Undervalued Spotlight #342

Strange Adventures #205, DC Comics, October 1967

The Silver Age has seen heavy speculation on all 1st appearances of note. Pure speculation can put strong upward pressure on prices as we rush to own these key issues before they “explode” in value thanks to some future exposure/popularity that we hope the character will enjoy.

Characters like Poison Ivy from Batman #181 (June 1966), have blown past those initial speculation prices and continue to climb thanks to the character being embraced by popular culture at large.

Other characters had benefited from this speculation boom but then stalled or even pulled back slightly in value. This week the Undervalued Spotlight shines on one such book, Strange Adventures #205.

Strange Adventures #205 features the 1st appearance of Deadman. Created by Arnold Drake and Carmine Infantino and then famously handed over to Neal Adams (as artist) with #206 on.

Deadman is a tricky character, he is the ghost of a man named of Boston Brand, a circus performer who was murdered. His spirit was then given the power and ability to possess and command any living being.

Deadman recently headlined the Deadman: Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love mini-series which was critically well received but I don’t think this is the title that will ignite the value of Strange Adventures #205. I do think the character is a great storytelling vehicle and I think he’s a great fit for the Batman side of the DCU. Deadman as a strong supporting character in the DCU should be more than enough to elevate the prices of high grade copies of this book.

High grade copies are scarce, there are only 33 CGC graded at 9.2 of above. The last CGC 9.2 fetched $1554 on the market down from $1800 the sale before. Prices have been dropping in the 9.0 grade and in most of the grades below.

Prices for high-grade copies of key DC 1st appearance issues from the 1960s have been climbing fast. Strange Adventures #205 has the character potential and the scarcity of grade to make some easy gains from current prices.

Try to grab a nice tight 9.2 with good centering and squareness. I think patience will pay off for this book.

The 46th Overstreet price break for this book is $285/$641/$1000 in the 8.0/9.0/9.2 grade splits.

Reasons to buy this comic book as an investment.

  • 1st appearance of Deadman
  • 1960s DC key
  • 1st Comics Code approved narcotics depiction?

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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Steve V.
Steve V.
7 years ago

The Deadman in Strange Adventures 205 (1967) is just another ripoff version of Spectre from More Fun 51 (1940)

Deadmans powers are Invisibility, flight and intangibility. He can instantly and completely possess any sentient being. Deadman (Boston Brand) is a fictional character, a comic book superhero in the DC Comics universe. He first appeared in Strange Adventures #205 (October 1967), and was created by Arnold Drake and Carmine Infantino.

Deadman, after being murdered by the League of Assassins during a performance, circus acrobat Boston Brand was turned into a ghost by the Hindu goddess Rama Kushna. Becoming the superhero Deadman, Boston must aid the people he possesses to avoid eternity in Hell.

Deadman as Boston Brand is a ghost. A walking Deadman if you will. He was formerly a circus acrobat who was murdered during a trapeze performance by a mysterious assailant known only as “the Hook.” So he could search for his murderer and obtain justice, the Hindu goddess, Rama Kushna, gave his spirit the power to possess any living being. While he was searching for his killer, he felt obliged to help others. He used his power to alter circumstances that benefited the innocent and corrected any wrongdoing.

The Spectre is a supernatural being of near-unlimited might whose mission is to unleash the Wrath of God upon evil men. He is always bound to the soul of a deceased human. Three humans have been bound to the Spectre during the modern age, with Jim Corrigan being its current host.

The Spectre is chosen from those who had met unjust deaths, and sought vengeance. Like Chakara before them, none of the Spectres were aware the Divine Wrath was a separate entity in its own right, believing that they had been granted the power to exact vengeance. None of these earlier Spectres operated in the public eye, and none gained world-wide recognition. That changed in the 1940s, when detective Jim Corrigan became the latest host for the Spirit of Vengeance: Jim Corrigan.

So you see ….The Deadman in Strange Adventures 205 (1967) is just another ripoff version of Spectre from More Fun 51 (1940).

Same vengence idea. Same vengence through ghostly powers. Who is more powerful? Undoubtably the god-like Spectre.

