Weekend Update with Nico
The following article has been written by Comic Book Speculation Dot Com writer, Nico. Read more articles from Nico here.
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– This is your Weekend Update!
Swamp Thing DC Streaming series suffers a premature departure
In a shocking turn of events, it appears that fans of Swamp Thing may be in for a rude disappointment. The Wilmington Star News reports that production on the series prematurely shut down during production of the 10th episode (the series had been scheduled to run for 13 episodes). Apparently, production will resume once they find a way to rewrite episode 10 to allow it to function as a finale. A-list actress Virginia Madsen, who plays Maria Sunderland on the series, wrote on her Instagram, “I’m beyond sad. What a terrible decision. We have been cut to the core by those who have never set foot into the Swamp. And despite the rule I am going to use the hashtag. #swampthing.” The post was promptly deleted, but it appears to confirm fans worst fears about the fate of the show, namely that the season finale may be a series finale. It will be interesting to see if this effects the price tag on heavy weight books like Swamp Thing #1 and House of Secrets #92. Both books have seen enormous gains over the last 12 months. Will we see price tags on these books wilt following this news?
Hellboy box office bust
The R rated reboot of the Hellboy franchise was a dud at the box office with an opening weekend that barely scraped the $22 million mark. According to Variety, the box office breakdown is as follows: $10 million internationally and $12 million in North America. This is 25% less than the $16 million dollar expectations. Most indicate that an initial Rotten Tomato critic score of 9/100 was at least partially to blame for low box office numbers. How will audiences react when they finally see the film? Will Hellboy fans pay attention to the gripes and complaints of the popular press or champion their beloved hero?
Milla Jovovich’s responded on her Instagram page to critics with this fiery post: “THAT’S SHOWBIZ BABY.?? All I’m gonna say before going to bed is this: All my raddest films have been slammed by critics. It’s fucking hilarious. Dazed and Confused? Seriously? Classic movie. The Fifth Element! You would have thought that was the worst movie ever made if you read the reviews in like ‘98??. Zoolander? Slammed. Joan of Arc? Disaster. Resident Evil? Let’s not even go there. Anyway, every one of those films is now a cult classic. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. And this will be too. Mark my words.”
Amazon’s answer to Hollywood
Fans were treated to an uncensored look at all the violent and graphic goodness of the forthcoming Amazon television series The Boys ahead of its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 29th. It is unclear whether comic book fandom is as tired of super-heroes as our characters in The Boys, but it is certain that this series was manufactured to speak to that audience. The Garth Ennis cult classic has always had a strong fan following, but some fear that the series will not translate properly to the small screen and anticipate the series to struggle in the same way that Preacher did on AMC. CGC 9.8 copies of The Boys #1 had been trading online around $150.00 but the least expensive copies you can find today are in the range of $225.00. You may want to keep an eye out for other key issues in this run, such as issue #44 which is a controversial issue as a result of its depiction of a character resembling Jesus Christ being crucified, issue #50 which is a swipe of the first issue and issue #72 which is the final issue of the original series. All of these books are reasonably inexpensive and other than the first issue of the series, they can all be readily found in many dealer’s and retailer’s dollar bins.
Also remember that Amazon is planning an East of West series that is reportedly enormous in its scale and scope. When the licensing deal was done this time last year, news sources suggested that this was Amazon’s answer to Game of Thrones. Very few people are paying attention to any of these books today other than the handful of speculators who are stockpiling copies of the C2E2 Diamond Retailer Roundtable variant which continues to move regularly on eBay in the range of $300.00 raw for NM copies. Keep an eye out for these books. Amazon streaming has not made a real impact in the comic speculator world, but Amazon Prime accounts number more than 100 million and Amazon is in 2nd place in the streaming war right behind Netflix. No one is suggesting that you run our and pay $300.00 for a copy of the C2E2 East of West variant, but be aware of this book and keep both of these Amazon titles on your radar.
Wallstreet Journal Reports: “James Murdoch Is Investing His Fortune. One Bet: Comic Books.”
