Undervalued Spotlight #438

Fantastic Four Annual #1, Marvel Comics 1963.

Ok here’s a first for Comic Book Daily (I think). After much deliberation I’ve decided to dust off Mike Huddleston’s old Overvalued Overstreet #14 featuring Fantastic Four Annual #1, which he posted almost 2 years ago, and turn it into this week’s Undervalued Spotlight.

Mike is coming in next week, and bringing coffees I hope, so I have a week’s grace to garner some positive support for my pick in the comments field unless of course you still side with Mike’s original call. I recall Mike’s post had tons of comments and the views were split.

Fantastic Four Annual #1 has been such a heavyweight in the collecting community for decades but the book seemed to have suffered the double doom of the crappy 2005 and 2007 Fox movie releases and then only to be driven into the ground by the 2008 financial Crisis.

Analysis of prices for the much sought after grade of CGC 9.4 shows the high mark at $5,200 in 2007. Market prices dove after the financial crisis of 2008 with 2009 prices reaching $3,346, 2012 prices reaching $3,198, 2014 prices reaching $3,200 and the latest sale in 2018 reaching $3,346. That is a abnormally narrow value range over a period of a decade.

Scarcity is a positive here, there are only 29 copies graded Universal at CGC 9.4 or better. Simply put the book is just dormant.

But there is so much to celebrate with this issue. The 37-page epic Stan Lee/Jack Kirby story was the longest to date at Marvel. The Sub-Mariner is on the cover and is the principal character in the book and we all know how hot and heavy the spec is on Subby right now. We have Doctor Doom on the cover and he’s hotter than hot at the moment. And let’s not forget our Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man and the expanding of the story that was in Amazing Spider-Man #1, technically you don’t own all of Spidey #1 until you own Fantastic Four Annual #1! This is a super early Spider-Man appearance too, June 1963 publish date puts this appearance as his 6th? And Spidey is on the cover! Oh my goodness you get the 15 pin-ups and a Marvel first with the Gallery of Foes.

I also like the legend behind the rejected Kirby cover (I’ve included it here). I know most of us fawn over it but I kind of like the cover they used. As covers go it is not a classic but it is a good Kirby cover filled with very early appearances of characters imortant to all of us.

On the speculation front a lot has changed since Mike’s post 22 months ago. The big Disney Fox merger has reignited the Fantastic Four as a franchise, the merger has increased the pop culture prospects for the Sub-Mariner and for Doctor Doom. And who isn’t looking forward to Spidey and Johnny Storm trading some on screen jibes.

Today you can grab a nice tight CGC 9.2 for less than $2,000. I’m starting to get the feeling that the next CGC 9.2 or 9.4 copy to come to market will make a move, I’ve noticed none are available in any grades at the moment on the GPA strings and that’s a telling sign.

I’m thinking a crisp, square to the corners with lots of gloss CGC 8.0 copy would be a terrific buy at the moment. The last CGC 8.0 sold for $661.

The 48th Overstreet price breaks for this book are $555/$1253/$1950 in the 8.0/9.0/9.2 grade splits.

Strengths that make this comic a good long-term investment are:

  • Origin Sub-Mariner
  • First silver age appearance of Atlantis and the Atlanteans including Lady Dorma
  • New add-on material to Amazing Spider-Man #1
  • Spidey/Doc Doom/Sub-Mariner cover
  • Epic Kirby/Lee 37 page story
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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David Mackay
David Mackay
5 years ago

heh heh heh At least Mike’s column got a response Walt. Maybe Fantastic Four annual 2 wouldve been a better pick 🙂

Chris Meli
5 years ago

After a bit of thought, similar to Sub-Mariner #8 and Giant Size Conan #1, a thumbs up. I think I will have to disagree on the recommended grade though.

This book has all of the qualities that you list to recommend it, has a “classic” cover at least in the sense of it being peak Kirby and eminently recognizable, it is a #1, and it is reasonably scarce in high grade. There certainly seem to be a lot of people chasing FF these days, and I think at least some new entrants are going to want this book given its place in history.

The two drawbacks are that it is an Annual and something of a run book. For this title I think you might be able to leave my Annual critique aside given the performance of #6. The run book problem is then perhaps the fundamental drawback, but that’s a relative problem, and as an ersatz #1 not too debilitating.

If we call it a run book, I think it’s like the two comps that I looked at, FF #6 (in the “real” run), and Strange Tales Annual #2 (as brother to FF Annual #1). On a scarcity-adjusted basis this book prices very close to STA #2, but as usual the Spidey cover gives the edge to STA #2. Both of these price about a factor of two or more below FF #6 even though they are pretty close chronologically. Yes FF #6 has the “first super-villain team-up”, but FF Annual #1 has its own set of distinctions.

My overall picture is similar to the picks above, this book is clearly going to hang in there if the market hangs in there, and given the interest in FF, possible Disney developments, general appreciation of the genre etc., I think there is a very good chance for some strong appreciation.

That said, I think 8.0 is too low for maximum return on investment. At least recently I perceive that some very high grade books are going for prices beyond those indicated by those for lower grades. There is already an example for this book, a $12.4k sale for 9.6 in November 2018, when I think $8k would be more in line with lower grades, and this would also match the relatively flat price history. For this book this effect hasn’t trickled down, but I think it is going to be more likely to move in 9.4 than in 8.0. That of course will require you to put up $3.0k+, but I calls ’em as I sees ’em. I think an 8.0 is only going to move if the book really becomes hot, and in that case you will do better on an absolute basis with a 9.4.

Verdict: a solid base hit.

5 years ago

Since I can’t afford his first and already have his second app. and the first Silver Age issue. This one has been on my radar for sometime after I sold a very beat up copy I sold a few years back and been wanting to upgrade ever since. Its getting tougher to get a nice copy at a fair price anymore even in auction since there is more spec on all Sub-Mainer keys. I’ve had my sites set on getting a fine up to very fine copy but to no avail. Its probably only a matter of time when he appears in the MCU films.

5 years ago

Great pick. I don’t see what the problem is with annuals – sure some of them are reprints but they often have fantastic covers and many are keys into the bargain. Hulk annual #1, Amazing Spider-Man Annual #16, FF Annual #6 for example. This one is another classic, and it’s about time all things FF got their due – we know Marvel Studios will make a killer FF movie, but that should just highlight what was already a killer comic book.