Most Valuable Comic Books of the 1980s
The most valuable comic books of the 1980s were published in the middle of two crucial ages for comic books — the second half of the Bronze Age and the dawn of the Modern Age.
During the Bronze Age, more comic books were produced that tackled topical issues that more mirrored the real world in lieu of the sillier and straightforward good-vs-evil stories of the Silver and Golden Ages.
The Modern Age of comics doubled down on mirroring the real world and depicting more violence. Also, the mass commercialization and merchandising of comic books become a fully viable industry in the 1980s.
Now, such information may not mean much to you, but it should. The comic books printed during this decade are now billion-dollar films.
Have you seen the latest trailer for Venom: Let There Be Carnage? (I hope it is a hit — Woody Harrelson gives me goosebumps as crazed serial killer Cletus Kasady A.K.A. Carnage)
However, if you are a non-comic book reader, you must know that future comic book films will dictate the investment prices of the comics they are based on. A mint condition copy of Amazing Spider-Man #300, which featured the first appearance of Venom, is now worth $6,500.
So, if you want to know what the most valuable comic books are of the 1980s are, check these out.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 (May 1984) Mirage Studios/ Eastman and Laird
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 was created and self-published by creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird in 1984.
They shopped the comic at a local comic book convention in New Hampshire where it was acquired by Mirage Studios.
The comic took off in popularity immediately. It’s about four pet turtles who were turned into anthropomorphized superhero ninjas by radioactive sludge and then trained by a rat named Splinter.
TMNT Pop Culture Infamy
The first animated series, the first of several that are still being produced to this day, was produced in 1987. There have been five TMNT live-action motion pictures.
Consider, the first TMNT movie was produced just 6-years after TMNT #1 was printed! The last two TMNT films were produced within the last decade.
Although these films were not critical successes, a sixth film, a new reboot, is currently being produced.
A $90,000 First Edition
TMNT is a pop culture mainstay, so it’s not hard to understand why someone spent $90,000 for a first-print copy of TMNT #1 in August 2019. This comic has a CGC grade of 9.8.
It is an ultra-rare copy in pristine condition. This comic is supposedly one of the original 3,200 copies from the first printing.
Albedo Anthropomorphics #2 (November 1984) Thoughts and Images
Albedo #2 features the first appearance of fan-favorite Usagi Yojimbo. Albedo was an anthology comic book series of the era that featured stories starring anthropomorphic characters.
Usagi Yojimbo roughly translates to, “Rabbit Bodyguard.” Imagine Ronin-style comic book stories featuring an anthropomorphic rabbit samurai and you get the gist of it.
Usagi Yojimbo was created by Stan Sakai. The stories are set in Edo-period Japan. Usagi Yojimbo comic books are still published to this day via independent publishers.
A 9.8 CGC graded copy of Albedo #2 sold for $31,000 in May 2019. Only 2,000 issues were produced in the original first-edition printing, so it is very rare.
Amazing Spider-Man #300 (May 1988) Marvel Comics
In 2018, a live-action film based on the comic book character Venom was released starring Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock.
Though not a critical success, the film made almost $860 million worldwide. The 2021 sequel will be released soon.
Venom was originally written as a crazed villain set on killing Peter Parker. But he became so popular with fans that he soon became an anti-hero.
To fully explain the value of Amazing Spider-Man #300, the first appearance of Venom, we need to explain the convoluted history of the black-colored Spider-Man outfit.
Mystery of the Multiple Origins
Spider-Man, and his iconic red and blue costume first appeared in Amazing Fantasy #15 in 1962. His costume didn’t change much aesthetically until Amazing Spider-Man #252 in May 1984.
In that issue, Peter Parker comes into contact with a black substance, a “symbiote,” from outer space that bonds with him. It turns his costume into the iconic black and white costume.
For some reason, different variations of this origin also occur in Marvel Team-Up #141 and Spectacular Spider-Man #60. Both issues were also published in 1984.
A fourth origin story for the symbiote, which became official comic-book canon, occurs in Secret Wars #8 published in December 1984.
Spider-Man is on an alien planet where superheroes and villains must battle at the whims of a mad alien. After his costume is ripped, Spider-Man uses a device of alien origin that he thinks will repair his costume.
The device releases the black-colored symbiote which spreads over Parker’s body and transforms into the black costume.
In subsequent stories, readers learn that the symbiote is a malevolent alien parasite that physically bonds to its host.
The symbiote amplifies the subconscious and negative emotional instincts of the host in uncontrollable ways.
The more that Spider-Man bonded with the symbiote, the more likely the bonding would become permanent.
Enter Eddie Brock
Amazing Spider-Man #300 is the first appearance of Eddie Brock and Venom. Brock, a journalist, is professionally ostracized by an error that is publicly corrected by Peter Parker.
Meanwhile, Parker finally separates himself from the symbiote. It was aggressively making him a more violent version of himself.
Brock, nearly insane with fury, jealousy, and regret, bonds with the symbiote which thereafter recognizes itself as Venom. The symbiote and Brock essentially become one new being.
In the 1980s and 1990s, Venom was Spider-Man’s deadliest enemy. Today, Venom is known as an ally to Spider-Man and an anti-hero.
A copy of Amazing Spider-Man #300 with a CGC grade of 9.0 sold for $950 in October 2019. A 9.8 copy recently sold for $6,500.
Relative Investment Value
As you will notice in my next articles on this subject, comic books published in the Modern Age do not necessarily have the relative collector value of those published in the Golden or Silver or early Bronze Age eras.
They are not as rare. Even if they are rare, they are only 30+ years old. The only thing that will make them potentially valuable right now is if they are in perfect condition, rare, and are based on an upcoming film.
Time and growing collector interest create demand. In decades to come, the comics on this list will be in greater demand.
If you have a mint condition copy of one of these comics, hang onto it.
Allen Francis was an academic advisor, librarian, and college adjunct for many years with no money, no financial literacy, and no responsibility when he had money. To him, the phrase “personal finance,” contains the power that anyone has to grow their own wealth. Allen is an advocate of best personal financial practices including focusing on your needs instead of your wants, asking for help when you need it, saving and investing in your own small business.