Ever wanted to own a collectible that could potentially show up on one of our rarest collectible lists? Now’s your chance!
On May 13th, Heritage Auctions will be featuring a plethora of comic book and magazine rarities as part of a New York auction. Though a smorgasbord of extremely valuable collectibles will be on display during this event, one of the most spectacular pieces to be offered is the unused cover art for the Black Panther’s first appearance in issue 52 of Fantastic Four. Drawn by Jack Kirby and Joe Sinnott, this fantastically rare cover is estimated to sell for over $80,000 once the auction is over, and online bidding leading up to the live auction already has the piece at $30,000. Of course, the true value of the artwork will be ultimately determined once the auction is concluded by the end of the week.
So yes, this is a legendary piece of art from a legendary comic book artist, but this unused curiosity may be even more interesting than it seems.
As many comic book fans know by now, the Black Panther was a pretty big deal when he debuted in 1966. He was the first black superhero to enter the mainstream comic book industry, and his devoted cult following only grew once he appeared in his own The Black Panther title comic in 1976. In fact, between his recent appearance in Captain America: Civil War and his own feature movie planned for 2018, hype for this character is probably at an all-time high. He’s considered by many to be Marvel’s answer to Batman, and while that might be selling the Black Panther short of his own unique qualities, being favorably compared to a super-popular hero like Batman is nothing to sneeze at. It goes without saying that Black Panther’s sleek black costume adds a heavy dose of coolness to an already intriguing persona, but this unused cover art shows how different that might have been.
See, the issue of Fantastic Four which boldly introduced the Black Panther is remarkably on-point with how we know him today. He’s completely covered from head-to-toe and even has some fancy cape action going that could give Batman a run for his money. The unused cover, however, reveals the entire bottom half of the hero’s face, and he’s even wearing what appears to be shorts over his costume. This is a huge difference to the entire look and feel of the character, and it’s possible that this kind of design could have drastically changed the way he could have developed. In case you wanted to know just how last-minute this design choice must have been, consider that the Italian cover of the same issue actually launched with what appears to be the unused costume. While it’s not unusual for certain localisations of a comic book to forego touchups, this case adds a certain element of intrigue to what the design process must have been for this lesser-known yet iconic hero.
Fortunately, Marvel has reprinted this unused cover and even colorized it for casual fans to enjoy, so you don’t have to drop thousands of dollars if you want to study this slice of history for yourself.
Still, whether you’re a comic book collector or not, this auction has real potential to make headlines depending on how competitive the bidding gets. If it doesn’t, then it’s still worth keeping an eye on for the other cool collectibles on display, including a Peanuts strip, premium graded issues of Jumbo Comics, and even Toy World Funnies, a rare variation of the first comicbook ever: Funnies On Parade. Those in New York city will be able to see the entire collection on May 12th during a Full Preview held at 445 Park Avenue. For the rest of us, however, we can settle with checking it out online.