These days Hollywood is milking super-hero comic books for ideas, the result is that many of the most successful of recent blockbuster movies have been adaptations of old comic book stories. It’s hard to believe that there was a time when the comic book industry achieved some of their best sales by adapting existing Hollywood sci-fi and fantasy films and repacking them as comics.

That time was the 1970s, the so-called Bronze Age of comics, and Marvel showed how to do it with their adaptation of George Lucas’s Star Wars.

Star Wars was not only a gamble that paid off at the box-office, it was also a huge success for Marvel comics. Marvel arrived early for the Star Wars thrill-ride, releasing the first issue of the comic book adaptation of the film to newsstands even before the movie itself was playing in cinemas.

How successful were the Star Wars comics for Marvel? In 1977 Jim Shooter, then editor of Marvel, exclaimed: "Star Wars saved Marvel!" According to this article, Shooter’s statement was no exaggeration: “early issues of [Star Wars] were the first comics to exceed 1 million copies per issue in sales since 1960”.

I’ve already looked at the continuing interest in Marvel’s Logan’s Run comics, this time I’ll take a look at other valuable Bronze Age sci-fi/fantasy books from a speculation perspective. Which of these, if any, will increase in value?

Adventures on the Planet of the Apes #1 (October 1975) – First issue of ongoing Series

“Where man once stood supreme, now rule the apes!” The stellar success of the Charlton Heston led Franklin J. Schaffner directed film ‘Planet of the Apes’ in 1968 insured that an already established fan base existed for the talking simians. The Apes had already appeared in the 'Marvel Magazine' format with, Planet of the Apes #1 (August 1974) clearly announcing the magazine's direct reference to the movie and its sequels. With scripts by Tony Isabella, Gerry Conway and Doug Moench and art by Bob Larkin, Mike Ploog, and George Tuska, the magazine stories showed that Ape comics could be just as thrilling as Apes on the big screen. In October of 1975, Adventures on the Planet of the Apes appeared on the newsstands. This series, which offered color reprints of the original magazine stories, ended up running to eleven issues. The first issue of the series is still the most sought after. 9.8 graded copies fetch $350.00 and returns are relatively strong, up 12.9% over the last seven years. As more Ape movies and comics arrive year after year, this comic may also slowly increase in value.

2001: A Space Odyssey #8 (July 1977) – First Appearance of Machine Man

The ambitious Stanley Kubrick film was given the Marvel treatment around the same time as Star Wars number #1 came out. Since Kubrick’s film wasn’t easy to adapt, Jack Kirby took a lot of liberties in the comic book version. The eighth issue of the series featured the first appearance of an android called X-51, later dubbed 'Machine Man'. 9.8 graded copies of this comic can be found for an average of $325.00 and returns are up 3.5% over the last ten years. If a Machine Man appearance in a Marvel movie ever happens, you’ll be glad you have this comic.

Star Wars #1 (July 1977) – First Issue, First Appearance of Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader et al. in Comics

With 7,471 graded copies listed on the CGC census alone, in collector’s terms, no one can say this is exactly a scarce comic. It also went through several reprints (especially after the movie became a certified phenomenon and Marvel tried to capitalize on Star Wars’ success). The copy to get, for speculation purposes, is a first print edition - which was also released as a 35 cent price variant that tends to fetch even more money. Right now 9.6 and 9.8s are down considerably in terms of return on investment ( at minus 18.8% and minus 30.9% respectively). Mainly this may be due to how, as of late, the Star Wars brand seems to be losing steam, especially after mixed fan reaction to the last two franchise films. More realistically this slump in value is a reflection of just how hot the demand for first prints had gotten, shooting up from under $400.00 for a 9.8 graded copy in 2007 to over $1,000.00 for the same comic by 2015. Currently hovering in the $900.00 range, does anyone really believe that Star Wars won’t eventually make a comeback at some point? If you think it will, then now is the time to buy, since deals are possible. I would look out especially for high grade raw copies of this comic.