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Friday, May 26, 2017

Copper Age Spider-Man Key Comics Part 4

Part 4 to this Copper Age Spider-Man key issues section will definitely have some highlights in terms of stand out Copper Age Spider-Man key comics. After all, we are hitting the time of Todd McFarlane and his famed run on the comic series.

As we all know, this would also mark one of the...if not the...most popular and important spin-off character for Spider-Man during this era. Maybe even well after the Copper Age as well since not a single debut of a Spidey character or villain afterward doesn't even come close to this comic without it being some artificially rare variant.

This character was spun-off and carried as well as expanded on his own mythos also. He also created several spin-off characters of his own.

I'm sure you already know who I'm talking about. Legend David Michelinie also takes over the writing chair for the Amazing Spider-Man title during this time. Some beautiful stuff will be made with the creative team of David Michelinie and Todd McFarlane.  

If you missed Part 3, that link will swing you on back. Otherwise, here's the next batch.

First brief appearance of Eddie Brock
First McFarlane Spider-Man begins

Created by David Michelinie and Todd McFarlane, Eddie Brock is the 2nd host for the alien symbiote and would later become Venom. The debate on who created the character was challenged when David Michelinie wrote an open letter in a 1993 issue of Wizard stating that he was the sole creator of Venom and that the idea or concept of the character was being discussed long before McFarlane acquired art duties for the titled series.

Whatever, and it could hold water. Michelinie did plan to introduce Venom earlier. Web of Spider-Man #18 included that teaser scene in which Peter Parker is pushed off a waiting platform and almost gets hit by an on-coming train. 

That was supposed to Venom, and I believe the build-up and final reveal of Venom was originally intended to be in the Web of Spider-Man comics. Michelinie left the series before that happened and could not get back round to it until he took over writing duties for the Amazing Spider-Man title.

But what is true is that without Todd McFarlane's artwork on Venom the character would have not become so popular or commercial. Eddie Brock's look was also designed by Todd McFarlane and Venom did originally take Brock's physique.

Anyway, Eddie Brock was a reporter that covered the Sin Eater murders and was fired from the Daily Bugle after it was revealed that the person Brock interviewed was not the real Sin Eater but a compulsive liar when Spidey brought in the real murder. 

After the scandal, his wife also left Brock, and this is where his resentment of Spider-Man comes from. After the church bells dispel the alien symbiote from Peter Parker, it attaches itself to Brock, whom was also there but below the confrontation.  That part of Venom's origin is detailed in his first full appearance and not in this issue.

Here's Eddie Brock's cameo in this issue:

So this comic has a mostly white cover. Whoa, where did that come from? 

Well, you'll see in the next few listings, and I'll just skip right to it and say Amazing Spider-Man #301. That issue still boggles my mind, but here's the CGC Census for this issue of Amazing Spider-Man #298.

Hmmmm? This issue doesn't seem to have a problem with white covers at high grade 9.8s copies.

I do wonder if there is a disparity between newsstand and direct market editions.

Marvel Age #59
The rest is history, and the date on the cover of Amazing Spider-Man #298 is March of 1988 but it has the shipping date of November 10th and the newsstand date of December 1st according to Marvel Age #59 as shown above.

Death of Sin Eater (Stan Carter)

Loved this comic as a kid and wished they hadn't killed off Sin Eater. Great story. Read this multiple times. 

They should bring back Sin Eater for the comics and use him in a Punisher show as a villain. Don't know who owns the rights to the villain though.

A key issue but not a very well-known or sought out key issue, at least for now. Could change. Could not. Definite sleeper.

Eh, I know the CGC Census will be spare, but I'll show the screen shot just for future reference. You know, that is the reason why I am showing them screen shots for.

Marvel Age #59

With the cover date of March, 1988, Spectacular Spider-Man #136 has the shipping date of November 24th and the newsstand date of December 15th. Source above is from Marvel Age #59.

First brief appearance of Venom

Definitely a Venom key issue to get and has had a good track record of being desirable and sought out. Amazing Spider-Man #299 holds the first brief appearance of Venom in actual costume.

More of Todd McFarlane's great artwork is in this issue, and you could say it is an early work of his on the series. This comic should be a Venom key to consider as well as Venom's first full appearance in the next issue. Both have seen an increase in demand and value for the past several years. 

