Search This Site

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Comic Investing X Factor!

Ha! Ha!. Not X-Factor comic investing, but the x factor when it comes to determining which comic investment to get over another. Recently, Wiebes suggested this for an article and brought up the question of what is the determining factor in choosing between two comic investments that are both highly sought out and around the same value for certain grades.

For clarity's sake, I'll use the example comics  given which is a Fantastic Four #5, first appearance of Dr. Doom, and Amazing Spider-Man #121, death of Gwen Stacy. For the topic, they are great examples to go head to head, but there are some clarifications to clear up first.

So, for the Amazing Spider-Man #121, the grade range is around 9.4 to 9.6. I'm assuming these are for raw copies. For the Fantastic Four #5, the grade range is 7.0 to 8.0 VF and also assuming these are raw copies.

Since the question was if both these comics at those suggested grades were around the same price, what would be the factors I would take into consideration in choosing one over the other? Believe it or not, a pretty tough question, but I'll try to break it down into what I would mull over.

And, of course, this isn't something you have to do as well. It's just my process.


First, let's take demand into consideration. Both are high demand books, but it's not as simple as that.

Amazing Spider-Man #121 is considered a classic story. No doubt. It's a fan-favorite for a reason.

Fantastic Four #5 has the first appearance of Doctor Doom, a classic and hugely popular Marvel villain. In terms of key issue status, both these key issues weigh high. However, there are some things to consider here.

Let's take Gwen Stacy first. She's a hugely popular supporting character, but she's a hugely popular Spider-Man supporting character.

Let me explain the "but" part. Gwen Stacy is great in the Spidey comics, but she has very little cross-over appeal. Her character can't do much outside of the Spider-Man books unless you totally mess with her and give her super powers or something.

On the other hand, Doctor Doom isn't just the main nemesis for the Fantastic Four, he can pretty much start trouble for the entire Marvel Universe and get all types of super-heroes ranging from Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, X-Men, Avengers, etc involved in an epic cross-over event.

Doom can be the central villain in a comic outside of FF, but Gwen Stacy would be a far-fetched central anything outside of the Spidey comics. So for that, I'd have to give it up to Doctor Doom.


When the demand of two books are both high, one has to take rarity into account. I have to remind that rarity is not everything. The current market's over-emphasis on rarity while ignoring natural demand (fan base) for the most part is lame and a huge mistake.

However, if you're caught choosing between two comic investments, rarity sometimes can be the x factor of which might be a better comic to invest in. Once again, this is if the comic and their chosen grade ranges are near the same fair market price one can get them at.

So, just from common sense, we know that Fantastic Four #5 is a Silver Age book, and Amazing Spider-Man #121 is from the Bronze Age. Even more so, Fantastic Four #5 is an early FF key issue comic.

Now, most often, a key issue comic from the Silver Age probably might be more rare than a key issue comic from the Bronze Age. Not always the case, especially if the Bronze Age comic had a low print run or something.

When it comes to Amazing Spider-Man #121, I know a low print run was not the case during the era. I don't even have to look at the CGC Census to know that there are probably less copies for FF #5 than an Amazing Spider-Man #121, but you'd be surprised at the disparity sometimes.

So just for this article's sake, let's look at both. First chart is the census for Fantastic Four #5. 2nd one below it is for Amazing Spider-Man #121.

Now, here's an example where common sense should dictate the rarity factor for these two books. The first appearance of Dr. Doom in the Silver Age is extremely low for the grade ranges considered, which again is FN/VF to VF.

When you look at Amazing Spider-Man #121 in the grade ranges considered 9.2 to 9.6 NM. There is quite a bit more. So there are a total of 41 FN/VF graded copies for Fantastic Four #5 and there are 140 total copies for Amazing Spider-Man #121 at 9.6 NM+.

If the comics in question are raw, why should we be bothered with the CGC Census? It's cause the CGC Census can help us gauge rarity among books.

Both these books are hugely in demand, so you can correctly assume that many would want to submit these two books to get graded. In this case, using common sense, there's just less high grade and mid grade copies out there concerning Fantastic Four #5. This even includes the raw copies still yet to have been submitted.

On the rarity factor, Fantastic Four #5 beats Amazing Spider-Man #121 hands down. It's definitely more rare than the death of Gwen Stacy, and even if there are more raw copies out there, they are most likely a large number of lower grade copies.

In this case, the disparity makes sense. Usually, I would just stop right there.

Remember, we are stating in this comparison that both books at the suggested grades can be snagged for near the same price. I have no idea if that's true or not.

Not sure if the question was hypothetical, if those two comics at those grades are close to the same price in the market, or if one just knows where they're being sold near the same price for those two books at those grades. I'm just answering the question based on the information given.

For me, I'd already made up my mind and have the comic to invest in, but sometimes it just isn't as simple as that. You can look up the GoCollect stats to see how the comic has performed, or if you have a bunch of Overstreet Price Guides spanning the decades, you can analyze the growth of raw copies if you want to dig deeper.

I passed on that this time, cause sometimes it just boils down to the next x factor coming up.


Yep, sometimes biases get in the way. If we're talking about comic investing, sometimes a fan favorite character or story line is the x factor in choosing between two comic investments.

I'm a Spidey fan more than a Fantastic Four fan. I do like both and Doctor Doom is a badass villain, but I'm being honest in my opinion here. Truthfully, sometimes a book trumps another book simply because you've always wanted that comic.

Nothing wrong with that, but if we are talking about comic investing, that could work in your favor or against it. My lizard brain would want ASM #121, but my rational brain would say that FF #5 is the better comic investment choice.

