Saturday, August 29, 2015

Books to Watch: Wonder Woman #37 (1949)

From a short list of comics I want to spotlight soon I chose this one because I received my first personal copy this week, purchased recently after looking for a copy online for a good long while.  This week I also purchased a run of 300 Wonder Woman comics so I was able to page through hard copies to verify some of the research below.

To some of you the focus on this book won't be a surprise since I have seen chatter about it online and know many others are looking for it.  Others might be completely unaware of what lies within but either way I hope this post will be of interest. It's been almost a year since Warner Brothers confirmed a Wonder Woman movie would be produced for a 2017 release.  This, and the general suspicion many had that a film was coming well before the announcement, has enhanced the profile of all Wonder Woman comics both keys and non-keys.  I wish I had the CGC 3.0 copy of All Star Comics #8 I contemplated purchasing for $7000 three years ago, but I would have missed out on other buying opportunities I'm sure.  And I digress.

The first appearance (Wonder Woman #6) of the antagonist most consider to be Wonder Woman's greatest (the Cheetah) has been expensive for some time, but value still can be found in key appearances of most of her other foes.  This post is about Circe, a character that has faced Wonder Woman a lot in post-Crisis continuity.  She first appeared way back in Wonder Woman #37 in 1949.

Circe of course is based on the Greek mythological figure who was a goddess of magic or in some depictions, a nymph or sorceress.  Comic book characters based on pre-existing legendary or cultural figures often don't have the same fan appeal as original creations, Thor being the obvious exception.  (Did you know that Thor was not the first superhero to be call himself Thor in comics, nor was he the first Thor to appear in Marvel comics, and that DC had its own version of Thor that pre-dated Journey Into Mystery #83?).  It is what Stan Lee and Marvel did with Thor that engendered his fan appreciation.  As far as villains go, Circe should have earned our respect by now in much the same way Loki has.

To wit, Circe appears at #1 in Newsarama's list of top Wonder Woman villains and #1 in What Culture's list of 5 Great Villains For a Wonder Woman movie.  She appears as #3 in this list, this list and this list. So she's the number 1 or a top 3 Wonder Woman villain depending on who you ask.

According to the Grand Comics Database WW 37 is the "first and only Golden Age appearance of Circe in the Wonder Woman series. Circe reappears toward the end of the pre-Crisis period starting at Wonder Woman (DC, 1942 series) #301, and becomes a major adversary post-Crisis." [Note: I don't find her in issue #301, so I either need to look harder or GCD made a mistake].

The DC Wikia can be more difficult to navigate than the Marvel Wikia due to its recognition of different versions of characters in difference periods of DC History.  Wonder Woman #37 hasn't been cataloged yet and no page for the Golden Age version of Circe exists.

I've put this history of the character together mostly thanks to Mike's Amazing World of DC Comics.

Modern & Post-Crisis history:

Wonder Woman #302 (Jan 1983, last two panels: one panel w/ face obscured, one panel with face shown.  1st appearance since 1969?.  Brief appearance only.)

Wonder Woman #305 (Jul 1983, two pages, disguised as the Statue of Freedom atop the U.S. Capitol dome)

Wonder Woman #312 (Feb 1984, two panels)

Wonder Woman #313 (Mar 1984) 1st ever cover appearance.  1st full modern appearance?

Crisis On Infinite Earths #12 (Mar 1986)

Wonder Woman Vol. 2 #19 (August 1988).  1st post-Crisis appearanceA nice bondage/skull cover.

In the New 52, she is around.

The more I read about this character, the more I realize she's an important DC villain. Her Silver Age crossovers to Superman family books and Superman's modern weakness to magic show she's more than just a Wonder Woman foil.

Silver Age History:

includes other versions of Circe not considered to be the main character.

