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Avengers #1, First Ever Avengers from 1963

Following the success of DC’s Justice League of America, in 1963 Marvel launched its own team of superheroes, The Avengers. The series was created by Marvel’s star creative team, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, who picked a roster of heroes who were arguably more attractive as a team than acting alone. The founding members of the Avengers were Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk, the Ant-Man the Wasp, although Hulk’s presence is almost anecdotical, since he would be an Avenger for only two issues. Maybe reckoning that the ceremonious Thor and the faceless Iron Man weren’t the best options to lead the team, Lee and Kirby decided to rescue a glorious piece of Marvel’s past, none other than Captain America, drawn by Kirby himself in the golden age of comic-books. The Captain would soon become the title’s landmark character, and has ever since closely associated with it (him calling the phrase “Avengers Assemble!” is the series’ trademark).

Kirby’s run on The Avengers features his usual exquisite pencils, and Lee’s prose sports characteristic agility and imagination. It must be noted that the characters’ speech is purposely grandiose, since the team is presented as a kind of America’s finest, with a strong regard for honor and duty. Other characteristics of the series are the ever-rotating roster (over time there would be several dozens of Avengers) and the internal conflicts of the team, often over its leadership. One of the few ever-present elements is Tony Stark’s (aka Iron Man) mansion, which serves as permanent headquarters for the group. The antagonist in Avengers #1 is Loki, archnemesis of Thor, and though it isn’t a really old issue, it has become quite valuable, with a copy in prime condition reaching $10000.

Archie Comics #1: Setting a new auction world record

It’s official. Archie and the Riverdale gang have clobbered the Hulk and Spider-Man…in the auction battleground at least. Just recently in 2011, at the Heritage Auctions’ Signature Vintage Comics & Comics Art Auction, a copy of Archie Comics #1 broke the world record for most expensive price paid for a non-superhero comic by bringing in a whopping $167,300. It’s enough to make even the Lodge’s – Veronica’s rich family in the after-mentioned comic – sit and take notice. And you can bet that the bid caught the attention of comic investors everywhere.

Mention Archie, Betty, Veronica, and Jughead to anyone, anywhere, and there’s instant recognition. This is how powerfully the Riverdale teenagers have integrated themselves in today’s culture. A multitude of young people have read their adventures in comic form, or experienced them in a variety of media. There’s the clumsy, red-headed girl-crazy Archie Andrews; the sweet, athletic, blonde Betty Cooper; the popular, vain, and wealthy Veronica Lodge; and the odd, lazy, and gluttonous Jughead (real name: Forsythe Van Jones II).

Archie and the gang are timeless. There’s very little change from the way they’re portrayed now to the way they were featured in the yellow-and-orange cover of the very first issue. There’s awkward Archie about to blunder into another accident, Betty expressing her unabashed admiration for our lead character, sarcastic Veronica posing stylishly with her fashionable skating wear; and Jughead sporting his ever-present crown. Everyone who has read the comic has also been thrilled by the epic love triangle between the three main characters (not Jughead, who can’t be bothered by girls). Even the US Postal Service has recognized and paid homage to the threesome by featuring a stamp where Archie, Betty, and Veronica share a milkshake. (made by Pop Tate at their hangout, The Chok’lit Shoppe, of course!)

The characters are the semi-autobiographical creation of publisher John Goldwater, and their early exploits were penned by Vic Bloom and penciled by Bob Montana. Archie Comics is also the publishing company’s most popular and longest running comic; since the comic was published in the winter of 1942, their adventures continue to be published and read even now in 2011 (and one suspects that they will continue to be read by the next generation and the generations after them).

The recent record-breaking price of Archie Comics #1 – although still behind in auction sales compared to carrot-head’s more super heroic contemporaries, Batman and Superman – proves that the comic can hold its own. And why not? They’re legitimate pop culture icons of America. The Riverdale gang continues to live the innocent, small-town life that a lot of us long for.

All-Star Comics #3

When talking about comic-books, it doesn’t get much more classic than this. All-Star Comics was a magazine featuring the most prominent heroes of anthology titles from All-American and National, the publishing companies which would later merge to become DC. The #3 issue of All-Star Comics became very notable for featuring the first-ever superhero team, the Justice Society of America. At first these heroes only gathered to tell each other their respective adventures, which would be featured as individual stories in that same issue, handled by different artists (notable among them is Jerry Siegel, creator of Superman, who scripted The Spectre). However, the concept proved so popular that they soon started to act as a team.

