In the comic book world collectors talk about “Keys” which are key issues that usually introduce the first appearance of a character or major event. Everything else is usually called “Filler” issues. Some have value but typically are not very collectible unless someone is trying to collect a whole series.
Of the Key Issues there are a few in each era that become “Holy Grail” issues. These are the issues that EVERYONE wants to have in their collection and will pay ridiculous prices to obtain.
From the Bronze Age comics (1970-1980s) there are two famous “Grails”… Incredible Hulk 181 (First appearance of Wolverine) and Amazing Spiderman 129… the first appearance of THE PUNISHER. Frank Castle, AKA “The Punisher” debuted in 1974 and was one of Marvel’s top characters in the 80s and 90s. Frank is tormented but driven to bring justice for the deaths of his wife and two children. Great art and an unforgettable SKULL outfit have made The Punisher not only a popular comic book character but also an icon. The Punisher skull has been produced on Shirts, Hats, Bumper Stickers, Posters and so much more.
Sadly to date, The Punisher has not seen real success on the big screen. 1989 starred Dolph Lundgren as Frank Castle and a 2004 rendition featured John Travolta as the mob-boss villian Howard Saint but both were poorly received (28% & 29% on Rotten Tomatoes!!). More recently the Netflix series has seen some success with the character but until The Punisher is officially introduced into the Marvel Cinema Universe (MCU), his legion of fans will be in waiting.
So back to his first appearance in Amazing Spiderman 129. The bright yellow cover is simply iconic with ‘Ol Spidey caught in The Punisher’s crosshairs. It’s never been a cheap book since his highest popularity was in the 80s & 90s, but if you were smart enough to stash a copy away you now have some real money sitting there. Low end condition copies sell for $300-400 and max out with perfect copies going for $10K+. Most books that were properly stored though would fall into the mid-range condition and be in the $600-1000 value.
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