Strange Adventure #9, DC Comics, June 1951.
A friend of mine recently sent me pics of a very cool book he’d just picked up. It was a solid mid-grade copy of a book I used to have and it made me jealous so it has to be this week’s Undervalued Spotlight: it’s Strange Adventures #9.
Strange Adventures #9 features the origin and 1st appearance of Adam Blake a.k.a. Captain Comet. Adam Blake was born with mutant abilities that include telepathy, telekinetic powers, clairvoyant abilities and accelerated healing abilities. In Strange Adventures #9 a professor named Zackro convinces Adam Blake to use these mutant metahuman abilities for the common good and become Captain Comet!
Captain Comet is a very unique creation, he is one of the first mutant comic book heroes born with his abilities. He was also one of the rare superhero creations to come in the Atom Age, that late 40s to mid 50s period when superheroes all but disappeared from the comic book stands.
I saw somewhere online where they note Captain Comet as the second superhero introduced in the 1950s after the Knight (introduction in December 1950 in Batman #52). Having a closer look at the Knight I’m not going to really call him a superhero as he was more a British vigilante who modelled himself after the Knights of the Round Table, heroic I’m sure but not too superhero-ee. As far as I see it Captain Comet is the first true superhero creation of the 1950s boldly coming in the thick of the crime and horror comic book craze.
Captain Comet was a long-running feature in Strange Adventures running until issue #49 and he’s still a part of DC continuity.
Check out that black cover by the great Carmine Infantino. Both Captain Comet and alter ego Adam Blake make strong cover appearances which is always a plus regarding value generation and collecting appeal. The black cover means high-grade copies are very difficult which makes it all the more puzzling as to why this book is dormant and flat. As I mentioned above I used to have a CGC 8.5 copy of Strange Adventures #9 a couple of years back, it was a crisp tight looking 8.5 and I had a heck of a time selling it for just below Overstreet Guide.
On the markets, the Strange Adventures floats in and around the Overstreet price breaks with a recent CGC 5.5 sale getting less than Guide while an 8.5 recently fetched a bit over Guide (maybe this was my old copy?).
This book will break out and it will break out soon, try to snag a copy, I think a smart tight looking 5.0 to 7.0 would fit the bill quite nicely.
The 48th Overstreet price break for this book is $816/$2241/$2850 in the 8.0/9.0/9.2 grade splits.
Reasons to buy this comic book as an investment:
- Origin and first appearance Captain Comet
- Cover appearance
Why is this not considered the first silver age superhero? or even the Marian Manhunter? they both predate
the Flash revival.
Undervalued? Let’s get the stock answer out of the way. Is this a key DC from the early 1950s (or maybe let’s just say 1950s)? Then yes.
But I guess we have to actually do some kind of analysis to show work ethic. Walt points to the obvious (fantastic cover, black=hard in grade), and not obvious (arguably first superhero of the 1950s). I think the title is another argument. I have the sense that Strange Adventures is really taking off in higher grade, particularly through the early code days. What is cool to me about the series is that it is like a “G-rated” companion to E.C.’s SF titles of the period. I read the mostly reprint version of the seventies as a kid and I loved these stories. But – as was the case with most of these “G-rated” books – the readers weren’t the type of folks to take care of things. So our situation now is super scarcity of high grade issues. While it seems like there were more adult readers/collectors of the early fifties issues, resulting in more in high grade, I think there is an argument that a general surge in SA collectors will see this as a key issue to have.
As I was thinking about it, it seems Detective #225 is an extremely powerful argument as well. There are a lot of resemblances here and the price discrepancy is extreme. D #225 in 6.5 just sold for $6.2k, with 39 universal in that grade and above, and for SA #9, the same population would be a 6.0, with last recorded sale at $450.
So why don’t i own a copy? I have considered it, but it never really made my short list. I think the main thing that has repelled me has been the neither fish nor fowl nature of Captain Comet. From today’s perspective we can (try to) say “first new superhero of the 1950s”, but in historical context he is more of a SF adventurer out of the pages of Planet Comics. If he were clearly a “true” superhero (secret identity, generally earthbound), I’ll bet this would be selling for a lot more. DC has spent decades trying to integrate him into the superhero stable, but to date I don’t think this has really taken. I think even most comic readers would view him as a goofier version of Adam Strange than a true superhero. The name doesn’t help – we’re already up to our eyeballs in justifying names like “Ant Man” and “Elongated Man” – so justifying somebody who sounds like a mascot for a toilet bowl cleaner is overtaxing the system.
Nevertheless this reconsideration leads me to agree wholeheartedly with the conclusion that this is undervalued, even leaving aside the stock answer. I also agree on the grade recommendation, although I am always strongly biased to 6.0 and above, as to rate this kind of grade a book really needed to be cared for, and this generally greatly increases the scarcity (= value in my mind).
If you subscribe to GPA, have a look at the price vs. time graph for this book in 7.0, it’s amusing.
An early 50’s DC key that deserves more respect but doesn’t get it because of hardly any exposure for the character in media or modern story lines. Kinda a forgotten character. Meaning that newer or younger collectors won’t be interested. There all about newer characters or movie spec. Mainly us vintage collectors would consider it. I wouldn’t mind having a nice copy in my PC. IMHO definitely would agree to be undervalued in higher grades.
That is a beautiful Infantino cover and I think Murphy Anderson inks.That would be worth the price of admission alone!