[Action Comics #243 (Aug 1958), a "descendant of the original Circe" who "must have been from Krypton" according to Superman]

Showcase #21 (Jul/Aug 1959) 1st Silver Age appearance; 2nd overall appearance (?); also notably the 2nd appearance of Rip Hunter

[Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane #13 (Nov 1959) - a stage magician named Circe who made Lois believe she had the face of a cat]

Action Comics #293 (Oct. 1962), where she is tied to the origin of Comet the Super-Horse

Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane #40 (Apr. 1963), where she foils the marriage of Lois Lane to Achilles in ancient Greece

Action Comics #311 (Apr. 1964) Comet travels back in time to visit her

Action Comics #323 (Apr. 1965) something about a poison antidote and a place called Feminax

Action Comics #331 (
Dec. 1965) Supergirl tries to summon Circe to defeat Dr. Supernatural

Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane #92 (May 1969) Again, time-traveling Comet (last Silver Age appearance?)

Golden Age History

Wonder Woman #37 (1949, 1st appearance, only Golden Age appearance, depicted as blond-haired)

DC interiors can be tough to find online as they don't have a service like Marvel Unlimited.  I've scanned the full Circe story below from my own low-grade copy.  This is the third of 3 Wonder Woman stories in this issue and occupies the last 12 pages of the book.

So where do you get a copy?  I'm not aware of any available in the market right now, but I snagged mine recently for $155 (a GD/VG copy).  Wonder Woman #6 by comparison will run you almost $1000 in the same grade, although this weekend's Heritage auction could change that.

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Thanks for reading, and for reading comics!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Tools of the Trade: News Websites

This is the first in a series of posts about "Tools of the Trade": websites, apps, publications and craft to be familiar with to make collecting more enjoyable, potentially profitable short-term, and more rewarding long-term.

There are several good news sites that report breaking news about comics and comic book movies.  The first I'll mention is Flickering Myth, which does a comic book movie news round-up every Saturday.  I think this outfit is out of the U.K.  Besides excellent writing, they do a great job of calling B.S. on groundless rumors that other sites hype up.  Count on them not to lead you astray.  The best in terms of getting balanced news.

The second-most important one for me is Comic Book Resources.  I get their breaking news alerts by email, although I'd like to see fewer alerts that are not comic related.  They are quick to report scoops by "pro" news sites like Deadline, The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. A lot of comic book movie news originates from these sites, and check them out if you want to hear it straight from the horse's mouth.

Marvel news often breaks on their own website.

Some of the most cutting-edge, high-profile scoops have come from Badass Digest and Heroic Hollywood ("el Mayimbe," formerly of Latino Review), who besides a couple of face plants has some amazingly successful predictions under his belt, like the fact Sony and Marvel had come to an agreement to share Spider-Man on the big screen when everyone denied it.

Bleeding Cool is a good site to follow about developments in comic books themselves, like creative team changes and character developments.

The Comics Journal has unrivaled comic reporting, even having the confidence to name their editorial staff on the front page.

Comic Book Movie has the most entertaining comments section. 

io9 has some nice in-depth articles and concept pieces about the comic world.

You can configure sections of your Google News feed for keywords of interest like "Marvel Studios", "Dr.Strange cast", "Batman", "Zack Snyder" or whatever.  This will often lead you to sites like Forbes which you wouldn't think covers comic stuff.  Good for news on studio strategy from a business context or brand power.

Batman News is a fun site dedicated to DC.

I check out L.A Times Hero Complex once in a while for true broadsheet style reporting on the superhero myth as a part of pop culture.

If you can bear sifting through the sea of posts, Twitter can be a good source.  Follow directors and cast members and you may get a head's up on breaking news before the world at large (follow us).

There are some sites to avoid (or be skeptical when reading), like MoviePilot.  They are wrong a lot of the time, and it's so poorly written I wouldn't be surprised if the articles were generated by bots.

Our own site collates a lot of the news releases most likely to impact comic values, with an easy search feature for related comics in our marketplace.

Finally, I have to give a shout out to Superhero Hype, which was one of the first in the game.

Next post will be a spotlight on two modern comics.  Next "Tools of the Trade" will be about online forums where comic speculating and investing is discussed.

Happy collecting!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Books to Watch: Vampire Tales #2 (1973)

Part 3 of 3 covering Marvel's dark princesses (part 1 and part 2).  I planned on doing this one a few weeks ago, but after moving on to other books decided to cover them all in a three-parter, along with Topaz and Jennifer Kale.  This book will set you back the most out of the three.

