Undervalued Spotlight #337

Fantastic Four #232, Marvel Comics, July 1981

Our great little discussion over at my recent Auction Spotlight post heavily influenced this week’s Undervalued Spotlight pick, Fantastic Four #232.

In the discussion commenters left opinions both in favor and against the idea that the Fantastic Four can enjoy a resurgence. One point was made on the importance of a book establishing a legacy, not necessarily a legacy like the longevity of the title but a direct connected legacy to the book in question like a run buy an artist/writer, connected story arcs etc. Another point was made about how popularity ebbs and flows for all but the very top of the heap and even for those to some degree.

Fantastic Four #232 starts John Byrne’s epic run as writer/artist on the title, he bowed out at #293 (though he plotted #294). Byrne started drawing FF at issue #209 but much like Frank Miller’s Daredevil #158 it is eclipsed in importance by the issue in which he started to write and draw (Daredevil #168 for Miller). Byrne drew 60 covers in a row right through to #292, he only missed #268 because that one has a photo cover.

Here’s the thing with Byrne Fantastic Four run that started with #232, for many collectors today it is the best epic run of the title, the one they connect to, the one they ran to their comic shop or local convenience store every month to eagerly pick up.

Of course even these fans (most) would not dispute that the Kirby/Lee run is the apex run in the title, the Silver Surfer trilogy being the “Stairway to Heaven” of all of Marveldom. But every generation has their song so I’ll say that FF #232 was the opening riff to “Smells Like Teen Spirit” for today’s 40 somethings.

OK those were terrible analogies but my point is FF #232 is a marker issue, very significant in the Fantastic Four canon and it’s an issue that deserves more attention. For CGC 9.8s the 12 month average is $76, the 2015 average was $63. I’d recommend you go out and hunt down some nice tight raw copies.

In Fantastic Four #232 Byrne turns to Diablo (1st seen in FF #30, an under the radar book in itself) for villain duties.

This pick was an easy one for me because I’m banking on a revival of fortunes for the Fantastic Four property. When the team once more reaches the forefront of popular culture there will be no way to ignore the allure of the book that started one of the most acclaimed and loved runs in the title’s history.

The 46th Overstreet price break for this book is $5/$6/$8 in the 8.0/9.0/9.2 grade splits.

Reasons to buy this comic book as an investment.

  • 1st issue of John Byrne’s epic run
  • Super cheap and still available
  • Fantastic Four will be back!!

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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Charlie Kim
7 years ago

I think if Byrne took Terry Austin with him, these books could have continued where his X-Men left off. I’m not sure that the FF concept could ever be considered as exciting, especially to the young, even compared to the Avengers who are comprised of more colourful characters, but… for those who crave smart storytelling and more intellectual situations… this was the answer. I felt that #232 had the best art in this new run, but I especially liked #243 and #247 as a read. Classic Doom (concluding from #200) and Galactus story lines…

Fantastic art… even by today’s standards:


Peter Chin
7 years ago

When I was a kid, Byrne’s FF comics were the first comics that I regularly bought from the local comic store. At that time, I was drawn more to the terrific “naturalistic” art work than the dialogue. The textures and detail were like Neal Adams’ work but with different facial expressions and gestures. But Byrne’s overly-philosophical ideas were way beyond what my childhood mind could comprehend at the time.

I started buying and reading Byrne’s issues in the 280s, including the return of Jean Grey in 286, and I was sad to see him leave the series after #293.

Dennis De Pues
7 years ago

The Byrne run for me was on par with his X-men work.He put the family aspect together as well as the Science Fiction aspect of the series.His use of guest stars was a return to the Lee/Kirby era of magic and was the Second best 50 issue run on the FF.If you haven’t read this run, do yourself a favour and pick it up.You can even get real nice raw copies of back issues really reasonably.
I would love to see Byrne take another run at the FF.That would be special!

Steve V.
Steve V.
7 years ago

With about 1,500 maximum Byrne FF collectors and about 30,000 high grade Fantastic Four #232 out there going for from $1.10 to $1.95 each on e-bay, i think you over-rate any future investment potential. (unless each collector wants 12 copies)

The book was too well collected when it came out to ever be scarce, so has died a slow death in collections. For me John Byrne synonomous with the X-men. Fantastic Four were lousy 1961 marvel proto-types that evolved into the goofy Not Brand Eech title in 1967. The Fantastic Four was a hastilly written Justice League supergroup attempt, and did eventually leed to the more original and flagship title: The X-men.

Three books with much greater potential are as follows:

1. Thor Annual #11(1983) by Bob Hall and inks by the ultimate Thor inker Vince Colletta. Retells origin of Thors and his classic life in Tales of Asguard method where due to an over abundence of pride, Thor as Don Blake is banished to earth to learn humility. An ultimate 40 page saga! The one Thor book everyone should read and reread. Thor is marvels 3rd best charactor after web-head spider-man and jolly-green hulk.

2. Silver Surfer #11 (1987) by Marshall Rogers and inks by Joe Rubinstein. A peak in the title. Galactus sends surfer and nova to track down the 6th elder: the contemplator. Silver surfer witnesses a superlative sight between Galactus and Eternity.(you must read it to find out what). ! The incomperable Silver Surfer is the only remaiining relevent spinoff, and most lasting original aspect of the Fantastic Four. Silver Surfer is the california of comic books, with so much untapped intergalactic potential! What a story!

3. Marvel Villain Tean Up #11 (1973) Bob Hall and Don Perlin awsome inks. The most hitler-esque Red Skull takes over Dr.Doom’s castle and gloats to submariner how he will enslave earth with hypno- ray. Stroud and Captain America appearances. Early Bob Hall art. A book that screams bronze age! If you like Fantastic Four, you should appreciate how the evil doing Dr.Doom, as ultimate villain, secured his own title. (with hypno-ray!?) Dr. Doom is the ultimate villain in all of comics and this issue pitts him in crossover against the equally evil red skull. But it has been said by Stan Lee, Dr.Doom never committed a crime, he is not a criminal, he just aspires to rule the world (not unlike Donald Trump).(but enough politics as we have inflation of 1.85% to worry about)

Invest in these books and build a nest egg.! Read these books as they are some of the best books from 1973 to 1987, both art and story-wise

Stevie V.

Steve V.
Steve V.
7 years ago

CORRECTION. I mean Siver Surfer #10 (1987) is best. Greatest EVER eternity cover.!!

Silver surfer #11 (1987) is just o.k. guest-starring the Fantastic Four and Galactus. Story by Steve Englehart. Art by Marshall Rogers and Joe Rubinstein. Many years ago, in order to prevent the total annihilation of his civilization and homeworld, Norrin Radd bargained with the Devourer of Worlds. Imbued with the Power Cosmic, he became the Silver Surfer and Herald of Galactus. However, on the fateful day he arrived on Earth, for love of humanity, he betrayed his master, and thus was cursed to never traverse the spaceways again. Now, after many years of exile, will the Silver Surfer finally be free to soar the heavens again? Plus, witness the savage attack of Champion, an Elder of the Universe (last seen in Marvel Two in One (1974) Annual #7), as events are set in motion for the next 10 issues. Silver surfer Issue #11 is the first of a 10 issue Fantastic Four crossover series.

Jack Alberti
Jack Alberti
6 years ago

Byrne drew and wrote FF 220-221!