Undervalued Spotlight #340

Sensation Comics #20, DC Comics, August 1943

I was reading up on the upcoming Wonder Woman movie, lots of hype online and lots of general excitement. I thought I’d comb over some old Wonder Woman comics and see if I can find an interesting book that is not one of the usual suspects.

I found a few actually and after some deliberation I’ve decided to shine this week’s Undervalued Spotlight on Sensation Comics #20.

Sensation Comics #20 is a great issue featuring Nazi saboteurs and lots of ladies from WAAC (Women’s Army Auxiliary Corp). The most important thing it has going for it is the cover of course. While it may not fit the criteria for Durajlija’s Equation for Iconic Golden Age covers (DEIGAC) it certainly has other qualities.

The Golden Age is currently being combed for stand out, must have covers. Extreme examples of this trend can be found in issues like Punch #12, Crime Suspenstories #22, The Spirit #22 etc.

I’m not saying this cover is at the level of the books mentioned above but what I am saying is that it has the same allure, namely that the cover carries the day. Sensation Comics #20 will differentiate itself from the issues around it over time.

OK, if I have to explain why this cover has appeal then I can’t help you. A cover with Wonder Woman and a jeep full of WAAC girls getting tossed around and showing plenty of gams is a cover that with some awareness will enjoy way more demand.

There was a CGC 5.5 sale back in 2015 for $430 while a CGC 9.2 fetched $1,852 back in 2014. Cheap!

With the so much heat on great Golden Age covers I’d be grabbing any copy I can get my hands on at similar prices.

The 46th Overstreet price break for this book is $826/$1413/$2000 in the 8.0/9.0/9.2 grade splits.

Reasons to buy this comic book as an investment.

  • WWII issue, with Nazis
  • WAAC cover!!

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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Chris Meli
6 years ago

While this is a cool book, I don’t think it qualifies for this column. There are only eight copies in the CGC census, and as you point out, the last sale of a CGC copy was nearly a full two years ago. So in my mind it is possibly _overvalued_ at this point – in that owners value it so much that they don’t want to sell. We just don’t know. I think that the Spotlight should be reserved for books (like FF #1????) that sell frequently, but in your judgment not at their “fair value”. I will lay you odds that if the 5.5 comes back, it is going to go for a lot more: as evidence I give you Sensation #23 – nowhere near the characteristics that you point out for #20, 23 in the census, 7.5 went for $330 in Oct 2015, 6.5 went for $464 in March 2017.

Scott VanderPloeg
6 years ago
Reply to  Chris Meli

Well said Chris.

6 years ago

god i was able to buy a lot of golden age books back in 2013 for 30-50% less than guide. even as late as 2015. you get lucky at auction some times ..

Steve V.
Steve V.
6 years ago

Sensation Comics #20 is not just undervalued for its Wonder Woman and WACs lasso cover. It contains Shelly Moldoffs Black Pirate. (named after the Hollywood 1926 movie The Black Priate silent film, in two color technicolor, starring Douglas Fairbanks who infiltrates pirates in disguise)

Shelly Moldoff’s Black Pirate appears in Sensation Comics 1 to 25.

In the 16th Century, Jon Valor was a privateer working on a commission from the King, and always working to a strong moral code of justice.

The Black Pirate was involved with his adversary, Don Carlos, who wanted Jon to hunt down the Black Pirate.

The Black Pirate’s costume would change from its singular dark colors to a wild, more colorful one. He would even gain a sidekick in his adventures, his son Justin.

Black Pirate is a mysterious shadowy form, helping the rookie hero Jack Knight fight a crime wave caused by the villain the Mist. Jon helps Jack from the sidelines, slaying many of the Mist’s soldiers. Eventually he contacts Jack directly and asks for his help, at the time also relating the circumstances of his death. Knight, of course, promises to prove the Black Pirate’s innocence. Before he can fulfill this, the murderous dwarf Culp uses Jon’s curse for his own evil purposes. Culp’s plans fall apart when the legendary detective Hamilton Drew, working with Ralph and Sue Dibny proves Jon was innocent. Not only was Jon’s soul freed, every soul that had ever died in Opal was freed also.

