Undervalued Spotlight #452

Batman #200, DC Comics, March 1968.

Here’s another pick I’ve had in queue for a while. The book got hot decades ago but since then it’s kind of hung around worth something because people just assumed it should be.

Well, things have been changing in the collecting community over the past few years and these changes should affect, in a positive way, this week’s Undervalued Spotlight pick, Batman #200.

The changes in the collecting hobby have been discussed heavily on this site include the general move away from collecting runs and the move toward collecting special issues, issues with strong covers, issues drawn by highly collected artists.

Batman #200 boasts a strong cover by one of the best comic artists ever, Neal Adams, Batman #200 is actually Neal’s first work on the Batman title. Just think how collectible the “Adams era” of Batman is, #200, 227, 232, 237, 244, 251, 255 and that’s just naming a few.

Batman #200 is an anniversary issue that put the effort in to recognize and celebrate the feat, the collecting communities love these issues. Just think of how much more collectible Superman #100 (celebrated the 100th) versus Action Comics #100 which did not. Batman #200 is a worthy Anniversary issue.

So we’ve got this gem of an issue that’s just kind of been sitting there for a while and we got market forces pointing towards the book, special anniversary issue, quality cover, master illustrator, embedded in a highly collected title and embedded within the run’s most collected era and lastly priced at a point with plenty of room for appreciation.

A CGC 9.0 recently sold for $129 well below the $185 Guide value while a recent CGC 9.4 recently sold for $335, only 17% above the 9.2 Guide value.

My play here would be to find a CGC 9.4 White pager, the White pages probably get you into the top 10 percentile for the book and I’m thinking that’s a nice perch to be sitting on.

The 48th Overstreet price breaks for this book are $84/$185/$285 in the 8.0/9.0/9.2 grade splits.

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

  • Anniversary issue
  • Very recognizable Neal Adams cover
  • Embedded in the highly collected Batman title within the most collected era
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Walter Durajlija
Walter Durajlija is an Overstreet Advisor and Shuster Award winner. He owns Big B Comics in Hamilton Ontario.
Articles: 1589

7 Comments

  1. Thirty years ago when moving from the west coast to the east coast I liquidated a bunch if my comics. I got rid of my run of Hulk…Ironman (including #55) and most of my DC which was mostly Batman titles… and of course kick myself today…. however THIS issue I held onto! It was Adams and it was an anniversary issue and your right it sort if got hot for a bit then went stagnant. Its kind of a cool cover… although why they picked pink for the background cover gallery is beyond me!

  2. I like this pick because it has a lot of personal meaning, and it forces me to pit my subjective appreciation against (hopefully) objective assessment.

    When I was a kid I received the two well-known reprint volumes, _Batman from the 30s to the 70s_ and _Superman from the 30s to the 70s_, and I think these books can be credited for turning me from a reader into a collector. Mostly this was not due to the reprinted stories, but to the other reprinted material promising a lost world – cover galleries and reprinted ads for other titles. The cover for Batman #200 probably made the biggest impression on me: Batman galore, and the masterful original Adams art. (I think _Batman from the 30s to the 70s_ can also be credited for first alerting me to the superiority of Neal Adams’s art, although credit also has to go to the mass market paperback GL/GA reprint which I read a bazillion times.)

    I had no idea that there was such a thing as a comic show at that point, and almost everyone I knew had no interest in comics, so I explored the only avenue I could find, which was Howard G. Rogofsky. Yes indeed I could get a copy of Batman #200, but it was going to cost me. I remember receiving the order, which was mostly books that were shown in _30s to the 70s_. If memory serves (as Chairman Kaga would say), these did not come in a box, but in a brown paper-wrapped package. Of course opening that package changed my life. Offhand I only remember one other book that I ordered – Brave and the Bold #78. Generally everything was about 5.0 to 7.0. I was old enough and had spent enough money to know that these were keepers and had to be treated gently, but of course I wanted to read them immediately.

    What a letdown. After that cover, a Scarecrow story with art that (in my opinion at time) was distinctly inferior to that I was used to in current issues. I had expected a two-hundred-page extravaganza with a panoply of villains and killer art, a color version of _30s to the 70s_. I filed the book away and hung onto it until – now? I’m actually not sure – I don’t have my database at hand as I write this. I’ll bet my original $3 (?) investment is at least worth $20 now. Did I mention that the S&P 500 returned 11000% in that period? I guess that’s one argument for undervalued.

