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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Early 80s Key Issues Not Abundant in High Grades?

In the last years Overstreet price guide (2015-16), there was an interesting and quite detailed article by an advisor who stated that upon looking through thousands upon thousands of comics from 2000 to 2014 he has come to the conclusion that high grade comics from 1980 to 1983 aren't as plentiful as collectors and dealers once thought.

In this article, he or they stated the grades NM and up were not easy finds from that time period and getting harder and harder each year to hunt down. While I didn't think he or they are completely right nor wrong, I thought it was an interesting claim.

So from this time period 80-83, there really aren't many keys worth the salt to evaluate today. What I mean by that is 1st appearances of characters or keys that the market has gone coo coo over since. Coo coo as in crazy enough to send in to get graded.

Since there really isn't any print run info from that era that I could dig up or find and CBCS nor PGX has a census, this will just be a look at the CGC Census for some keys worth the salt to look at that came out during this time. Other keys just might have a low CGC Census because there's no hype surrounding them, so, therefore, not worth getting graded in large numbers. Be pretty useless to look at their CGC stats.

Take this article with a grain of salt as it is just babbling theories, but there might be some connective tissue to what that advisor stated in the Overstreet article.

1980-83 Key Issues
1970-74 Key Issues


9.8 | 1006
9.6 | 786  
9.4 | 344  


9.8 | 457
9.6 | 559
9.4 | 390


9.8 | 299
9.6 | 367
9.4 | 249


 X-MEN 129 1980

9.8 | 184
9.6 | 427
9.4 | 405

X-MEN #130 1980

9.8 | 169
9.6 | 329
9.4 | 336


9.8 | 398
9.6 | 717
9.4 | 572


DAREDEVIL #168 1981

9.8 | 160
9.6 | 445
9.4 | 600

X-MEN #141 1981

9.8 | 535
9.6 | 855
9.4 | 632


9.8 | 2504
9.6 | 2757
9.4 | 1796


9.8 | 100
9.6 | 81  
9.4 | 51  


9.8 | 327
9.6 | 813
9.4 | 753

BATMAN #357 1983

9.8 | 119
9.6 | 186
9.6 | 129

JIMMY OLSEN #134 1970

9.8 | 6  
9.6 | 18
9.4 | 54


9.8 | 2  
9.6 | 18
9.4 | 45


9.8 | 44  
9.6 | 152
9.4 | 264


9.8 | 21
9.6 | 48
9.4 | 83


9.8 | 22
9.6 | 83
  9.4 | 111


9.8 | 2  
9.6 | 14
9.4 | 41

BATMAN #232 1971

9.8 | 49  
9.6 | 94  
9.4 | 129


9.8 | 11
9.6 | 45
9.4 | 101


9.8 13
9.6 44
9.4 78


9.8 | 3  
9.6 | 32
9.4 | 81

IRON MAN #55 1973

9.8 | 54  
9.6 | 127
9.4 | 186


9.8 | 102
9.6 | 278
9.4 | 440

I think the most surprising out of all the 80s CGC stats in that list is the Savage She-Hulk #1. It's the 1st appearance of the character, but holy moly what's going on here? CGC 9.8s of this comic look awfully high compared to other well-known keys in the 1980s.

I don't really even know what theory to concoct or whether to stir or shake. Was it highly over-printed back in the day and that popular? Did a good portion of collectors take really great care of that book? Also, what lit the fire under this 1st appearance that made collectors get it graded in such large numbers?

I mean, that's a book that caught on during this boom. In the 2001-02 Overstreet, that comic guided for a whopping $13 bucks in NM 9.4 condition.

In the 2014 Overstreet guide, the value of low NM 9.2s were clocked in at only $25 smack-a-roos, but in the 2015-16 that grade went up to $50. Interest in the 1st appearance of She-Hulk must have happened recently in the last two years or so.

Okay, I'm not saying a 1,000 copies is a whole lot for any grade high grade key, but compared to other keys in 1980 to 1983 that's listed here, it is a bit baffling. It actually throws a monkey wrench into everything.

Did collectors mass submit this book thinking that it would have less high grade copies due to the white cover? Where they unslabbed, pressed and cleaned, and then resubmitted multiple times?

It's pretty strange especially when we take a look at other 1980 to 1983 key comics that have actually had TV and movie hype recently or for quite a while.

Deathstroke is a pretty popular character, and his 1st appearance in New Teen Titans #2 is almost half of Savage She-Hulk #1 at CGC 9.8 in the mighty CGC Census. Deathstroke even has the whole Arrow hype and now currently Batman movie hype.

