When reviewing the possible defects a comic book may have as shown below for the various grades, please keep in mind that while a single defect may not reduce a comic’s grade, that defect if repeated and/or combined with other accumulated defects, may push the grade down by one or more grades.
Near perfect in every way. Only the most subtle bindery or printing defects are allowed. Cover is flat with no surface wear. Cover inks are bright with high reflectivity and minimal fading. Corners are cut square and sharp. Staples are generally centered, clean with no rust. Cover is generally well centered and firmly secured to interior pages. Paper is supple and fresh. Spine is tight and flat.
Near Mint (NM)
Nearly perfect with only minor imperfections allowed. This grade should have no corner or impact creases, stress marks should be almost invisible, and bindery tears must be less than 1/16 inch. A couple of very tiny color flecks, or a combination of the above keeps the book from being perfect, where the overall eye appeal is less than Mint drops the book into this grade. Only the most subtle binding and/or printing defect allowed. Cover is flat with no surface wear. Cover inks are bright with high reflectivity and minimum of fading. Corners are cut square and sharp with ever to slight blunting permitted. Staples are generally centered, clean with no rust. Cover is well centered and firmly secured to interior pages. Paper is supple and like new. Spine is tight and flat.
Very Fine (VF)
An excellent copy with outstanding eye appeal. Sharp, bright and clean with supple pages. Cover is relatively flat with almost no surface wear. cover inks are generally bright with moderate to high reflectivity. Staples may show some discoloration. Spine may have a couple of almost insignificant transverse stress lines and is almost completely flat. Bindery tears should be less than 1/8 inch. A barely unnoticeable 1/4 inch crease is acceptable, if color is not broken. Pages and covers can be yellowish/tannish (at the least but not brown and will usually be off-white to white).
An above average copy that shows minor wear but is still relatively flat and clean with no significant creasing or other serious defects. Eye appeal is somewhat reduced because of slight surface wear and possibly a small defect such as a few slight cross stress marks on spine or a very slight spine split (1/4″). A Fine condition comic appears to have been read a few times and has been handled with moderate care. Compared to a VF, cover inks are beginning to show a significant reduction in reflectivity but it is still a highly collectible and desirable book. Pages and interior covers may be tan, but pages must still be fairly supple with no signs of brittleness.
Very Good (VG)
The average used comic book. A comic in this grade shows some wear, can have a reading or center crease, or a moderately rolled spine, but has not accumulated enough total defects to reduce eye appeal to the point that it is not a desirable copy. Some discoloration, fading, and even minor soiling is allowed. As much as a 1/4″ triangle can be missing out of the corner or edge. A missing square piece (1/8″ x 1/8″) is also acceptable. Store stamps, name stamps, arrival dates, initials, etc have no effect on this grade. Cover and interior pages can have some minor tears and folds and the centerfold may be detached at one staple. The cover my also be loose, but not completely detached. Common bindery and printing defects do not affect grade. Pages and inside covers may be brown but not brittle. Tape should never be used for comic repair however many VG comics may have minor tape repair.
A copy in this grade has all pages and covers although there may be small pieces missing inside; the largest piece allowed from front or back cover is a 1/2″ triangle or a square 1/4″ by 1/4″. Books in this grade are commonly creased, scuffed, abraded, soiled and may have as much as a 2″ spine split, but are still completely readable. Often paper quality is low but not brittle. Cover reflectivity is low and in some cases completely absent. This grade can have a moderate accumulation of defects but still maintains its basic structural integrity.
A copy in this grade is usually soiled, ragged, and possibly unattractive. Creases, tears, and/or folds are prevalent. Spine may be split up to 2/3s its entire length. Staples may be gone. Up to 1/10th of the front cover may be missing. These books are readable although soiling, staining, tears, markings, or chunks missing may moderately interfere with reading the complete story. Some collectors consider this is lowest collectible grade because comics in less condition are usually defaced and/or brittle. Very often paper quality is low and may have slight brittleness around the edges but not in the general portions of the pages. Comics in this grade may have a clipped coupon so long as it is noted along side of the nomenclature. Valued at 50-70% of good.
Most comics in this grade have been sufficiently degraded to the point that copies may have extremely severe stains, missing staples, brittleness, mildew or moderate to heave cover abrasion to the point that some of the cover inks are indistinct/absent. Comics in this grade can have small chunks missing and pieces out of pages. They may have been defaced. Covers may be split the entire lengths of the book but both halves must be present and basically still there.