Undervalued Spotlight #143

Superman #61, DC Comics (November 1949)

Three years ago in my Undervalued Spotlight #18 I talked about how for his first decade Superman did not fly. In the beginning Superman basically just jumped around “able to leap a tall building in a single bound”. I talked about how fans today just assumed he always flew.

I think it would surprise most Superman fans to discover that for the first 11 years of his existence as a superhero Superman did not encounter Kryptonite, nor did he know he was even an alien nor did he meet his real mother and father, nor did he visit the planet Krypton.

Imagine how important a comic book that introduced all these above concepts would be.

No need to imagine because Superman #61 delivers all of the above in the 10 page story “Superman Returns to Krypton”. In this great story the radioactive Kryptonian ore called Kryptonite is introduced to comic book readers (Kryptonite was known to listeners of the Superman radio show since 1943). Kryptonite is one of the most important concepts in the whole of the Superman lore; it represents his Achilles heel, the one thing that can hurt him. Kryptonite and its symbolism has entered the common language, tell anyone “that is my Kryptonite” and they will understand what you mean.

It’s hard to imagine reading Superman not knowing of his origins, not knowing that he is from the planet Krypton. We’d all assume this fact to be established early and it really surprised me that he ran around for 11 years oblivious to the fact that he was an alien. Again this concept is an important and lasting development for the character.

Superman #61 as an origin issue laid a lot of groundwork for the character. Stories centered on the concepts introduced here would carry Supes for decades, indeed until present.

This is one tough book to find in high grade, of the 47 Universally graded (non restored) by CGC there are only 3 at 9.0 and a lone 9.6. Recent sales of 6.0 and 7.0 grade copies are selling for just over guide. A bargain at anything close to guide I’d say!

The 42nd edition of the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide shows $1,030/$1,765/$2,500 as the 8.0/9.0/9.2 price splits.

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

  • 1st appearance Kryptonite
  • 1st time Superman realizes he is an alien
  • 1st time Superman visits Krypton
  • 1st time Superman meets his parents (since being sent off as a baby)
  • Origin issue
  • Less than ½ the price of Superman #53 (another origin issue)
  • Great Blonde, Brunette and Red Head cover!!
Walter Durajlija
Walter Durajlija

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

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Mike Huddleston
11 years ago

Well walt hard as this going to be to believe, this book was in the first stack of comic books I ever read. My older next door neighbour gave me a small stack of comic books when I was about 10 years old. Their were old gaines horror, a couple of war books, and Flash. This book was one I remembered, and strangely as it was my introduction to Superman I always knew Kryptonite could hurt him.Until you printed this article I was unaware of this previous history. I guess that’s what I get for becoming a Marvel zombie! If this book isn’t already on peoples radar it should be. Another solid pick Walt.

Mike Huddleston
Mike Huddleston
11 years ago

I wish!! I probably used down at the old Galt Book Exchange (trade 3or4 for 1) to get newer comics to read. Now that guy is probably on an exotic island somewhere.

11 years ago

Speaking of Superman… what do you make of the upcoming movie? I mean, all the elements are there for a great movie… that is, the most recent trailer looks promising:


But, then we have Henry Cavill as the lead. Any one who’s seen him act, particularly in Immortals may have the same concern as I do. Immortals was a promising movie as well, riding on the waves of 300… but I found Cavills acting so annoying that it was difficult to get through. True the movie turned out to be a dud, but Cavill as well appeared to be just reading lines from a script and his snarls and teeth gritting whenever a fight ensued seemed like an amateurish attempt at acting. I mean, who actually snarls in a fight scene except for little kids play acting… Compare this to finer actors in similar roles, ie.; Russell Crowe in the Gladiator. The trick here is to demonstrate some fear and humility adding depth to the character and allowing audiences to connect.

Now that super hero flicks have hit the main stream, they need to mature and go a step beyond just blowing things up for the sake of being a summer blockbusters. As I’ve said, Zack Snyder, Diane Lane, Kev Costner, Russell Crowe, Fishburne as Perry White and… Amy Adams (oooooooh yesssss)! This movie also has history to learn from, awesome effects… it’s all there… but will the lead Cavill make an effort his time? I certainly hope so.

The Christopher Reeves Superman was great because the movie had a sense of “awe”. I mean, it’s a man who can fly! If they can capture this grandeur, the movie should be great. I won’t be lined up for this on opening day, but I am looking forward to it.