Most Valuable Comic Books of the 1970s

October 22, 2023


Image courtesy Rubber Chicken Comics.

The Comics Code, censorship guidelines that dictated what could and couldn’t be depicted in comic books since 1954, became less strict in the 1970s. Or, ignored. Bronze Age comic books (1970 – 1985) could depict violence more realistically, graphic death, racism, and even drug use. Comics books were sweetly light-hearted, goofy, and even downright silly in the Golden and Silver Ages. Then came the most valuable comic books of the 1970s, or the Bronze Age.

Bronze Age comic books lost their innocence in the 1970s. More comic book characters of diverse races and ethnicities were also introduced in the Bronze Age. It was during the Bronze Age that comic book characters finally grew up. They began to reflect the travails of the real world more.

It is also why collectors love comic books from this era so much.

Tomb of Dracula #10 (July 1973) Marvel Comics

(Image courtesy Tarek Msadek/FB)

The Blade trilogy of films starring Wesley Snipes proved that comic book films could be successful over a decade before the first Iron Man film debuted for the MCU. (Legend has it that Wesley Snipes wanted to portray Black Panther, but the CGI limitations of the 1990s hampered his ambitions.)

Oscar-winning actor Mahershala Ali was picked to portray Blade a few years ago. However, the film suffered setbacks and rewrites and will have to be redone from scratch. No one knows when the MCU era of Blade films will debut at the moment.

Still, that does not take away from the fact that Blade is a wildly popular character. A new film starring Ali or another actor will materialize sometime within the next decade. And the comic books featuring Blade’s first appearance will increase in value.

A copy of this comic with a CGC grade of 9.8 is currently worth $38,400. An ungraded copy of this comic is worth as much as $650. You can also get a CGC 6.0 grade copy of this issue for $950. If you have the money, I consider it to be a great investment. If the MCU can get back on track, the hype for Blade will only increase in the coming years and decades.

Suggested Reading for Casuals – Blade: Black & White

This graphic novel reprints five of the best Blade comic books from the 1970s. Vampires were very popular then (the popularity must ebb and flow) and these stories depict the early years of Blade and his fight against Dracula and other undead enemies.

Get it for $14.28 at Amazon.

Green Lantern #76 (April 1970) DC Comics

(Image courtesy AMP/FB)

This is a landmark Bronze Age comic for many reasons. (Technically, this comic was published in the last year of the Silver Age as well.) For one thing, Green Lantern #76 would technically be titled “Green Lantern Co-Starring Green Arrow” for 14 issues.

DC comics characters essentially, “grew up,” and began to feature more socially relevant stories beginning with this issue.

It was the start of the landmark, “Hard Traveling Heroes,” storyline that produced gritty stories reflecting the social anxieties of the 1970s.

Additionally, it’s the first time the two characters teamed up in a comic. Green Lantern was losing popularity since his Silver Age reboot, so the team-up was brainstormed to invigorate the character.

Also, this storyline heralded the end of the saccharine, silly, and innocent tales featuring mainly white characters saving the day as normalized in the Silver Age.

Green Lantern Grows Up

In this issue, Green Lantern, an intergalactic space cop who wields a power ring that manifests his willpower, teams up with archer Green Arrow, who modern audiences know today from the show Arrow.

Green Arrow harangues Green Lantern about the fact that he is out of touch with the societal ills of planet Earth, though intimately familiar with the problem plaguing the intergalactic aliens in outer space.

Written by Denny O’Neil, this comic storyline features an infamous panel drawn by the legendary artist Neal Adam that depicts a black man accusing Green Lantern of caring more for blue-skinned, orange-skinned, and purple-skinned aliens than black-skinned beings on Earth.

A startled Green Lantern can’t defend himself. So, Green Arrow challenges him to accompany him across the United States to see how common people live.

Panels from Green Lantern #76. Image courtesy Steve Peters.

The Hard Traveling Heroes encounter corruption, poverty, racism, environmental pollution, drug addiction, and societal disillusionment via the characters they meet as they travel the United States.

It’s one of the most important comic books of the 1970s because it mirrored the social ills of the time and examined the grey areas of human morality instead of portraying heroes as perfectly infallible beings who fight generic evil.

A copy of Green Lantern #76 sold for $33,000 in December 2014. It had a CGC grade of 9.8. The cultural significance of this comic, and the importance of its publication during the Bronze Age, is so relevant that a comic book collector bought the original, uncolored cover, not the comic but the original cover, for $442,000 in December 2015.

Suggested Reading for Casuals – Green Lantern: The Sinestro Corps War

The 2011 Green Lantern film was an abomination. However, one of the best characters in the film was Sinestro as portrayed by Mark Strong. Sinestro is the Joker to Hal Jordan’s Batman to use an inelegant comparison in the comic books. At the end of the 2011 Green Lantern film, Sinestro creates a yellow ring that is fueled by instilling fear in others.

And that is the plot of Sinestro Wars. Sinestro creates his own yellow-themed corp to battle the Green Lantern Corps, whose power rings are fueled by willpower and confidence. It is considered one of the best Green Arrow stories in the comic franchise.

Get it now for $23 at Amazon.

X-Men #94 (August 1975) Marvel Comics

(Image courtesy Paul Kosnik/FB)

Some modern comic book fans, especially fans who love comic book movies, think that character diversification in comic books and comic book films is a recent phenomenon. It actually began way back in 1975 in the publication of X-Men #94. However, we first have to talk about X-Men #1 from 1963.

X-Men #1 told the story of mutant superheroes who were born with superpowers. They were all teens and all white. The comic was canceled due to low sales with issue #66 in 1970. From 1970 to 1975, the comic featured reprints of earlier stories. For a time, before the relaunch with issue #94, there were no X-Men comics published at all.

In May 1975, Giant-Sized X-Men #1, a one-shot issue, introduced a new X-Men team that was reintroduced in X-Men #94, the issue that essentially rebooted the originally canceled series. Even though the X-Men characters served as an allegory reflecting the racial strife of the 1960s, the 1975 team introduced in issue #94 was the first culturally diverse X-Men team ever.

The only holdover from the original series was Cyclops. The new team consisted of Storm, an African, Nightcrawler, a German, Colossus, a Russian, Thunderbird, a Native American, and Banshee, an Irishman. This was the first comic of the Bronze Age to feature a team comprised of members of different ethnicities, races, cultures, and philosophical beliefs fighting together as heroes and protecting a world of humans who feared and hated them.

This comic is probably one of the most valuable comic books of the 1970s.

An issue of X-Men #94 with a CGC grade of 9.8 is worth over $41,100 on the collectibles market right now.

Suggested Reading for Casuals – X-Men: Schism

This graphic novel collects 6 issues that tell the story of when Cyclops and Wolverine create a rift between the X-men forcing others to pick a side while a new common threat threatens to destroy them all.

In the comic books, Wolverine is 5 foot 3 inches but is a womanizer able to get the attention of Jean Grey. Cyclops loved Jean Grey even though he did her dirty in the comics. Jean was dead at the time this comic was published in 2012, but simmering tensions over the love triangle and differences in their operating styles cause both men to come to blows.

The X-Men is a soap opera at heart and it is satisfying to see these heroes finally work out their frustrations with superhero violence. However, if you never read X-Men comics then you would not get the subtext.

Get it for $25.99 at Amazon.

Most Valuable Comic Books of the 1970s (It Pays to Know)

It’s important to know why the comic books you collect are valuable. Comic books don’t sell for hundreds, thousands, or hundreds of thousands of dollars for random reasons.

You don’t have to be a comic historian but knowing such things can be beneficial when it comes time to resell to hardcore collectors.

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