King in Black sends comic book collectors in search of obscure Steve Ditko-drawn Marvel back issue

Mister E
image from Symbiote Spider-Man: King in Black #1 (Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Just when you thought it was safe to leave the quarter bins…

cover to 1980's Marvel Spotlight (vol. 2) #9 (Image credit: Marvel Comics)

The sudden and unexpected hot back issue of the day is Marvel Spotlight (vol. 2) #9. This obscure 1980 book was quarter-bin fodder two weeks ago, and if you were a stickler for condition, okay, maybe a top-grade copy might set you back $5. But last week’s Symbiote Spider-Man: King in Black #1 has sent comic shop employees bin-diving and set eBay a-flutter. Copies of Marvel Spotlight #9 are suddenly selling for $25-$50. Why?

Blame 'Mister E.' The character - who appears to be closely related to the Venom symbiote - makes a dramatic appearance in Symbiote Spider-Man: King in Black #1, part of Marvel's new, months-long symbiote-spanning event. But while he seems like a new character, it's not his first appearance. His first (and for four decades his last) appearance actually took place in Marvel Spotlight #9 in a Captain Universe story written by a couple of guys you might have heard of named Bill Mantlo and Steve Ditko.  

"I keep having dozens of website orders arrive from speculators for the exact same title within minutes of each other, as everyone is simultaneously trying to corner the market in select issues," said Chuck Rozanski of venerable Mile High Comics. "Marvel Spotlight #9 is the one that blew up a couple of days ago."

cover to Symbiote Spider-Man: King in Black #1 (Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Mile High has moved near mint copies of Marvel Spotlight #9 to $120-$150 in anticipation of seeing how demand eventually shakes out., another major online retailer, shows no copies of the issue in stock (but plenty of #1-#8 and #10-#11 at $2-$3, if you're interested).

And as always, not that all comics are graded, but Certified Guaranty Company (CGC), has graded a mere 15 copies of Marvel Spotlight #9 to date; eight of them at a grade of 9.8 (out of 10). One would expect many more will be hitting CGC's offices in the days and weeks to come.

Being a symbiote host in the Marvel Universe is becoming a prestigious gig. Check out our countdown of Marvel’s greatest Venom hosts.

—Similar articles of this ilk are archived on a crummy-looking blog. You can also follow @McLauchlin on Twitter