Undervalued Spotlight #187

marvel tales 137Marvel Tales #137, Marvel Comics, March 1982

We’ve featured a reprint book before on the Undervalued Spotlight. It was actually Marvel Tales #1 that got the nod and deservedly so. In 1964 Marvel Tales #1 was needed to satisfy the legion of new fans that had discovered Marvel a couple of years too late. Marvel Tales #1 allowed new fans to catch up on their favorite new heroes and it helped secure the beachhead for the Marvel Revolution.

In retrospect one could argue that Marvel Tales #137 came along at the right time too. The early 1980 were boom years for comic book collecting, comic book shops were opening up everywhere giving the burgeoning collecting community a place to gather and hunt down elusive back issues.

Marvel Tales #136 featured a reprint of Amazing Spider-Man #159, a book published 6 years prior. In 1982 such reprints were unnecessary since more and more collectors were now able to hunt down these relatively recent back issues.

Deciding to reset Marvel Tales #137 back to Spidey’s 1st appearance in Amazing Fantasy #15 was the right thing to do at the right time. If nothing else it re-introduced one of Marvel’s most important comics to a new generation and perhaps more importantly as far as our hobby is concerned it re-introduced the book to the new growing legion of collectors. Amazing Fantasy #15’s were hard to come by even in the early 1980s and if you were lucky enough to hunt one down you’d have to pay some crazy prices, we’re talking hundreds of dollars!

In my view Marvel Tales #137 spurred demand for Amazing Fantasy #15 entrenching it as a must have key issue.

Marvel Tales #137 is now 32 years old; it was published in what we are now calling the Copper Age, an Age being discovered by collectors as extremely desirable and full of great comics. I think Marvel Tales #137 deserves mention when talking about the Copper Age, I think Marvel Tales #137 will experience an increase in demand in these coming years that will result in a solid gain in value.

Luckily you can still find Marvel Tales #137 in bargain bins if you look hard enough.

As an added bonus Marvel Tales #137 also reprints Strange Tales #115’s 8 page origin of Doctor Strange. I’m high on Doctor Strange these days and this is just icing on the cake for our book. And if you want to talk cherry on top of the icing then I’ll point to the Hostess ad page where Captain America and Nick Fury defeat alien invaders by giving them Hostess Fruit Pies.

This is a fun book to collect. Who wouldn’t want to read the Stan Lee/Steve Ditko 11 page Spider-Man intro in old newsprint comic format? Crinkle it up a bit, leave it in the sun, tear off the cover, have a few sips of wine, you’ll think you’re reading the original.

Marvel Tales #137 represents a cheap fun way to play comics, I see very little down side to this book.

Not much activity for CGC copies, a CGC 9.8 sold a couple of years ago for $31, on eBay you can pick them up from anywhere between $2 and $9.

The 43rd edition of the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide shows $6/$8/$10 as the 8.0/9.0/9.2 price splits.

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

  • Reprints Spider-Man’s 11 page into in Amazing Fantasy #15 plus the unused, unpublished cover by Steve Ditko
  • Super Duper cheap as of this posting giving it lots of room to grow in value
  • Reprints Strange Tales #115’s origin of Doc Strange

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

1982 is what we call the Bronze Age.

I agree, based on how Action 1 reprints are prized why not AF 15? Although I don’t understand the appeal and would never want one myself

Mike Huddleston
10 years ago

I like this pick Walt. I think you know I ama big fan of reprints. They are a fun and inexpensive way to introduce new collecters to some great old classics. I collected a whole run of these Marvel Spider Man from issue #137 thru #190. You get AF#15, ASM #1-#50, and Annuals #1-#3 for my nephews. Besides enjoying the books, they also learn about bagging and boarding, and the tape mistakes that come with that don’t cost anything! Now in there 20’s they are after originals. You are correct, these reprints all came come out of the cheapy bins at my local comic shoppe.

10 years ago

What spoiled the reprints for me,were the lack of original ads, letter pages and Editorials. And often an inferior reproduction of the covers. Of more interest to me were reprints, with stunning new covers by Kane and Buscema ( Sal)
See Marvel Triple Action for stunning Examples of new cover art

10 years ago

Marvel Tales are an under the radar gem. I’ve put together a nice run from 29 through 126 (ASM 39 through 149) for my son. Yes – an excellent way to appreciate the stories via a comic and learn about bagging.