Black Pirate was pulled from his own timeline by the futuristic villain known as the Lord of Time and brought to the year 3786. With four other time-displaced adventurers, these “Five Warriors from Forever” were manipulated into attacking the Eternity Brain. The Five Warriors from Forever were captured and imprisoned inside of a dungeon. They were liberated thanks to the Justice League of America and the Justice Society of America.

The Black Pirate eventually finds out his son had been murdered. Accused of the crime himself, he was hung in the port that would eventually become Opal City. Before his death, he crafted a curse on the city that no person who died there (nor his old crew) would rest until Jon’s name had been cleared. He remains in the city as a ghost.

His grandson Jack Valor took over the mantle of the Black Pirate. Although he lost his ship in a fight with Blackbeard he was instrumental in helping a time-lost Bruce Wayne return to his own era.

The Black Pirate continues to the bronze age.
In the 1997 Tangent Comics One Shot Sea Devils Black Pirate lends his name to a pub in New Atlantis, in turn the pub is shown to only sell Blue Devil beer.

The Black Pirate continues to the television screen. In episode 7 of Legends of Tomorrow, a time pirate captain named Jon Valor is introduced portrayed by Callum Keith Rennie.

So if you do not like wonder Woman whipping WACs into shape with her lasso, in a jeep, you can read the The Black Pirate. Sensation #20 also contains Gay Ghost by Purcell and a teriffic Mr.Terriffic story too.

But i must agree with Chris and Scott that Sensation #20 does not belong in this column. I agree with Chris that it is too obscure and too scarce to be considered undervalued. When books are so out-of-view that they rarely surface, then values are unsettled, so except for guide, we cannot figure out what this book ought to sell for. Books that do not pop up much, are just plain hard-to-get. This column is not about books that are difficult to locate. It should be about books that sell for low prices but should properly self for more, and have real upside potential. An example of this would be, a book like a sky-rocket that can explode upward at any time, but now sells for a non-premium price.

A golden age book like Action #7 sells for 1/10th Action #1 but is 3x as rare. Second Superman cover! Or a golden age book like Action # 13 sells for 1/20th Action #1 but is 5x as rare. It is very undervalued but everyone knows that!

It is unaccetable to call Porky Pig #99 from 1981 as undervalued because you cannot find one in any auction results! Issue 98 was in prepac only. Actually Porky Pig issues 100 to 109 from 1982 all have low print runs but no date and are all numbered #90140 making them near impossible to locate!

A silver age book like Sgt.Fury #1 could qualify as undervalued because war comics tend to battle any price increases, that war book collectors fight tooth and nail against paying high prices. Sgt.Fury #1 (which pregates Tales of Suspense #39) is only worth 1/4 of its value. I would argue Sgt.Fury #1 (is rarer than Tales of Suspense #39) should be worth double its value. Since 911, the USA has been defined by Desert Storm, strong international policies of Donald Trump, and the military might of USA increasing the military geo-political aspect, as a defining umbrella of American culture. Soldiers upon discharge sometimes return to comics to cure post combat stress-related concerns.

But to say Judo Master #98 (last issue in 1977) is undervalued because you cannot find one sell at auction is just plain silly. The book may be scarce, but the number of collectors are even scarcer.


6 years ago

why is judo master 98 scarce? and the porky pigs? they seem plentiful

Steve V.
Steve V.
6 years ago

I see pigs too.

My point was an extension of Chris’s point that scarce or hard to find books like Sensation #20, should not be called undervalued. They are scarce or hard to find and priced higher for that reason, not over priced by the guide.

Porky pig #99 does not exist because the title skipped from #98 to #100, and books over #106 to #109 have no indicia or cover number.*

* Cannot be undervalued if cannot be found at all.