Here's Venom's brief appearance in this issue:

Eddie Brock as Venom has already made his live action debut in Spider-Man 3 and was played by actor Topher Grace. Both fans and critics widely panned that film version of Venom and maybe even Eddie Brock too.

I definitely don't think Topher Grace was terrible, but the film's take on the character didn't get this fanboy to geek out in a big bad way. Still, I can actually watch and enjoy the film now.

Topher Grace played Eddie Brock and thus Venom as well.

So with all the "white" cover hard to find in high grade condition toting in speculation land, this issue has no problem with high grades in the CGC Census despite color cover.

The first brief appearance of Venom in Amazing Spider-Man #299 has the cover date of April, 1988. There are newsstand and direct market editions of this issue, so those numbers in the CGC Census include both.

First full appearance & origin of Venom
First battle with Venom

In terms of Holy Grails concerning the character of Venom, Amazing Spider-Man #300 is it, and it has been sought out since the early 90s. This issue, of course, holds the first full appearance of Venom and it also has the first battle between Spider-Man and Venom.

Not to mention that the cover is a classic and definitely one of my favorites from the era. I've talked quite a lot about this comic and you've probably read quite about it if you've been a long time reader.

In typical comic book fashion, Eddie Brock reveals how he became Venom and why he has such a hate on for Spider-Man, so Eddie Brock's origin in becoming Venom is revealed in this issue.

Venom is created by David Michelinie, Mike Zeck, and Todd McFarlane, or, at least, those are the artists so far credited with the character. As we all know by now, the character did evolve from an alien costume to "Venom", as the merging of Eddie Brock and the alien symbiote first established.

This is the only comic on this Venom key issues list where I would say gunning for a 9.4 would be an acceptable investment if gunnin' for newsstand copies.  

Problem with this key issue is that too many collectors believe it is too plentiful in the market. Over-all that may be true, but there are direct market and newsstand versions of this comic.

Not to make a big deal of that, but expect future CBCS copies to note the difference. I have a feeling CGC will come around soon after.

For now, CGC census does not reflect the difference so here's what the U.S. CGC Census looks like so far and at the published date of this article.

Holy moly that's a pretty big total of 13,390. Remember that both newsstands and direct markets are mixed in the total of that number and by 1988, Marvel's newsstand distribution might of been around 30% since 1986 was around 50% and 1990 was around 15%.

Terry Hokness has Amazing Spider-Man #300 at an estimated print run of 270,000 over at his site. If that is true, the guess of 30% distribution of that number is an estimated 81,000 copies for newsstands.

The CGC Census does have a Philippines Edition clocked in, and I have no idea about these or whether they are first printings or what. Since they are listed with the regular U.S. copies, and I am assuming they have the same cover date and are 1st printings.

Not too sure about that though, but I'll show ya the cover just in case anyone is interested in them. Not that hard to distinguish from the others, and you can click the image to see the larger version.

Most of the information about this key issue here, as in this particular listing, has been written prior or a few years back. This stuff is new.

Amazing Spider-Man #300 is still on fire and is even nearing the 2k mark. Actually, it has gone over it twice this year.

A lot of people made a big deal when it was barely crossing into the 1000 dollar range only a few years ago, myself included and I admit that fully. I was curious as to why this key got even hotter and wondered if it was because of the recognition of newsstands.

The latest 9.8 ASAM #300 is a CBCS newsstand copy. It sold for $1850 in April 27th of 2017 on eBay. The sale before it is a direct market edition and sold on April 24th of 2017 for $1650.

Another ASM #300 direct market edition CGC 9.8 also sold on April 24th of 2017 for $1675, so I don't think the extra juice this comic is getting has anything to do with direct market or newsstand. It is just a hot Copper Age key that collectors seemingly want.

For those who are interested, I do have information on the amount of sales of CGC 9.8 and 9.6 on eBay between direct market and newsstand copies. Here's how it looks and it covers 6 years:


9.8 NS | 9.8 DM

14 | 248

9.6 NS | 9.6 DM 

63 | 194

Once again, Venom did appear in Spider-Man 3. Word is that Sony is working on bringing Venom to theaters again in a solo joint of his own and Tom Hardy was cast as Eddie Brock or Venom in super recent news. 

Not hoping too much when it comes to Venom's big solo outing live-action, but Tom Hardy does give that project some extra umphff! I do feel a little better about it so far.

