Undervalued Spotlight #84

Amazing Spider-Man #101, Marvel Comics, October 1971

The issue marks the first time Stan Lee did not script Amazing Spider-Man. Stan the Man had his hand in the first 100 but passed the pen to scribe Roy Thomas for this issue. ASM #101 is truly the end of an era.

While the Stan Lee era ended with this issue another era had begun.

The cheat notes version of the story goes like this. The Comics Code went through a bunch of revisions in 1971. The most famous incident of course was Amazing Spider-Man #96 – 98 (May-July/71) not getting the Comic Code approval because the issues contained a drug use story. This drug use story was sanctioned by the US Health and Education authorities to help raise drug awareness among kids. The Code eventually relented and allowed drug use depiction in comics under certain guidelines (drug use is bad etc.).

Anti drug and anti corruption stories were now deemed beneficial in a public service sort of way. Notice the blatant drug use on the actual cover of Green Lantern #85 (Sept/71), this was made possible by the updated code.

Wow, did I ever totally digress!!

Early in 1971 the Comics Code relaxed it’s restrictions of the depiction of supernatural monsters like werewolves and vampires. Of course there was a short leash given regarding content but at least the comic book publishers could once again get spooky.

Morbius, the Living Vampire was created by Roy Thomas and Gil Kane. Marvel waded softly into this newfound artistic freedom writing Dr. Michael Morbius as a living person who’s inflicted with vampire abilities while trying to develop a cure for some rare blood disease he had (remember that science gone wrong had been working great for Marvel for a decade up to that point). Though Morbius was a bad guy in Spidey #101 he did later take on a protagonist role during his 12 issue run in Adventure into Fear (#20-31, Feb/74 – Dec/75) and beyond.

Marvel quickly added more macabre to their line up. Classic literature monsters Werewolf, Dracula and Frankenstein were published and Marvel created Ghost Rider and Blade among others.

Werewolf was Marvel’s first adaptation. Marvel Spotlight #2 (Feb/72) carries a, what seems, too high 9.2 Overstreet price guide price of $400.00. Surprisingly it trades at over 90% of its guide value at the CGC 9.2 grade.

Tomb of Dracula #1 (Apr/72) was the next big Marvel monster launch. The 9.2 guide value is $300.00 and again to my surprise this book is fetching well over 90% of its 9.2 guide value.

Ghost Rider first appeared in Marvel Spotlight #5 (Aug/72) and this book has settled in as the most desired of all the Marvel monster stuff from this era. The 9.2 guide value is a beefy $500.00 yet the book is still trading at around 135% of guide in the CGC 9.2 grade.

Tomb of Dracula #10 introduces Blade the Vampire Slayer (July/73). Another original Marvel creation, this book’s guide value at the 9.2 grade is $375.00. For some reason this book is trading at only 80% of guide in the CGC 9.2 grade. Too low are my thoughts especially considering how relatively well the earlier non original titles are doing. Perhaps Tomb of #10 could be a future undervalued spotlight?

Sorry for seeming longwinded but I’ve added the above data for comparative value.

Amazing Spider-Man #101 is much scarcer in higher grades than any of the other comics I’ve noted above. Only 157 copies of ASM #101 grade at CGC 9.2 or above compared to 164 for Marvel Spotlight #5 (Ghost Rider), 169 for Marvel Spotlight #2 (Werewolf), 200 for Tomb of Dracula #10 (Blade) and 257 for Tomb of Dracula #1.

The puzzling part is that while Amazing Spider-Man has a modest 9.2 guide value of $350.00, it trades at less that 80% of guide in the 9.2 grade (the last recorded CGC 9.2 sale according to the GPA was $275.00).

Here is a book that is embedded in the thick of the Amazing Spider-Man run, perhaps the most collected run in comics. The book marks the end of the Stan Lee Spider-Man era. The book marks the beginning of Marvel’s new Monster era. The book is considerably scarcer in higher grade and yet the book is underperforming on the market.

Currently Marvel calls upon Morbius for Legion of Monsters projects but the character is underused. We’re passing through a golden age of Vampire fiction and it puzzles me why Marvel has not attempted to do more with the Morbius character. Luckily there is still time.

The 40th edition of the Overstreet Price Guide shows $122/$236/$350 as the splits at the 8.0/9.0/9.2 grades.

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

  • First Amazing Spider-Man issue not written by Stan Lee
  • First major venture by Marvel into the new Macabre monster era of comics
  • Issue embedded smack dab in the middle of one of the most collectible era of Amazing Spider-Man (namely issues #90 trhough #129)
  • Undervalued relative to its closest comic book cousins
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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