Undervalued Spotlight #128

Incredible Hulk #102, Marvel Comics, April 1968

Marvel Now is getting a lot of press and rightly so. Any time a comic publisher attempts some sort of relaunch fans pay attention. Marvel  has had a few famous re-launches in its day, who can forget the Rob Liefeld inspired Heroes Reborn project of 1996/97. One if the company’s most successful re-launches came in the spring of 1968 when the House of Ideas turned its 3 monthly anthology titles into 6 character driven titles.

From Tales of Suspense we got Captain America and Iron Man, from Tales to Astonish we got Sub-Mariner and Hulk and from Strange Tales we got Dr. Strange and Nick Fury.

These 6 titles came out between April 1968 and June 1968, they are all now considered key comics. The Overstreet Price Guide treats all 6 of these comics as keys and the market has been strongly reinforcing this position for over 2 decades now.

This Spotlight argues that Incredible Hulk #102 is the relaunch book most undervalued by the current market.

Let’s have a quick look at the 6 comics.

  • Iron Man #1 (5/68), $975 at 9.2 grade in the Guide
  • Captain America #100 (4/68), $675 at “
  • Incredible Hulk #102 (4/68), $485 at “
  • Sub-Mariner #1 (5/68), $475 at “
  • Nick Fury #1 (6/68), $285 at “
  • Doc Strange #169 (6/68), $280 at “

Of the 6 characters above only 3 have been able to carry their title almost continuously since their first issues and those of course are Iron Man, Captain America and the Hulk. Of these 3 titles the Hulk holds less than 50% of the guide value of Iron Man and less than 75% of the guide value of Captain America.

The Hulk is no B list Sub-Mariner nor is he a supporting cast specialist Nick Fury, he’s the Hulk! This year’s price guide saw the Incredible Hulk #1’s value catch and tie that of Fantastic Four #1. This year saw Hulk steal the Avengers movie! The Hulk has always been near the top of the Marvel heap, so why the lack of respect from the market?

Is it perhaps because there are more Hulk #102s?  No. The CGC census shows the following population as of this post (for Universal, non restored blue labels):

  • Iron Man #1, 2,082 total graded of which 555 are 9.0 or better
  • Captain America #100, 1,384 total graded of which 387 are 9.0 or better
  • Hulk #102, 1399 total graded of which 435 are 9.0 or better

Now let’s look at the current market for CGC 9.4 copies of each book;

  • Iron Man #1, 135 copies graded at 9.4 trade for $1,600
  • Captain America #100, 88 copies graded at 9.4 trade for $1,200
  • Incredible Hulk #102, 95 copies graded at 9.4 trade at $600

Whoa! So there are as many Hulks as there are Captain Americas and yet the Hulks are trading at half the value?

Double Whoa! So there are way less Hulks than there are Iron Man #1s and yet Hulks are trading at 38% of the value?

What gives?

Hulk came out of Tales to Astonish just as Sub-Mariner did. The Guide has the Hulk at only $5 more than Subby #1. How could this B lister Subby even come close to our jolly green A lister?

Perhaps it’s a #1 thing? Perhaps collectors and investors prefer #1s and penalize first issues that are not #1s? Are #1’s over valued just because they are #1s?

Detective Comics #27 and Amazing Fantasy #15 are not #1s and yet they are the second most valuable comic ever and the most valuable comic of the Silver Age respectively. So while #1’s may get special treatment random number books can still be worth a lot.

OK then why is Captain America #100 worth so much more than Hulk #102?  Wait, people love #100s don’t they!

Cound it be just a number thing? If it is, it shouldn’t be. The way I see things Hulk #102 is a great comic that the market is not getting right at the moment.

The 41st edition of the Overstreet Price Guide shows $158/$317/$485 as the splits at the 8.0/9.0/9.2 grades.

Strengths that make this comic book a good long-term investment are:

  • One of the 6 highly collected Marvel Re-launch issues from the spring of 1968
  • Retells the origin of the Hulk!
  • Widely considered a Marvel Key
  • The Hulk is a character that has a bright future
Walter Durajlija Written by:

Walter Durajlija is an Overstreet Advisor and Shuster Award winner. He owns Big B Comics in Hamilton Ontario.

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  1. Mike
    July 24, 2012

    I enjoyed your article. In my opinion, it may be a bit low but it does’t have the eye appeal of Cap 100 (Kirby cover?) or Iron Man 1 (Colan?). Also of those 3, Hulk is the only character to have had a previous self-titled solo book in the Silver Age. In guides and amongst fandom Hulk 1-6 and 102 and up are considered “Volume 1” even though they are different series. Either way Hulk 102 is not the first Silver Age solo series like the comparable books for the other 5 characters.

  2. Charlie
    July 24, 2012

    A few years ago I was really hot for this book for all the reasons mentioned here. However, I’ve come to realize it falls short… for all the reasons mentioned here.

    In a nutshell, I think Mike hits it on the head. IM#1 and Cap#100 have iconic covers. Whenever super-heroes are discussed, it’s these covers that get referenced repeatedly… where as with the Hulk, it’s usually the Hulk#1.

    But to Walters point, the only constant is change and success in Hollywood may mean the winds blow differently… but personally, I’d prefer to have a Sub#1 before the Hulk#102. But heck, why stop there… all six books would make a great set, with the possible inclusion of IM and Sub one shot.

  3. Charlie
    July 24, 2012

    BTW, great write up with good train of thought.

    Walt, have you seen this yet?