Since writing about Fear #11, I saw a copy on eBay in VG sell for $1.04 with only 2 bids, so you can see how cheap it is.

The final member of the 'Witches' is Satana, first appearing in Vampire Tales #2 from 1973, a 72-page newsprint magazine.  Of all the costumed characters who have yet to appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I place a high probability that Satana is in the cards.  

You can read the 4-page Satana story below.

I see this book fairly often in nice grade, both online and at conventions (VF+ copies for $60 or so).  A few CGC 9.8 copies were on the market last year in the $350-$400 range, which is about 1/7th of what Marvel Preview 7 brings (1st Rocket Raccoon, which coincidentally features Satana on the cover).  Marvel Preview 7 and 4 (1st Starlord) have proven that "magazine format" Marvel comics are no longer the second class of collecting.

Being the daughter of a demon, Satana seems at first glance like she might be a villainess, but in fact she is torn between good and evil, making her an interesting character.  She once sacrificed herself to save Dr. Strange from a curse (she was resurrected).

First comic book appearance

The first comic book appearances of Rocket Raccoon and Star-lord are also considered keys.  What about Satana's?

There was a 4-month gap between Vampire Tales #2 and #3, which gave Satana enough time to squeeze an appearance in between, in January 1974's Marvel Spotlight #13, where she appears only in a flashback, as a baby and young girl, in four panels:

After Vampire Tales #3, she makes three more magazine appearances (Haunt of Horror 2, 4 and 5 - the latter of which is her first cover appearance) before returning to comics in Marvel Spotlight #22 (2nd comic book appearance; 1st comic book appearance in costume (?).  Having read MS #22, I'm still confused because she changes form from an old lady and tries to kiss her brother, so it may be an illusion cast by the hag.

One of her next appearances (Marvel Spotlight #24, Marvel Premiere #27) might be considered her first full appearance in costume as an adult as a non-illusion - but as you can see we are already in a bit of a quagmire and I'm not sure which of these books would excite collectors, if any.

At this point though, she's fully out of the magazines and into the comics.

I order books especially to do this blog.  Please show your support by following us via links to the right!

Happy hunting!

Here's a 2012 article by CBR about the 'Witches' (Jennifer Kale, Topaz and Satana).

Vampire Tales #2 Satana story

1st cover appearance (Jan. 1975)

Monday, August 17, 2015

Werewolf By Night #13 (1974)

Did anyone catch any interesting news from the weekend's Disney conference?  Here is something I gleaned, and it's quite relevant to last week's post.  Maybe I'm just on a one-track mind.

(Dr. Strange in next year's film of the same name) Benedict Cumberbatch wasn't there, but he pre-recorded a video for the attendees of the Marvel Studios presentation.  Many news sources have quoted him as saying in the video that the film is going to deliver "girls, cars, explosions, and a bit of astral projecting into multiple dimensions."


Could he be referring to these girls?

I don't know and I don't care, because I like these characters.  I think they are insanely marketable and their first appearances look very cheap with a lot of upside.  

Marvel's Princesses?

Topaz debuted in Werewolf By Night #13 in 1974.  She has some strange daughterly/submissive relationship with a sorcerer named Taboo (also first appearance) who found her in India as a child.  The two capture Werewolf by Night in an attempt to discover the whereabouts of some magic books.

We already know that in Phase 3 we're getting the darkforce (intro'd in Agents of SHIELD next season, I believe), other dimensions and magic - in other words, we're getting the whole kit-and-kaboodle.

Topaz was portrayed in the series "Witches" with her looks having reverted back to their original (Asian) Indian appearance.  "Witches" united three little-used magic-users into a team inspired by TV shows that were popular at the time such as "Charmed."  Dr. Strange was envisioned as a mentor - a Charlie to their Angels.  I think the Marvel film brain trust hasn't forgotten it and will give it a second chance.  With the Edward Norton Hulk reboot, they showed they aren't afraid to take second chances on failed concepts.  With Guardians of the Galaxy, they demonstrated their success in bringing good storylines from second-tier characters to a bigger stage.

What about Clea?

I think Clea will be around too.  It will be a foursome.  You can't ground a movie around a girl who looks human but lived her whole life in the "Dark Dimension".  She'll get rescued or wrapped up in the adventure at some point, but the other girls will be the early focus.

