Undervalued Spotlight #321

Power Comics #1, Power Comics, 1977 (January? – a reprint of #1 exists dated March 1977)

A seemingly random sequence of events led me to this week’s Spotlight. I’ll try not to bore you with the timeline but I have a feeling that will be inevitable.

As I often do before picking a book to post I review recent Spotlight selections. I do this in the interest of variety, not wanting to go to the same, publisher/era/value etc. Mixing things up means you have to be aware of recent posts. I went back to Spotlight #300, my Cerebus #1 pick.

I’m always on the hunt for potential Spotlight picks. Recently I picked up an incomplete copy of Comics Magazine #1, the May 1936 comic that features a 2 page Siegel and Shuster story featuring the Superman prototype character Dr. Mystic. Lucky for me the important 2 pages are not the missing ones, I’m now trying to figure out if I should grade the book as incomplete or grade the 2 Dr. Mystic pages separately just as pages? Anyway I considered this book a valid candidate, because it is, but was scared off because of how utterly impossible it would be to find one of these. I was in a populist mood.

Meanwhile a box of comics just graded at CGC came back and I was happy to find a fetching CGC 9.8 Power Comics #4 featuring a Northern Light cover by James Craig. Reviewing my Power Comics #4 info allowed this week’s Undervalued Spotlight pick, Power Comics #1, to enter my field of vision.

I swear it was one of those sixth sense moments or maybe more accurately a chocolate in my peanut butter moment, when Cerebus, Dr. Mystic and Northern Light revealed to me the obvious, Power Comics #1 is undervalued.

I don’t want to repeat the accolades I showered on Cerebus #1, how legendary creators love it, how important it is to self-publishing, you can read  all that in the Spotlight #300 post. I touch on the importance of Cerebus #1 because Power Comics #1 features the Dave Sim story “A Boy and his Aaardvark” published almost a year before Cerebus #1 (December 1977).

The story does not feature Cerebus but it does have Dave Sim exploring the Aaardvark as a commentary vehicle. Sim gives the Aaardvark a couple of good lines and even sticklers among us have to see this as an important prototype issue.

That last paragraph is a great segue into Comics Magazine #1, that crazy scarce Superman prototype issue that has an Overstreet value in the low end 2.0 (Good) grade of $3,600. Most of Comics Magazine #1’s value comes directly from the connection to Superman lending to my argument that these prototype issues, once widely known and recognized, can carry, sustain and even increase in value.

Widely known and recognized is the key here I think. I’m not the most knowledgeable guy in comics but I’ve been around and picked up random bits of comic knowledge here and there. I don’t think I was aware of the Power Comics #1 predating Cerebus #1 fact until I just stumbled upon it now.

Power Comics #1 could benefit from more general awareness, it has the stuff needed to gain value, small press publisher, prototype issue to an established property, very low current Guide value and even lower general awareness in the collecting community.

The 46th Overstreet price break for this book is $17/$26/$35 in the 8.0/9.0/9.2 grade splits.

Reasons to buy this comic book as an investment.

  • Dave Sim Aardvark story predating Cerebus by almost a year
  • Obscure and little known in the market, for now
  • Too cheap in the Guide

Walter Durajlija
Walter Durajlija

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

Articles: 1688


  1. I love prototypes, Walt, but what market force will one day shine the light on this?

    I’m more concerned frankly that Cerebus #1 could recede into obscurity. (Blasphemy, I know, but niche keys are tricky. Look at Fantasy Quarterly #1 or Love and Rockets #1.)

  2. I actually think Sim’s new book, Cerebus in Hell, will be the final nail in the coffin of Cerebus. If Dave keeps beating a dead horse with more digital formats or sad pastiches of previous Cerebus appearances over Dore prints, I think Cerebus will indeed fade into obscurity apart from its role in encouraging creator-owned comics, which, in itself, is quite a legacy. If you really want to fill out your Cerebus collection, check out the Kitchener landfill where many of the back issues ended up when Now and Then closed. A sad fate for a book which once had upwards of 35,000 fans.

  3. P.S. Walt, in answer to your question of how to go about grading Comics Magazine #1, I would definitely go with the 2 rating and keep the whole thing intact, rather than grading the two Superman pictures separately. It seems to me that would entail tearing them out and selling them separately, the thought of which just makes me cringe. That book is 80 years old. It’s bound to have some problems, but I think the draw of Doctor Mystic will still make it a worthwhile book to have.

    cheers, mel

  4. I think the hardest thing for any character to do is the Generational Jump.

    Characters that catch the imagination of one generation don’t always transition to the next. Batman has transitioned 4 times seamlessly and picking up steam on the way.

    Pop Culture properties like Flintstones, the Spectre, not so well.

    Of course I will find light no matter how long or dark the tunnel, characters have experienced revivals. I think Daredevil has,

  5. So, Walt, are you going to leave that Comics Magazine intact, such as it is? I just think it would be the wiser option, and I also think you are lucky indeed to have found even a partial copy of a 1936 comic, especially with the Doctor Mystic story intact. You must either have some great sources, a great nose, or both.

  6. Hey Walt
    I guess this is why Mike and Charlie and Dennis get so much more feedback on their posts than you. It’s intended, I thought, to be a conversation, and you still haven’t answered my direct question. I guess I’ll leave my comments for the people who care next time. If you didn’t want an opinion about what to do with your Comics Magazine, maybe you shouldn’t have asked.

  7. “for people who care” … really Mel ?

    You are right though – I don’t follow up as much as the other guys do and I should

    I asked a guy with knowledge of the market in this area and he said to slab them as pages, he said the market will bring more and the pages can actually be visually enjoyed

    I was on the fence and he tipped me over

    I’ll post a pick when I get them back

  8. Well, sorry I had to be so blunt, but I did finally get a response out of you, didn’t I?. It’s a shame you have chosen to tear such a rare artifact to pieces, but that is your prerogative, isn’t it?
    Having sad that, I do wish you would respond more often to these sort of discussions., especially when you initiate them. Otherwise it seems like you just throw it down and walk away without giving it another thought.
    Let me know if it works out for you. Maybe I should resell all of my Canadian Whites a page at a time if that’s what your expert thinks the market wants. Hell, let’s just tear up all of our comics if the market will take it.

  9. Just to clarify though. Does this mean you will tear out the Dr. Mystic pages to sell separately, and STILL sell the book as a 2.0 at $3,600? That being the case, I think I may rip out the last page of Hulk 180. Why not if that’s the kind of things the “experts” suggest doing with a significant book? Thanks for your help in making this decision, because I guess 56 years as a comics collector, historian and creator doesn’t make my opinion worthwhile.

  10. Hey Mel,

    Yeah you called me out and were right to do so, I should follow up and promote discussions on my posts.

    As for what to do with this book? Someone once told me I’m a smart guy for realizing just how dumb I am.

    I like hearing your opinions an the opinions of others

    Only problem with hearing all these opinions is that you hear a wide variety of them. Then you’re back to square one.

    So your original bias points you to the opinion you decide is the right one. Gah!

    I’m trying to figure out how to break the cycle. I’ll have to ask around.

  11. Hey Walt
    Fair enough. Just sorry I had to be such a dick about it to get a rise out of you.

    cheers, mel

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