ff 13Fantastic Four #13, Marvel Comics (April 1963)

April 1963 was a good month for Marvel Comics, Iron Man was introduced, the Amazing Spider-Man title was fired up and in Fantastic Four #13 the Watcher was introduced.

In FF #13 we are introduced to a Watcher named Uatu who is an extraterrestrial from the very edge of the universe. The Watchers are one of the oldest races in the Universe, they are an advanced race of unfathomable intellectual knowledge. They have committed themselves to observing all things in the universe, with indifference. Knowledge is their ultimate goal and to acquire knowledge they must observe. It wasn’t always this way, way back when the Watchers tried to share their advanced knowledge with another race but that race was simply not ready for the responsibility such knowledge brought and they destroyed themselves. Since them the Watchers just watch.

Think of the Watchers and a bunch of James T. Kirks running around the Universe actually observing Starfleet’s Prime Directive. I wonder if Rodenberry read the Fantastic Four?

I’m here to say that the legendary creative team of Lee and Kirby were creating at the height of their powers. Like all great Marvel characters Uatu was flawed and like the bad Watcher he was he picked sides and helped out every now and then. Uatu was later banished by the other Watchers for this.

I’ve always been a Watcher fan, I love the premise and I love our often conflicted Uatu. Marvel has made great use of the Watcher over the decades and never better than in FF Annual #3 when the Watcher promises not to watch on Sue and Reed on their wedding night. Marvel will continue to feature The Watcher especially with their focus on Cosmic Marvel.

I’m arguing that Fantastic Four #13 is an absolute powerhouse of a book that does not get its due. It seems all the thunder is stolen by its numerical neighbor FF #12. Yes FF #12 has the 1st Hulk meeting with the FF and it is tied for 1st Marvel cross-over (with Amazing Spider-Man #1, which had an FF cross-over btw) but at the end of the day it does not introduce a new character to the cannon. Please don’t get me wrong, FF #12 is a monster of a book and I love it but I’m here to champion FF #13.

Fantastic Four #13 is perhaps the last great early Fantastic Four issue. It is certainly the last to add a worthy character to the Marvel Universe continuity. We won’t see another comparable introduction until Fantastic Four #45 (1st Inhumans).

By the way the creative team involved in this book is scary; you have Stan Lee scripts, Jack Kirby pencils, Steve Ditko inks and Stan Goldberg colors. How could this book be anything but a classic!

I look at FF #11 and see its Overstreet Guide value at almost 50% more than our FF #13 and I get mad. For what? Impossible Man? While I’m on it why is FF #7 worth over 50% more than FF #13? Must be that red hot Kurrgo 1st appearance! Perhaps this is an example of collectors valuing a book based on its sequence number, something I think needs to change.

And this is a tough book to get a hold of too.

In high grade FF #13 is just as scarce as FF #12. Of the 563 graded as of this post for FF #12, 29 or 5.1% are at 9.2 or better compared to FF #13’s 14 copies graded over 9.2 against the total graded 285 or 5.4%.  you see that this book is just as hard in high grade, in fact it comes up even less frequently at auctions.

Over the last 2 years only about 20 recorded sales of FF #13 at CGC 6.0 or above have occurred compared to the over 60 transaction for FF #12 in the same grade range.

I would recommend picking up a nice tight CGC 8.0 of FF #13. FF#13 at 8.0 is listed in Overstreet #42 at $753 and ad market they are getting just above guide. I think this is a bargain.

The 42nd edition of the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide shows $753/$1627/$2500 as the 8.0/9.0/9.2 price splits.

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

  •         1st appearance The Watcher
  •         Lee/Kirby/Ditko – ‘nuff said!
  •         Scarce in higher grades
  •         Undervalued relative to other FF issues in the same era
  •         1st apprearance of the villian Red Ghost