First Appearances

Have you noticed what’s happening in the Modern Age first appearance market? Those Marvel Previews solicitation magazines that local comic shops get in to help customers see what’s coming down the pipe have ignited into quite the collectibles. Marvel Previews #95 from 2011 has Miles Morales on the cover a full 3 months before Ultimate Fallout #4’s August 2011 debut. The first recorded sale of a Marvel Previews #95 was in 2018 and back in May of this year, a CGC 9.8 copy got $2,500.

I think there might be some built-in scarcity to these books, almost all copies were rolled up and manhandled as people leafed through to see what was coming and I think most shops ended up putting these catalogues in the recycle bins.

It’s not just Miles Morales, go back to 2005 and dig out a Marvel Previews #64, you’ll find Shuri as the female Black Panther on the back cover. Marvel Previews #64 is now piping hot and everybody wants one. There are more like this, Arana comes to mind, and remember that old Amazing Heroes fanzine from the 80s? One of the issues had a Night Wing preview before Tales of the Teen Titans #44. I trust there will be other “discoveries ” soon.

Why wasn’t the Morales Marvel Previews issue a big thing back in 2012?

Does this mean solicitations and ads that predate the actual 1st appearance will now mean more to the Millennial collectors than it did to the Boomers?

On paper Detective Comics #15 should be a massive comic, it has an ad for Action Comics #1 making it the first published appearance of Superman. Years ago, in Undervalued Spotlight #311, I argued for Human Torch #2 because it had a full-page ad for Captain America #1 and a full-page, full colour “Call for Volunteers” fan club drive. The book is still a tough sell with very little weight given to these ads.

Is the Marvel Previews solicitation magazine different? Does this newfound interest only apply to the Modern Age of comics?

I’m interested in seeing if this willingness to give these modern solicitations value will transfer back to the Golden Age.

It’s not just solicitations, Hulk #180, with its famous last panel of the last page appearance of the Wolverine is worth more than double its 2018 value in the 9.8 grade. So maybe its comic collectors and comic investors looking for new places to find value. If you can sell others on the merit then you’re in business.

Can you see this new focus on preview appearances reaching back to help out the Golden Age books with the preview ads?

Walter Durajlija
Walter Durajlija

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

Articles: 1700


  1. If nothing else, it would be fun to see much more about the Golden Age “first appearance” ads, and end-of-story panels. The next step should be a column, eh Walter? And a nice long lengthy article, in Alter Ego for instance, letting us see all of these. We know the Action #1 story, but thinking about it, there must be a lot of very cool ads to check out.

    Is it an issue figuring out actual release dates on the ads vs. the first appearance? But at worst, we can make assumptions based on our best guess at lead times on cover dates.

    Did EC do any of this? Is there pre-release promotion for Tales From the Crypt and for the Old Witches? I think those three were all narrating stories before in other titles, such as Crime Patrol, prior their own titles emerging, Haunt, Vault, and Crypt. I suppose there is much more interest in superhero characters than in Horror hosts, but it does open doors.

    Harvey”s The Man in Black came along long before he got his own title, for another example. Black Cat first appeared in the obscure diminutive Pocket Comics…I remember ads for these, Harvey really pushed their half-size line (which was short-lived) of Pocket, Speed for three issues, and I think another title, Spitfire. This title and Pocket #1, in fact, are tied as the very first Harvey Comic. Funny to think Black Cat, who I have always had a fondness for, was there at the very beginning, just like The Torch and Subby were in Marvel Comics #1.

  2. I know that on eBay sellers are now emphasizing house ads. I recently saw a Sensation 11 described as having an ad for Wonder Woman 1 and Sgt. Fury 3 has a full page house ad for Avengers 1. These indeed may be the next niche selling points for comics that haven’t been moving as well!

  3. Seems this is a trending item as I know of a couple of mags put out by Starlog publications back in the late 80’s called Comics Scene where an early issue #2, I believe featuring McFarlane’s Spiderman and a preview of a new villain…Venom a couple of months before he appeared in Amazing Spiderman 299. The second one was a later issue #31 which has a cover featuring Jerry Ordway’s new hero WildStar from Image, but inside is an article on Batman the Animated series with the first published image of Harley Quinn. Both these items CGC sell in the hundreds of dollars, simple because these are being considered as true first appearances of major characters. Just like Marvel’s in-house ads for Hulk 181 in Thor 229 and Dare Devil 115 where these books are increasing in value, so much so Marvel recently but out a facsimile issue of Thor 229. But even other house ads featuring new characters, there seems to be little movement on, such as a DC war book featuring a one page in-house ad for a new western civil war hero. I guess DC was looking at the people that bought their top War book would jump over to a Western book by promoting a new character hoping to boost sales on two dying genres…Jonah Hex. Even with the popularity of Jonah Hex’s 1st full appearance in All-Star Western #10 isn’t enough to muster any interest in his first cameo appearance a month before All-Star Western went on sale. This niche selling point for Our Army at War #240 hasn’t helped the sales on this book even though it spots great artwork by Joe Kubert, Neal Adams and Mort Drucker. That’s my 2-cents and first time post.

