Undervalued Spotlight #170

Strange Tales 115Strange Tales #115, Marvel Comics, December 1963

This is about as safe a bet as there is.

Strange Tales #115 has long been a staple of the Silver Age. All one has to do is look this issue up in the Overstreet Price Guide; ‘Origin Doctor Strange, Sandman 2nd appearance and brief origin, early Spider-Man cross over, December 1963’. That’s all good stuff; no wonder the book is a staple.

I’m here to tell you the book is a forgotten gem, the victim of its own early success. It’s time for the book to be rediscovered.

This is an early Spider-Man appearance; the issue came out the same month as Amazing Spider-Man #7. This Spidey factor has made Strange Tales #115 a staple for collectors for decades but I’m telling you the Spidey factor has more room.

I’ve talked a lot about the decline of the run collectors in comics, how collectors and investors zero in on certain books in a run. While Amazing Spider-Man will continue to be the most collected title in comics it will still experience a bit of a relative decline.

Currently Strange Tales #115 holds 40% of the value of ASM #7. I see Spidey fans gravitating to early and key appearances as the prospect of collecting the whole run becomes more and more daunting, should help close the gat at least a bit.

But the bulk of the increase in value that this book will realize in the coming years will be driven by the fact that it is the Origin issue for Doctor Strange.

Strange Tales #110 has shot through the roof since my short and sweet spotlight on it a few years ago (not because of my post but because Doctor Strange’s star is rising).

These first appearances are a bit like canaries in a coal mine, they sound the alarm.

What we have to do next is look for the next most important issues. I’ll argue that Strange Tales #115 is the Doc’s second most important issue. Origin issues are important issues.

Again I’ve argued here in the past that character is the most important driver of value. When the first appearance and origin don’t happen in the same book we should look to grab the origin books. Long term the character’s origin should outweigh any other gimmicks that other lesser books may be currently enjoying. See my Spotlight on Detective #33 for more on that.

Doctor Strange is a character that is cooler than cool and you know Marvel/Disney have him up on the drawing board. The premise, the history, the great stories already told bode well for Dr. Strange enduring as a character.

Surprisingly Strange Tales #115 has been looked over by the market so far, I mean you can still pick up a CGC 8.0 for below guide! I’m sorry but a Silver Age Marvel with a 1963 publication date in 8.0 is something to hold and cherish.

The last CGC 8.0 sale was $358 and that’s up from a 12 month average of $325 (I’d buy 10 of them at $325 each). CGC 9.0s are getting about 40% above guide but that is still a bargain, a 9.0 at $1,100 is a great deal.

The CGC Census shows 104 of the 277 graded as of this post to be 8.0s or better; only 44 make the cut at 9.0 or better.

The cover boasts Torch vs Sandman with Jack Kirby pencils and Steve Ditko inks.

Inside the book Dick Ayers gets pencil and ink credits for the 13 page Human Torch story while Steve Ditko gets the pencil and inks credit for the 8 page Dr. Strange stor., Stan Lee gets writing credits for both though the GCD gives co-plot credit to the artists as well.

There really is nothing to defend here on my part. I can practically pull a Babe Ruth here and point up for this book.

The 43rd edition of the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide shows $368/$834/$1300 as the 8.0/9.0/9.2 price splits.

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

  • Origin Doctor Strange
  • Very early Spider-Man appearance
  • Stan Lee/Jack Kirby/Steve Ditko
  • It’s a 1963 Marvel hero book!
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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10 years ago

Speaking of runs… recently I’ve been making a push to fill the gaps in my various collections but it’s been difficult. Most stores don’t carry back issues these days. I’ve had no choice but to search online. I understand the economics of it all but it’s sad that the days of rummaging through dusty bins is coming to an end.

Another thing I’ve noticed is that modern runs seem to sell on eBay but the older pre-80’s stuff don’t move as well unless there’s a nice “key” in the mix. Even classics like TTA or TOS from the 60’s (unless they’re real cheap). The lack of disposable income for people with responsibility has a lot to do with it, but also, I suspect it’s a simple shift in demographics.

Current hot books tend to be cheap books spurred on by Hollywood rumours. Expensive books have also been influence by rumours but to a lesser extent. I find this interesting and makes me think about the mindset of the people who are pushing up the prices. I love characters like the Black Panther and Dr. Strange and hope they’ll continue to receive attention long after the current hype. Rocket Raccoon… not so much.

10 years ago

Today, for the first time, I had to actually line up to get into my LCS. And then get shoved aside from a drooling dork making a dive for the Jokers Daughter. I guess when it comes to flipping on eBay, all civil etiquette is out the window.

