Marvel Comic’s Black Panther—the first black comic book superhero, born in the 1960s—is poised to make his big screen debut in the much-anticipated movie, Captain America: Civil War. It’s culturally significant, but that’s not all. For comic book collectors, the growing interest in black superheroes opens doors for investors, too.
“When interest in a character rises, comic book values do, too,” says Vincent Zurzolo, co-owner of Metropolis Collectibles, the world’s largest vintage comic book dealership, and ComicConnect.com, its online auction site.
Take The Black Panther’s first appearance in Fantastic Four #52 in 1966. (First appearances are typically the most valuable comics in a series.) In 2012, a 9.8 graded copy of Fantastic Four #52 sold for $19,200. In 2016, a similar copy sold for $83,650—a 435% increase in value.
Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, The Black Panther character was born as T’Challa, the prince of Wakanda, a technologically-advanced country. He takes on the hero role when his father, the king, is killed.
Then there’s Luke Cage, a favorite of actor Nicholas Cage, who adopted his surname. This black superhero, who first appeared in Marvel’s Hero for Hire #1 in 1972, boasts superhuman strength and unbreakable skin. Last year, he was featured on the Netflix series Jessica Jones. This fall, he’ll headline his own series.
In 2011, a 9.8 graded copy of Hero for Hire #1 sold for $2,766. In 2014, one sold for $6,100. But earlier this year, a similarly graded copy sold for $24,000, a whopping 867% increase in 5 years.
“The interest is industry wide,” notes Stephen Fishler, co-owner of Metropolis/ComicConnect, pointing out the upcoming reboot of Milestone Comics, a DC imprint created by African-American artists and writers in 1993. The best known are Hardware, Icon and Static.
Hip hop icon Darryl “DMC” McDaniels of Run DMC, launched his own comic book imprint, Darryl Makes Comics (http://www.dmc-comics.com), in 2014. His graphic novel series, DMC, features McDaniels as a contemporary superhero—complete with trademark Adidas and fedora—confronting evil in 1985 New York City.
“The Black Panther has been a favorite of many collectors for decades. He has a great back story and cool powers. Once more people learn about him, his vintage comics will become more collectible.”