Fantastic Four #24
The Infant Terrible
A standard Kirby/Lee production
In this month’s edition of Overvalued Overstreet we turn our attention to comic retailers and collectors current nightmare: the dreaded “run” book. I always chuckle at this term as all comics become part of a run if the title lasts for any period of time. Key and semi-key issues emerge over time like the first issue, first appearances of important characters, secondary appearances of key villains, anniversaries, and major storylines help define “important” books within a comic title. The books that feature none of these special characteristics are often labelled “run” books and in general are in much less demand.
Today’s Overvalued Overstreet pick is an early Fantastic Four comic that fits the “run comic” criteria. Fantastic Four #24 has none of the special characteristics listed above to make this book special in any way. The story itself harkens back to pre-hero Marvel monster stories of the late fifties/early sixties when Jack Kirby would lead off the books with a seven- page horror story. This book has the monster from outer-space and all Kirby/Lee did was add the Fantastic Four and expanded the story to eighteen pages. Even the cover is reminiscent of the old pre-hero Marvels with an over-sized monster and small human beings. It’s an OK change of pace comic and the issues that immediately follow this book are stellar and tend to make you forget about this one rather quickly. I think the biggest draw to this comic is the fact it is an early Fantastic Four book in this iconic Kirby/Lee run.
The problem I have with this book is of course the Overstreet Guide price. The 46th Overstreet Price guide values for Fantastic Four #24 are 8.0 $252 / 9.0 $564 / 9.2 $875. That is not a cheap run book by anyone’s measure. These are the same prices for Fantastic Four issues #22-23 as well. I think those two are run books to but are a much higher quality. What I mean by this is they do bring something to the table, but nothing that really jumps out at you. Issue 22 has the first return of the Mole Man and increased powers for Sue Storm, #23 features another Doctor Doom appearance and cover. Fantastic Four #24 not so much.
The marketplace is not buying into Fantastic Four #24 at those prices either. Current GPA has these books selling at 20-25% below listed guide or less. I have seen this book for sale starting at 20% below guide price in 9.2 with no takers. It is a bit of a dilemma for both the collector and dealer trying to buy or sell the book. I use to buy these kinds of books all the time when I was a young collector because they often looked like such a bargain. In hindsight if you are collecting a run of books I would buy run books at the lowest grade you can tolerate in your collection, and save your money to buy better keys or semi-keys. I wish I knew that way back when.
We will be featuring many more Overvalued “run” books here in the future.
It’s sad to see but all run books in general tend to be overvalued relative to the current demand. The only way you could sell a book like this is to… build a run, and offer it up as part of bulk package, which usually means a deep discount. I like that this book is by Stan and Jack, it’s an older book that hearkens back to an even older era. However, these points are still not enough. Perhaps if it was pushed as… the 1st appearance of the Infant Terrible it would fair better? Thanks for the write up Mike!
Hi Charlie, and thank you for the comment. I didn’t pick on a key this week ^-^!
I do agree that all “run” books are under some digress in terms of price right now. I actually started writing Arcs & Runs a couple of years ago to highlight smaller high quality runs of books as a way of building a collection.
Overstreet once took a step to place the value of all books higher on grade. The focus is now on keys, semi-keys, and grade. The challenge for dealers is finding and building a lower grade reader community for all those gazillion 6.0 and under books. Price teared bins ($3, $5, $10, $20) seem to draw a lot of crowds.
High grade/ high price run books like Fantastic Four #24 are in no man’s land right now..
distress not digress -sheesh!
There are very few characters in the Lee/Kirby run I like less than this one and that has to be the Impossible Man! Uggh! But even these two had a dog every once in a while.
This may be a stinker but if a 9.4 and up came across my eyes, due to it’s age alone I would pick it up if it’s in my price range.
But I think that is the point Mike is trying to make… What is your price range for a 9.4? Is it inline with Overstreet?
I suspect our wise Mr. Ed would be bargain hunting on a 9.4 or up on FF#24. However like Charlie has said, and I was trying to point out -what kind of bargain is it? Super high grade books and the collectors who purchase them do live in a different world than where I collect.. It would be awesome to own any early FF 9.4 plus condition. Just holding it would give me chills. My guess on a 9.4 would be $900 -1000 and I would be nervous with the buy.