Finally, just to point out that for Topaz WBN 13 book is a nice "key trifecta":

First appearance

First cover appearance

This means no doubt, no hemming and hawing and no debates when these characters inevitably hit the big screen.  Collectors will want this book and want it hard.

Guide values for this book in FN / VF / VFNM / NM- are $6 / $18 / $28 / $38.  I don't see much deviation from that in the market.

I'm going to close out this post with the original pen & ink artwork for the splash page , which some lucky soul picked up last year from Heritage.

Two down, one to go...

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Books to Watch: Fear #11 (1972)

Dr. Strange begins filming in November, and will be in theaters twelve months after that.

I have a feeling Rachel McAdams will be cast not as Clea as most people suspect, but as Jennifer Kale.

Regardless, this character is bound to make her movie debut sooner or later.

Fear #11 is the first appearance.  She's on the cover and features prominently throughout the story.  I think this is a book and a character that is poised to take off.

The 6-page back-up story is reprinted from 1952's Marvel Tales #105.

VF and up copies can be had for around $15.

FUNNY STORY: My friend just met Tilda Swinton on the plane back from London!  Tilda spent the whole flight playing with her toddler and invited her to her home in Scotland!  If I'm right about this casting, maybe there is some magic in the air?

Please add your plus to this article and share this blog!  +25 means we post another article!

We've also added a new cover gallery to the site, "Marvel Fantastic Firsts."  It's a dream collection of 20 Marvel Silver Age keys, be sure to check it out - 

If you see anything you desire beyond words, sign up and add it to your Want List!  

We just connected two members on this copy of Action Comics #252.  The seller has cash to go big game hunting and the happy buyer has a nice hot key at a decent price!

Peace & Thanks for reading!


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Avengers #69 (1969)

Twin Cities copy of Avengers #69

I think the Grandmaster will play a role in the remainder of Marvel's Phase 3.  I've suspected his involvement in the movie franchise since Guardians of the Galaxy, when Lee Pace was cast in a then-undisclosed role.  He ended up playing Ronan of course.  The Grandmaster was my wild guess at the time.

In December last year, rumors circulated that Al Pacino was in talks to star in a Marvel film, possibly GOTG 2 (scheduled for May 2017, probably filming a year from now).  I only saw one site that tied him to a possible role as the Grandmaster. Other than that, I did not see much talk about it.

The Grandmaster's Marvel Universe debut

A clue appears at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron that in my mind is a clear tip-off to the future role of this character.  I have not seen this theory in any reviews, articles, or "Easter egg" videos.  Near the close of the film, Thor says to the other Avengers "It can't be a coincidence that all of the Infinity Stones are appearing now. It is almost as if we are pawns in someone's game."  Or something to that effect.

To me, this is a clear reference to the Grandmaster.  The story title of Avengers #69? "Let the Game Begin!"  It's about Kang and the Grandmaster summoning the Avengers and the Squadron Sinister to fight each other in an alternate reality.

I do believe prices for Avengers #28 rose when it was announced in June 2013 that Benicio Del Toro would play The Collector.  I'd expect this other Elder of the Universe to play a more significant role.

Avengers #69-71, in my mind, belongs up there in the list of classic Avengers stories.  And so many important first appearances!

What does CGC have to say about this book?  It doesn't give the Grandmaster his correct due, another sign this significant event is under the radar:

As a tease of a future post, I'll leave you with the last page:

The Hulk #180, if you will, for the Squadron Sinister

Avengers #69 notable events:

1st appearance of the Grandmaster (an Elder of the Universe) – appears in 6 panels / 4 pages

1st brief (last panel) appearance of the Squadron Sinister (4 team members, all 1st app.)

1st brief (last panel) appearance of Doctor Spectrum (Kinji Obatu of Earth-616)

1st brief (last panel) appearance of the Earth-616 Hyperion (creation of the Grandmaster)

1st brief (last panel) appearance of Nighthawk (Kyle Richmond of Earth-616)

1st brief (last panel) appearance of The Whizzer / Speed Demon (James Sanders of Earth-616, becomes the Speed Demon in Amazing Spider-Man #222)