Undervalued Spotlight #319

superman-4Superman #4, DC Comics, Spring 1940

Looking back I can see that I haven’t had the best relationship with the Superman title. I’ve always thought the value of Superman #1 to be inflated versus say Batman #1 and maybe that’s why I’ve struggled to include the title in the 300 plus Undervalued Spotlights posted to date, there’s only been 3 and 1 of those was written by Mike Huddleston.

So left to me the Superman title and Captain Canuck are tied with 2 entries each. Taking nothing away from Captain Canuck I knew there were great books I’ve been overlooking in the epic Superman title run.

I’d like to shine this week’s Undervalued Spotlight on Superman #4. While the book does not necessarily satisfy Durajlija’s Equation for Iconic Golden Age Covers (DEIGAC) it does deliver on many other levels (and it is a strong cover).

Have a look at the Superman values in the Overstreet Guide and compare the 9.2 value to #3 at $33,000 to our #4 at $15,500 and even to #5 at #12,500. Superman #3 features reprints from Action Comics yet is listed at more than double the Guide value of #4, 1939 hero syndrome?Superman #5 is listed at over 80% of the Guide value of our Spotlight pick Superman #4 and all Superman #5 can deliver is the 4th Lex Luthor appearance.

Maybe I should have started by mentioning that Superman #4 is an amazing book, it features the 2nd mention of the Daily Planet and it delivers the 2nd and 3rd appearances, both with the red hair, of Superman’s arch enemy Lex Luthor (there are 2 Luthor stories in the book).

Superman #4 also marks the 1st issue in the title to feature original stories, no reprints!

For me the obvious superiority of Superman #4 over Superman #3 begs the question why such disparity in value? And when comparing what #4 gives us up against issue #5 I wonder why the values are so close.

Superman #4 is where the Superman as a title really starts, delivering new content with every new issue.

I’ve always touted 2nd appearances, perhaps the most read Spotlight ever was all about a second appearance so if you’re a book looking for respect and are going to contain a second appearance (and a third) it might as well be of a heavyweight like Lex Luthor.

There have been 2 sales in 2016, one a 7.0 and one a 6.5 and both have sold for around 80% of Guide. Comparing this to Superman #3 copies at 4.0, 4.5, 5.0 and 6.0 all selling for above Guide (a value I think a bit inflated to begin with) we see the injustice of the situation.

The 46th Overstreet price break for this book is $838/$1676/$2514/$6117 in the 2.0/4.0/6.0/8.0 grade splits.

Reasons to buy this comic book as an investment.

  • 2nd mention of Daily Planet
  • 2nd appearance of Lex Luthor
  • 1st Superman issue to feature original stories
  • Markets ignoring the book right now

Walter Durajlija
Walter Durajlija

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

Articles: 1714


  1. Walt,
    You had me at 1st to feature original content — the rest is filler. I wonder why issue of Action this is contiguous with?

    I do also agree it’s an underrated cover among its peer issues, and it does loosely correlate to your formula.

  2. Considering that comic books began as purely strip reprints before the likes of Superman took centre stage, I think you are correct in your assertion that the first all-original issue is deserving of some kind of special recognition. Add to that the second and third appearances of Luthor, and I would say you definitely have a key issue worthy of at least the price of the previous one if not better. Probably my least favourite comic character of all time, but his iconic status certainly warrants another look at his first full issue of original material. Definitely something for the record books, and I notice Overstreet makes a point of mentioning it being the first issue of original material.

  3. Just did a little research. This is spring 1940 issue; makes it approximately concurrent with Action 23 (April 1940 issue).

    My God, this is Luthor’s Jackpot #4! What is it with these red-haired guys?!?!?

  4. It would be great to get street dates for these issues but Jackpot #4 is a great comparison Gene.

    It’s great to see a couple of you own this gem. I’d love a copy, a solid OW/W 6.0 would hit the spot!

    That’s a harsh stance on Superman Mel, there have been some great stories over the years.

  5. Two more details that may be of some interest… 1) The cover features a unique Superman logo, never used before or since. Looks like they tinkered with it for issues #4 and #5 before “finalizing” it on issue #6, and 2) This is somewhat of an Action Comics #1 cover swipe with Superman demonstrating a feat of incredible strength while shocked-dude-holding-his-skull scampers away in the foreground.

  6. Yeah, I know disliking Supes never made me any friends in the comic shop. I just think it’s dumb to have a “superman” who isn’t a man at all, but an alien. What? We don’t have our own heroes of our species? You’re just lucky they didn’t make him a duck in a world he never made. Also, the love affair between Superman and Lois Lane is nothing short of interstellar bestiality. But I guess I digress.
    And…please notice that I agreed with your reasons for the choice, just voicing my intense personal dislike for one of the most popular super-beings of all time, that’s all.

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