Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Jungle Comics #2 (1940)

As I've mentioned before, a fun category I like to collect, and which I can see growing more popular in the future, is first appearances of obscure and public domain characters.  In this installment I wanted to highlight Jungle Comics #2, which is the first appearance of Fantomah, Mystery Woman of the Jungle.

What makes Fantomah different than any other obscure or public domain character?  The fact that she has gained a cult following that hasn't yet resulted in an increase in value of her debut, and the fact that she is widely accepted to be the first female superhero to appear in comic books.  (Google those three words and check out the blurb at the top of the results page.)

Fantomah was created by Fletcher Hanks, a creator who entered comics late in life, stayed in the industry only a short time, and died on a Central Park bench in 1976.  Many of his modern fans came to appreciate his weird and distinct style from the 2007 book I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets! Anyone remotely interested in the child-like, uncomplicated directness of Golden Age comics should check this book out.

For comparison, I am going to offer up just one Golden Age "first", and that is Jungle Comics #1, prized as being the first comic book dedicated entirely to the "jungle adventure" genre.  At $10,500, it's listed as 3 times as valuable as #2 at $2900 (which is in turn only listed as $600 more than issues 3 and 4).  In my opinion the situation should be reversed: the debut of the first female superhero should be valued three times as much as the first "jungle" comic.

Jungle #27 is another nice "key" issue to have, as Fantomah is given a new origin.

I use the following search string to get alerts for the book on eBay:

jungle comics 2 -nyoka -tarzan -"jo-jo" -journal -jim -dvd -sheena -tales -action -zegra -kaanga -ramar -disks -zago

Here is a copy sold on that venue in December for $50, described as missing the back cover with front cover and one interior page detached.  That's a little less than a third of GD price so not greatly out of sync with the guide.  A few hundred should land you a decent, readable copy.

The census shows only 9 graded copies, of which one is the Mile High.

 Below is the entire Fantomah story from Jungle #2 as reprinted in
I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets!, in addition to the cover and first page of a Fantomah story from a 2011 issue of Hack/Slash.

For an interesting view of the investment potential of female comic book characters, check out this blog entry by my friend and fellow collector Aaron.

- Heronext

Buy, Sell and Browse Comics of All Eras at Heronext.com

Hack/Slash #5.  Art by Kyle Strahm

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