This weeks arcs & runs features one of the strangest runs of comics to take place in the Marvel universe. Perhaps I should say “Uncanny” run, as it is the famous X-Men reprint run, issues #67-93. It is today, in my opinion the most overvalued run of comics in Marvel’s Bronze Age of comics. Maybe any age. Before I go all Howard Beale lets take a quick look at this runs history and the books themselves.
In 1970 a number of Marvel titles with lagging sales were cancelled. The Silver Surfer, Nick Fury Agent of Shield, Doctor Strange, and the X-Men titles were cancelled. The original X-Men run ended with the publication of issue #66 March 1970.
There was an up roar amongst X-Men fans, so much so that in Dec.1970 Marvel resurrected the title with issue #67 as a double sized reprint featuring issues #12 & 13 from the original run. The title continued publishing bi-monthly in the same double sized format through issue #70, went to a single $0.15 cent issue in issue #71, back to a double size $0.25 issue for #72, and then changed to singles issues at #73 for the balance of the run. Whew! The entire 27 issue run of reprints lasts a little over 4 years ending at issue #93 published April 1975. The books reprinted in this run were issues #12 -45, half of the original run.
In May 1975 Giant Size X-Men #1 was published to the delight of all X-Men fans and in August 1975 the New X-Men #94 began and the rest we know is history.
The 45th Overstreet values for our run today are:
It is these price valuations given by Overstreet for these books that I wanted to focus on and discuss today.
Before I start I want let everyone know that this drooling vegetable has bought this run of books not once but twice in the past. I also understand that the Overstreet guide is just a guide, and that a book is worth what someone is willing to pay for it.
I am a huge proponent of buying reprint books. I love Bronze Age Marvel Tales, Marvel Greatest Comics, Marvel Super-Heroes, and Marvel Triple Action. Those Horror titles like Fear, Creatures on the Loose, Where Creatures Roam, Where Monsters Dwell you name it I love them all. They are fun to read and collect. They are an affordable way to collect some of the great old classics in comic form. I don’t see them as comics to buy for an investment. These reprints cost a small percentage of the original books.
This is not the case with X-Men #67-93. In some cases within this run of reprints, the cost of the reprint is over 60% of the value of the original book. An example would be issue X-Men #31 9.2 costs $225 and it’s reprint X-Men #79 9.2 costs $140. There other cases that are the same or similar within this run. They don’t make any sense.
Who is driving the market for these books? Where is the demand for these reprint books coming from? Let’s look at the reasons I purchased this collection twice and see if we can find any answers.
- I was a completist. I had to have all of the books in the title I was collecting. The first time I bought the run was in the early eighties. The second time was late eighties and early nineties upgrading the condition of the books. That was 25 years ago when the X-Men were still pretty hot and around issue #285. Are there still that many completist’s out there today? I can tell you that when I turned in these books to dealers to sell they were gobbled up right away, so demand was there then.
- Nerd Alert! I love 25 cent double sized comics, picture covers, cool new art, 20 cent covers, and there is lots of that in this run. Stop laughing others do too!
- There was a perception at the time that these books were rare or at least hard to obtain. There could be a measure of truth in this. The books were reprints of books that didn’t sell all that well as originals. The print runs couldn’t have been too large. Maybe there is a novelty angle at play here.
I was going to list a litany of reasons why I think these books are over priced but I’ll leave it at just a few examples as they should suffice.
- In the 1971-1974 timeframe when these books were published I could only come up with a two optimal runs of 27 Marvel comics that were more expensive than our X-Men comics. The rest of the Marvel titles were all cheaper. The X-Men run of #67-93 is worth $3920 in a 9.2 grade. The Incredible Hulk #156-182 is worth $4077 in a 9.2 grade the 3 Wolverine issues make up $3250 of this amount. The Amazing Spider-Man #96 -122 is worth $5065 in the 9.2 grade. If I removed the two key issues #121-122 from the end of the Spider-Man runs it would be virtually the same value as the X issues $3915, only you would still have the Spidey drug issues #96-98, the Morbius first appearance & Story #100-102, and the Hulk in #119-120 and 17 other books. Or you could have those reprints of X-Men # 12-45. Really!
- The cost of single X-Men books is $140-175 in the 9.2 grade. They are amongst the highest for the time period. Only bronze keys and minor keys eclipse these books. This would include all original Bronze Age run books in the Avengers to Thor titles and everyone in between. Madness!
- I had done a recent post on Arcs & Runs that featured the Fantastic Four in Kirby’s heyday. Marvels Greatest Comics issues #35-37 (FF 48-50 first Silver Surfer & Galactus) were in the stack, along with reprints of first appearances of the Inhumans and the Black Panther. These books guide for $15 in 9.2 in Overstreet vs. our nowhere near equivalent X books at $140. What gives?
- A really nice run or group of 27 Marvel reprints in 9.2 conditions and with a $0.20 cover shouldn’t cost you more than $400-540. Our X-Men run guides for $3920. That is just way out of sync. Maybe it is the fabulous Werner Roth art in the X-Men that does it. My sarcasm gland is really throbbing now so I will leave it here.
I will not be holding my breath waiting for Overstreet to reduce the prices on these books. It practically takes an Act of Congress for them to do that.
It would be interesting to understand their thinking on this. I am certain that the fact these books are within the regular numbering of the main title and not in a separate reprint title has a lot to do with the higher price. Even given that, the prices should be cut by considerably more than half in my opinion.
In the end only Overstreet knows why they price the books the way they do. They try to reflect the market the best they can. I will have to sift through the new guide and find some positive things to write about down the road.
Until next time – Good Luck filling the holes in your want lists!