The original members of the Justice Society were The Flash, Hawkman, Hour-Man, the Spectre, Sandman, Doctor Fate, Green Lantern and the Atom. It must be noted that this Flash is the golden-age one -with blue trousers and winged helmet-, and the same goes for Green Lantern, donning a cape and red shirt. Later issues of the magazine would feature the debut of none other than Wonder Woman, who would also become a member of team. The Justice Society of America is the granddaddy of all the superhero groups that came later, such as the Avengers, the JLA or the X-Men, and that makes All-Stars Comics #3 a pivotal piece of comic-books history. However, this 71-year old issue is extremely rare, and if you want to get hold of a near mint copy you should be ready to hand $85000.

Wolverine #1: Sword Quest

Wolverine 1 Cover

Wolverine #1, which came out with the title “Sword Quest”, initiated the popular solo series of Wolverine. Wolverine, one of the most popular members of X-men first appeared in the 180th issue of Incredible Hulk in October 1974. The growing popularity of the character led Marvel to launch a 4-issue mini-series by Frank Miller in September 1982. However, the real solo book series was launched in November 1988. Through this series, Wolverine flourished to become a celebrated mutant super-hero. The series ran for 189 issues.

The signature image of Wolverine- an aggressive pose with his retracting bone claws visible from closed fists is prevalent in the cover of this issue. The long awaited inauguration of Wolverine’s own series is also declared on the cover- ‘At last- in his own monthly series!” Lindsay McCabe was the main sidekick of this issue whereas Banapur Khan, the prince of pirates played the role of villain. Kojima Noburo, personal secretary of Wolverine’s love interest and Captain Lee Kwan Pen were other notable characters. The story took place in Telambang and Madripoor, two islands of Marvel universe.

The issue was written by Chris Claremont and drawn by John Buscema. John Buscema along with John Byrne and Al Williamson made the spectacular cover. Tom DeFalco and Robert Harras took care of the editing of this issue. Glynis Oliver, Tom Orzechowski, and Al Williamson were the colorists, letterer and inker respectively. Published in November of 1988, the issue has now become a collector’s item after 21 years.

In spite of quite high demand, this issue is surprisingly still available at relatively low price. A few copies are available of e-bay, yahoo and amazon. It can be also purchased through dedicated comic selling websites such as comiccollectorlive. The price of a near mint condition copy can be as high as $30. However, in most places the price ranges from $15 to $20.

Interestingly, though it was the starting mark of Wolverine, he was under a pseudonym in this issue. Wolverine was under the name ‘Patch’ as he had to hide his identity. If you are a comic lover, search for the issue right away and collect it.

Superman # 75: The Death of Superman

Superman may even defeated and die. Can’t believe it? Well, in that case you have probably missed Superman # 75, entitled “The Death of Superman” which was published in 1993. This landmark issue was published in two editions: a normal newsstand edition and a Collector’s Edition packed in a black polybag along with an obituary written by R. Lowell Stern , a “The Death of Superman” poster by Dan Jurgens and Brett Breeding, four commemorative stamps, and a black armband with the Superman shield on it.

The superb cover of this issue featured a torn piece of cloth with Superman’s sign and the silhouettes of mourning Justice League colleagues behind it. Dan Jurgens and Brett Breeding made this wonderful cover. The computerized cover for the Collector’s Edition was done by Eric Kachelhofer. In the fight-filled page inside, Superman and Doomsday confront each other for the last time. The fierce battle shattered the windows around. The fight reached climax in front of the Daily Planet office. With a deadly blow received from Doomsday, at last Superman met his end in the arms of his beloved, Lois Lane. Besides Superman and his archenemy Doomsday, the issue also featured cameo appearance of Martian Manhunter as Bloodwynd and Ice. Regular characters such as Martha Kent, Jonathan Kent, Jimmy Olsen and Cat Grant were also present in this issue.

The issue was published on January 1993. The script and drawing was by Dan Jurgens and Brett Breedings were behind the inks. John Costanza worked as the letter whereas Glenn Whitmore was behind the impressive colors of the issue. Mike Carlin was the editor of the issue.

This issue was a big hit among the readers and ended up to be the best selling comic book of that year. Till now, the collector’s edition is considered to be an desirable item for the fans. However, both the newsstand edition and collector’s edition are available. You have to pay around $6 for a newsstand edition whereas it will cost around $20 for a Collector’s edition with all the souvenirs.

