Superman #246, DC Comics, December 1971.
This guest Undervalued Spotlight comes courtesy of long time reader Sonny Zymali. Take it away!
I feel like I’ve got a good pick for an undervalued book that has had me scratching my head for over a year now. With the DC Extended Universe in full swing both on television and in theaters, I feel like Superman #246 is just dying to garner some big-time interest for marking the first appearance of the Scientific and Technological Advanced Research Labs better known as S.T.A.R. Labs. As of today, CGC doesn’t even recognize it on it’s labels as the first appearance of S.T.A.R. Labs, which is probably a big part of the problem. S.T.A.R. Labs had been sprinkled into some of the DC properties through the 90’s and early 2000’s, but over the past 5 years, it has become a focal point for any scientific developments in that universe. It is the epicenter for the very popular “Flash” television series and after a cameo appearance in Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice, it looks like it will play a role in Cyborg’s origin and perhaps a bigger role moving forward. It also has a big part in the enormously successful Injustice Video Game series which is launching it’s highly anticipated sequel this may.
Released in December of 1971, this is a bronze ager that deserves to stand out in a run of Superman’s that deems the value of the first appearance of Terra Man more than something as important to the DC Extended Universe as S.T.A.R. Labs. It has spawned t-shirts and coffee mugs and has become kind of an inside wink for comic fans to display something they love from comics that looks like a legitimate research facility. While headquarters and bases of operations don’t get a ton of love in the collecting community, I do feel that S.T.A.R. Labs has a coolness factor that cannot be denied. Outside of the Batcave, I can’t think of a cooler place in either the D.C. or Marvel universes to get a hypothetical sneak peek of.
With the new Flash series doing exceptionally well for the CW (it’s the CW’s highest rated show in its first two seasons!) and the Justice League set to launch later this year along with Injustice 2, the time is right for Superman #246 to get some love!
The 46th Overstreet price break for this book is $60/$120/$180 in the 8.0/9.0/9.2 grade splits.
Reasons to buy this comic book as an investment.
- 1st appearance of S.T.A.R. Labs
- A major organization in the DC television universe
I give this post a “good effort” rating. The reasoning is sound, but the significance is questionable. There is a hierarchy of first appearances: major heroes, major villains, key characters (Lois Lane), minor heroes, super animals (talking my own book here), key events (Superboy’s voice changes), and finally locales/devices/groups. S.T.A.R. Labs is in this last group, so I wouldn’t hold my breath for this to be worth something. Clearly Strange Tales #135 has it all over this book these days (first Hydra, and of course first S.H.I.E.L.D.), and it appears to be comatose.
I like this one because it has the potential to go from nothing to at least something. A 9.4 just sold for $67 so there are parsecs of room for this book to move up into.
Chris, thanks for the comment! I agree that bases of operation, headquarters and other significant locations are not highly sought after in the collecting community. My point is simply that S.T.A.R. Labs has become significant enough in pop culture to warrant it’s first appearance to stand out in a fairly uneventful run of Superman comics. When I go to cons, I see shirts, mugs and bumper stickers with the CW Flash’s S.T.A.R. Labs logo for sale, so there definitely is a market for this brand. While it may not be a Bronze Age “Key”, it definitely is a first appearance of a significant brand in the D.C. universe and it deserves to be recognized as such by price guides and grading services. It’s also got one of those classic D.C. “Why is our hero ignoring the bad stuff going on?” covers that begs for you to see how on earth this could be… 😉
So right on all your points, Sonny. I’ve never been a huge fan of Supes, but I know an iconic cover when I see one, and the logo marketing you mention definitely would have an impact on the pop culture audience.
My only beef is that I can’t identify that cover artist. Let’s hope you jump into the mix again.
Considering the $4.00 first bid with no bids to date on this issue on ebay in Nova Scotia, with $2.97 Canada Post shipping, currently, i do not think this issue is exactly a “reach for the STARs.” We are talking about a super-small minor key that would be almost irrelevant to most readers. I do think Sonny makes a good point that the guide should mention this first appearance of STAR Lab. but that does not make it necessarily more valuable. If a collector has room for his 100 favorite comics in his appartment, would this be one? I think not. I cannot see a $30 price on this issue appealing to more than a few readers, so supply will always exceed demand.
Mel- Cover Artist(s) are Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson.
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