Speaking of flipping and making a dive, I threw caution to the wind myself and went for this DD#1 last night. I don’t like the top left corner and I’m paying top dollar for a 7.0 but the way SAs are heating up… I don’t wanna get left behind.


This is a bum auction, but still a few good deals to be had.

Peter K.
Peter K.
10 years ago

With a pending Marvel / Disney Phase 3 Dr. Strange movie, this only adds to the pop culture relevence  of ST 115.  I am hunting locally for this issue, so far without luck.  I do have a low grade copy in my collection.

On another point, Disney / Marvel has little hope of ever getting the X-men movie franchise back.  It seemes their counter offensive to Fox may be an upcoming Inhuman’s movie.

Right now, Marvel is planning company-wide crossover events, focused on the Inhumans, in which they plan to reveal that there were way more people descended from the original Inhumans than originally believed. In doing this, Marvel gives themselves room to essentially reinvent the idea of mutants in their comic universe.

I am keeping my eye out now for early appeareances of the inhumans.  The Inhumans first appeared in Fantastic Four #45 (December 1965).  Next as a back-up feature in Thor #146 to #152.  They then starred in Amazing Adventures #1to #10.

I have Bronze Age questions.  In light of how popular and expensive Hulk 181 is, do you think any of the gollowing is undervalued?

Hulk 180 First appearence of Wolverine

What if #31 Wolverine killed the Hulk?

Marvel Team-up 117 Spider-man and Wolverine

10 years ago
Reply to  Peter K.

I think the Inhumans would have been a better pick than the GOTG, but that’s just me. I would love for the studios to put an anthropological spin on it, ala Prometheus. I’ve always felt the FF#45 was undervalued, along with #46 and hope they receive more attention in the near future.

A Dr. Strange movie has been talked about for several years now. I think Dr. Strange is a great concept and they should just go for it!


Another potentially great movie that doesn’t get discussed much is MACHINE MAN. Think about how well current FX would lend itself to a Machine Man film. They just need to come up with a great story… I suggest the classic: Can a machine have a soul storyline, interlaced with some action but keeping it smart.

10 years ago

Hey Walter, I would like you to consider ASM#15 as a potential Undervalued contender. The Spidey movies have been burning through his arch villains by featuring 2 per movie. Personally, I prefer quality over quantity so I think this is a mistake, but so far we’ve; Green Goblin, Sandman, Lizard, Venom, Doc Ock and… soon to be featured in the next installment, Electro and Rhino. So the question is… who next?

Maybe Shocker, possibly the Scorpion, probably the Vulture… but if I was a betting man, I’d say KRAVEN the hunter. I think Kraven has a lot of potential and his book is cheap relative to Spideys other arch rivals. GPA shows recent sales of respectable 8.0s…

#2 – $3000 +
#3 – $2000 +
#4 – $2000 –
#6 – $1500
#14 – $1800+

But #15 at a paltry $600! What gives?

Perhaps #41 and #50 are not early enough, maybe #20 as well, but Kraven follows on the heels of the Goblin. Goblin is more popular, true… but 3x the money? An Undervalue writeup and a movie appearance could change all this. Agree, disagree?


Peter K.
Peter K.
10 years ago
Reply to  Charlie

Charlie – Thanks. Now that you mention it, I see appearences of the Inhumanns in Fantastic Four 45, 46, 47, 54, 59, 67 & 82 and FF annual # 5. Most of these have great Kirby cover art. Oddly, I checked the covers of Thor 146-152. Athough the Inhumans are a running sub theme, they are never pictured on any of the covers. So, I think that the FF issues are far more significant and desireable to collect for those of us wanting Inhuman’s stories.

Thor Odinson
Thor Odinson
10 years ago

Kraven is one of the few classic Spidey villains that would very easily lend himself to a darker tone movie — that is, if they’re even planning to go slightly in the direction of the Dark Knight trilogy and X-Men type stories, and away from the more traditional Spider-Man fare.

Mike Huddleston
10 years ago

Peter you should also add Avengers #95 to your list. It is the conclusion to the story which begins in Amazing Adventures #10.

Jason Damato
9 years ago

Um…really? Who cares that the Inhumans are not on the cover??? Thor 146 is the 1st origin of the Inhumans and 148 is the origin of Black Bolt. To say there not “as desirable” to an Inhumans collector is a very crazy statment! Maybe we should all just go with the ladt comic that featured them on a cover? Then we would have a great investment gor sure. Even its its there 100th appearance lol. I dont get people 🙂