Like I mentioned above, sometimes it just takes personal preference to come to a decision. In a comic investing situation where I'm dumping a great deal of dough for either book, I tend to be a bit more certain and check out the performances of both books at the grades in question. 


Believe it or not, you can also tap into rarity and market value perception by evaluating the performance of these books as well. I'll explain this a bit.

So according to GoCollect, there have been 3 sales in the last 2 years for 7.0 FN/VF CGC copies. All were in 2013.

You can see it's on the up and up, but never mind that. We can get a sense of rarity and market value perception just looking at this stuff.

It means that those who own this comic at this grade are more willing to hold onto Fantastic Four #5 than dump it back into the market. Also, consider that there are only 27 Universal copies of this book at 7.0s currently.

Now let's take the last 2 year sales of Amazing Spider-Man #121 at CGC 9.6. The first sale, which isn't shown, was February, 2013 and sold for $1075.

In May, 2014, ASM #121 hit a peak at $2,006 for 9.6 NM+s, but eventually starting tanking shortly after. This was around the time the movie came out and when a lot of people were disappointed, you can see this puppy slide down pretty drastically.

There were 16 sales of this comic at this grade, quite a bit more than Fantastic Four #5. Then again there are a total of 123 Universal copies registered with CGC.

More collectors, investors, speculators, or whomever were willing to let Amazing Spider-Man #121 go even at high grade 9.6 than a mid-grade FN/VF of Fantastic Four #5.

That should be taken into account as well, and it says a lot about how collectors as a whole view the more valuable of the two books. Sure there aren't too many 7.0 Fantastic Four #5 CGC copies to begin with, but if you take the amount of CGC 9.8 Amazing Spider-Man #121s that were sold in the last two years compared to it's CGC Census, that may say quite a bit also.

So there were 9 CGC Universal 9.8 ASM #121s sold in the last two years. The CGC Census has a total of thirty-nine 9.8 ASM #121 Universals compared to twenty-seven Universals for FF #5 7.0. This is pretty close in numbers, but there were still more collectors willing to dump 9.8s of ASM #121, which is the highest recorded CGC grade for the comic, as opposed to a mid-grade first appearance of Dr. Doom in Fantastic Four #5.

I think that can say quite a bit about the over-all market value perception of a comic or key issue. This should be a good lesson also. CGC 9.8s of ASM #121 are rare as well as Fantastic Four #5 at 7.0, but demand still plays a huge part.

Demand lowers, sustains, or increases a comic's value, and if we're talking about sustaining, that happens because of actual fan base, not speculator demand. I don't care how low the print run was, if there's no actual fan base with the potential to grow, a comic key issue will just fade into oblivion once the speculators are through with it.

Before I get the nasty emails from those who get all upset like I pissed in their oatmeal or something, I am not saying that Amazing Spider-Man #121 should not be a valuable comic. It is a desirable comic and it is definitely one of the better Amazing Spider-Man comics to invest in during the Bronze Age.

This article is answering a question on the process I would take in determining which comic I'd invest in if I could get two different high-demand key issues near the same price for certain grades. Nothing more, nothing less.

These are just the factors that I would take into consideration in my decision. Others do have their own. Like mentioned before, sometimes all it takes is the x factor of personal preference in deciding.

But demand and rarity should always be two factors to consider in deciding among two choices, even if there is the factor of personal preference. 

The short of it all is that anyone of these factors can be the x factor, but if we are talking about comic investments, this is usually the process of factors I take into account among a choice of either/or.


  1. I made a mistake on the request. The two books in question are actually Amazing Spider-Man #5 (Doom) and Amazing Spider-Man #121. Sorry about this Wiebes. I'd pick ASM #5 since it's in the #1-10 range and a super early ASM issue.

    Sorry about that again, guys.

  2. Great Article! I always do a simple trick when it comes to buying or selling a comic.
    I just go on ebay and see how many are available. If not many, I try to hold based on rarity.
    If there are a bazillion, I can let it go and find another one later. As far as hunting for Blue Chips,
    I try and find books that cover the TRI-Factor. (Great Cover, Big 1st Appearance (or multiple) & Rarity or closeness to series beginning.Examples. FF 3, Hulk 2, Spidey 2, Avengers 4, X-Men 4, Strange Tales 111, etc. By the way, I just checked out Go Collect for the first time (thanks to you!)
    and it ROCKS! I have done the 50 years of Overstreet cross checking, but this takes it to a whole new level. Thanks for the Heads Up! ROCK ON!!lk

    1. Heya LK...thanks, man. That's a cool trick to keep in mind. As for GoCollect, Gerry first brought that little site to my attention and wrote up an article on here about it. Gotta admit it will be a game changer and there's a lot of things one can use it for to gauge the eBay CGC market.

      Good to hear from you and Rock On, LK!

  3. No apology necessary! This article is a home run—it was EXACTLY what I was hoping for. I have always struggled comparing "apples to oranges"—basically comparing high-end (9.4 to 9.6) bronze-age Marvels to ANY lower-grade (6.0 to 8.0) silver-age Marvels (whether it is early FF or Spider-Man, both of which I love dearly). Especially since CGC is so big and powerful, the grade seems to really stick out even more than ever. This will will help me do a checklist when comparing these two genres! THANKS, this really made my day! I am bookmarking it!! Cheers! Wiebes

    1. Glad you liked it Wiebes and glad it helps, even though I completely got the issues in question wrong.

  4. it happens mayhem did it myself a couple weeks ago suggesting and article. knew something wasn't right when there was even a doubt between a FF 5 and asm 121. keep up good work jw

    1. I'm slipping JW lol...thanks man, you're suggestion will take a bit of time to whip that up, but I will get around to it.