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The group of original 1960s Fantastic Four editions written by Stan Lee were built up from Volume 1 Issue #1 November 1961 by Birmingham man Brian Bowler – who even wrote to Marvel in the US to get rare comics when the flight carrying several editions crashed into the sea on its way to the UK.

They were offered in a special online auction run by Richard Winterton Auctioneers in Lichfield, which drew to a close on March 28, and top lot was Issue #1, dated November 8, 1961, which fetched £5000. Issue #2, published January 1, 1962, made £1150 (all plus 17.5% buyer’s premium).

Bowler died aged 66 in March 2017. His widow Joyce decided to part with the collection to help support her retirement.

The couple’s nephew, James Linden from Kingstanding, Birmingham, remembers his uncle showing him the collection when he was a young boy.

“He kept them in plastic sleeves and he would turn the pages,” he said.

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The Fantastic Four Issue #2 Marvel comic sold by Richard Winterton for £1150.

Kept safe

In later years, his uncle resorted to keeping the comics in the bank vault after his home was raided twice – but each time the burglars missed the collection.

“Once he came home from a holiday in Tenerife to find his home in Lozells [Birmingham] had been burgled,” said Linden. “Jewellery, electrical items, all were taken. But if the thieves had only looked under the bed they would have gotten away with a colossal amount of comics which were worth a fortune.

“They were burgled again six weeks later but fortunately the assailants again missed the collection. From then on, he kept the comics in a bank vault.”

Great creator

Lee, who died last November, was executive vice president and publisher of Marvel Comics. He co-created Spider-Man, the Hulk, Doctor Strange, the Fantastic Four, Iron Man, Daredevil, Thor, the X-Men, and many other characters.

In January, catalogued as the most valuable Silver Age comic book by far, a copy of Issue No 15 of Amazing Fantasy, the 1962 comic that saw the first appearance of Spider-Man, sold for £14,500 at Excalibur Auctions (20% buyer’s premium) of Amersham.