Undervalued Spotlight #375

Marvel Comics Super Special #1, Marvel Comics, September 1977.

Happy New Year, this year may all my Spotlight picks be loved by everyone!

I was talking rock and roll with my pal Jay recently and he being a huge Kiss fan mentioned their new “Vault” box set that sells for a tidy $2,000. The set has 94 songs including 30 previously unreleased tracks. I’m not a huge Kiss fan but they did have a few good riffs and I always admired their theatrics and I did know lots of guys that were in the Kiss Army.

To say that Kiss was a cultural phenomenon would be an understatement, the band is still big, Jay tells me there are legion of young fans. Gene Simmons and the other guys may age but the Kiss concept never seems to.

A millisecond after Jay and I switched over to the Kiss comic appearances I knew I had my Undervalued Spotlight. What I didn’t realize was how tough it would be to pick one out of the 3 principle early Kiss appearances in comics.

There was Howard the Duck #12 featuring the 1st partial appearance of the band, then there was Howard the Duck #13 featuring the 1st full appearance of the band. Both these books are obvious undervalued picks and worthy pickups but I want to limit the headline to one book so I’m going with Marvel Comics Super Special #1.

For me Marvel Comics Super Special #1 is the one to have, the one that I think people will choose to have over the 2 earlier comic appearances.  It’s a magazine format issue that features Kiss adapted into superheroes, Gene Simmons [The Demon]; Paul Stanley [Starchild]; Ace Frehley [Space Ace]; Peter Criss [Catman]. It’s also the issue that famously has the blood of all the band members mixed into the ink that was used to print this issue.

The book features a fantastic wraparound cover by Alan Weiss with Doctor Doom on the back wrap and the epic 40 page story features fan favorites including Spider-Man, the Avengers, the Defenders, the Fantastic Four and more. Art contributions also from Rich Buckler and Sal and John Buscema.

I think this book will grow in stature over the coming years, I think it’s a great piece of pop culture that lots of people will want to own. The timelessness of the band, the hook of the blood, it’s one of the pop culture markers of a decade full of pop culture markers.

The markets are soft on this book, you can pick up a CGC 9.2 for less than two thirds of the 9.2 Guide value, CGC 9.6s go for less that $400 and there is some relative scarcity in the higher grades.

The 47th Overstreet price break for this book is $82/$179/$275 in the 6.0/8.0/9.0/9.2 grade splits.

Reasons to buy this comic book as an investment:

  • Kiss members own blood added to ink vats for printing of this magazine
  • A pop culture marker of the 1970s

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

I don’t have strong feelings about this but I am going to comment because 1) I love thinking about Spotlights, 2) anything Walt picks is worth thinking about, 3) I have a personal story about this book, and 4) I can register the first Undervalued Spotlight comment of 2018!

The personal story: when this book came out I had been “collecting” for a few years, meaning that I was beyond the stage where I drew mustaches on heroes or cut up the books to paste the heroes on my doors (cf. Superman #252, which led to a lifetime of regret, just recently extinguished). By that point I had some long boxes with a few hundred mid-grade (or worse) bagged books. One day, my father came home and presented me with this relatively expensive book, presumably expecting excitement and gratitude. Instead I was appalled. This was, as they say, not MY Marvel Universe. I saw this as another Stan money grab, another version of a “souvenir program” that you could buy at a rock show. Its sin was the pollution of the superhero Olympus not just with glam-rock clowns, but with the very clowns claimed by the black-t-shirted villains in my school who would have used my comic collection against me (had it not been kept tightly under wraps). I was not above reading the book (it was a brightly colored comic book, after all), but after that I and a like-minded friend committed various acts of abuse to the book, finally dropping it into one of my home’s basement window wells to molder. (it was fished out some time later an summarily disposed of.) While my disdain has greatly mellowed, I still can’t muster any personal feeling for this book except nostalgia for this episode. And following the first rule of investing in collectibles, I won’t buy something that I don’t intrinsically value.

Nevertheless I am not above casting a cold eye on its undervaluedness or lack thereof. From this perspective I think this book has a lot going for it. First issue. First appearance as superheroes (arrgh!). Crazy-good pop culture combination and Kiss isn’t going anywhere. Blood of Kiss!

The downsides: not rare, and not rare in high grades. Working off of Walt’s response to my comment to the previous Spotlight entry (which by the way is my own favored approach), to get into the top 10% of graded issues you need a 9.8. Not a standard-size comic (a real downside in my opinion). Confusion from the Kiss fan/non-comic collector side (I don’t think these collectors are very grade sensitive). Finally no interest from folks like me, who would have preferred that Marvel had taken the high road and left Spinal Tap – I mean Kiss – out of its canon.

That’s all fine, but to set a price point I need a comp. I think the comp has to be some other kind of celebrity tie-in book that still has cultural relevance. (So Lois Lane #9 with Pat Boone is out.) It also has to be light-hearted, so something like ASM #583 doesn’t fit the bill. I’m open to suggestion, but I will go with Batman #222 to be kind. I would buy that one in high grade at the right price in a heartbeat, but I will pretend that the field is level, even though we are talking about the Beatles vs. Kiss. A top 10% of B #222 is a 9.4, and there are about the same number of graded copies at 9.4 and above as there are of Super Special #1 9.8s. While there was a recent low sale recorded, I’ll take the level of B #222 to be about $800. This is about the level of Super Special #1 9.8, so I don’t see much sign of undervalued from that perspective. Further I think that there is a big disparity re population – I think the number of high grade B #222s to show up will be quite small, while the number of high grade Super Specials (given the age, paper quality difference, and non-comic colllectors holding copies) to show up (especially after any further appreciation) will be significant. This will buffer the appreciation.

My conclusion has to by thumbs down on undervalued for this one. The book seems fully valued, and I see some serious drawbacks to significant appreciation. And furthermore it is heresy.

Jim Finlay
Jim Finlay
6 years ago

*looks up at previous comment*

Well I got this book AND I like it.
When I was babysitting in 1978 I remember the Kiss movie was on TV and it was way more better than watching Fantasy Island and The Love Boat.

’nuff said!

Ed Dee
Ed Dee
6 years ago

Walt, I was hoping this comic would make the spotlight someday. Kiss, if you like them or not, are a pop culture phenomenon. Fans of the band and not the comic books, are open to buying these. I have had a few rather low grade copies that I have sold to Kiss fans who will pay a premium for a subpar copy. I love the artwork and I clearly remember when this came out. Here is a fun link: https://youtu.be/pcuAtRStkHk.

6 years ago

Good post marvel super special 5 is overvalued it only has Mephisto in it yet is worth the same as 5 anyway they’re a really good series to look out for and they’re very tough to find for me anyway.Jaws 2 sold for almost $100 on eBay a little while ago just imagine if they did the original.