Overvalued Overstreet | Invincible Iron Man #1

 

Our Overvalued featured book today is Iron Man #1. I think this book is one of the most grossly overvalued books of Marvel’s Silver age. I personally think there hasn’t been a more overvalued Marvel comic since this was printed in May of 1968 (excluding price variants – a topic for another day). There are contenders for that mantle, however for me this book is it.

iron man 1 99

Having said that I still feel this book is an OK investment for the present, particularly for the CGC slabbed investor. I will explain.

  1. Demand! No super-hero has benefited more from his movie appearances than Iron Man. Robert Downey Jr. has made Iron Man hip and super-cool even better than he is in comics, and with more movies to come I see no cooling off for the character in the immediate future.
  2. An excellent inspired cover by Gene Colan that would add some value to any comic. A great cover really helps on a slabbed book. Outside of what is noted on the label, what is inside the book doesn’t count for that much in a slabbed comic.

Now we will get to the overvalued part, and it starts with the cover.

  1. The #1 on this comic cover adds unwarranted value to this comic. This book is actually like Iron Man #63 (Tales of Suspense appearances), plus 16 appearances in The Avengers, plus crossovers etcetera. When Iron Man #1 is published he has well over 80 appearances under his belt. Walt has discussed the whole #1 issue before and I agree with him. See Undervalued Spotlight #128 and Market Trends.
  2. This book IMO is not a true re-launch. Like Captain America #100 this is in fact the last episode of a lengthy storyline that began in Tales of Suspense. In Captain America #100 you have a 3 page retelling of how Captain America returned to the Marvel universe via the Avengers and it is woven in neatly to the storyline. The Black Panther/Captain America team-up battle against a fake Zemo is a very good story and more importantly this book leads the Black Panther to the Avengers (on Cap’s recommendation). This book has some teeth. In Iron Man #1 we get the also well done conclusion of the Iron Man vs A.I.M. storyline. A three page recap of Iron Man’s origin is lazily added at the end of the book. This an OK book. The bounce both books get for the “relaunch” versus the value Tales of Suspense #99 that precedes it, seems excessive especially Iron Man #1 (over $1000 more in 9.2 grade).
  3. Since Iron Man #1 was first published in May of 1968 I can only think of four Marvel Comics that are valued higher than this book. Incredible Hulk #181, Giant Size X-Men #1, X-Men #94, and Silver Surfer #1. All of those books contain important character introductions, original origin stories, or are real new launches or relaunches of a comic series. Not so much in Iron Man #1.
  4. The only other book that wasn’t a relaunch but a minor change in title is Thor #126 in which the title Journey Into Mystery was dropped. The bounce from issue #125 to issue #126 is very similar to Captain America #100. I don’t see why Iron Man #1 would still be 1/3 higher in price than either Thor #126 or Captain America #100 given the positive push those two characters have also received in the movies. My wife and all her friends vote for Chris Hemsworth and Thor #126 is officially cast here.
  5. Lastly, maybe it’s just Overstreet. In my first post David Simon commented on Overstreet’s systematic annual price increases and he was spot on. Iron Man #1 has been higher than both Captain America #100 and Thor #126 almost since day one. I have no idea why. Overstreet #11 (1981) and the latest 45th price guide info is listed below.
45th Overstreet Price Guide 6.0 8.0 9.0 9.2
Iron Man #1 $300 $600 $900 $1200
Captain America #100 $150 $350 $575 $800
Tales Of Suspense #99 $24 $51 $96 $140
Thor #126 $96 $230 $515 $800

 

11th Overstreet Price Guide Good Fine Mint
Iron Man #1 $8 $16 $24
Captain America #100 $3 $6 $9
Tales Of Suspense #99 $1 $2 $3
Thor #126 $1.50 $3 $4.50

Iron Man issue 1 cover by Gene Colan

Full Disclosure: I have owned probably 3-4 Iron Man #1’s in my lifetime. The first one was off of the spinner rack from my neighborhood grocery store. I always viewed it as the last issue of Tales of Suspense. I had to have it, but it is a very overvalued book today in my opinion.

