Now here’s a hell of a thing.

§ April 23rd, 2012 § Filed under collecting § 24 Comments

So here’s a slabbed ‘n’ graded copy of Civil War #2, 2nd printing, that turned up in a box of unsold stock we acquired from another store. It’s an interesting artifact of a once red-hot comic book crossover event since supplanted by a cascade of other crossover events, themselves all secondary to the pursuit of the movie tie-in dollar which may or, more likely, may not trickle down from the cinematic breadwinners to their poor print cousins.

This particular edition itself is of note, a second pressing of the issue in which Spider-Man publicly reveals his secret identity, with a new cover reflecting said event to apparently take advantage of the real-world (as opposed to just comic book press) media attention. The revelation itself pretty much had “reset button” written all over it, and sure enough, shortly after Civil War was over and we were all on to the next thing, Spider-Man’s secret identity status quo was restored and thus, what small importance this issue had in the grand scheme of Marvel’s things was no longer what it was.

Currently, no one is really seeking out back issues of Civil War, and even the sales of the books collecting that series and its army of tie-ins have fallen the farther away we get from that event’s heyday. And now we have this…an item produced to exploit interest in a specific plot twist, since undone, in a Big Event Series, since…um, unbiggened, I guess.

This item’s only claim to collectibility at this point is that it’s sealed in a plastic slab, with an official condition grade assigned to it by a grading company. And, as we can see on auction sites and as used to be demonstrated by helpful graphics in the now-defunct print edition of Wizard Magazine, “slabbed” comics can often command much higher prices (or at least are set at higher prices) than the same comic without a slab.

If the story I was told of this item’s lineage is accurate, it was apparently offered, as is, slab and all, through the monthly distributor’s catalog as a prepackaged collectible. The price marked on the store sticker is $59.99, which is like twenty times the regular retail cost of the comic by itself. I was also told the item was ordered by mistake and could not be (or simply wasn’t) returned.

This is an empty collectible. Now, to be clear, I’m not accusing or blaming anyone for this. There was a time when this was possibly a viable item. There was demand for this series, for this particular issue, and interest was high in that plot development. And the graded ‘n’ sealed books are usually of interest to some collectors. However, you can infer a “sell-by” date on some items, and it’s reasonably clear this is one “collectible” that has outlived itself.

It’s my problem now, and hopefully I can get a few bucks for it on eBay.

I hope none of my potential bidders read this.

24 Responses to “Now here’s a hell of a thing.”

  • Tom Cherry says:

    I rather have an unslabbed copy of SURF N’WHEELS #1.

  • Cullen says:

    Is it just me, or is that a REALLY dumb expression on Peter’s face right there?

  • Nate says:

    I’ve got this unopened Death of Superman issue.

    It’s totally valuable, right? I mean, Superman DIED

  • Roger Green says:

    It’s PRECISELY that sinister manipulation of the marketplace for short-term gain, a lot of hype ultimately signifying nothing, that made me hate the traditional comic market.

  • philfromgermany says:

    Hey Mike, could you write a couple of lines about “hot comics” when you get around to it? I have noticed it is quite hard to get certain titles from online merchants or on ebay, for example Fables, The Boys, The Goon or Scalped. I’d be glad to hear your professional opinion. And don’t worry I neither possess nor plan to sink my investments into these comics.

  • Joe S. Walker says:

    “Is it just me, or is that a REALLY dumb expression on Peter’s face right there?”

    It’s not just you. He looks as if he’s stoned and forgot to put his mask on before he went onstage.

  • googum says:

    I’ll give you two bucks for it, if it will make a charming coaster. Since I read my comics, how slabbed is slabbed? Dishwasher safe?

  • Old Bull Lee says:

    I know this wasn’t your intent, but this is one of your most depressing posts ever.

  • CW says:

    Does this mean my slabbed copies of Youngblood #1 won’t be enough to pay for my retirement? ;)

  • RDaggle says:

    It would almost be worth buying just to carelessly rip open the plastic, and flip through the comic while eating a jelly doughnut. And then leave it lying on the bathroom floor.

    I said ‘almost’.

  • Thelonious_Nick says:

    Say, that’s a nice looking slab. Would you consider selling it without that cheap pamphlet-looking thing inside?

  • J.W.Rollins says:

    I’m not exactly sure how to phrase my question, but do you think it is a worthwhile investment for someone to have their comics graded and slabbed by CGC or other such businesses? I can’t imagine that it was for the this book you featured on your blog today, but what about something that might actually be worth something? Is their service and analysis respected by dealers? Just curious.


  • I noticed that Peter seems to be thrusting his crotch in front of the press.

  • Tim O'Neil says:

    I think grading and slabbing is just fine – for really old and very rare comics. Any comic printed before, say, the Nixon administration is neither rare nor old enough to bother. But yeah, if I had an ACTION #1, I’d want that thing to be preserved and graded the best way possible.

  • J.W.Rollins says:

    Thanks, Tim.

  • Anonymous says:

    It’s STILL in a slab? I guess nobody learned anything from the 90’s, have they?

  • Robert in New Orleans says:

    I won a stack of miscellaneous Spider-Man comics on Ebay that included one that I actually did want: the first issue of Web of Spider-Man. It has a nice painting of Spidey in the black costume by Charles Vess. Anyway, it came CGC slabbed & graded at 9.2. I didn’t care about getting one that was slabbed, but I was looking for a nice copy and just happened to win it in a ‘lot listing’ for less money that it usually goes for as a single. That was probably due to lazy presentation by the auctioneer, but I’m not complaining. I already have the story in a trade so I’m not going to open it. It’ll be the only CGC’ed comic in my collection unless I stumble across another similar deal.

  • Interstate Shogun says:

    I think using it as a coaster is an excellent idea. I’ll give you two and a quarter for it, Mike!

  • Verbatim says:

    Pity the poor guy that came into the store today with three longboxes full of nothing but Death of Superman issues and Valiant titles. Guy had at least a hundred copies of Adventures #500…

  • Jon H says:

    You might get more money for it if you drill a hole in it and turn it into a clock.

  • dann says:

    I bought a slabbed Herbie #3 on Ebay for $3 a couple of years ago. Probably not what whoever had it slabbed thought it would go for. I wanted to read the book so I opened it up. The slab is still sitting by my feet along with a stack of misc bags & boards. Its a nice piece of plastic, I should do something with it someday.

  • philip says:

    I would love to see photos of someone using a slabbed comic as a coaster or a plate or a trivet. C’mon internet, I believe in you!

  • Bear says:

    I’d love to know how much this goes for on ebay.

  • Anonymous says:

    Time to pop that sucker out of the slab and put it in the bargain bins… right where it belongs!

    The empty slab would make a great door stopper.