The Savage Sword of Conan, Volume 1

Following the huge popularity of Conan the Barbarian, Volume 1 of the magazine “The Savage Sword of Conan” was published in August 1974 featuring more stories of Conan. A panel of talented comic artists and writers contributed to that magazine and as a result it became equally successful as Conan the Barbarian series. Just being the premier issue of the magazine, it’s already important for Conan fans. Nevertheless, this issue had also included some fine artworks.

The cover features Conan and his warrior lady Red Sonja fighting side by side. Boris Vallejo made this powerful cover. “Sword vs. Sorcery in a world beyond time” inscribed on the bottom left corner of the cover perfectly expressed the effort by Roy Thomas to gather the heroic fantasy world of Robert E Howard. The 82 pages of the magazine featured seven items. Besides the ever popular Cimmerian hero Conan the Barbarian, there were also Kull, Red Sonja and Blackmark in the lead roles of different stories.

The magazine was published in August 1974 from Marvel Comics. The cover story is “Curse of the Undead-Man,” an adaptation from an unpublished story of Howard entitled “Mistress of Death”. Red Sonja took the central role in the next story. She was also featured in the essay named “Conan’s Women Warriors”. The editorial describing the intention and focus of the magazine entitled “A Hyperborean Oath” is an extremely good read. Blackmark, a Conan-inspired Character was featured in “The Blackmark”, a four part story which ran through the next three issues as well. King Kull was was featured in the story entitled “An Atlantean in Aquilonia”. Another Conan story, “The Frost Giant’s Daughter” concluded the book. Fans still consider it as one of the classic ‘Conan’ piece in terms of artistic excellence and storyline.

The panel of the magazine had some very famous names in comics world. Roy Thomas was the chief editor and writer. Artists like John Buscema, Barry Windsor-Smith, Esteban Maroto and Gil Kane worked behind the fantastic artworks. Pablo Marcos, Barry Windsor-Smith, Ernie Chan and Neal Adams were the inkers for different items. Joe Rosen and Art Simek worked as Letterer. Fred Blosser wrote the piece on the Woman Warriors.

This magazine issue is pretty hard to find. However, it does not cost that much. A collector has to pay around $12 for one piece of this issue.

The Amazing Spider-Man #50: Spider-Man No More!

Amazing Spider-Man # 50 came with the one of the most spectacular cover and storyline of the series. Besides being a landmark issue, it introduced Kingpin who later evolved to be the most organized villain of Marvel universe. The book also mentioned the origin of Spider-man to some extend, and a brief flashback of Uncle Ben. Above all, the main attraction was Peter Parker’s decision to quit his superhero life. The 20-page story came with the shocking title “Spider-Man No More!” which was enough to turn the comic lovers’ heads around.

The neo-classic cover depicting Peter Parker against the background of Spidey suggests the story of dumping his red costume. This cover was done by John Romita. The issue featured almost every important person of Peter’s life: Harry Osborn, Miles Warren, Aunt May, Anna Watson, J. Jonah Jameson, Frederick Foswell, Uncle Ben and of course, Mary Jane Watson. In spite of the first appearance of Kingpin, Spiderman and Kingpin did not fight face to face in these books, which actually took place in the very next issue. Johnny Carson and Ed McMahon made guest appearance in this issue as well.

This issue was published on July 1967 from Marvel. The story was written by Spiderman’s creator himself, Stan Lee. John Romita created the cover and the artworks inside. Mickey Demeo was the man with the ink and the lettering was arranged by Sam Rosen. Stan Lee was the editor as well.

This issue was a big hit and still regarded as one of the best read of Amazing Spiderman series. Presence of all major characters, introduction of Kingpin, classic Romita cover and artworks, and the crossroad of Spiderman’s life- what more a comic book fan could ask for? However, a real deal of the book is quite hard to find and expensive as well. The price ranges from $100 to $200 usually. A few reprints are also available at cheaper rate.

Sgt. Rock # 302

Sgt. Rock, issue # 302 featured a thrill packed story of Sergeant Frank Rock. The wonderful artwork did the justice of the equally attractive story. The issue featured the team Easy Company. With the presence of all members of the team alongside Sergeant Rock, this issue is certainly an item to collect.

