Undervalued Spotlight #421

Captain America Annual #8, Marvel Comics, September 1986.

The Copper Age is full of books that are still easily accessible, that can still deliver great value and that still have strong potential. It’s been a while since we did a Copper Age book so I wanted to go there this week and where I ended up was choosing Captain America Annual #8 as this week’s Undervalued Spotlight pick.

Captain America Annual #8 features the first appearances of both the Overrider and the T.E.S.S. One robot. The Overrider was Richard Rennsalaer, a former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who in a desperate effort to help his son’s debilitating fear of Nuclear war stole the T.E.S.S. One robot (Total Elimination of Super Soldiers), which was built to control the Super Soldier program should it deviate from its government mandate. Using T.E.S.S. One the Overrider tries to rid America of its Nuclear arsenal. Enter Captain America and Wolverine as they team up to stop the Overrider and the robot.

I remember reading this back when it came out, it’s a nice beefy 40-page epic rooted in the old Cold War with the Soviet Union. The book was a hit the day it came out in large part due to the spectacular Mike Zeck cover (John Beatty inks).

Captain America Annual #8 delivers one of the best covers of the era, it is fantastic. The cover features two of Marvel’s leading men engaged in battle, it’s a battle cover, it’s a Wolverine fighting Cap cover and the principles are huge and take up most of the cover. Lots of bang for your buck with this cover.

Has anyone noticed the recent explosion in values of cool covers from the Golden Age? I have. With this Spotlight pick, I wanted to project that trend forward through the Silver Age and the Bronze Age and land deep into the Copper Age. I’m marking Captain America Annual #8 as one of the best covers of the era and I’m projecting the market’s love of great covers to influence its demand and value sooner rather than later. They will come and they will want and they will hunt down the best of the best covers and Captain America Annual #8 will be one of them.

There are a lot of Wolverine fans out there so the book has a strong built-in demand base, Cap’s stock has actually grown in the world of popular culture since this book’s release thanks to the millions of new fans and the gazillions of dollars the character has helped garner through the Marvel cinematic universe.

Actually poor demand back in the day adds a bit of relative scarcity, as of this post there were only 165  CGC 9.8s about the same amount as Giant-Size X-Men #1. I’m not comparing the two books but they both have Wolverine in them, but I’m not by any means comparing the two books.

At post time CGC 9.8s were fetching about $185 while CGC 9.6s were getting $75 with both grades trending slightly down.

This book delivers a lot, two first appearances, a stunning cover, a top-shelf crossover, a battle cover and some relative scarcity. It can still be picked up on the cheap at cons or online. If you are buying graded go after a White Page 9.8 and if you are buying raw make sure it’s tight, crisp, with good register and square to the corners.

The 48th Overstreet price break for this book is $19/$30/$40 in the 8.0/9.0/9.2 grade splits.

Reasons to buy this comic book as an investment:

  • What should be a classic cover
  • First appearance Overrider
  • First appearance T.E.S.S. One
  • Cheap at the moment
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 pick Walt. I agree. This is one of those Copper Age books that deserves more respect in the current market. With there not being very many so called “classic covers” from this era this book should gain some steam in the future. Classic McFarlane covers are already gaining more steam in the market so this one should not be far behind IMHO. Its one of my favorites from that era.

Chris Ferreira
Chris Ferreira
5 years ago

Today’s modern collector go for “covers”, mainly variants, which has been extended to the Golden age as mentioned above. In addition, with the advent of slabs vs. raw books, covers are now a huge market unto themselves. I fully agree with the great “cover” theory and have been slowly accumulating some great Bronze age covers that are undervalued. I see the market for “covers” only getting bigger so great pick.

Cap Annual #8 is a great pick and one of the best covers from the Copper age. I would throw in two other Zeck covers to this list. Web of Spider-Man #32 is a classic cover already and fetching high prices in 9.8. Captain America #286 is a great Deathlok cover and while nowhere near as popular as Wolverine or Spiderman, its an eye-catching cover to say the least.

Now when are those Gulacy Master of Kung-Fu covers going to get recognized in the marketplace?

Chris Meli
5 years ago

Yes a great cover and if anybody wants to put the original art in an envelope and send it to me, let me know and I will give you my mailing address. “Undervalued” for the book is a different topic. If you look at the price history, it suggests that there were few 9.8s up until 2008, giving the impression of scarcity. In the bubble of 2008-9 the book was bid up by multiples to the highest sale of $650 in 2008, and at the same time the number of sales increased greatly. It appears people noticed the prices and started submitting their raw copies. The supply glut plus general market sell-off drove the price down to about $100 in 2013. The book has drifted up to around $180 today, but as I can attest, that level is not enough to strongly drive one to get possible 9.8s graded. That history says to me that there are likely many more ungraded 9.8s out there, and any significant appreciation will act to drive these out of the woodwork, increase supply and hence act against further appreciation.

I will give just one comp: Avengers Annual #7. I am generally anti-annual as I have said in the past, but that is one of my favorite annuals, if not top favorite. Talk about a great cover – by Starlin – and of course totally hooked into the movie universe. Further difficulties: published in 1977, so a decade older than this pick and predating most dedicated comic shops. Square bound. 68 9.8s in the census vs. 165 for this book. Nevertheless last recorded sale $350. Given this I am surprised that CA Annual #8 can even make it to $180.

(Just to argue against the other reasons for the pick:
– 1982: Knight Rider and KITT
– 1986: Overrider and T.E.S.S. One
Come on.)

Again, nice cover. My recommendation would be to put this on the “hobby” list if you really like it, and pick up a handful of raw possible 9.8s for $5-$10 (current eBay level). That way you can admire the book at your leisure, and have a piece of the action in the case of (unlikely) appreciation.

Chris Ferreira
Chris Ferreira
5 years ago

Looks like Shang-Chi is slated for the MCU so wonder if those beautiful Gulacy covers will pick-up steam sooner rather than later.

5 years ago