One area of focus in comic collecting that has been overlooked since other forms of media began to have such a great influence on the hobby is that of hunting down key comics by top creators. Never fear. We’re here to help you sort through the top books by individual creators, both in terms of investing and reading. This time we’re looking at the works of Keith Giffen.

A Legion of Greatness

Sadly, we lost another great comic book creator when Keith Giffen passed away last fall. Fondly remembered for his work on DC’s many Legion of Super-Heroes titles – first as an artist, then as a writer - as well as his work on Justice League, Giffen was also the co-creator of Rocket Raccoon, Lobo, and Blue Beetle Jaime Reyes. He specialized in cosmic stories for both DC and Marvel and injected a good dose of humor into Justice League and his own creation, Ambush Bug.

First Issue

Like many aspiring comic artists in the mid-1970s, Keith Giffen got his start in Marvel’s black and white magazines. His first published work was in the pages of The Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu #17. It was only a one-page illustration of the Sons of the Tiger, but it was a start. Known more for its Neal Adams cover and early interior art by George Perez, there are 52 graded copies in the CGC census. The most recent sale of a higher grade copy was a 9.0 going for $143 in a September 9 eBay auction. The highest sale was the lone 9.8 selling for $777 in a 2016 Heritage auction that has since never sold.

Rocket Raccoon

Of Giffen’s early work, easily the one most prized by collectors is Marvel Preview #7. Featuring a character then known by the name of Rocky Raccoon, and a creation of Giffen and writer Bill Mantlo, he would go on to Hollywood stardom as Rocket Raccoon. A 9.2 graded copy sold in a May 10 eBay auction for $660. It’s up a bit from a previous sale in a March 29 eBay auction for $565, but down 47% from its peak price in this grade of $1,252 set in an August 2014 eBay auction. In the 9.8 grade, the record price paid occurred on April 7 when it sold in a Heritage auction for $15,600. It was only the third sale of one of the six 9.8 graded copies and nearly triple the price paid in a March 2023 ComicConnect auction - $5,990. It is not common during these times to see a book go up in value this much, but this is a rare magazine in the 9.8 grade.


Giffen did not have a long initial tenure at Marvel, leaving the company in 1978. His best work, and the one where you can most readily see the artist he would become, was his year’s worth of issues of The Defenders. One of the better storylines on the series involved Scorpio and led up to the 50th issue. Giffen was the artist, lending power to the many characters appearing in multiple fight scenes. These issues also mark very early appearances of Moon Knight. That first issue guest-starring Moon Knight – The Defenders #47 – has the highest volume of graded copies in the CGC census and the highest value. The 90-day average for a 9.8 currently sits at $268. However, below that grade you shouldn’t have to pay more than $50.

Legion of Super-Heroes

When you mention the name Keith Giffen, the first comic most fans think of is Legion of Super-Heroes. His on-again/off-again stints across multiple series began with Legion of Super-Heroes #285. Together with writer Paul Levitz, Giffen would be responsible for what is easily the most memorable Legion story: The Great Darkness Saga. Running from Legion of Super-Heroes #290 to Legion of Super-Heroes #294 – and including Legion of Super-Heroes Annual #1 – the story arc would catapult the series to the upper echelons of DC Comics in terms of sales, trailing only The New Teen Titans, and turn Giffen into a comic book superstar, a term he would find oxymoronic.

From a collecting standpoint, the best thing about Giffen’s Legion issues is that they’re fairly inexpensive. Most raw issues can be found in the cheap bins at comic shops with single issues rarely going for more than $3. On the graded side, the culmination of The Great Darkness Saga in Legion of Super-Heroes #294 is the book most often sent in for grading, as seen by the CGC census of 120 graded copies. While that’s a relative paucity compared to other books of the era, it’s a big number for a Legion issue. The one-year average for a 9.8 of Legion of Super-Heroes #294 is just $99. While you likely won’t win bragging points among your friends if you pick up a 9.8, it is a cool Darkseid cover that wouldn’t look out of place on a wall filled with key 1980s comics.