I cannot put my investment money in a rip-off charactor. Neal Adams did not even do issue 205. Lets face it…Deadman is a dead title!

7 years ago

Disagree! Deadman is a great character, and the Neal Adams run is still impressive for the art. If they ever do anything with Justice League Dark, or a version of it, Deadman could have his day. Could riff on th Walking Dead for that kind of movie too. Swamp Thing, the Demon, Black Orchid, and Shade the Changing Man could get this treatment too – I mean, I can’t believe, given the Alan Moore connection, that DC aren’t revamping Swamp Thing for an eco-friendly-with-a-twist-Groot-shows-what-swampy-things-can-achieve-type movie right now!! Watch those dollars fluttering away…

7 years ago

Seems like we should also mention Walt’s Spotlight article back in 2011 on Brave and the Bold #79 — the first Batman story drawn by Neal Adams (with a significant new take on the character) and the first Deadman crossover (outside of Strange Adventures): http://www.comicbookdaily.com/collecting-community/undervalued/undervalued-spotlight-98/

Chris Meli
Chris Meli
7 years ago

I have always loved Deadman, for these reasons:
– Great costume, and better still because it stopped being a costume when he was killed.
– Cool power to take over another’s body, particularly another hero.
– Boston Brand a great character – gritty speech patterns, highly emotional, driven to bring his killer to justice but a true hero in choosing to save others over furthering his quest.
– Great guest character to add into a story, particularly because he is not perceived by non-supernatural characters.
– Fits well into DC’s very cool stable of supernatural superheroes: Spectre, Dr. Fate, Phantom Stranger, etc.

I don’t buy the Spectre rip-off argument, the characters are completely different, and as ghosts of the murdered occur in stories verging on prehistoric, I think it’s unfair to allow for only one original ghost of this type in comics. The run in Strange Adventures was a great story and the art from the Adams issues is legendary, and the crossovers in the years after are among my all-time favorite events – I will never forget reading JLA #94, and both loving the Deadman crossover and agonizing over the lost potential given the weirdly interspersed Adams art.

So after that build-up, it might be surprising that I am on the fence about this book being undervalued. I have given this book hours of thought over the past couple years, but I still don’t have a copy. I’ve been passing up buying it for about forty years because it always seemed relatively too expensive, not undervalued. The reasons I have passed on it:
– In the pre-internet days I only could look for it at the few shows that I would attend each year, and it was scarce in any decent shape worth owning.
– More importantly: Not Adams! I have always been an “art first” guy, and so back when I actually could read the books that I bought, I couldn’t get interested in paying up for this issue without Adams art.
– Lately it has been about the run-up. In higher grades the book has about tripled in price since 2013. This has happened for many first appearances, and as discussed above, this seems to be based on speculation for some kind of movie/TV treatment. I find it hard to get aboard that sort of thing. While #205 has gone crazy, #206 and later are generally completely flat back to the GPA boundary of 2002. To me this is a red flag. I like to see real interest in the character – as an extreme comparison, consider what’s going on with Joker covers in Batman and Detective these days. Again craziness, but it is driven by across the board interest in the character. Similarly Wonder Woman: run books of Sensation and WW are seeing appreciation across the board.

To get quantitative, I thought about a comp, and I first thought of Showcase #60, first Silver Age Spectre. But the problem is that this isn’t a true first appearance, so useful but not convincing. How about Hawkman #4 – first appearance, supernatural to boot? The populations in higher grades are roughly comparable. It appears that Hawkman #4 has the edge by about 50% in value. Personally I would rate the cover of SA #205 way, way above Hawkman #4, but the offset is that heroine first appearances seem to be more in demand (maybe because there are fewer of them). Overall my call is that SA #205 is about fairly valued on a relative basis, and overvalued according to my standards (given that SA #206 and later are so dead). I’d love to have a nice copy, but at this point I’m going to invest my money elsewhere (plug for Showcase #34, where I just made a sizable call).

7 years ago

A good DC character that doesn’t get a lot of attention. When they do a JLD movie or show, then it will see a price bump. Agree with Chris on Hawkman #4. Very popular silver age DC 1st appearance right now.