James Murdoch is set to invest about $1billion dollars from the proceeds of the sale of his stake in 21st Century Fox in various media companies. The first company is Artists, Writers, & Artisans (“AWA”) where Murdoch hopes to build a universe of characters that can be licensed for motion pictures, video games and other merchandise. Less than 30 days ago it was announced that AWA, led by Bill Jemas, Axel Alonso, Jon Miller and their pals (e.g., J. Michael Straczynski) raised $5 million to fund a creator owned comic book line. Apparently, the publisher has a “creative council” which includes the screenwriter and director Reginald Hudlin, the novelists Margaret Stohl and Gregg Hurwitz, the comic book writer Garth Ennisand, and the aforementioned J. Michael Straczynski, who is both a screenwriter and co-creator of Netflix’s Sense8. Not sure if this is going anywhere in the long term, but it appears that AWA is definitely something to keep an eye on in the short term. There are currently no books or exclusive offers on the company’s website, but for those who are interested, this is the link.
Y the Rush to Judgement?
Bright and early Monday morning, comic collectors and speculators were stunned when Bleeding Cool reported that Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra’s post-apocalyptic science fiction comic book series Y: The Last Man was scraped by FX. This was particularly shocking in light of reports earlier this year regarding casting and news that the pilot was actually being filmed. The first issue of Y the Last Man is a monster and routinely trades hands for big numbers on the open market. For example, a CGC 9.8 copy of the first issue sold as recently as April 11, 2019 for $1150.00. In response to the Bleeding Cool article, Pia Guerra tweeted “Rich Johnson [Bleeding Cool] is full of shit.”
By Tuesday, multiple news sites were reporting that show runners Aida Mashaka Croal & Michael Green left the project as a result of irreconcilable differences with the network but explicitly indicated that the show would continue with the same cast. In response to this news, a collective sigh of relief was heard all around as speculators holding onto these books were overcome with joy, at the same time those who have yet to secure key copies of this book were disappointed that the market didn’t provide opportunities to capitalize on the fake news.
If you are interested in speculating on this book, the opportunity to purchase the first issue at a bargain price may have long since passed you by. Nevertheless, there will be some sellers who are confused about the fate of this series or who have lost faith that the project will ever get off the ground. Expect for there to be at least some opportunity because certain dealers will attempt to unload copies of this book. It is fairly certain that all of this drama will drive prices down on copies of issue #1 at least in the short term.
If you are looking to speculate on this book, but not willing to pay the high price of admission for the first issue at this late date, I can’t say that I necessarily disagree with your analysis. However, there are other potential opportunities for investment/speculation. It appears that the only issue that really trades at an inflated price tag is the first issue and depending on if the show gets made and how the show is received there may be an opportunity with other books in the series. The last issue of this series is very inexpensive and there are a ton of collectors who will want that issue if this book is made into a TV show. Similarly, there are a ton of gorgeous covers that were painted by Pia Guerra and there is definitely an opportunity to capitalize on these books in the increasingly cover conscious collector community.
Naomi Fever is Infectious
The second big “fake news” item of the week was the rabid rise and fall of Action Comics #1002. Following some tongue and cheek online speculation, it appeared that many including online mega-retailer, Midtown Comics, were championing this book as a cameo of Brian Michael Bendis new character Naomi. Midtown was selling the book for $25.00 as were many other online sellers. As $30.00 sales began to rack up, Bleedingcool ran a story about the hype around Naomi with a photo of the book as the only photo accompanying the article. Shortly thereafter, Bendis intervened via Twitter. The sense of shock and mild disappointment was clear from his tweet as he declared that Action Comics #1002 is not the 1st appearance of Naomi. The embarrassment from this gaffe has only been exacerbated by memes and comments in online comic book circles poking fun by declaring every man, woman and child appearing in the background of a comic as “the first cameo appearance of Naomi.”
