So soon after Amazing Fantasy #15 in a 9.6 sold for 1.1 Million Dollars, another milestone occurred with the selling of Incredible Hulk #181 for $150,000. This book was originally graded over ten years ago by CGC in a 9.9 and was kept in a private collection till its recent sale through ComicLink.com. Here is what they said about the illustrious issue:

“Hulk #181 is by far the most significant comic book printed in the last 40 years. Wolverine’s popularity over the last few decades is right up there with Spider-Man’s. The issue is one of the most highly collected of all vintage Marvel comic books and we believe that in CGC 9.9, this singular example is definitively the most significant single comic book graded by CGC published in the last 35 years.”

Incredible Hulk #181 Graded 9.9

What is causing these “Key” issues to sell at such inflated prices? Would they have sold at the reported prices if they were simply bagged and boarded with a Mylar bag and acid free backing board? Does having a 3rd party grading company really contribute to the value of the comic book, and not just any 3rd party, but CGC?

I purchased a book graded by PGX once before. It was a copy of New Mutants #5 in a 9.9. Since I am working on a full set by CGC in a 9.8 or higher I decided to hand over the encapsulated comic at Wizard World 2010. CGC graded it a 9.8. Apparently their standards are different.

Since I got swept up into the collecting aspect of 3rd party graded comic books it is the small nuances that bother me. There are a few 9.8 copies I own that I feel should be a 9.6 and vice versa. Don’t get me wrong, they are both beautiful copies but when the difference between a 9.6 and a 9.8 could be a minimal price differential of 100%, well that could add up to quite a bit.

I would love to see the copy of Incredible Hulk #181 in a 9.9 just to see how it rates to my New Mutants #1 in a 9.9, one book is 9 years older than the other so maybe I should compare a 9.8 copy and the 9.9 copy of the same book. Which begs to question, does the age of one book allow for more defects? Will the 8.0 copy of Action Comics #1, which sold for one million dollars look any different than the Daredevil #158 in the same grade that I own? Will they have the same amount of blemishes and defects? Is each crease calculated the same? Is every corner chip, every spine stress, and staple scrutinized the same way?

With Incredible Hulk #181 being the first comic book from the “Bronze” age to reach over a hundred thousand (all other books that achieved this goal were from the silver age or older) these hefty prices are becoming more regular, and every one of them has been graded by CGC. I wonder when the first “copper” age book will reach $100,000 and will it be graded a 9.8 or a 9.9?