The Hero Initiative does a lot of great things for comic book creators who have fallen on hard times. In recent years, the organization has produced limited edition, blank-covered printings of popular comics, mostly of Marvel books. Hero sends these books to various artists who draw on the covers, and Hero then sells the books to benefit their cause. It's a big fundraiser for the organization and it's always fun to see the different artwork that is produced for the event.
This past year, Fantastic Four #600 got the Hero Initiative treatment, passing out copies to 100 artists, and recently, the books started to go up for auction. If ever I was going to get one of these special edition books, it'd have to be for the Fantastic Four. These books command a hefty price, but I fleeced my wallet and ended up a winner on one of the copies, and just a few days ago I got the package in the mail.
My copy has artwork by Ramon Bachs, who did some work for Detective Comics and Civil War: Frontline, but might be best known for the original Marvel Apes series. I'm obviously pretty happy that I got a copy with the Thing plastered on the front; I wasn't going to be too particular as long as I won a copy, but luckily I got this one and it didn't cost as much as, say, the Joe Sinnott cover (which sold for over $1400!)
There are some really nice looking covers that were made for this event: you can view all of them here: http://www.heroinitiative.org/newsdetail.asp?n=312, and there's a collection of all the covers for sale, too, here: http://www.grahamcrackers.com/products/fantasic_four100_project_hc.htm. If you're so inclined, there are still some covers up for auction in the Hero Initiative's eBay store, and new covers are being added every Tuesday until they all sell.
Included in the auction was the option to have the book sent to be graded and sealed in a case by the CGC. Since I didn't have to pay any more for it, I went ahead and had had it done.
This is the first book I've had graded, and to be honest, I'm not the biggest fan of the CGC in most cases. Unless you've got a copy of Action Comics #1 lying around, it seems a bit like overkill with all of the other preservation materials available at many comic shops. People are grading and selling sealed copies of Amazing Spider-Man #700 on eBay as we speak, and for what? In two years, this is a book that you'll find on sale for two bucks at every comic convention in the world. But I suppose that it's a part of the comic book industry and there are different lengths that collectors are inevitably willing to go to. And I'd be lying if I said I wasn't thinking about sending a copy of the Tick Free Comic Book Day issue to CGC when it comes out, and that's a new book with a price tag of zero, a hem.
This book got a 9.8 rating on a 10-point scale, which is about the equivalent of saying that the book is pretty much how God made it. I've never seen a book with a rating of higher than 9.8, and it's supposedly the "gold medal" of ratings as far as they're concerned. Peeking at the book through the clear plastic case, I can see that the top of the spine is a tiny bit frayed and one of the corners has a crease in it, which, since the book traveled from the printer to the Hero Initiative, to the artist, back to the Hero Initiative, to CGC and then to me is nothing unexpected, but it does make me think that just perhaps CGC saw that it was for a good cause, gave it a wink and a nod and then sent it on its way.
In any case, I'm happy to have the book, which is certainly one of the rarest Fantastic Four issues ever printer - if not the rarest, period. The Hero Initiative does great work and, as far as I'm concerned, this was a win for everyone involved.