay stagnant and it happens to be the first appearance of a villain

So, the trend is very clear. More bronze age books in the very fine are breaking out. In addition, some are breaking to pretty high levels thought to be impossible.

Also, if you are investing into non Tier A characters, make sure the supply is comparatetivey lower.

2 Investment strategies

If you believed in this thesis that now is the right time to invest in very fine condition bronze age blue chip keys, there are 2 strategies you can adopt.

#A: Invest in books that can reach beyond USD 1000

The first strategy is to pick books from the list above that have just reached USD 1000. Going by the trend, some of them will join the USD 2000 – USD 3000 ranks.

If you find this hard to believe, just remember that Werewolf by Night #32 went from USD 1100 to USD 3000 in less than 3 years. This book is not exceptionally rare nor is Moon Knight the most popular charter around.

Among the list, I find Hulk #180 and X-Men #94 having the highest chance to go beyond the USD 1000. One has Wolverine while the other is a historically very important book in the X-Men history.

Tomb of Dracula #10 might have a chance if his sole movie does well.

The least likely will be Amazing Spider-Man #101 as Morbius is not part of MCU. Hence, there is no telling if the character can take off after the movie.

#B: Pick the next USD 1000 books

The opportunity here is then to look for bronze age keys in very fine condition that have yet to cross the $1000 mark but have potential to. Right now, most are at or below the $500 mark. If the $1000 is the target, that is a very lucrative 2X or more returns.

I have already highlighted Savage Tales #1 and Marvel Spotlight #2 in the previous article. Here are more candidates.

IssueCCG Copies in 9.0 (8.0) and above Prices (8.0)Prices (9.0)
Luke Cage, Hero for Hire #1 (1972)510
(1,110)
USD 400USD 800
Marvel Premiere #15 (1974)1,391
(2,165)
USD 250USD 350
Marvel Feature #1 (1971)490
(865)
USD 250USD 350
Amazing Adventures #11 (1972)309
(542)
USD 200USD 250
Iron Fist #14 (1977)2,329
(3,202)
USD 300USD 400
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.

Looking at the table, most of the the characters here are not Tier A. From what we have learnt in the summary statistics, we should pick books that have supply numbers below the 1,000 thereshold.

That leaves out Marvel Premiere #15 and Iron Fist #14 , leaving only Luke Cage #1, Marvel Feature #1 and Amazing Adventures #11.

Among these 3, only Luke Cage #1 has the cleanest first appearance. Marvel Feature #1 is a first appearance of a team while Amazing Adventures #11 is about a major character change, rather than a true first appearance.

If you find Luke Cage #1 9.0 to be too expensive a book to invest, you can consider a 8.0. The first table has shown that books with the same supple as Luke Cage #1 has the potential to hit USD 1000 even for a 8.0.

Conclusion

As the bronze age market matures, new investment opportunities are opening up. By recognizing what are these new price levels and analyzing books that could hit them, we can potentially uncover solid undervalued blue chip comic books in the 8.0 to 9.0 grade.

2 thoughts on “Undervalued Comics #34 – Top Bronze Age Comics to Buy for 2020

  1. I came to similar conclusions as above and bought Hero for Hire #1 in 8.5 last month. I also used your GPIP analysis and the jump from 8.0 or 8.5 to 9.0 is too much to ignore. Fingers crossed!

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