There’s no disputing that Matt Baker’s cover to Phantom Lady No. 17, from 1948, is considered one of the most iconic of the Golden Age, in no small part thanks to its inclusion in psychiatrist Fredric Wertham’s Seduction of the Innocent. The copy found in The Promise Collection survived not only intact, but at CGC NM+ 9.6 is the highest graded.
Bidding on Phantom Lady No. 17 opened at $95,000 during the live auction. Then back and forth the bidding went until it also closed at $456,000.
In fact, all 11 issues Phantom Lady available Friday were huge hits, chief among them the No. 14 graded CGC NM+ 9.6. That highest-graded copy opened the live auction at $7,000 and closed at $90,000 after a heated round of bidding.
Sometimes all it takes is a famous and fantastic cover. Look no further than Mask Comics No. 1, published in 1945 and featuring L.B. Cole’s striking artwork that’s as bright as a sunrise. It was said again and again and again Friday: This is the highest-graded copy. Which means there is no more beautiful version than the CGC VF+ 8.5-graded copy from The Promise Collection that sold for $102,000.
1944's Captain America Comics No. 36 graded CGC NM 9.4 was another heroic title on Friday. This book, with its iconic Syd Shores cover featuring classic Cap yanking Hitler out of his convertible, opened at $65,000. Then the bids began pouring in, as they would for almost each book throughout the session. In the end, that 1944 comic book, looking as it did the first time it was sold 77 years ago, sold for $204,000.
A few lots later came Captain America Comics No. 74 graded CGC NM 9.2 – one of the strangest covers in comics history, as Cap’s title made a very short-lived transition to horror before the first of its several cancellations and rebirths. That book, featuring the Red Skull and Cap, opened just below six-figures; then, yet again, the bids came fast and furious befitting the best-known copy of this historic issue. It, too, sold for $204,000.
There was no shortage of books selling for six figures, among them the second book offered Friday: 1944's All-American Comics No.61 graded CGC NM+9.6, which introduced DC's immortal villain Solomon Grundy and sits at No.61 on Overstreet's list of Top 100 Golden Age Comics. Its final sale price of $138,000 heralded the excitement to come.
In short order, a CGC VF/NM 9.0 copy of Detective Comics No. 69 shattered pre-auction expectations when it sold for $126,000. Minutes later came the highest-graded copy of 1946's Detective Comics No. 114, at CGC NM/MT 9.8, with its double cover; it sold for $156,000. A few minutes after that followed the highest-graded copy of Detective Comics No. 124, a CGC NM/MT 9.8 with a bright Bob Kane cover that sold for $120,000.
About this debut of The Promise Collection, perhaps the title of this comic book says it all: Startling. Specifically Startling Comics No. 49, which features perhaps the most famous and highly sought-after airbrushed cover by Golden Age icon Alex Schomburg. By auction’s end, it had become a familiar story: The highest-graded copy of the book, in this case a CGC NM+ 9.6, began bidding somewhere in the mid-four figures, only to sell for six, in this case $132,000.
Starling. But not surprising.