The total CGC submissions are pretty close for both books also. New Teen Titans #2 has a total of 2,331, and Savage She-Hulk #1 has a total of 2,620 at the time of this writing. I just mean it's not a huge disparity of total submissions, so is this book in super high 9.8 grade really less plentiful?

It could be the case unless a few people are hoarding mass quantities of high grade raw copies in the 9.6 and 9.8 range. CGC 9.6 and 9.4 numbers are closer to Savage She-Hulk #1 just to be clear on that.

Same with the New Teen Titans, a pretty popular comic group. Their 1st appearance in DC Comics Presents #26 has an even lower CGC 9.8 census than New Teen Titans #2 and the 1st appearance of Deathstroke, but the total amount submitted for DC Comics Presents #26 in the census currently resides at 1,538 which is about 793 less than Deathstroke's 1st.

1st appearance of the New Teen Titans and also Cyborg is only 158 copies lower than New Teen Titans #2 at CGC 9.8s, so I think they could be pretty close on par eventually. Hype for this comic did start pretty recently when Cyborg was confirmed to be in the Justice League movie back in 2014, so that is only 2 years of hype to actively submit copies to CGC.

Deathstroke or Slade Wilson did appear in Arrow season 1 back in February, 2013. I'm pretty sure casting confirmation for the character was back in late 2012, so Deathstroke has about more than a year more hype than Cyborg's 1st appearance in DC Comics Presents #26.

Daredevil #168 and the 1st appearance of Elektra has a pretty low 9.8 census currently. A lot lower than Savage She-Hulk #1, and She-Hulk's 1st does have the white cover. I thought they were harder to keep clean?

So, I'm lost when it comes to the Savage She-Hulk #1 CGC Census, but it does kinda make you wonder whether the Overstreet advisor's assessment might have some meat to it. I mean, Elektra is a pretty popular character and Daredevil #168 was valued at $85 bucks for NM 9.4 in the 2001-02 Overstreet Guide.

The Ben Affleck Daredevil flick was back in 2003 and her solo movie back in 2005. Only recently did the character get more hype with Daredevil season 2. So, it's had a long time in the public spotlight in and outside of comic fandom.

It's hard for me to imagine that there are a lot of 9.8 high grade raw copies of Daredevil #168 in collections out there where the owners just refuse to slab their comics. I'm not saying there aren't any 9.8 raw copies still out there, because I know some collectors just don't care for slabbed comics. I'm just saying it really wouldn't make sense if there were a boat load of them.

Maybe that issue had a lower print run compared to others during the era? After all, history has it that sales of the Daredevil comics were in decline before Frank Miller hopped on board, and the series was in danger of cancellation. I think a lower or average print run is a bit more logical when it comes to this key issue. Then again, I do see raw copies of this key on the walls of dealers at least every con I go to.

Then again, total CGC submissions are currently at 3063 for Elektra's 1st appearance, so I'm starting to think that this comic just may be harder to find in NM and up for this key. 9.6s are currently at 446 and 9.4s are at 602. The totals of 9.4s, 9.6s, and 9.8s are currently at 1,209 which isn't hugely plentiful if you compare New Mutants #98 and its total of 9.4s, 9.6s, and 9.8s at a whopping 7,607!

Things that make you go hmmmm?

Wolverine #1 from the 1982 limited series is no surprise that it's got a pretty large 9.8 census total. I think this was about the time where Wolverine was just starting to become Marvel's Golden Boy and was growing in popularity.

I'm thinking the printing for that limited series must have been pretty large, or collectors really kept most copies in good shape throughout the years for some odd reason. Probably both!

The comic does throw a wrench in the other key X-Men comics that came out in 1980 and their much lower CGC Census, but we are talking about Wolverine here. Marvel could have been super confident with this series and gave it a larger print run than the X-Men titled comic, and the CGC Census alone having a total of 10,673 submissions leans towards that theory. Yowza!

Marvel Graphic Novel #4 and the 1st appearance of the New Mutants I can see having a somewhat smaller print run or most collectors not really caring for the comic or taking good care of most copies throughout the years.

It's also a pretty new speculative comic that hinges on movie speculation, so I can also see that some high grade copies just haven't been submitted for grading yet. Not too sure about just how much though, but it wasn't really recognized in a big bad way as their 1st until FOX confirmed a movie was in the works. Guess we'll have to just wait and see what the near future looks like for that key  and how much it grows in the census.

Actor Maisie Williams is rumored to be Wolfsbane so far. The character makes her first appearance a long with Cannonball, Mirage, and Sunspot in this graphic novel. Karma is an original member of the New Mutants but her first is actually in Marvel Team-Up #100 which is a 1980 1st appearance debut.