Fantastic Four #11 is one of a couple of handful’s of FF’s I have never owned. You hit the reason for this right on the top of his pointy little head. He drove me nuts.
High grades are where the values lay but for $900 – 1000, you could pick up a Spidey #129… 8.0? 8.5? already slabbed… and have it appreciate at a much faster pace. And also sell it much easier. I’m happy with my VG FF#24.
Good call. I have a nice F/VF copy of FF #24 which cost me $30. I was pleased as punch with that price, but it’s true it’s not an issue that stuck in my head. All the same, Kirby monsters are a wonderful thing, and I hope (dream) that Marvel wakes up to the potential of a monster movie spectacular (Fin Fang Foom on the big screen, anyone?). That still won’t help FF24, sadly. Meanwhile, there are so many “keys” now that surely the next step is for people to realize that they should just collect runs again. If that happens (and my guess is it will once the superhero movie phenomenon is over and the excitement over keys calms down) FF24 will be hard to get because all the people decrying it as a run book will have let it fade into oblivion.
Funny pick Mike. A few years ago, when I divested myself of all my F.F.s except the first ten and 44 to 55, I didn’t miss many of those pre-Sinnot issues, largely because the inking was all over the map from Chic Stone to George (Oh my god I can’t believe anybody could ink Kirby so ineptly) Roussos, and largely because so many of the villains were just plain dumb, especially when compared to the likes of the Inhumans, the Silver Surfer and Galactus. Sure I loved Kirby, but even a die-hard fan has his limits. Some of those early F.F.s just scream for a discerning editor, but, unfortunately, that was Stan’s job and I don’t think he ever thought of anything he touched as less than a work of genius.
No question you could put $900-1000 to much better use in terms of an investment than a high grade copy Fantastic Four #24. I think your VG FF #24 is the perfect book for your run.
Simon/Mel – Thank you both for your comments. It turns out we have two Kirby Monster fans here back to back, and both big Fing Fang Foom fans too. Simon I do think Fing Fang Foom will make it to the big screen some day and some other Kirby monsters as well. Who would have guessed Groot would make it and be such a big hit even ten years ago? The technology to make it happen is here!
Mel Taylor has loved Fing Fang Foom for eons and we both share a passion for Strange Tales #89..
As for Fantastic Four #24 well Dennis summed it up – not every comic is going to be a masterpiece, I am just calling out Overstreet for pricing it like one.
So sad. A beautiful cover. Wonderful Kirby art. Not “important” in Marvel lore and not a potential movie property. It fails as a gripping story, despite telling us more about our favourite superhero family. Non-key books should be a tiny fraction of the price of key books and lower grades even more so. The market is slowly reflecting this but not so Overstreet, Needs a major overhaul but it has spent decades telling collectors every mediocre Silver Age book is worth a good chunk of change in any condition, despite content.
Fin Fang Foom on film?! I would actually probably go out to a movie theatre for the first time in about twenty years to see that on the big screen. Or Goom. Or Googam. The list goes ever on and on. When I had an opportunity to finally acquire that Strange Tales #89, I had to sell all of my other Strange Tales to pay for it, but it was worth the sacrifice many times over. That and the first annual are now the only Strange Tales I own.
While we are all noticing (and admittedly sometimes participating in) the flight from run books to keys, I often wonder if the larger trend could be the precursor to an overall decline. It’s just anecdotal, but I recently priced Showcase #34 CGC4.0 in order to trade for it (gave a small stack of six Marvel silver run books/minor keys) I noticed the Showcase selling consistently on ebay for about two-thirds of its guide 4.0 $290.
Granted, not the biggest key, but it is a 1961 book. Undervalued, or canary in the coal mine of keys? It’s been an undervalued pick of mine for a couple years, but the recent research has me wondering!
I’m not sure where we were are right now either. I just watched a couple of LB Cole Suspense books go for under guide on a auction a while back too and couldn’t believe it. I think old books that have no direct connection to today are in some trouble. Your comments have touched a little something that has been twitching on the back of my neck for some time now though.
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