  4. The other thing is… the future of the MCU lies with these new characters. The movies and TV shows are all setting up for a younger team, aka the Young Avengers. People in the know are loading up on Kate Bishops, Amadeus Cho, Riri Williams, Kamala Khan… etc.

    Hey Walt, also check out 2nd, 3rd and other follow up prints. I once wrote that speculators should avoid subsequent prints… but the market is evolving. I was gonna throw my 2nd prints in my cheapie box but turns out, some of them are worth more than the 1st prints. Weird!

  5. Looks like there is a new market unfolding with these ads and previews and yes some good cataloging needs to be done. This work will be done by the market itself mostly as new info keeps popping out and if someone is to write up a definitive piece it has to be someone with way more patience and fortitude that me.

    I think I’m going to save a few Marvel Previews every month from here on in!

  6. Here is one more that ties in I believe to both Walt’s post and CC’s follow up. Moon Girl seemed to be E.C.’s answer to Wonder Woman and was heavily promoted throughout their line. Moon Girl was debuted in Happy Houlihans #1 one week before her own comic cane out which also had an ad page for Moon Girl and the Prince #1 and had her origin also printed in Gunfighter and Land of the Lost… a lot of promotion for the fading superhero genre of the late forties. Does the Happy Houlihans deserve a greater value then the first issue of Moon Girl even tho ( according to CGC) it was issued one week before?

  7. Recently the Church copy of Top Notch Comics 22 sold for $38,400 as it holds the first appearance of Archie in a Pep Comics 22 ad. You can see the actual ad at Heritage.

    There is also the scarce New Adventure Comics 26, which has a house ad for Action 1, and is selling for high numbers.

    And, on a personal note, I was flipping through Amazing Heroes 35 as I actually like DC’s Inferior Five, (they were on the cover, and yes I may be the only one that likes them) and found the Spider-Man black costume preview. This turns out to be the first appearance of the black costume, and now sells in the $100 range.

    Great topic Walter!

  8. I think the modern that started this trend was Malibu Sun #13, the Spawn preview. That’s the first preview book I recall gaining traction, though Foom #2 has been a niche for a while. But it’s a somewhat different animal.

  9. This is an interesting collecting sideline isn’t it? Will all character appearance ephemera be valued collectibles? I’ve got some like oddities like Harvey Big Hero Adventures: Jigsaw with a full back cover ad for Aurora Batman model kits featuring DC Bats & Robin art – 1966, so looks like Infantino. ??? Lotta work tracking everything.

    On a sort of off topic sidenote – I’ve just run across my first 1960’s comic with that very taboo ” F ” word in it. Run together letters (probably) or intentional lettering slipped through by a disgruntled letterer? B-Man #2 but don’t let that get out…. maybe I’ll buy some more copies : )

  10. Additional info re my Harvey B-Man #2. It has a full page ad for an official Batman & Robin “color projector” product with the logo and full figure art of Bats (likely a copy and paste from some Bats cover). Not a first appearance, would it count as a Bats appearance for a completist? : 0

    Cheers, thanks Walter, for this interesting note.

  11. I remember reading an old guide for artists working for DC in the 40s, where one of the rules was to never use the word FLICK as the letters tended to run together. I wonder if there were other such guides given to artists and writers back then.

  12. This is my new favorite web site!!!! What is the best way to see a few months our of key issues or first appearances that will be released?

  13. I miss the old Comic Reader, which lost its advantage with the advent of the direct market. They used to announce upcoming comics up to a month in advance based on newsstand release.

    The direct market released comics three weeks earlier, and TCR only had a few days in the difference, wiping out that big news advantage. The thing I miss the most is that they would print alternate covers prior to editorial changes, resulting in different final covers on the newstand. Sometimes, the earlier covers were the better versions.

    They also had in-depth coverage of companies like Dell and Gold Key, listing every issue released in true chronological order, so you could tell, at a glance, what issues came out in which order.

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