Avengers Annual #10 is a bit surprising that CGC 9.8s are so low in the census. Rogue is a pretty popular X-Men character and the Avengers a pretty popular title even back then. I do see quite a bit of copies at comic cons most every year, but whether they are NM and above, I'm not entirely sure. I've seen some raw copies that were more in the VF or VF/NM range and a few lower than that at local comic shops.

There isn't really any information about slumping comic sales during the 80s concerning the Avengers titled comic series, so I'm at a loss as to why CGC 9.8s are pretty low. The total amount in the CGC census is around 2,695 for Avengers Annual #10. Savage She-Hulk #1 has a CGC Census total of 2,612 at the time of this writing, so the submission totals are pretty close. Could Avengers Annual #10 really be harder to find in 9.8 grades?

It is pretty interesting. Was the majority of copies for this comic just not cared for or taken care of? Printed in smaller quantities as opposed to Wolverine #1 or Savage She-Hulk #1? More printing defects?

Kinda hard to imagination that there's a boat load of high grade raw copies of this issue somewhere out there. I mean, I guess there could have been someone back in the day who hoarded a crap load of high grade copies and still refuses to slab them.

I know, that is reaching, but you never know. Rogue was in the first X-Men flick back in 2000. The character was also in X-2 (2003) and X-Men: The Last Stand (2006).

Yeah, I know, Rogue's character was not translated all that great to the big screen. I don't blame Anna Paquin and hope nobody else does either. It was just her character wasn't written all that well or was twisted in a way by producers, the director, or the suits that made her character just there and blah.

Did the lousy translation from panel to screen have collectors and speculators write this comic off as not worth getting graded? I dunno, but as mentioned before, it is interesting.

Dazzler's first appearance in X-Men #130 is pretty low in the CGC Census and not all that surprising. She is a pretty recent speculation when it comes to the X-Men movie franchise that is beginning to branch out. I wouldn't be surprised if there are quite a few more raw 9.8 copies out there that have yet to been slabbed.

This is is the revived X-Men when Wolverine was becoming pretty popular so I don't think print runs of the X-Men comics would be low. Same for Kitty Pryde and her 1st in X-Men #129.

The character did appear in cameos in X-Men, and X-2, but was prominent or identifiable in X-Men: The Last Stand when Ellen Page took up the role. She also had a decent enough role in X-Men: Days of Future Past.

X-Men #129 also has the 1st Emma Frost, Sebastian Shaw, and the Hellfire Club (in cameo I believe), in which all three appeared significantly in X-Men: First Class back in 2011. So hype for that comic was definitely felt for a while now or at least on the radar. I'm sure quite a few got their copies slabbed during that time period to cash in.

I know there's a possibility of high grade raw copies still out there, but to what degree I'm unsure. I did buy a raw copy at Stockton Con last year from good ole Steve Wyatt, and it came back from CGC a solid 9.4 NM. Then again, that is just one copy, and I am aware there's PGX and CBCS as well.
Amazing Spider-Man #238 has a total CGC Census of 3,801. I know there's quite a few raw copies out there. I see them at conventions all the time, and I may have picked up a NM 9.4 this year at Eastbay Comic Con. I still have yet to send it in, but once again, that's just one, small example.

Hobgoblin is a pretty popular villain in Spider-Man comics, and this is an Amazing Spider-Man comic. Chances of a lower or average print run is pretty slim. They did have three on-going Spidey titles running during the mid 70s and throughout the 80s -  Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man and Web of Spider-Man. 

We all know of the Tattooz that is inside this comic and how many collectors want to make sure that the Tattooz is still there. That could very well be a factor of a lower high grade census since there are copies missing the Tattooz. 

That could've had a slight or impresive impact on CGC 9.8 copies. 9.6 copies are in the 800s in the census currently, and 9.4s are slightly under that in the mid 700 range. Don't really think that impacted those grades much. Total submissions in the census are already at 3,801 so high grade copies at CGC 9.8 being pretty scarce just might hold some water here.

Not too sure about PGX and CBCS though, and if those are factored in, those grades might be closer to the 1,000 range and maybe past it for 9.4 and 9.6. CBCS is still pretty new, but PGX has been around for while. There are CBCS 9.8 copies though. I see three eBay sales on gocollect from a period of 2014 to 2016.

But how many CBCS 9.8s of ASM #238 are really out there? A lot or will it impact that grade slightly? The amount of PGX copies at NM and up is a big question. 

I've yet to seen too many, but I'm sure they're some copies out there and even at 9.8 grades. Big question is how many?

Batman #357 got hype for two characters that have 1st appearances in this issue. In Batman vs Superman Dawn of Justice, news about the movie taking place in a time where Bruce Wayne was older and retired from being Batman hit the net. 