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Mike Huddleston
Mike was born and raised in Cambridge, Ontario. He has read and collected comics for over 40 years. A Marvel Zombie specializing in the Silver, bronze and early copper age of comics.
Articles: 101

32 Comments

  1. Don’t forget pure numbers! There are a LOT of this issue to be found. Nearly 700 copies 9.0 or above in the CGC census alone. 2 at 9.9! So, there is no shortage of this book in high grades.

  2. Thanks Quentin – a very good point. Your right certainly no shortage of high grade copies and tonnes more in 7.0-8.5!
    The book of this group I always found tough in grade was Thor #126, and to be fair to Overstreet they do reflect this in there pricing in the higher grades, and that book is a couple of years older.

  3. Hey guys
    I think the thing with Journey into Mystery turning into Thor may be a good point. Likewise, Hulk, Doctor Strange and Captain America carried on the numbering of their pre-hero titles, but Iron Man, Nick Fury and Sub Mariner became the new number ones. In my mind, these should all be considered first real solo issues, even though, in Thor’s case the Tales of Asgard shorts lasted for quite some time after the end of what had been essentially the last of the real anthologies. Just a thought.
    cheers, mel

  4. Great points on this book. You gotta call a spade a spade. I have had my Iron Man #1 on my sell list for a while now, and you reminded me why. The power of the #1 on a solo issue is undeniable. Had Hulk, Thor or Cap started over at #1 I think you’d see those higher in value. I can’t fathom why Cap 100 should ever be worth less. It’s a Kirby classic all around! IM #1 has the dynamic cover shot of the hero that people lose their minds for. I’ll admit, looking at it makes me smile. Keep it up, loving the new column, Mike!

  5. Great points Mike. I agree that nothing significant happens in IM#1 but I think we can attribute the premium to Iron Man’s popularity in the same way that Wolverine out paces… say the Punisher, or other books from the same era. I think Mel is right in calling this a first solo. Not a book I would chase but would still pick up at the right price.

  6. Thanks Mel, Darren, and Charlie.

    I actually have great difficulty calling Iron Man #1 his first solo book.. He was pretty much alone in Tales of Suspense #39 thru #58, certainly the headliner through 20 issues. I do agree their were small 5 page back-up stories in all of them as they weaned off the monster books. The biggest reason these split books appeared in the first place was to facilitate more super hero exposure during the period Marvel had to deal with that dreadful distribution deal they had with DC. Once that was rectified it was full steam ahead with all of the solo books and new character launches like Captain Marvel and the Silver Surfer.

    You might be right about Iron Man’s popularity compared to the other heroes Charlie. It would help explain the prices in the 11th Overstreet guide. I always thought Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America were pretty much equal in popularity, but that might just be me.

  7. ^It explains the discrepancy in the current and recent Overstreets; certainly not in the 1981 guide.
    I wonder if the decision to give Iron Man and Namor their own #1 issues (versus Cap & Hulk getting “continuation” numbering) was motivated by marketing: i.e., it could be that Marvel was more worried about 100% solo Iron Man and Sub-Mariner launches, and therefore gave them #1 to boost projected sales a bit, whereas Cap and Hulk, older and more established properties, could maybe weather the storm a little better. (Sure, Hulk was initially cancelled at #6, and Cap basically disappeared in the 1950s, but they were clearly considered viable enough to bring back in guest appearances, team books, and their TOS/TTA split books before the 1968 “re-debuts.”
    How much did the “#1 factor” influence sales in 1968? Walt…?

