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  1. Why add three pages from Daredevil #181 to a post about #168?

    This comic loses some of its significance since Miller brought Elektra back from the dead.

    It’s worth noting the spelling mistake of her name on the cover.

    • Not sure why I put the death scene in. I got a bit nostalgic when writing about the event so I thought I’d throw the sequence in.

      Everyone comes back from the dead in comics but when #181 was published it was quite the event, fans were very emotional.

      #168 and #181 are connected but since my post was to highlight that #168 was the beginning of something special perhaps I should have left the death sequence out.

  2. Charlie
    April 26
    Reply

    Wow Walter, what a treat! Not only am I a product of the ’80s, not only am I a big Miller fan, but this particular book is personal to me. It was the first DD book I ever bought and along with Byrnes X-run, it peaked my interest in art which lead me on a path to the local art school. Mind you I failed miserably as an artist but who can ever forget their beginnings.
     
    I read your comments several times over the weekend… but there is so much to say about this book, the talent, and the era… not to mention the books investment potential… where does one begin?
     
    It’s also very tempting to wax nostalgic here so I’ll try and refrain over glorifying this era but I think it’s important to frame this book in case any new readers wanna check it out.
     
    30 years ago the publishing biz was actually booming. Comics were written for kids and unlike the long empty story arcs you read today, most stories started and ended with one issue. As such, the dialogue was written to help the narrative. The context is important because re-reading this book was a bit like watching the 20th anniversary re-release of Star Wars. There’s been a lot of progress since but none of us who experienced it first hand can ever forget the dazzling movie spectacle that Star Wars was… which pretty much changed the way all movies are produce and marketed today.
     
    On DD#168
    For me it was an early example of a story that felt literary. The inner turmoil, the personal motivations, a love not realized… it’s all there as a concept which was unusual for a kids comic. The story starts off in the middle of some conflict, then sets us up for the main story… then links back to the beginning. If this sounds familiar, it should because many movies, including the recent Start Trek and Bond films use this formula… If this was novel, no big deal but to find such literary techniques in a comic, and told in a way that a dumb kid like me could understand was a big step.
     
    On Miller
    It’s hard to say how deliberate any of this was. We all aspire to do great things but greatness is not something you can calculate which is why most businesses rely on formulas. They need to maintain the bottom line in order to keep it going thus Hollywood is what it is today. But wether you think Miller was ahead of his time or not, it’s hard to dismiss his efforts. He may have stumbled on to DD by accident, only to fall ass backwards into DKR… and he’s been pretty much coasting since. But, how many other creative’s have such a range and a desire to explore. If I’ve learned one thing in life, it’s to keep moving… Success is often proportional to the number of attempts which is how I rationalize playing my 6 lucky numbers every week… Come on baby, big money!
     
    On investing
    Most key collectors equate this book with the first appearance of Elektra. In 2004, a 9.8 graded book sold for $3,305… but it’s been a steady decline since. What’s interesting to me is that the decline appears to be be independent of any economic influence. Today, 9.8s seems to have stabilize at around $600 so it’s gonna take some time for this book recoup it’s former glory, if ever. As I mentioned before, I have mixed feelings about GPA so you gotta take it for what it is. The census shows 1703 graded books, with 65 in the 9.8 range. Not exactly rare, so the short of it is, this book is not something to bank on. The lower grades are less volatile but greater the risk, the greater the reward.
     
    Final thoughts
    With on and off talks of a second DD movie and for anyone who follows the market closely, there is room to maneuver here but you can apply the same energy elsewhere and do much better. So why should anyone pick up this book? Duh! As Walter spells it out… to own a piece of comic history! The value here is not monetary… it’s historic. If you love comics, it’s hard not to feel passionate about a book such as this, especially if you were touched by it’s poetry and felt it’s eloquence.
     
    I’m currently trying to build a 9.8 run myself… I’ve got the back half of Millers run but it’s the front half that’s tough to get. Some day I’ll be buried with these books and my hedge stone will be a big CGC slab with 9.8 in bold type. Who says you can’t take it with you…

    ^_^

    A great write up Walter, I look forward to reading about your X-Men selection… Is it #94… maybe too obvious? I’m on pins and needles…

    • Thanks for adding insights with your comments Charlie.

      Two things were propping up comics 30 years ago. The first was the rise in specialty comic book shops which were beginning to foster subscribers and the second was the rise of the collecting community that didn’t like to miss issues and that even bought multiple issues. The creative decline would have eventually did in comics, small pockets of collectors would have been the only thing left.

      I was 16 when I picked up DD #168 and it was a defining moment, I began to look at comics differently, I dared to hope for more out of them. So many great comic works were build on the foundation of books like DD #168.

      I envy the kid that got to put Are You Experienced on the turntable back in 1967 because he did so with a clean palate. Nothing he was listening to at the time could prepare him for the sounds he was about to hear. He was in uncharted territory.

      Kids today listening to Jimi for the first time or reading Daredevil #168 for the first time have been enlightened by all that these pioneering works have inspired. Their awe and wonder cannot be the same as ours was in 1981 and 1967.

      Comic collecting has always been influenced by new facts, by movements that propel books to new highs and new lows. Who’s to say DD #168’s stature will not slowly grow as time itself exposes the books contribution to the medium!! Who knows, maybe the guy with $3,305 into his copy will make it all back and then some :) 

  3. Charlie
    April 27
    Reply

    I never actually thought of this book as a “game changer”… I usually give this credit to the talent, but the more I think about it I guess it was. I can’t think of any other book, in and around that time, which had this kind of depth and sophistication.

    The FF was Marvels response to DCs JLA… but where DCs characters had secret identities and lived in mythical cities like Metropolis and Gotham, the FF lived in the real world and dealt with real issues based on the premise of “what if people had powers”. I believe this was also what made Spidey a success… the fact readers could relate to Parkers teenage angst. So I think your comparison is fair and valid…

    The books are generations apart but they both introduce a new level of realism to a fantastic notion, thus making it somewhat relatable. So you see all you up and coming creators… enough with the “dark”! It was never about being “dark” for the sake of being “dark”. The darkness has to have meaning for it to work… The is so much “dark” these day that it’s become “noir”. Holy crap Batman!

    Despite the fact that comics seem to increase every year according to Overstreet… to me the decline makes sense considering every other market has pulled back during the recession… so why not comics? Also, I think that CGC is maturing. As some of the hype dies down and the soaring prices come back to Earth (super keys excluded of course)… I feel perfectly comfortable picking up a 9.8 in the $500 to $600 range. I’m not convinced it will reach new highs anytime soon but as the economy strengthens I can this book going up in value again over time…

Make It Good.