There was also a hint at a certain death of a Robin that this new movie Batman was dealing with. Of course, Jason Todd was the first character that speculators thought of.

However, the 2nd character in that issue is Killer Croc, and the Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje was confirmed as playing the character back in 2015. Therefore, this comic has just recently hit the hype machine, so I'm not surprised about the low census.

Also, there was debate about whether Batman #357 being the 1st appearance of Killer Croc or just a cameo. It's being noted as a brief appearance by Overstreet now. CGC notes it as 1st full appearance, but debate still continued about whether Batman #358 should be considered his 1st full appearance.

With all the 1st appearance confusion for this issue, I can see that factor impacting the CGC Census as it was confusing as to whether it would be worth sending in Detective Comics #523 (1st cameo in shadow), Batman #357, or Batman #358. Sources are starting to say that Batman #358 is his first full appearance, but I think that's still being debated.

As a result, both Batman #358 and Detective Comics #523 have a low CGC Census. Hard to pinpoint whether any of these comics are truly less abundant in higher grades

Once again, it really is an interesting topic this advisor brings up. Yes, it seems there are exceptions when it comes to 1980 to 1983 keys and whether they are less abundant than what we once thought in high grades.

Savage She-Hulk #1 is the really odd one and actually contradicts that early 1980s comics pre-1984 are less in high grades as we once thought. Wolverine #1 also supports the popular opinion that there are plenty high grade 1980 to 1983 keys.

But it is Wolverine and at a time where he really was becoming Marvel's cash cow. It could be possible that other comics at the time on the list didn't have quite as big of a print run as that comic. Could also mean that the comic was more inclined to be submitted to CGC in mass quantities because it is a Wolverine key as opposed to Kitty Pryde and Emma Frost's 1st appearances in X-Men #129.
Then again, there are some that definitely leans towards the opposite view point like New Teen Titans #2 and Avengers Annual #10. Both roughly have close amounts of total submissions in the CGC Census with Savage She-Hulk #1.

Amazing Spider-Man #238 also kind of supports this different perception, but not really for NM 9.4 to NM+ 9.6 copies. It might be true that 9.8 copies could be less abundant than we once thought about early 80s comics.

However, I did use some 1970s key comics that are definitely on the radar just to compare. They're obviously a lot more rare in the NM and up range, especially key DC Comics.

Of course, there most likely are several factors that attribute to early 80s keys having a larger high grade census than other keys published at the same time. As we all know, more popular titles probably have bigger print runs.

There's also the factor of some collections are better taken care of than others, and it's really just the roll of the dice of what each of those different collectors who were savvy enough to care for their comics had in their collection. 

We do have to take into account that there are collectors out there who just refuse to slab their comics. It depends on how many of these collectors there are out there and just how many copies they might of horded if they do in fact have any of these early 80s keys featured.

The Incredible Hulk #181 is a comic from 1974, but I used the example for a reason and for the less popular perception.

There are a total of 8,757 submissions in the CGC Census for Hulk #181, and that's a lot. However, just because there are a lot of copies of a key floating around doesn't mean there's a lot of high grade copies of that key.

Then there is also the heightened popularity of one character over  another, and some or a lot of the copies for some of keys just weren't submitted to be graded because of lesser popularity. Maybe they weren't submitted in larger numbers because of the old idea that these comics were quite plentiful in high grades too?

Once again, the data and the what if's aren't really conclusive, and I didn't intend them to be. It is something to think about, and while there are some keys from that particular time slot that do have an impressive amount of high grade copies, I could be logical to assume that not all of the regular U.S. copies for some key issues do.

What do you guys think? 


  1. Hey Mayhem,

    I think I also read that article in the OPG. As far as the Savage She Hulk is concerned, I think I can ad something, which might explain a few things. As far as I know, the Savage She Hulk is also the last official Marvel character creation by Stan Lee. Plus, I' m not totally sure, it might also be his last work in a comic for a long time (story, editor whatever). So for me, the issue has not only the first appearance of the She Hulk, it also is a Stan Lee Key issue. If you also consider that it' s easier to get than his early first appearances work (FF, Thor etc), I think many people did send it in signed by the man himself. That would definitely double the price, no matter what grade.

    Max Rebo

  2. I keep telling myself to get that she hulk. Don't know what the hell I'm waiting for lol. JW

  3. True, JW. It' s a no-brainer. And Mayhem - what about a STAN LEE KEY ISSUE LIST? Could be a long one though ;-)


  4. I think the other side of the coin is the demand for the book. If any of these lower census books have demand that shoots up, you will see more graded copies arriving on the census.