Undervalued Spotlight #411

Incredible Hulk #2, Marvel Comics, July 1962.

I’ve always been a fan of second appearances! Have I not mentioned that Undervalued Spotlight #79 is the most read Spotlight ever? I think others like second appearances too.

His week I turn the Spotlight on a super heavyweight second appearance, Incredible Hulk #2.

Incredible Hulk #2, of course, features the second appearance of the Hulk, as an added bonus it’s actually the 1st appearance of the green Hulk we know and love today (he was grey in the 1st issue, something about difficulty with the inks I believe). I’m not going to put too much weight on the green Hulk thing but it is an important and lasting development for the character so it’s definitely something of note and something that can add value.

I had Hulk #2 on my on decklist for a while and though I may be a tad late with it there is still plenty of time I believe. The book has seen some appreciation in value over the past year but like I said above there’s lots more room.

Silver Age Marvel keys are going through an almost violent price appreciation, just at the point where most of us old timers start getting uncomfortable with the value of these big keys they go and double up again, it’s almost scary how well the big books are doing.

The jist of this pick is that these important 2nd issues will respond to the price appreciation their prior issues are experiencing. Honestly the only Marvel second appearance that can match Hulk #2 is Fantastic Four #2, I won’t count Amazing Spider-Man #1 or Tales to Astonish #35 for obvious reasons.

The Amazing Spider-Man title usually leads the pack in terms of market developments and I’ve noticed that all early Spidey’s are appreciating, Fantastic Four is now going through the same price increases for its very early issues. Hulk is now starting to join this party.

I didn’t know this but you can grab a Hulk #2 in the 5.0 to 6.0 grades cheaper than you can grab a Fantastic Four #2 and even cheaper than an Amazing Spider-Man #2 (3rd appearance).

This is an ancient book! Hulk #2 is one of those sought after round 12 cent Marvels, it predates Amazing Fantasy #15 and Journey into Mystery #83 (both August 1962) and it pre-dated Pym donning a costume in Tales to Astonish #35 (September 1962). The only other title around at the time was Fantastic Four, the Marvel U was tiny! As far as I’m concerned this is a gem of a book and its loaded with upside.

I like CGC 7.0 on this book, it will get you into the top 100 copies, look for White or at least Off-White to White pages and make sure it’s nice and tight and square with a good register!

The 48th Overstreet price break for this book is $1251/$3545/$8023/$12500 in the 6.0/8.0/9.0/9.2 grade splits.

Reasons to buy this comic book as an investment:

  • 2nd appearance of the Hulk
  • 1st Green Hulk
  • Kirby/Lee/Ditko creative team for the ages
  • Round 12 cent Marvel’s are the cat’s meow
  • Very early days Marvel

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
5 years ago

I don’t have a clear picture on this one so I am going semi stream-of-consciousness.

– My gut is against it. I am not a lover of second appearances. I am not a particular lover of first appearances but I have learned to live with this. My personal preferences have always been artwork (a moot point for a slabbed book that is in any case too expensive to open) and a monumental and well-constructed story arc (the market mostly doesn’t care). I think that you like second appearances for their meaning in the grand plan, which I think you give more weight than the market does. Who came in second in (name your event)? Nobody knows.

– What I will give you is that generally the market is hot on the early issues of the key Marvel books (and also I think on other early issues, e.g. Golden Age DCs). I don’t think that this is going away as long as there is a lot of money in the market. Say you are a new wealthy entrant to the market (there seem to be quite a few out there…). You just bought your Hulk #1 5.5 for $25k. Do you spend another $25k to upgrade to a 6.5, or do you spend significantly less than that to get 8.0s or better of #2-#6? Unless you are an utterly cold-blooded pure investor (in which case – why are you bothering with comics at all?), I think there is a strong bias for the latter. This should keep this book moving.

– On that point, if you look at appreciation of Hulk #2 in mid-grades, it does appear that higher grade issues have been outperforming lower grades. This is generally abnormal for books where the median grade is low (for Hulk #2 the median grade is 4.0). I attribute this to new money that is setting a starting price point high enough that they don’t end up with hundreds of books in their portfolio, rather than long time collectors who carry the concern that as you move up into the four figures, the buyer population drops and so does the relative appreciation. I think that this concern continues to be right for most of the market, but this conventional wisdom might need to be thrown out for these new entrant targets.

– For holders of #2 and not #1, I think that you _should_ put a lot of weight on the “green Hulk thing.” The argument: Sad to say it, but Hulk #1 is a _prototype_ book. The first appearance of the real Hulk is Hulk #2! Play this right and you can get another Wonder Woman #98.

– I also like the cover as a nice “changing of the guard” milestone. Both the Skrulls and the Toad Men are clearly Atlas monsters from the same old formula. The Skrulls were of course rehabilitated to become key figures, the Toad Men not so much. (I had forgotten about Byrne’s clever revisiting of the Toad Men in Sensational She-Hulk #2.) I think the cover of Hulk #2 is more evocative – here comes the age of Marvel heroes to evict the age of Atlas/Marvel monsters.

– In looking at the populations for Hulk #1 and Hulk #2, I found it very surprising that the number of lower-grade graded copies of Hulk #2 is not too far off the number for Hulk #1. This is pretty unusual for Marvel keys. #2 is more plentiful in the highest grades, which I would attribute partly to the easier cover, and partly to people beating #1 up more as a possible one-off, then starting to collect with #2. The key point is that I would expect most #1s to be graded, which generally gives you a good read on total population of neighboring issues. This suggests that most decent Hulk #2s are graded, so even if there is a big price spike, you are not going to see them coming out of the woodwork and depress appreciation.

My conclusion is: nowhere near the top of my list, but a solid pick. I would argue for a 6.0. The entry price is lower (if like me you aren’t so hot on the book), you should see about the same percentage appreciation as a 7.0, and the population dynamics are about the same – you are comfortably above the “rabble” that starts at 5.0, and the book doesn’t start getting scarce until about 9.0, so it’s not like a 7.0 is a badge of honor. I agree on good register and good pages – the market doesn’t seem to distinguish a lot for these on price, but I think it should smooth any future sale.

5 years ago

Excellent choice – Hulk #1 to #6 is such a great set and all of them are undervalued! All the covers are great (much more fun than ASM 1 to 6 IMHO!) and you can see Kirby and Ditko working out how the Hulk is going to look. The cover of #2 is actually quite definitive, because he looks quite odd in the story inside #2, and in #1 he’s just a Frankenstein derivative. So green skin, yes, but #2 is also arguably the first Hulk as we know and love him!

5 years ago

Nice choice. I”m a fan of books like this. It’s one of those second appearance books that’s kinda like a first appearance. Plus being a very early Marvel is a plus. I would love to have one if it wasn’t way out of my price range.

5 years ago

Hi Chris Meli, I like your interesting analysis. You must have studied statistics in school. You have an interesting take on the comic collectors population, I thought you were going to look at standard deviation of mid grade and high grade values. Perhaps we could even do a random sampling of online Hulk #2 sales and calculate a 0.95 confidence interval? Or calculate a linear regression line (trend line) to extrapolate future values of Hulk #2 sales?