Undervalued Spotlight #220

secret originsSecret Origins #1, DC Comics,  June 1961

We’re going to the bullpen and calling in the trusty right hander Mike Huddleston to post this week’s Spotlight pick. Mike is known for his sliders but can throw you a good curve now and again. Check out Mike’s Arcs and Runs column, you might end up like me and learn something.

OK lets turn this thing over to Mike:  

There it is again. “The Cool kids are reading”… Undervalued Spotlight #74. This was one of my favourite spotlights featuring an all-time favourite comic of mine Marvel Tales #1. It was written for Walt by CBD stalwart Dave (where are you Dave?) and prompted my first response to a post at CBD.  Marvel Tales is a wonderful book re-presenting some of the first issues in the new wave of Marvel Super-Heroes that some fans missed when they were initially launched.

I am an unapologetic full-time Marvel Zombie but I do know DC comics have always done a fantastic job of reprinting their history in comic books, and (cough, cough) Marvel can’t lay a hand them in terms of their giant size books (80 pagers!). It is time to give the DC equivalent of Marvel Tales #1 some love and much deserved recognition.

Secret Origins #1 is DC’s first giant size compilation book of super-heroes of the sixties. It was a one-shot comic that was later followed up with another book of additional Secret Origins in the Eighty Page Giant (1965) series issue #8. There were two follow-up series and variations of the title have been used since.  The Secret Origins title is one of the best ever. Everyone loves a secret, and who doesn’t like an origin story.  The cover of the book presents a lot like Marvel Tales #1 (from the house of borrowed ideas – nuff said).  DC comics have always used a more diverse and brighter colour palette than Marvel books. This book is no exception with a beautiful faded pink background the like I have never seen in a Marvel super-hero book.

The content in the book is mostly stellar. It features the origins of most of the individual members of the Justice League and the first Batman/Superman team-up. Let’s take a look inside the book.

  • Reprint of Worlds Finest #94 – featuring the first ever team-up of Super-man and Batman. Dastardly Lex Luthor is also in the mix. It is pretty special when you have the continuity of these two characters that goes back to the 40’s.
  • Reprint Showcase #17 Secret of the Eternal City – featuring the origin of Adam Strange
  • Reprint Green Lantern #1 Planet of doomed Men –featuring the origin of the Hal Jordan Green Lantern.
  • Reprint Showcase #6 Secret of the Sorcerers – featuring Jack Kirby and the Challengers of the Unknown.
  • Reprint Wonder Woman #105 – The secret origin of Wonder Woman (my favourite Amazon – Diana Prince).
  • Reprint story from Detective #225 –  The Strange Experiment of Dr. Erdel  which features an origin story of Martian Manhunter.
  • Reprint Showcase # 4 – Mystery of the Human Thunderbolt. This story reprints the origin of the Barry Allen Flash. Showcase #4 is at the top or near the top of most people’s list as the book that started the Silver age of comics. The Flash has also just been launched as a new TV series. There is still plenty of interest in this character nearly 60 years on.
  • The origin of the Green Arrow and Speedy. This is the only blemish on the book for me. The origin provided is one page of text with two small panels of art included. I think this was a bad idea and if they didn’t have room for the story told with comic art, they should have just skipped it altogether.

Tracking down a high grade copy of Secret Origins #1 will be no picnic. The latest CGC census data (provided by Walt) shows a total of 98 unrestored books. Only 8 are in the mint – near mint range. 2 (9.4), 2 (9.2), and 4 (9.0).  That is not a lot of high grade books. As the granddaddy of the 80 Page Giant series this book is sought after now. If additional interest is created for the characters/origin stories in this book via TV and movie exposure, supply will tighten further. If you want to own the book I would recommend buying a nice 7.0- 8.5 book now, and pounce on a high grade copy when and if it becomes available. Like many DC comic books, this book has not grown in value as much over the last ten years as its Marvel counterparts. It looks like a bargain to me.

44th Overstreet Price Guide Values: 6.0 $123, 8.0 $303, 9.0 $689, 9.2 $1075.

Strengths that make this book a good investment

  •  Granddaddy of the very popular 80 page Giant series of comics.
  •  Features origins of key DC super-heroes tied to movie and TV projects.
  •  Tough book to find in grade. Demand outstrips supply in high grade.
  •  Has the power to change a Marvel zombie in to a potential DC collector, at least for one book!

Walter Durajlija
Walter Durajlija

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

Articles: 1712


  1. Not bad Walt. Cautionary tale … back in the early to early 70’s i had about 20 copies all vf-nm to Gem. Just me….multiply that x at least hundreds of other dealers and collectors. So it depends on demand..but good one Walt!

  2. Another great post. I enjoy reading every post in this series.

    Interesting observation on the pink color. I also can’t recall ever seeing an old Marvel cover using that background. I guess it isn’t the first color choice when thinking of superheroes, horror or westerns. 🙂 But different is often good. I think this is the same color used on the cover of Batman 171 with the Riddler’s first Silver Age appearance. When you see a high-grade example of Batman 171, it certainly is striking, which is a feature that often adds value to a comic.

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    Stephen, it’s a simple matter subscribing:

    Just so you know… if you make it on to the CGC chat boards, it’s a bit like the Stepford wives over there. Many of the board members are deeply religious. You’ll recognize their glazed look as they give worship to their plastic monument, chanting **see gee see, see gee see.**

    Oops… a black car with tinted windows just drove up in front of my house… gotta go!

  4. Charlie, I’ll have none of that insanity! House of Comics…Foundation will remain strong though….Like any other collectible category. Tulips anyone? Any way, Mitch and some of the others,[myself included],been around and inside this field a long long time. Be good…gotta go go!

  5. You and me both Charlie. In the Marvel universe 1960’s giant sized origin issues are pretty rare birds.

    PS That 9.4 Marvel Super-Heroes #12 is a gorgeous copy. No worries about that book going bad.

    I was going to post this in your latest Nutshell coloum but my scroll bar seized up trying to get to the bottom of the thread^-^!

  6. Respectively Mike…..there are no rare Marvel S.A. Super-Hero comic books…..not on this planet anyways! But i do enjoy your columns. Cheers!

  7. Hi Stephen

    Thank you and respect felt.

    Just to clarify.

    My reference to a rare bird was in regards to the type of book. An original origin story told in a giant sized format was indeed a rare bird for Marvel in the sixties. I can think of only think of 2 super heroes whose origins that are revealed in this way. Silver Surfer #1 and Marvel Super-Heroes #12 (Captain Marvel). FF Annual #1 & #2 have origin stories for the Sub-Mariner (a misunderstood guy at the time) and Doctor Doom. Marvel Tales #1 & #2 are giant sized annuals dedicated to Marvel super-hero origin reprints. The one-shot Marvel Super Heroes #1 reprints Daredevil #1.That’s not very many books.

    Agree with you 100% that none of these books are rare in terms of availibilty. Some are more difficult in grade than others.

  8. Hi Mike, ok Mike, got it. By the way, in my opinion TTA 27 is the toughest Marvel S.A /S.H comic to find! Even back in the early 60’s it did’nt turn up often!

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