thrift store finds: children of the atom

(Thrift Store Finds is a mostly-weekly “column” of sorts where I discuss some of the cool books I’ve happened upon in my neighborhood’s St. Vincent DePaul store. Please don’t mistake me for an expert on any of the things I am writing about… I’m just a fan of a bargain.

Additional Warning: the Nerd Quotient on this week’s Thrift Store Finds is quite a bit higher than usual. You have been warned!)

Buying actual comic books at a thrift store is kind of a crapshoot… the emphasis on “crap”. In the past twenty years, most non-geeks have become clued into the fact that comics can be worth money on the secondary market. Every once and awhile you’ll see a story on The Today Show where a rich insane person payed a cool $1 million dollars for the first appearance of Superman, and that kind of thing sticks in the mind of a normal person. The upshot of this fact is that MANY people think that because Action Comics #1 is worth a fortune, that ALL comic books are worth a fortune. I mention this because over the past few years, I’ve pawed though my fair share of Babylon 5 comic books from the mid 1990’s marked up to $15 dollars apiece, despite most comic book retailers not being able to give Babylon 5 comics.

Secondly, most comics that make their way to a thrift store are, in my experience, pretty uninteresting to me as a comics reader. I’m more interested in newspaper comic strips than anything else, and although I have some plain ol’ comics that I’m reading right now, I’m not actively looking to expand my collection.

Finally, thrift store comics are usually in horrible condition. Even if I did manage to find a comic I was both interested in AND was worth something on the secondary market, the chances are that by the time I found it, it would look like something the cat dragged in.

At any rate, luck was on my side this past week as I walked into our St. Vincent De Paul store and found a sizable stack of comics on the front counter with a sign on them that said they were $1 dollar each. Condition wise, most of them looked like they had just come off the rack, rather than festering in a thrift store back room. Having sufficiently caught my eye with price and presentation, I started browsing and found some real gems.

What you see here are an assemblage of early issues of the “new” Uncanny X-Men, written by Chris Claremont and drawn by John Byrne. While the X-Men comic book had already run for a couple of years, these are the issues that defined what it is most people think of when they hear the name The X-Men. The issues I found include #129 through #131, #134, #135, and issues #137 through #140.

Although there are significant gaps, one of the big X-Men stories, The Dark Phoenix Saga, is represented pretty well in these comics. For you normals, The Dark Phoenix Saga is a storyline from the comic books that was strip-mined for the big X-Men movies that came out a few years ago. This story was pretty darn revolutionary at the time it was published and I say that as not even that much of an X-Men fan. You’ve also got some “first appearances” in these comics, including the titular Dark Phoenix herself along with X-Men baddie The White Queen and the young X-Man (or X-Woman, I guess) Kitty Pryde. Oh, and also the disco queen superhero The Dazzler. All of these characters went on to play big roles in the X-Men comics throughout the 1980’s up through today. I was surprised to find these sitting in a secondhand shop.

Counter to another thrift store/comic convention, these books are in pretty great condition. X-Men #131 has a creased corner; ditto #135… but for the most part, like I said, they look terrific. I paid a buck apiece for these, $9 dollars total. Conservatively, if I were to hock ’em on eBay, I could probably get anywhere between $50 and $75 dollars for the lot. I believe the market has somewhat fallen out of collecting individual issues these days, as comic companies get more clued in to the ins and outs of traditional publishing… but there’s always someone out there who wants to own the original printing, no matter what the cost or condition. These were good finds.

…but wait, that’s not all! I also found a comic book I have, no joke, been looking for for YEARS. That would be The Avengers Annual #10, pictured dead center. Along with some spectacular Michael Golden artwork, this comic features the first appearance of Rogue! I know, you’re saying to yourself, “Who the heck is Rogue again?” Rogue is the X-Man (or X-Woman, again) who can rob you of your superpowers simply by touching you. Not ringing a bell? Rogue is the character played by Anna Paquin in the X-Men movies. You with me? Great.

No lie, I have been looking for a copy of this book since 1992, when I was first getting into comics. I read in a magazine somewhere that this was a big “under the radar” comic that was going to be worth a lot of money someday because of that big First Appearance. Although I’ve never been much of a collector, I really wanted to own a copy. It’s worth like $30 bucks now.

Truth be told, I don’t care very much about the X-Men. I’ve always been more of a DC Comics fan… but all in all, this was a good day at the thrift store.

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One Response to “thrift store finds: children of the atom”

  1. […] eyes. I’m on record as not being much a fan of either Star Trek (in any incarnation) or The X-Men. They are two corners of geekdom with which I am altogether unfamiliar and in which I am […]

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