  8. I should clarify: as Mike mentioned, Iron Man indeed had already carried a solo book for about 20 issues, but if he’d been exceptionally successful on his own, would Marvel have cut into his exposure by giving half his book to Cap? (Admittedly, with limited “resources”, Marvel being able to publish only 8 monthly books, there might not have been much choice).
    I don’t even have those TOS comics in reprints, but I’m assuming the page count per story was roughly equal; at least, the cover billing usually was: they shared and finally alternated the main masthead, and usually shared equally or alternated the main cover picture.

  9. Wouldn’t some input by dealers telling us recent sales as a percent of guide in various grades assist here? I agree that IM1 is a highly hyped book but the star power of RDJ is immense.. Only time will tell if it is lasting…..

  10. Hi Odinson,

    Your right – Iron Man’s current popularity via Robert Downey Jr. does help explain away today’s guide but not #11. I wish I knew why Iron Man took the lead from the get go. Maybe it was the sales of Iron Man #1. I’ll try and check while we wait for Walt.

    I too have wondered what the rationale was for who got what and when in terms of the re-launch. I feel much the same way as you do., especially because the Sub-Mariner was definitely the laggard of the four heroes.

  11. Number #1’s were still coveted in 1981… I thought this was the point of the discussion, that IM#1 offered very little beyond the numbering. If #1’s are not prized today, I’m suggesting that perhaps it’s the popularity of IM that keeps this book afloat… either that or its legacy value, similar to X#94.

  12. I think #1s can be overvalued just because they are #1s. For me the thing that makes Hulk #1 and FF #1 valuable is that the issues introduce the characters into popular culture, Hulk could have appeared in Amazing Fantasy #15 and it would still be worth tons. I think #1s are a collecting vestige of the past that will carry less and less weight as we go forward. The things that always drew people to #1s was the obvious continuity of the title you were collecting that was still being printed.

    You now have zero title continuity, what volume of Iron Man are we on now? And you have hardly any run collectors left, the old ones are leaving the hobby and the new ones are focusing on keys.

  13. You are on point Charlie. My problem with #1’s and the Overstreet Price guide even today is that the #1 issue in the title always must be the most valuable book, regardless of what it delivers. Iron Man #1 is the shining example along with next month’s Overvalued Overstreet.

  14. Actually, there was a time not so long ago where this book and a bunch of the other relaunch #1’s were not so coveted.

    Ten years ago, this and Submariner #1 were plentiful and easy to find in high grade. They did not sell well upon release and when CGC started up there were a bunch floating around in mint condition that made their way into original CGC holders (and some to this day) in very high-grade. It’s no coincidence that the top image in this article is an original holder 9.9. I have a few of these in original holders in 9.4, and 9.6 and even Submariner in 9.8. No one wanted them. Interest in Iron Man was limited. If a Submariner movie ever comes out, we can have the same conversation about those — and to that point it’s really the movies that have driven the demand and interest of these characters into the mainstream.

    I was just talking to a dealer I know in NYC about how 15 years ago, he always seemed to have a stack of Spidey #1’s in the shop ranging in price from $100 to $500. for a really nice copy. Fast forward to the Toby Maguire movies and boom, Spidey is relaunched into the public consciousness, those books took off like a rocket and never looked back. Iron Man never had the base that Spidey did which is reflected in the price disparity, but I would argue that all of the demand for these books comes from those movie showcases.

    There’s also a ton of speculation going on (which is another story) as evidenced by the stupid prices that are being paid for high grade books across the board that were available for a fraction of those prices just a few years ago. Will it ever abate? With Disney owning Marvel, not likely. If anything, one could argue that demand will continue to outstrip supply as more and more people become exposed to these characters and these properties continue to be invested in and developed. This is a real example of “trickle down economics”. Disney invests billions into developing and promoting these properties and we see books like Iron Man #1 trading for prices that Mike posits are overvalued.

    There’s only 3800 CGC graded copies of those book. Only about 730 of them are Near mint and above. In this case I’m going to disagree with the thesis on Iron Man #1. For now, I think that demand will continue to outstrip supply justifying the high market price for this book. And when I say market price, I mean what people pay, not what Overstreet says — thanks for the shout-out though, Mike.

  15. Hello David,

    Always glad to hear the beat from the street! To be fair I did say this book was an OK investment for now because of the popularity of the character courtesy of RDJ (i like that). I am not certain about the long term effect.
    I agree the book was not that popular before the movie hype, but that didn’t matter Overstreet still had the book higher by a large per cent over other comparable super-heroes like Thor and Captain America.
    I am curious David if you know if the New York area has seen a similar bump in the Captain America #100 and Thor #126 books? Testing the #1 on the cover theory out.

  16. Sounds like we’re all on board regarding… How often does this happen online? ^_^

    I just wanted to add that certain numbers, letters and words are important when it comes to marketing. I’m sure you all know that ad agencies spend a great amount of effort in just naming alone. Consider that Apple blew past OS8 and OS9 but have been milking OSX for the past 15 years, or that the Nissan 350Z probably wouldn’t sell as well if it were named the Nissan 321 GO. How about, instead of T1000, the new Terminator was called LEAN MODEL 23.03

    Marvel and DC know this all too well (secret + wars = SALES!), which is why they keep rebooting their titles… and sales does prove it’s effectiveness. #1’s are the “new and improved” of the comic world. Books like ASM#300 also benefit from having a round number… but seasoned collectors know not to put too much stock in the numbering. However, there are lots of collectors out there who are used to, or still associate #1 with the beginning and equate this to added value.

    I guess the bottom line from a speculative point of view is, does IM#1 appreciate? Can I invest in it today and come out ahead tomorrow? I’ve owned several copies from 4.0 to 9.4 and I’ve always been able to do okay. I agree that it’s not an important book but it is what it is…

  17. Hi David,

    I would expect that some historical dealer input with data of before and after RDJ would be helpful in determining his contribution to the increase in the value of the book.
    My problem with the value Overstreet has placed on this book is two-fold. The book has always been priced historically high – I don’t know why. The content of the book is marginal at best (except for the cover), but Overstreet does have a thing with pricing Number #1’s. Start looking for a book from any Marvel comic title that has books in the run, that are priced higher than a number #1 issue. They are rare birds. I am not saying all #1 issues are overvalued. I am saying this one is and mostly for what the book brings (or doesn’t bring) to the table.

  18. Hi Charlie – I’ll put my response in the right place this time!
    Iron Man #1 is tailor made for the slabbed comic book market. Great cover with unseen “run book” content. Let the hype machine take over.
    I think you are still good to go from an investment standpoint for at least the next few years with RDJ and the movies still coming. After that who knows… you can always rely on Overstreet to help this book along!.

  19. On Base PX , picked up 2 dozen and + copies of NM s Marvels . 1968 Hey gang there are a lot more out there hold by old timers who were cash rich. Be care full kids!

  20. To Stephen’s point, its not just 1968-era books. People started collecting in the very early sixties, if you’ve read some of what the Thompsons and Phil Seuling had to say over the years. Case in point, I often trade with a fellow collector who lives a half-hour away and is much older than me (he’s in his early 70s). He grew up loving westerns and still has his Lone Ranger runs etc, but he also has 10 copies of ASM #1 that he plucked off the newsstands.
    Don’t get me wrong; still scarcer than ’68 forward; and pre-’65 is a common enough and reasonable rule, but the few ’62 and back Marvel keys are the toughest, no? (And also why I love, love Amazing Adventures #1).
    As to IM #1, I’m a bit surprised so many are in high grade, frankly. Even though its well into collector mindset era, that dark purple ink I believe is one of the metallic ones, which are supposed to chip more easily. That said, a really nice copy (just like a high-grade Strange Tales #135) looks almost wet its so dark.