May, 1988 is the cover date and Marvel Age #61 has the shipping date as January 12th and the newsstand date of February 2nd for Amazing Spider-Man #300.

1st full appearance of Tombstone?

Okay, I guess we get the first full appearance of Tombstone here, and the one in Web of Spider-Man #36 is a first brief appearance or just a 1st appearance? Web of Spider-Man #36 does predate this issue and has Tombstone in four panels on one page. Overstreet notes this issue as his first full appearance, though, and Web of Spider-Man #36 as his first appearance.

Not a very well-known key issue at the moment and very much a sleeper. CGC still does not note this as the 1st full appearance of Tombstone just yet, and I do question why Overstreet notes this issue #138 as a 1st full since Tombstone does show up in #137 as well in the same amount of panels.

Issue #137 just has Tombstone only on one page when this issue spreads him out over three pages. Does that really make that much of a difference?

This issue has a pretty dry CGC Census currently or at the time of this writing. Here's how the sucker looks.

While Marvel Age #61 has the shipping date for this issue at January 26th and the newsstand date of February 16th, Web of Spider-Man #138 and the apparent first full appearance of Tombstone is cover-dated May, 1988.

Classic Cover
Reverts back to Red & Blue Spidey Costume

Okay, a classic cover I'll buy. A key issue? Eh, if that's the case I don't consider it a majorly huge key.

Spidey goes back to his original design or Spider-Man costume when Mary Jane just gets too creeped out when looking at the black costume. Actually, the costume reminds them too much of Venom.

Understandable for sure. I do love this McFarlane cover, but the actual art isn't really what I wanted to discuss. Okay, I believe sometime last year or maybe the year before, 9.8s of this comic shot through the roof.

I had absolutely no friggin' clue why. Was there a key notation missing that collectors suddenly caught onto?

No clue, so I inquired about it on here. Someone said that super high grade copies of these or 9.8 and up are scarce or hard to find, possibly because of the white cover.

Now, I didn't dispute that was the reason why people were paying crazy prices for 9.8 copies. I did question that this issue were more scarce just because of the mostly "white" cover. Giant-Size X-Men #1 is a mostly "white" cover.

Let's take a look at the strangeness of it all on the ole CGC Census. Okay, 9.8s aren't outrageously humongous in the census and there are quite a bit of 9.6 copies. Now, if the big deal was keeping the white cover clean, there is the method of cleaning a cover that often comes with pressing services.

Sure, Amazing Spider-Man #301 could have had more copies messed up from the exposure of light that causes foxing or yellowing/browning. Quite a few of the comics I have with mostly white covers seem to have this tanning problem.

That does make more sense to me than the ability to keep white covers "clean". I mean, hell, if that was the biggest problem of reaching super high grade, I'd crack, clean and press those 9.6 copies and then get 'em regraded to see if I can bump that grade up slightly.

However, and once again, going to bring up both Amazing Spider-Man #298 and #299 and how they don't seem to have the same problem. And should I be wondering why Amazing Spider-Man #298 and #299 have so many 9.8s compared to this comic? Pretty interesting and something that strikes my curiosity but I don't think it's as complicated as it seems. 

Look at the over-all submission total of this comic and compare it to the total submission of 3133 for ASM #299 and the total submission of 4159 for ASM #298. There is a sizable difference.

So, not buying the "white cover" harder to keep clean so less abundant in higher grades for this issue. Still, if you wanna ignore the point I brought up about sizable difference in CGC total submissions concerning this issue and #298 and #299, that's cool too.

June, 1988 is the cover date for Amazing Spider-Man #301.

1st appearance of Speedball

Speedball is also a long-time member of the New Warriors and has been largely associated with the comic team in the comic books. However, Robbie Baldwin first appeared as Speedball in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #22. I always thought the name was funny as it's the name of a concoction of drugs also, namely the mixing of cocaine and heroin.

This character came out when I was still collecting and actually reading comics, and since I'm a Spidey and Daredevil fan, I picked up this comic up. I immediately thought Speedball was lame with him bouncing around all over the place like a buffoon.

This power was actually a kinetic energy field that surrounded him and could absorb any other type of kinetic energy it came in contact with. It basically protected him from harm of any kind.

Speedball is another Steve Ditko creation. Oh my!  
Tom DeFalco also co-created the character. I actually gave the character a 2nd try with his 1st limited series, but to no avail.

