Undervalued Spotlight #403

Adventure Comics #93, DC Comics, August/September 1944.

I love browsing through some of the bigger auctions. I always start by having a peek at the Golden Age offerings, there’s so much great Golden Age out there!

It was a recent ComicLink auction, I was perusing the Golden Age selection when I saw a book and had this immediate “hey! Kirby Monster Cover!” reaction. The book I saw was Adventure Comics #93 and it’s this week’s Undervalued Spotlight. It must be the Kirby kick I’m on lately.

Adventure #93 is obviously not a Kirby Monster Cover in the classic sense being about 15 years early but it is kind of a Kirby Monster Cover if you look at it at the right angle and from the right frame of mind.

I’m not even going to try to claim it a prototype (though the thought did remind me of Mike Huddleston’s great post on the subject matter). I’m simply claiming that this gem of a Golden Age book has an obvious connection to Kirby’s later Monster Era and I think this fact gives the book some collectability, more collectability than it’s enjoyed as a common run book within the Golden Age Adventure Comics run.

I’ve actually seen this book for sale at least 3 times over the past year and contemplated throwing in a bid on a stunning 9.2 (I think it was a 9.2, might have been higher). Copies go for around Guide and a CGC 9.4 (might have been the one I saw) went for $2390.

As I mentioned above I think there is enough here to merit consideration, essentially we have a cover (and story) drawn by the most celebrated artist in the history of comics and we have an obvious link with the cover subject matter to one of his more memorable and collectible eras (or phases?). I’d say a tight crisp 8.0 would look great in your collection.

The 47th Overstreet price break for this book is $621/$1061/$1500 in the 8.0/9.0/9.2 grade splits.

Reasons to buy this comic book as an investment:

  • Kirby Monster 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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5 years ago

Great choice! Monster comics are the greatest (with Fin Fang Foom the greatest of the monsters) and I saw this issue a long time ago and coveted a copy (no luck yet). Kirby’s monster comics are pure comic genius – his ability to produce brilliant creatures month after month has always amazed me.

Chris Meli
5 years ago

First off let’s go into some more detail about the graded population on this issue:

– CGC shows two 9.4s, then one each: 9.0, 8.5, 8.0, 7.5. So at this point exactly one person can have a tight crisp 8.0 in their collection. (Cf. my critique of your Sensation #20 pick.)

– So at this point there isn’t a 9.2, and I don’t think that there ever was.

– One of the 9.4s was Mile High, and that one sold on ComicLink in March for $3.8k. (You can generally see the recent auction sales on the Exchange, and while there are no dates, I keep track of CL’s high end sales.)

– It appears that this Mile High copy was immediately dressed up and regraded by CBCS as 9.8 (with CVA Exceptional for good measure), and sold in May on ComicLink for $6.1k.

– Since Mile Highs trade with an enormous premium, I think we can effectively eliminate that one from the “undervalued” consideration.

– The other 9.4 sold in May 2017 via Heritage for the amount you show above ($2.4k). I can’t agree that this copy is “stunning” because of the DATE STAMP floating next to Sandman’s head. No no no no no. I maybe can tolerate a date stamp on a lower-grade major key or super scarce book where the cover isn’t the point – Detective 225 in mid-grade comes to mind – but not on non-key where the whole point is the cover art. So there are problems with using this copy to evaluate “undervalued” – as of the sale date it was tied for highest, but now it is/isn’t the highest depending upon whether you respect CBCS, and it has this terrible date stamp. I’m willing to buy that the price for a “clean” 9.4 would be around this level.

With all of this complexity at the top, I don’t think we can do anything with these results relative to the copies that you actually might be able to get your hands on. There are only 15 copies in the CGC census (and one of these is now CBCS), so it isn’t like you can take your pick.

A much more relevant data point is the GPA-recorded sale of a 5.5 in March for $299, which is the 2002 recorded price. So we are off to a good start as far as supporting an “undervalued” assessment. Just by saying “CGC 5.5, 1944 Kirby cover in the top ten graded”, I think the reaction should be “undervalued”. People pay this for random recent variant covers of which there are thousands of pristine copies.

If it’s so undervalued, why didn’t I buy it? (Not that I remember seeing it, but I wouldn’t have bought it anyway.)

#1) New Costume Sandman. I think that this is a acquired taste like Catman. But Catman is more enticing given the off-brand publisher and scarcity. So New Costume Sandman is neither fish nor fowl. (“There is no place beyond the law Where tyrants rule with unshakable power” – except for Helsinki.)

#2) Adventure Comics. The next thing you tell people is “It’s like Action Comics – you know, the first Superman?” Adventure struggles under a huge weight of dusty or dopey heroes and the terrible feminine title font introduced in issue #139. This earlier period is extremely cool, but I think it also is an acquired taste, and those with the taste desire the strongest flavors (especially Old Costume Sandman and giant Manhunter covers).

#3) Gasp – do I dare say it? Joe Simon. Your example shows the problem, but there are many worse examples. While the work is distinctive, it is very dark and surreal. Look at the faces of the acolytes leading the monster – they are half ink with somewhat indistinguishable features. I can understand why the market prefers Schomburg. While at some point I would hope that the market broadens and deepens to appreciate Simon’s inking of Kirby, I don’t think it will happen soon.

I only have so much budget to devote to cool but moribund golden age books, and I have decided to allocate it elsewhere. The more I look at this book the more I like it, but I have to use my first impression (“pass”) as an indicator of the first impressions of others.

Finally the “Kirby monster” angle. I think this is a good angle, but it would (will?) just lead me to look for earlier Kirby monster covers first. If this is the FIRST Kirby monster cover, then I’d say that 5.5 was underpriced by multiples. If it isn’t, then I will tell you that I have a number of Atlas Kirby monsters that aren’t doing much. At this point I would not be interested in trying to argue this book be counted as a “very early” Kirby monster cover when it won’t get me anywhere.

My last point would be that even if it is a “very early Kirby monster”, its serenity hurts its desirability. You turned me on to Journey Into Mystery #54 and I have a nice copy of this because it is the archetype – “Monstro” (what word does that remind you of?) is coming right at you! On the cover of Adventure #93, Mushu is being slowly led towards you – and he might fall asleep at any moment. Terrifying.

So as I have said many times before, my conclusion is: undervalued, but not underpriced. UNLESS it is really the first Kirby monster cover.

5 years ago

I like this cover, but it seems most don’t take much stock in this era of the title. Most collectors of this title look for mainly first appearances or defined classic covers. Its a nice Kirby cover. Not sure if its defined in the collecting world as an actual monster cover though and that would certainly hold the market value back on it a bit. Like Chris said if it ever becomes labeled as the first Kirby monster cover then we should see a market correction.