  21. There are also a heck of a lot more people here than there were in 1968. Let’s hope some of them are comic collectors! Point taken though Stephen. I still think short term-(3-5 years) there is no big risk with this book. Very good to hear from you again.

  22. Readcomix,

    You are certainly correct on that Iron Man cover. The first one I picked up off the spinner-rack. When I got outside the book was so glossy I thought I could see my face own face on the cover!
    You and Stephen both point to the cautionary tale of a lot of old time collectors dumping a large number of copies on to the market as they cash-in or cash-out. I wish I had a crystal ball on that score.
    I guess there any number of reason’s why someone in there 70’s would hang to 10 off the rack Spider-Man #1’s. I suspect they would be gobbled up quicker than cherry cheese cake if they hit the market. Stay friends with that guy.
    I love that Amazing Adventures series as well my personal fave is #3.
    Thanks for sharing this story..

  23. There’s a bunch of really good responses here and I think they’re all facets of what affects the market price.

    Mike, yes I’ve seen Thor rising in price for some time, especially in higher grades. I want to say it has more to do with the rampant speculation that they will bring Hercules into a future movie, but only the powers that be at Disney could say for sure. The other thing with 126 is it is a lot scarcer than IM 1 in higher grades. So it could also just be a supply/demand issue. Although I will point out that the last Heritage sale on a 9.4 was $600. lower than the previous seven years earlier. That book just doesnt trade often enough to get a good beat on it.

    Captain America #100 not as much. That’s another one of those silver age books that shows up in old CGC holders in higher grades all the time. I suspect that there were a few caches of these Marvel reboots in the hands of dealers’ who slabbed them early on which is what I was also referring to with IM #1 and Sub #1. But I feel like the price has been pretty flat, despite the movies. Beyond #100, Cap books are extremely undervalued in my opinion, even though there is a nice run of Kirby before Steranko and then Colan came on. I’d like to know what you all think about those issues even though it’s off topic on the #1’s.

    Stephen and Readcomix bring up a great point on how many issues out there are lurking, but here is a counter point: how many people in their 70’s do you know who will package up their books, send them to CGC and pay the premiums associated to have their books graded?

    It brings a tear to my eye, but how many of those collections end up in the trash or recycling because people don’t know or don’t care about what happens to a loved ones comic books?

    The Twin Cities collection is a good example of this. Gary Dahlberg died cleaning his oven and when his heirs found his comic collection they had no idea what it was worth.

    I’m a little all over the place on this, but back to the central question: is a number #1 perceived to be more valuable because it is a number one, or is it really a combination of a bunch of variables that are driving market price, regardless of what the numbering of the book happens to be?

  24. No, it’s not the senior collectors that makes Marvels from approx. ’64 up so so risky. i attended all the early Cons in N.Y. city and there were about a dozen dealers who had from 1oo up to a few 1ooo copies of most of the Marvels.. And that’s a conservative est! But mostly its the post “65 Marvels that there are out there. That’s why suggest strongly to buy what you love including working runs, of pre’ 65 comics. primarily so at least you have a good chance of appreciation when ever you want to sell.

  25. Mike and David,
    You made me realize I left a point or two out about the 70-something with the 10 ASM #1’s. As to why he’s holding them, he does not need the money now and he is bullish on old comics, so he plans to leave his comics to his son. He says he hasn’t graded them due to cost, but he does slab book regularly. I saw the last batch (over 30 books) and traded him a stack of assorted gold and silver and an ASM #129 (he wants to finish the run) for the Avengers #1 and #4 from the batch.
    Of course, its potentially dangerous to take his story as instructive; its just an anecdote about one guy. I don’t assume there’s dozens his age sitting on a small stack of ASM #1 or comparable (they couldn’t all not need the $$) but he makes me consider just how many other silver keys might be lurking.
    That said, there’s supply, and then there’s demand. And a two or three thousand, give or take a few dozen, is probably a tight supply or any silver key of true significance.
    Consider that extreme scarcity can work in reverse too. Look at Blazing Comics #1 — dirt-cheap golden age, first comic with an Asian hero and Asian creator (Chinese Green Turtle fights Japanese in WWII). Tough to find, true significance, yet not overly expensive.
    I think there’s a real sweet spot of demand and scarcity among the earlier silver keys; I look for AA #1 to maybe join them someday, as well as some non-Marvel early silver that I think is underpriced and in for more demand down the road (Magnus #1, Archie’s Madhouse #22) for example.