Perhaps the character got better when he was able to control his powers. Dunno, issue #2 was the last of his 1st comic series I followed, before spending my dollars elsewhere.

There is a different incarnation of Speedball as well, but I'm not even going to get into that. The character of Speedball has been confirmed to be in the main line up of the TV show about the New Warriors and actor Calum Worthy has been cast to play Robbie Baldwin.

Amazing Spider-Man Annual #22 has the cover date of September, 1988.

1st appearance of Styx & Stone

Well, every character or villain can't be fan-favorites. There's gotta be a few that just don't cut it with fans.

As much as I love Todd McFarlane, Styx & Stone aren't the greatest of villains for the Web-slinger. They aren't exactly the worst either, but no where near the best.

So Styx and Stone are obviously a criminal duo and they go hand-in-hand like peas 'n carrots. Kidding, sort of.

So Gerald Stone was a smartie-pants scientist (Jeez, aren't they mostly all in Spidey villain lore?) who conducted a highly illegal experiment to cure cancer on Jacob Eishorn. This experiment turned Eishorn into a living cancer and spawned the villain known as Styx.

Stone felt guilty, as he should, but his guilt led him to build some fancy weaponry and become Styx's crime partner and form their special mercenary duo. Then again, not to say that Stone isn't without a heart, he did plan to use their mercenary money to eventually find a cure for Styx.

Of course, that blasted menace known as Spider-Man would get in their way.  Since their debut, Styx and Stone would cross paths with the Web-head here and there, but they don't show up that often in Spidey or Marvel Comics.

Didn't really expect the CGC Census to be remotely impress for this debut 1st appearance key comic, but there's a lot more than I thought there would be. I seriously thought it would be quite a bit more dry, but it is part of Todd McFarlane's ASM run, right?

Amazing Spider-Man #309 has the cover date of November, 1988, and speaking of covers, I use to really like this one and draw Mary Jane's face quite a bit back in the day.

1st appearance of Kristy Watson

Bring on some more minor key and yet another relative of Mary Jane Watson. Oh, I'm sorry! I mean, Mary Jane Parker.

I actually remember Kristy Watson while geeking out on McFarlane's Amazing Spider-Man run, in which I had to get every copy of the titled series that had his artwork. This obsession also extended to Web of Spider-Man and Spectacular Spider-Man even if the titles didn't have McFarlane's artwork.

So Kristy Watson was the cousin that was later revealed to have bulimia. For those who don't know what this is or how it was and still might be a problem, here's the definition of this disorder:

Bulimia - an emotional disorder involving distortion of body image and an obsessive desire to lose weight, in which bouts of extreme overeating are followed by depression and self-induced vomiting, purging, or fasting.

While Kristy Watson never really became a serious or major character in the Spidey comics, bulimia is a serious eating disorder that can seriously mess you up, meaning it can be fatal is left untreated. 

Since this isn't really anywhere near a major key, CGC Census is slim for this issue as expected. I am curious to whatever happened to this character?

So, Spectacular Spider-Man #145 has the cover date of December, 1988 and the issue most likely has a cameo appearance of Kristy Watson. However, the character is so minor does anyone really want to make a big fuss about a "full appearance"?

Alright, so there's Part 4 and there's pretty much no real surprises, at least I don't think so. Amazing Spider-Man #300 is still the major key issue to get out of the Copper Age Spidey key comics, but I do think Amazing Spider-Man #298 and #299 are Venom keys worth considering.

Tom Hardy has been cast as Eddie Brock for the Venom movie, and I think that will only fuel more interest in the character. Definitely good stuff on that end. Gonna keep this outro short.

Hope you enjoyed and hope this has helped you on your hunt or on your dump. Dang, that sounds all sorts of wrong, but thanks for reading. I'm trying my best here to publish stuff and take care of family stuff also.

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  1. I remember how Venom's grin creeped me out as a child. Such a better look than the green slobbering mess he later became.

    1. Have to agree with ya. This is the Venom I grew up on. Even Venom Lethal Protector as well.

  2. Love me some classic Venom. Since I already had a nice raw copy of ASM #300 and sold it. I would really like to get a copy of ASM #300 Italian Edition. Besides being of Italian descent, I really love the way they did the cover for it. It's always tough to find in high grade and finding someone selling a copy here in the US.