The Main Man

In the midst of his initial run on Legion of Super-Heroes and just as he was starting to come into his own as an artist, Giffen teamed with writer Marv Wolfman on the new Omega Men series. Together they created DC’s greatest anti-hero – Lobo. The Main Man made his first appearance in Omega Men #3. Giffen would be closely associated with the character for decades after. There are a whopping 10,080 graded copies in the CGC census, a third of which are in the 9.8 grade. The current 30-day average is $297, down considerably from its peak of $563 set in a January 2023 eBay sale. Rumors abound regarding Lobo’s inclusion in the DCU. Should those rumors ever be confirmed expect a big bounce for this issue.

Ambush Bug

Giffen was ever a critic of the comic industry and nowhere was this seen more than in his satirical creation, Ambush Bug. He often used the character to skewer DC continuity and issues he had with corporate comics. While popular at the time, due to a lack of publication during the past couple decades Ambush Bug’s popularity has waned. He made his first appearance in DC Comics Presents #52. With fewer than 100 graded copies, it’s not the easiest find. However, the prices are low. The one-year average for a 9.8 stands at $171, while the most recent sale was a 9.2 going for just $40 in an April 20 eBay sale. This strikes me as the type of comic you’d be better off hunting for in the wild, see how many high grade copies you can get cheap, and then hold for grading until something comes of the character.

Justice League

For good or ill, Giffen’s name will forever be associated with the post-Crisis Justice League series. While some loved the fresh take on the characters – and the new heroes included on the team – others cringed at the buffoonish antics of folks like Guy Gardner, Blue Beetle, and Booster Gold. Co-written with J.M. DeMatteis and with art by Kevin Maguire, Justice League #1 took the comic world by storm in 1987. Nowadays, however, it’s something of a forgotten relic from a bygone era. While there are an appreciable 1,172 graded copies – with more than 40% in the 9.8 grade – prices have remained relatively low. The 30-day average stands at $107, down from the one-year average of $132. This is the type of book that waxes and wanes on a regular basis with highs in the $200 range and lows in the $70 range. If it gets down close to that $70 price, it could be worth considering picking up a copy, particularly if the Ted Kord Blue Beetle makes an appearance in the Booster Gold TV series.

Later Career

Giffen continued to be involved with Legion of Super-Heroes into the 1990s, writing and drawing the first few issues of the fourth series. However, much of his work from this point on was more as a writer and less as an artist. He returned to working for Marvel, focusing primarily on some of their cosmic or off-Earth characters, culminating in the first Annihilation mini-series. The series brought Nova back to prominence and featured all of the humanoid characters that would eventually make the Guardians of the Galaxy film a surprising success – Star-Lord, Gamora, and Drax. Despite its importance – and it’s a good series that’s definitely worth a read – Annihilation #1 isn’t much sought after by collectors. With only 38 graded copies, you’re best off searching for raw copies in shops or shows.

Giffen was also the co-creator of the Jaime Reyes version of Blue Beetle. First appearing as Blue Beetle in Infinite Crisis #5, the character would go on to have a feature film and will be included in the new upcoming DCU productions. There are 1,949 graded copies of Infinite Crisis #5 in the CGC census. While this book skyrocketed during the recent boom, reaching as high as $294 in July 2021, the 90-day average currently sits at a much lower $81. If the DCU is successful and impacts the back issue comic market, this book could again make some serious gains. For now, however, the low prices make for a decent buying opportunity.


In addition to the offbeat creations Rocket Raccoon, Lobo, and Ambush Bug, Giffen will forever be remembered as a cornerstone of the Legion of Super-Heroes and one of the key creators that kept these futuristic characters going through the 1980s and 1990s. His work on Justice League challenged the grim and gritty approach to super-hero storytelling that was just coming into vogue in the 1980s, offering up biting satire and characters who joked as much as they fought the bad guys. Both as an artist and writer, Giffen has left a lasting legacy in the comic book world.

Do you collect Keith Giffen’s works? What are some of your favorites? Let us know below.