Cover of Detective 38, the first
appearance of Robin 75 years ago
Both the Joker and Catwoman
first appeared in Batman 1 in 1940
The covers of Fantastic Four
45 & 46, the first two appearances of the Inhumans
The first Spirit strip released
June 2, 1940
The first Captain Marvel appearance
was in Whiz 1 in 1940
Nick Fury first appeared in
Strange Tales 135, sharing the comic with Dr. Strange
75th birthday greetings for classic comic
Let's Talk Comics
With Rob Lamberti
Happy birthday, Spirit. You too, Robin. Hey, Joker, have
a great 75th birthday. Oh, Catwoman, you are not older, you are
The Great Big Cheese known as Captain Marvel isn't getting
moldy as he ages. As Gomer Pyle would say, "Shazam!"
This year marks the anniversary of a slew of famous comic
creations. Beyond the three mentioned above, Jack Kirby introduced
Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., and the Inhumans 50 years ago.
The world knows Nick Fury, sort of, and the Inhumans are expected
to become another piece of the Marvel movie puzzle in the near
Comic artist master Will Eisner introduced the crime fighting
Spirit on June 2, 1940, as a newspaper strip. The Spirit was
the lead character in a tabloid-sized Sunday insert first distributed
in 20 newspapers. It ran for 645 issues until 1952. Some of the
artists that worked on the syndicated supplement included writer
Jules Feiffer (yes, the Pulitzer Prize winning Jules Feiffer)
and artists Jack Cole and Wally Wood. The character has since
moved to comic books and a movie.
While there have been a couple or three Robins, the first
one, the Dick Grayson we all know and love - especially when
he appeared on the campy television show - debuted in Detective
38 in 1940. The sidekick was originally designed to attract younger
readers, and it worked, apparently doubling Batman related comic
sales. He appeared in solo adventures in Star Spangled Comics
and the character lasted until the 1980s when the Grayson character
transformed into Nightwing and left Wayne Manor.
Various incarnations of Robin came after Grayson, including
Jason Todd who appeared in Batman 357 and lasted five years until
the Joker killed him in the Death in the Family storyline. Then
it gets comic-book weird where Todd is reincarnated and becomes
Red Hood, and a third Robin, Tim Drake, takes on the costume.
There have since been female Robins, including a daughter Wayne
had with Catwoman, and a Damian Wayne, Bruce Wayne's son.
For collectors and investors, the aim is to find those older
editions of these characters from the 1940s to the 1970s. The
Golden Age books are an obvious investment: They are getting
harder to find, especially in higher grades. Detective 38, for
example, markets at around $84,000 in Near Mint. The challenge
is to find one. A Good is valued at around $5,000 retail. Be
aware that prices can fluctuate greatly in Golden Age market,
especially for key books.
While Silver Age books can be easier to find in general,
they can be very pricey in the higher grades. The first Inhumans
in Fantastic Four 45, published in 1965, sells for about $1,800
in Near Mint, about $125 in Good. The group then appeared in
other comics during the Silver Age. It's suggested the Inhumans
- a group of genetically enhanced people developed by an alien
race - will appear in a movie in July 2019.
While it may not be worth an investor's time to find the
more modern versions of the Inhumans, the original issues will
probably pick up value as the release of the movie nears and
especially if it's a hit.
Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., a cigar chomping, eye-patched
super spy, first appeared in Strange Tales 135. Kirby created
him but it's his rendition by Jim Steranko that shook the comics
business. Despite some of the most innovative artwork of the
era, Fury's own book lasted only 15 issues. Fury was a recurring
character throughout the Marvel universe and he has since been
repackaged, redesigned and remade into the image of actor Samuel
The original Captain Marvel became part of the DC Universe
when the company licensed Fawcett characters in 1972. DC had
forced the cancellation of Captain Marvel - the largest selling
comic in the 1940s - when it sued Fawcett and Republic Pictures
in 1941 for copyright infringement. The character mimicked Superman
too closely, the suit claimed. In 1951, the courts sided with
Fawcett squashing Superman, but on appeal, the courts ruled Fawcett
had indeed infringed on DC's copyright.
But in an ironic twist of fate, because Marvel legally snagged
the name in the 1970s - an alien warrior named Captain Marvel
- DC was forced to title the original Captain Marvel's comic
Shazam! It was a modest success, running for 35 issues, although
the character would continue in the DC Universe.
There is some keen interest in particular issues of that
initial DC series, including the first issue (about $80 in Near
Mint and $5 in Good) and Number 28, the first modern version
of Black Adam, a villain who first appeared in Marvel Family
1 in 1945, retailing for about $250 in Near Mint and about $18
Let's Talk Comics with Rob Lamberti, who started collecting
comics when the going price was 12 cents an issue and Peter Parker
really was a teenager. He dabbled in the comic convention circuit
in the Toronto area for a while, but stopped to concentrate on
his career as a not-so-mild- mannered crime reporter for a great
metropolitan newspaper, where he hoped he managed to record a
little bit of history the past three decades.