Nevertheless, the heat on this new character has not cooled down. Naomi is so hot right now it was difficult to even buy a CGC 9.8 copy online earlier this week. NM raw copies of the main cover now routinely trade in the $50.000 to $80.00 range. This is particularly shocking to some collectors who note that NM raw copies of Ultimate Fallout #4 (the 1st appearance of Miles Morales, also a creation of Brian Michael Bendis) also trades hands in the $50.00 to $80.00 range. Certainly Naomi #1 is more rare than Ultimate Fallout #4, but following a major motion picture that is slated for a sequel, can anyone really suggest that the book is more scarce?
This is an opportune time to discuss the difference between rarity and scarcity. Rarity is determined by how few there are of something. Scarcity depends on supply v. demand. Certain incurable diseases like Ebola are rare but not scarce. No one wants an incurable disease. Diamonds on the other hand are not that rare (there are literally diamond mines), but everyone wants diamonds Diamonds “are a girl’s best friend”, they are in high demand and therefore they are scarce. The science of comic speculating therefore demands that we have a general idea about the rarity of an item, that we be able to predict current and future demand for that item and the corresponding price people will pay because of the scarcity of the item. Few if any players in the market can be described as “rational investors” and it is an art to be able to predict the emotional decision making of the all too often irrational players in the comic book speculation game.
This analysis of rarity and scarcity applies to the disparity in price for the A and B covers of Naomi #1. Like Teen Titans #12 before it, Naomi #1 cover A is the clear winner of the two cover choices. Unlike Teen Titans ##12 cover B, the Naomi #1 B cover depicts Naomi on it. It appears that the market prefers the cover art to such a degree that the more rare B cover is selling for less than ½ what it’s counterpart is selling for online. It is unclear whether this trend will continue, but as it has been pointed out in the past, there are a number of other books which have experienced similar disparities. The two most notable examples are the 1:10 ratio variants for Rick and Morty #1 and Thanos #13 which routinely sell for less than half what the A covers sell for online.
While the fate of Naomi #1 is unknown, it is safe to assume that we will see an enormous influx of CGC graded copies on the census. I will be surprised if there aren’t at least 1,000 copies of this book on the CGC census by June.
You’ll need quicker fingers to secure these Pre-Code Horror Monsters
It was another mammoth week for pre-code horror (“PCH”) comics. These books are getting hotter by the week and it is increasingly difficult to keep up with the pace they are moving online. Here are a couple quick examples. A CGC 2.0 copy of Horrific #3 sold in less than 12 hours for a best offer of $2000.00. Similarly, a CGC 2.5 copy of Chamber of Chills #19 literally sold about 5 minutes after it was listed at a BIN of $2,600.00. There are certain books in the pre-code horror genre that may only come up for sale a few times a year and buyers have learned to pick up these books by any means necessary when they do come up for sale.
Many collectors are asking themselves what’s next? As more and more of these books are being retired to permanent (or at least semi-permanent) homes in personal collections, what is the next PCH? Some collectors are taking the time to invest money in high grade silver and bronze age DC horror books, while others are looking to horror magazines such as Eerie, Creepy and Famous Monsters of Filmland. There doesn’t appear to be any real definitive answer about the direction of the Zeitgeist, but for the time being there may not be any category of comics that is hotter than PCH comics.
A number of media outlets have suggested that Disney is committed to the idea of casting a member of the LGBTQ community as a leading character in the Eternals film. Most recently, thehashtagshow.com is reporting “exclusively” that Conrad Ricamora (How to Get Away with Murder) is being considered for the role of “James” who is “intellectual, emotional, and has a strong sense of family.” It is well known that Sersi was living as a human without memory of her identity and life as an Eternal. Perhaps the MCU will expand this narrative devise to other characters? Perhaps thehashtagshow has no idea what it is talking about? According to The Wrap, the Eternals is adding South Korean mega-star actor Ma Dong-seok who is best known as Don Lee, and familiar to UK audiences from zombie thriller Train To Busan. Again, there has been no definitive confirmation regarding any of the alleged casting insofar as Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios refuse to discuss anything beyond Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
As previously discussed, we’ve seen a lot of heat on Eternals related spec following the news stories about the alleged negotiations with Angelina Jolie. Jolie is rumored to be in negotiations to star as Sersi and copies of Eternals #3 have been moving at a record pace for record high numbers. In the last few weeks, we’ve also see copies of Strange Tales #109 start to move for big numbers on eBay, including a CGC 7.0 copy sell for $623.03 on April 15th. This book is being marketed by sellers as the true first appearance of Sersi in Marvel Comics.
