The Savage Keys

Blaise Tassone May 17, 2018
The Flash #137

In this post I want to take a closer look at some ‘off the radar’ keys that have important crossover appeal and are all linked to a major DC villain. This is a character of whom wide use has been made in animated series and features, but whose key appearances are not as fervidly sought after by collectors -perhaps due to underwhelming use made of the character in recent live action appearances. I speak, of course, of the Vandal Savage. The immortal tyrant’s early appearances seem to bypass the attention of many collectors. My curiosity about Savage’s print history was recently fanned after catching his latest incarnation in the animated feature Suicide Squad: Hell to Pay. This is Vandal Savage done right! I was duly impressed by Vandal Savage’s menacing presence which led me to search out his first comic book appearances. Let’s face it, as DC villains go Savage is right up there with Brainiac, Lex Luthor and Professor Zoom. He’s certainly a more fearful adversary than the Penguin or the Riddler. We all know Brainiac’s iconic first appearance (in Action Comics #242, cover dated July, 1958) and the Silver Age Penguin’s debut in Batman #155 (cover date May 1963) draw the constant attention of collectors. But what about the first appearances of Vandal Savage?

Given his stature in the wider DC Universe, it’s not too far fetched to think he’ll one day take center stage in a feature film (because, let’s face it, his CW television appearances on ‘Flash’ and ‘Legends of Tomorrow’ left something to be desired). Rumors of a Darkseid appearance last year, led to full-fledged ‘Darkseid fever’ and if the same thing happens with Vandal Savage his early comic appearances may likewise shoot up in value.

First Appearance of Vandal Savage, Green Lantern #10 (December 1943)

The immortal tyrant’s very first appearance occurs in the Golden Age Green Lantern run.  First appearing in Green Lantern Quarterly #10 (cover date December, 1943), Vandal Savage is introduced as a highly charismatic and strong willed gangster who is stopped by Golden Age Green Lantern Alan Scott and his sidekick Doiby Dickles. Savage’s intentions to become a political tyrant are revealed before his plans to infiltrate the US government are foiled by Green Lantern. GL #10 is a hard to find comic and very costly in higher grades. Currently prices are dropping in mid-grade copies and in lower grades this comic can be found for well under 1000 dollars. A mid-grade 6.0 can be purchased for around 500 dollars and would be a valued addition to any collection.

First Silver Age Appearance of Vandal Savage: The Flash #137 (June 1963)

Due to the difficulty of finding high grade, affordable, copies of GL #10, Vandal Savage’s first appearance in the Silver Age may be the better deal. At the moment this seems like an overlooked key and it can be found in affordable prices even in higher grade. I’m talking about The Flash #137 (June 1963 cover date). For many reasons this comic is currently underrated, especially taking into account its crossover content and historical significance. For example, this issue marks not only the first Silver Age appearance of Vandal Savage, but the first time ‘Earth 2’ is mentioned by name in the DC Comics universe. What’s more, it contains the first Silver Age appearance and revival of the ‘Justice Society of America’. In the story Vandals’ history is retold with some changes as well as some added information. Here we are told that his actual name was Vandar Adg and he is now made out to be only 50,000 not over a million years old. The Flash #137, in the very collectible grade of 9.0, can still be obtained for under 800 dollars. In his Silver Age reintroduction into the Flash universe, Vandal Savage was arguably an even more significant foe than Zoom and with just as much crossover appeal. For all these reasons, Vandal Savage’s Silver Age debut is, in my opinion, currently an undervalued and overlooked key.

Second Silver Age Appearance of Vandal Savage: The Flash #215 (May 1972)

Finally, a complete sleeper key: The Flash #215, a comic that may heat up if (or when) interest in Savage peaks. In any case this one is so affordable there’s no harm in picking it up. From what I can gather, this issue contains Vandal Savage’s second Silver Age appearance. This comic also features another Earth 2 crossover tale including, once again, a team up of the Earth 1 Flash - Barry Allen - with Earth 2’s Scarlet Speedster - Jay Garrick. In this issue the duo once again foil Savage’s plans when he attempts to redirect the original meteor that gave him his powers back to earth. Currently, this Bronze Age comic can easily be found in CGC 9.6 (highest reported grade) for under 200 dollars; it can be snatched up raw for under $30.00.

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