The cover featured a dynamic artwork depicting Sergeant Rock, and Tony, his sidekick for this issue in a crisis moment of battle. The battle story took place in Anzio, Italy. Rock and Private Tony arrived at Sezze, the hometown of Tony. However, things started to turn out bad when they discovered that the Mayor of the town, who unfortunately happened to be Tony’s brother, was a fascist. Sal, the mayor was also married to Therese, the adolescent love interest of Tony. Things started to get even more complicated as the story progressed and Easy Company got involved.

This issue was published in March 1977 from DC Comics. The story was written by Robert Kanighar and the total book including the cover was illustrated by Jo Kubert.

A collector should be ready to pay around $45 for the book. However, books in weak condition might be found at a lower rate. This classic piece is certainly worth collecting, especially when you are a fan of ‘Battle books’.

Marvel Mystery Comics #9

Cover of Marvel Mystery Comics #9

The 9th issue of Marvel Mystery Comics is now considered as a coveted gem of Golden Age of Comic Books. This 68 page issue was published by Timely Comics, the predecessor of Modern day Marvel. In fact Timely Comics made their entry in comics publication with these series.

The issue featured a number of classic heroes and superheroes such as Human Torch, The Sub-Mariner, the Angel, The Masked Raider, Electro and Ferret. The issue had 7 stories and 1 filler among which the story of epic battle between the Human Torch and the Sub-Mariner was the prime focus. The cover of the issue, already regarded as a classic artwork was inked by Alex Schomburg while Bill Everett was on the pencils. The cover had the second ever appearance of the Sub-Mariner and depicted the archetypal superhero battle.

This issue was published in July 1940. A number of renowned artists worked on the stories of the issue. The panel of scriptwriters includes Bill Everett, Carl Burgos, John Compton, Ray Gill, and Stockbridge Winslow. On inks there were Bill Everett, Carl Burgos, Paul Gustavson, Al Anders, Robert Hughes, Steve Dahlman, Irwin Hasen, Ben Thompson and Louis Glanzman. And the men with pencils were Bill Everett, Carl Burgos, Paul Gustavson, Al Anders, Robert Hughes, Steve Dahlman, Irwin Hase, Ben Thompson and Louis Glanzman. Joe Simon was the editor of the issue.

The comic book is quite rare now and regarded as a highly desirable collectors item. The original print can be available for $1000 or more. However, it was reprinted as Marvel’s 65th Anniversary Special in 2004 and as Marvel Masterworks: Golden Age Marvel Comics in 2008.

The book is a stunning display of golden age comic characters. Even for a quite high price, if the book is found, every comic collector must buy it as it really worth every penny spent.

Spawn #1: Questions I

Spawn #1 was the pioneer of a new type of superhero comics. The award-winning comic creator Todd McFarlene, just having left Marvel, was trying to break the stereotype superhero image of Marvel and DC. And thus he created “Spawn”, a demonic anti-hero send back from afterlife. Spawn debuted with this issue entitled “Questions I” and instantly got the attention of readers and critics. Independent comic publisher Image got their cult comic series with the entry of this hero.

The book is one of the finest artwork by Todd McFarlene. It was published in 1992 when the computer aided effects were not very common and all the artworks inside were indeed originally drawn and printed. Al Simmons was an FBI agent who suffered a violent death. He went to the hell and came back to earth as Spawn. He had a bargain with the devil, however, after returning he couldn’t remember anymore what was the bargain about. But, he possessed dark and demonic powers. Spawn started to make sense from the shattered piece of his memory.

Spawn was an essential breakthrough from the cliché ‘heroes-in-tights’ image of superheroes constructed by Marvel or DC. Spawn emerged to be a tortured anti-hero who, unlike sterotype superheroes loves and hates and feels. Though he came from hell, he was more human than most other superheroes at that time. It was no surprise that Spawn quickly became a cult comicbook with a huge number of die-hard followers.

This issue was published in June 1992 by Image Comics. The project was almost single-handedly created by Todd McFarlene. He was the writer, artist and inker of the book. However, Tom Orzechowski was the letterer and Reuben Rude along with Steve Oliff worked as the colorist. Malebolgia was the antagonist of the issue. Among other characters Sam Burke, Twitch Williams and Jessica Tokwell were most prominent. The issue was dedicated to the acclaimed artist Jack Kirby.

This issue is still hugely coveted by the Spawn fans. However, it is not very hard to get either as a large number was printed. The issue can be purchased online at a price within $8 to $20.