We may see other Eternals characters get their pre-Eternals appearances and/or prior Jack Kirby treatment solicited, marketed and sold as “true first appearances” so be aware that these kind of books are potentially out there. One example of this is the character Makkari (rumored to be played by Kumail Nanjiani ). Makkari was retconed as the God Mercury who first appeared as one of Kirby’s creations way back in 1940 in Red Raven Comics #1. Note that this book is considered the first Timely comic and is incredibly valuable.
Here comes the Marvel Family
Parade was the first news outlet to report that the actress who portrayed Mary Marvel in the Shazam film was signed to a five picture deal. While it is too early to say if Warner Bros. will pick up Michelle Borth (who is best known for playing Catherine Rollins on Hawaii Five-0) for all five films there is little doubt she will be revisit her role as Mary Marvel in at least one sequel. Borth portrayed the adult/Shazam version of Mary Marvel (a/k/a Mary Bromfield) in the new Shazam film and expectations are high for future Shazam related projects. The first appearance of Mary Marvel is Captain Marvel Adventures #18 which last sold on eBay in a live auction about a month ago when a CGC 4.0 copy moved for $3,695.00. There’s no comparable copy listed on eBay at this time, and like many Golden age keys there are few options for those looking to secure a copy for their PC.
The modern incarnation of the Marvel Family, a/k/a the Shazam Family, first appears in Justice League Vol 2 #21. There’s a sweet combo pack variant, a 1:25 variant and a 1:100 sketch variant of this book. I don’t imagine that many collectors are even aware of this book for a number of reasons, but it is absolutely one to keep an eye out for. If you are observant, you should be able to find the regular cover in dollar bins and potentially secure a copy of the 1:100 variant before it explodes on the secondary market. The interior panels of this book depicts the Shazam Family in an identical manner to way these characters are depicted in the film. Justice League Vol. 2 #8 is the first appearance of the non-powered characters and it has a 1:25 variant.
Most of the other key Shazam Family books are Golden Age books: (a) Whiz Comics #21, September 1941 the first appearance of the Lieutenant Marvels; (b) Whiz Comics #25, December 1941 first appearance of Captain Marvel Jr. and (c) Captain Marvel Adventures #18, December 1942 the first appearance of Mary Marvel.
Suicide Squad casting rumors continue
Rumors and speculation are never ending regarding the forthcoming Suicide Squad film. While some suggest that the reboot film will look more like John Ostrander’s acclaimed run on the title back in the 1980’s others suggest that James Gunn is engineering his own cast of characters and that the film will be Gunn’s creation composed of a smorgasbord of source material influences. One thing is for certain Gunn will generate a team unlike any prior iteration of the Suicide Squad. There’s been some interesting casting rumors recently. Variety’s Justin Kroll is reporting that John Cena is up for the role of Peacemaker, according to Kroll and others this part was originally offered to Dave Bautista. As mentioned in prior Weekend Updates the first appearance of the Peacemaker is Fightin’ Five #40 a Charlton comic. Charlton comics are notorious for their low grade paper quality and this book is going to be difficult to find in any grade let alone high grade. Also be aware that there are two versions of Peacemaker #1 Vol. 1. The first prints are also Charlton comics and were published in 1968 and they can easily be distinguished from there 1978 Modern comics edition which has blue in the upper left hand corner of the book as opposed to the orange Charlton logo which appears on the first prints. Even many online sellers are not familiar enough with this book to understand this difference so be careful not to be mislead intentionally or unintentionally if you are buying copies.
I hope you enjoyed this segment of Weekend Update. I’ll be back next week with more news and original content. In the interim, “Happy hunting! You bunch of savages!!”
– Nico, Esq.
Great piece Nico. Long time reader. Your work is wonderfully written, and extremely informative. No pretense, or snark which makes for a refreshing read. Thanks for your effort and great perspective.