Confession: I finally got around to watching the Justice League film recently and… absolutely loved it. I think I liked it way more than most people because I’m a comics history nerd, and like all of Zack Snyder‘s DC Comics films, Justice League is filled to the brim with comics history easter eggs. I haven’t seen much talk of this out there, so BC EiC Kaitlyn Booth has suggested it’d make a good post. Might have to be a series of posts, because there really are a lot of them. Say what you will about Snyder, but it’s clear that he’s read, studied, and absorbed quite a lot of the most important material from DC’s 80+ year history.
I’m fairly indifferent to the tone argument about his films, particularly so with Justice League. This is a franchise whose beginnings were deeply influenced by important pulp science fiction figures such as HP Lovecraft and Ray Cummings. Their first villain crossed the weirdness of a Lovecraft Cthulhu monster with the ambitions of Cummings’ Tarrano the Conqueror, which debuted in Hugo Gernsback‘s Science & Invention in 1925. Justice League editor Julius Schwartz and writer Gardner Fox were foundational pulp science fiction fans (and later pros), and sinister cosmic menaces and the other-worldly dimensions they came from made their way into their comics work frequently. Fox is also credited with creating the Multiverse concept in comics at DC in Flash #123 from 1961.
There’s an interesting side-note to Fox’s creation of the Multiverse: Ray Cummings, who was highly influential on Fox’s work, himself adapted his seminal Girl in the Golden Atom story for Marvel/Timely in a two-part story called Princess of the Atom in Captain America #25 & 26. One can make a pretty convincing argument that Princess of the Atom is Marvel’s first Microverse story, which makes it the key to the Quantum Realm concepts that are so important to the MCU today. Cummings, who had worked for Thomas Edison as a technical writer, was one of the most influential science fiction authors of the pulp era. Notably, Cummings also wrote a story about parallel worlds called Phantoms of Reality for Astounding Stories of Super-Science Volume 1 #1, cover-dated January 1930. A tale of similar-yet-different Earths separated by different “vibratory frequencies”, it’s the clear inspiration for Fox’s story in Flash #123. It’s easy to make the case that Cummings is the grandfather of both the Marvel and DC Multiverses.
But let’s get back to this Justice League vs The Avengers issue. The Avengers franchise includes four out of the top 10 highest grossing films of all time, while Justice League was so widely panned that I didn’t even remember to watch it when it hit home video, until recently. So what’s the deal? Well, the most recent sale of the top-census copy of Justice League of America #1 CGC 9.6 is $215,100 from May 2018, and the most recent sale of the top-census copy of Avengers #1 CGC 9.6 is $194,000 from June 2018.
The reason, of course, is rarity. High grade early silver age DC Comics are significantly more rare than Marvels from the same era, as a general rule. Or maybe there’s more Gardner Fox fans out there than people think.
High grade Justice League of America #1 is just not something that comes up for sale every day — or even every decade. Here’s Comic Connect’s Vincent Zurzolo to tell us many more details about the copy up for auction at Comic Connect this week and its place in comics history: