In a recent Cup O’ Joe article on Comic Book Resources a reader named Kristen had a particularly sad story to ask Joe Quesada, the head of the publishing division of Marvel Comics. Her brother had recently passed away and she had discovered his comic book collection dating back 60 years. This collection had numerous comics of great shape, but was dumbfounded upon the discovery of the first 14 issues of Spider-Girl was vacuum sealed to preserve the comic in mint condition.
The first issue of Spider-Girl has a cover date of October 1998, and despite a very vocal and loyal following (of which I am a part of said following and have every appearance of said character) the comic faced cancelation on numerous occasion only to be saved due to various campaigns across fandom or the use of publishing gimmicks to up sales on the book. It got to the point where Spider-Girl was finally officially cancelled and new stories of the character was moved to Marvel’s digital/online comic imprint where her stories are printed a few weeks later in the Amazing Spider-Man Family anthology comic. While there is some value to these 14 issues, everyone (including Quesada) agrees that this set of comics is an interesting choice of comics to preserve, presumably considering the value of other comics in there vastly exceeding these comics.
After speaking out on the negative stigma that collectability received due to the speculator boom in the mid-90’s Quesada had this to say:
For someone like Kristin’s brother who was an obvious fan of the medium, there is a whole other aspect to collectability. It sounds to me that he was like so many of us, who keep our comics or collect certain comics because we have an emotional attachment to them and or they remind us of a particular moment in time in our lives. I have a very small collection. It’s a collection that isn’t particularly worth much money. They’re mostly torn up books, not necessarily hallmark issues, but they mean something to me. I have the first three comics that my father bought me. They were three Spider-Man comics, and they’re all torn up and in terrible shape. I didn’t really keep them very well but I always kept them very close to my heart. They’re comics that I will give to my daughter, and hopefully she can give them to her kids if they last that long.
So, with respect to “Spider-Girl,” I don’t know what the market value is on those books, but it’s probably not a lot, but there are readers out there who do treasure May Day’s adventures. Perhaps Kristin’s brother may have taken extra care preserving them because perhaps those stories had a particular emotional connection with him or he saw something in those books that he wanted to preserve for a later date. Maybe he was saving them for a special moment – perhaps to hand them down to someone he thought might get a lot out of these comics.
While I have not gotten to the point where I have ever vacuum sealed any comics — in fact I do not yet have every one of my comics bagged and boarded, though every comic I have purchased for the last 6-7 years has been and I have worked my way up my collection to the “S”s bagged and boarded — I do indeed have numerous comics that I think back of fondly that do not have significant value. Interestingly enough, many of them coming from the Spider-Girl writer Tom DeFalco. It was during his run on Fantastic Four that I began truly collecting and not just buying random issues I came across and thus why I am so lenient on that era of Fantastic Four, despite it being considered a poor run by many Fantastic Four fans. Which then explains why I was also a fan of DeFalco’s Spider-clone fiasco. *
I must have read the story where Spider-Man’s gained the powers of Captain Universe about a dozen times when I was a child. It was such a novel concept for me as a child. Here we have Spider-Man, a down to Earth guy who is remarkably driven by guilt/responsibility (despite not being Catholic) who cracks jokes to make up for his own inadequacies and because a situation was so dire he was chosen as the random recipient of cosmic powers to battle a Tri-Sentinel. Honestly, it sounds corny as all heck, but I loved it back then. I didn’t get many comics at the time, but a comic shop did open up around me. At the time that time Marvel recent some trading cards. My Grandpa bought me a pack and it contained hologram card of cosmic powered Spider-Man! I went back and bought as many packs as I could because the holograms were so cool. I then read the stats and the background history on the characters and I was hooked. It got me back in and buying actual comics. I really wish I did not write on a few of those cards. 🙁
The Spider-Girl is a run of comics that means a great deal to me. These stories were told in a contemporary manner that harken back to many elements from the silver/bronze era. They are stories that work on numerous levels. They are stories that are appropriate for children that are intellectual enough that a young adult (or the adult collector) can consider them entertaining. I do feel that they would be great stories to read to a daughter to give her a great role model.
* This may seem like I am implying DeFalco was a bad writer, but this is not the truth. Unfortunately the speculator boom hit Marvel very hard and it was on the brink of or had to file bankruptcy during these eras and thus Marvel was forced to run wild with any concept that started to sell even relatively well. This meant that writers were being forced to keep coming up with ideas for something that may have legitimately only had a limited shelf-life. The Spider-clone storyline is considered the most infamous of such conundrums.