    Do you feel it accurately depicts our culture or does it reinforce stereotypes?

  4. July 25, 2012

    Thanks Charlie!
    I’ve seen small bits of this film but never the whole thing. Is it any good? Is it worth watching?

  5. SREW
    July 25, 2012

    Great post, as usual! As a very longstanding Hulk fan I can say that for me, it’s the cover of #102 that is the let-down – it just isn’t close to any of the first six issues, while the story of course continues directly from TTA #101 so it never felt like a big change. Also, since Subby wasn’t terribly interesting to me, I always thought of TTA as a more or less exclusive Hulk comic with occasional Subby cover art. I still see TTA #60 as more of a key than Hulk #102, and I wonder if that’s undervalued in the present market?

  6. Charlie
    July 25, 2012

    The film follows a handful of people and their reasons for being at Comic Con. However, the documentary itself is a bit flat and the poor graphics makes it feel kind of amateurish.

    I think this film makes a great case for religion. Wether you’re into sports, art or cars… people need something to believe in. World boarders may be defined by lines on a map… but true territories come from mind share based on our area of interest where the governing bodies are the likes of Coke… or in our case, the DC52s.

    I don’t think there is anything new here for someone like yourself… In fact, your probably sick and tired of con culture but it does give outsiders some insight.

    Personally, I found the dude from Mile High interesting as he tried to unload his Red Raven #1 for $500k.

  7. Mike Huddleston
    July 25, 2012

    Good pick walt. Enjoyed all of the dialouge above. I have always liked this book and always thought it seemed cheap in comparison to Iron Man and Captain America. I looked back 20 years to the 22nd edition of the Overstreet guide and found my answer.

    Iron Man #1 9.4 $300
    Captain America #100 9.4 $240
    Incredible Hulk #102 9.4 $135

    It has been somewhat lower than CA and IM for many years. It is actually closing the gap a bit in the 41st edition of the guide. It would be interesting to see when the gap between these books began in the guide.

  8. July 25, 2012

    Yes I do remember Anthony! I remember that eye opening interview you had with Chuck.

  9. July 25, 2012

    Thanks Mike! I still think that if Hulk got the #1 and Subby the #102 we’d be looking at different values for these books!

  10. July 25, 2012

    TTA #60 is undervalued especially relative to TTA #59. TTA #60 is basically Hulk getting his own (half) title back.

  11. Charlie
    July 25, 2012

    Ha. I totally missed that. I finally saw it recently and your review is right on the mark.

  12. July 27, 2012

    Great article, Walt! Personally, I prefer Hulk #102’s cover to Iron Man #1. I’m sure lots of people would consider me crazy 😛

  13. DJK 300
    July 27, 2012

    I liked Hulk 102, Capt 100 and then Iron Man 1 in that order. Mind you I liked the Hulk… ha. Made a great “investment” in 1988-89 for Hulk 102 for $10.00. NOw worth more!! 9.0 or so I would say

  14. Offbeat Archives
    December 27, 2012

    A cool little overlooked tidbit is that #102 is actually Hulk’s 8th self-titled comic. Remember those little Marvel Mini Books that they put in gumball machines in ’66? There is an Incredible Hulk issue (a pseudo #7?). It in no way resembles anything before, or after, but its a cool book to have for the sake of of completion.


  15. December 27, 2012

    Those Marvel Minis are beyond cool. Do you know the content of these books?

  16. Offbeat Archives
    December 27, 2012

    The last set I had were unread and one you crack the spine it is all too obvious, but I did scan some a few years ago. I’ll see if I can track down pics of the innards. They are pretty goofy, with satirical bits throughout, with lackluster art, but they really are fun. They also have very condensed origins. The Spider-Man issue has a Superman appearance (nabbing a bag of money that Spidey recovered from a crook) that’s pretty funny and it predates the “official” 1st Marvel/DC crossover by a decade.

  17. Tim
    January 28, 2013

    Thanks for the info contained in this Spotlight. I have an Incredible Hulk 102, and only recently became curious to find out what it might be worth in today’s market. I got it when I was 17, and am now in my early 60’s. Looks like I won’t be cashing it in for my dream retirement home yet, but that’s o.k. I’ve had it this long. I can hold onto it a while longer. Thanks, again, for this helpful information.

  18. Joe
    February 9, 2013

    Hi guys new to the site and was just wondering your opinions on Thor 126?

  19. February 10, 2013

    Hey Joe, where you going with that book in your hand?

    I’ve always thought Thor #126 should be worth more, it’s been a candidate for my Undervalued Spotlight for a while now.

    It predates all the Marvel re-launches by over 2 years but it represents more a title change than a format change like the others do. Thor already had JIM to himself asa hero and perhaps that is why collectors have been overlooking the book?

  20. Joe
    February 10, 2013

    Hi Walt, thanks for the reply so soon. I think that is exactly the reason why it is probably overlooked I mention it because of the ‘1st Solo issue’ title but mainly because in high grades its more scarce than the aforementioned titles, using your train of thought in when comparing the amount of 9.0 and above graded copies there are of this book.

    I considered purchasing a 9.0 graded copy of this a few weeks ago but will most likely pull the trigger on a 8.5 graded copy iron man 1 for about the same price. What are your thoughts on the two greater investment choices?

    As fpr Hulk 102 picked a copy of this book up today been wanting it for quite some time (personally I really enjoy the cover) and got an 8.5 graded for $200 which I’m quite happy with! Not quite the 10 dollars paid by one of the users above I know!

Make It Good.