    So I have a very strong love/hate relationship with this book, but I am going to try to not have that color my analysis. Except… I might not be the only one. If others followed my path, that might color their feelings about pursuing a high grade copy, or what others will think of it, etc. Overall I am going to call that a negative with respect to the “undervalued” judgment. As cool as the cover is, if you a) read it and felt let down, or b) you hung onto a decent copy for fifty years and it turns out everybody else did too and it isn’t worth anything, I think you are not going to be too hot on this issue.

    A comp for this book doesn’t come to mind easily. Batman #100 and Superman #100 are different animals for different reasons . Superman #200 is just a run-of-the-mill issue, although from only a year before. Early Marvel anniversary issues are generally messed up because of their numbering system. It would not be fair to compare to ASM #100 or FF #100 – the market is too heavily weighted to these titles vs. Batman. So I will try two comps: Avengers #100 and Batman #222. The first is an anniversary issue with a standout cover from a similarly moribund run, while the second fits the minor key/Batman run/Adams cover criteria.

    In both cases you have to adjust for scarcity – Avengers #100 is far more common in high grade, while Batman #222 is less common. Adjusting for scarcity my read is that Avengers #100 is in the same price range. Given the current recognition of Avengers I take this to be a fairly strong “no” towards Batman #200 being undervalued. Again scarcity-adjusted, Batman #222 goes at about two-thirds the level of Batman #200, even though it has (in my opinion) a much stronger Adams cover and the pseudo-Beatles. This one is a little harder to interpret, but I don’t think it gives support to the undervalued assertion, because we know from many other series that just being an anniversary issue isn’t going to lead to a huge price difference from surrounding books.

    (As an aside, I am not immune to the anniversary draw, as I paid up for a Superman #207 (“30th Annniversary”) in 9.6. This is super scarce in very high grade, has a fantastic Adams cover, and on a scarcity-adjusted basis is about a tenth of the price of Batman #200. As I write this I realize that a large part of my attraction to this issue was that it was another “lost world” cover found in the _30s to the 70s_.)

    I think I will pack it in at this point and conclude sadly that no, this isn’t undervalued. This is a book for the old guard to buy while wearing rose-colored nostalgia-focused glasses, hold onto for awhile, and then pass on after no appreciation. There are many books of this type, that seem to sell for a premium because they have sold for a premium. (My concern is that ASM #129 may be becoming such a book.) I try to steer clear of such books. The proposed 9.4 white will probably cost you $350 in today’s market, and even if Batman becomes much hotter, will maybe move above the all time highs to about $500. Woo-hoo. Meanwhile old Joker books will continue to move into the stratosphere.

    I think it is a cool book, but it is not a real key, and there are a bazillion because they started out as “collector’s items”. My advice is, if you want to collect one, go the Rogofsky route and get yourself a raw 7.0-8.0 with a nice clean cover for $60 or so and enjoy. It might take a bit of time to find one, but this is for collecting, not investing, so that’s part of the hobby. The flip side is shoot the moon an see if you can nab a 9.8 at $1200, which would be a ridiculous discount to a 9.4 at $350. Again I wouldn’t argue it as an investment, but if you have enough bragging opportunity it would offer another kind of return on investment.

    Verdict: Wholly Ubiquitous Batman

  3. Nice assessment Chris on that issue and I agree with 100%! Also thanks for mentioning Howard… he was the first person I bought back issues from in those picture less typed catalogues of his that were often out of date by the time you received them. My how the world of back issue comic collecting has changed!

  4. I never knew anyone that actually bought a comic book from Rogofsky but around here he was referred to as Harold Ripofsky. Hey, we were teenagers.

  5. I never got a bad deal from Howard… now there was another company… I think it was The California Comic Company that now has moved to Florida and goes by another name…although he boasts being an Overstreet advisor as well… his pricing makes Big B look like its a charity store.

  6. Hey Gerald, was that a dig at Big B? I know a very prominent American dealer, won’t name names, he came to my booth at a Chicago con maybe 20 years ago and asked to see my Hulk #181, I showed it to him, he looked at the price and delivered a line I still use today, he says “Walter, you have this book priced aggressively”. Brilliant! From that day on I never overpriced anything, though from time to time I may have priced a few aggressively!

    Great story Chris and nice analysis but I do think you are underestimating the ability of the current collecting trend to carry this book forward.

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