  26. Hey David, Stephen, and readcomix

    David,

    Thanks for the info on Thor and Captain America. I have never owned a copy of Thor #126 better than 6.5-70. I’ve probably waited too long to get a better copy cheap.

    I am very big fan of this time frame in terms of collecting Captain America. My first Arcs & Runs covered the end of Tales of Suspense and included IM#1 and Cap #100. A few posts later it was a two part Captain America #109 – #119. If your a Captain America fan Cap #100 thru #119 is the best 20 issue run he has ever had in the Silver Age IMO. You get two big battles with the Red Skull, plus Hydra, The Cosmic Cube, Nick Fury, the introduction of the Falcon and more. The Kirby, Steranko, Colan, and smattering of John Romita art is top shelf as well. Really can’t say enough good things about that run.

    Stephen – ” buy what you love” I can’t top that advice. I’d like to bend your ear with a question if I may. What can you remember seeing at those NYC shows in terms of DC inventory on there key books? My own feelings on DC material in general is there should be plenty of them as well because they outsold Marvel by a wide margin in the early sixties. It turned in to a pretty even match in the latter half of the sixties and then Marvel eventually passed them in sales in 1972. Love to hear your insight on this.

    readcomix – I think Walt is probably writing up that Blazing Comics #1 for an Undervalued Spotlight pick right now!

  27. Very comments by one and all. By the way that Lone Ranger run—excellent choice , and Tom Gill its artist should have gotten his long overdue rec. by now,and one of greats! Overstreet should start notating Classic Stories much more first The GA,Atomic Age, SA and up. More readers and then more run collectors. Yes that means Westerns and Humor —if the comic book market will continue to grow and thrive for decades to come otherwise all of this will collapse in a decade or so.!

  28. continued Hollywood is fickle and when the S.H. movies get old , there will be so many other ways to entertain ourselves . Virtual Reality esp. Therefore IMO it’s essential for the focal point being the comic book . i believe Scott Mcloud is struggling with this. In order to Grow Up and finally be just as accepted as film . I credit Vince and Steve At Comiconnect with the ultimate collection in London exhibit, and another one by others in Scotland! Hey guys lets be more open . and all the I.ron Man 1s won’t amount to a hill of beans in a decade or less unless the Public is educated .

  29. Mike, very simply put, around “65 Marvels SHs books where warehoused up the —–! Nuf said and be careful , very careful ! Free advice from someone who cares about comic books first and money 2nd. Collecting money and people is not particularly healthy IMO.

  30. I think the Thor and Capt. America runs sold more copies and were read more often then Submariner and Iron Man….thus supporting why more high grade copies exist with Subby # 1 and IM #1.
    Both Subby and Ironman became bimonthly publication by the early 70’s.
    Again supporting the popularity of Cap and Thor with the comic readers of that time. I’ve read that the Thor tittle often out sold Spiderman and the FF on occasion. This is supported by how many king sized and special marvel editions and Tales of Asgard and Giant sized versions of Thor that were published then. It also was Marvels response to Kirby Leaving and left me as a Young Lad not realizing he had left for two years. Thanks for the conversation guys

  31. The article is peppered with misinformation. Iron Man #1, 1968 is not overvalued.

  32. Hi Juan,

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion on these posts Juan. That’s half the fun! I don’t like mis-informing people though, so I wouldn’t mind seeing where you think I have this wrong.

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