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!
Avengers: Endgame annihilated all previous records with a $1.2 billion global box office draw. This is an astonishing feat and is almost double the previous mark set a year ago by Avengers: Infinity War. It is fair to say that we are living in a time where comic books rule popular culture. Most are already aware that books like Thor #390, Hulk #377 and a half a dozen others moved in record numbers in the days following the film. I will not belabor the clear impact Avengers: Endgame had on sales. For those looking at books to buy in the weeks and months following this movie there are a couple interesting speculation pics that are being discussed widely in collector communities.
For example, many believe that the coming of Namor is a foregone conclusion following the scene in the film where an underwater earth quake is reported below Wakanda. Those familiar with Marvel history are well aware that Namor has a history as an antagonist of Black Panther and following the success of Aquaman at the box office many already began grabbing Namor keys. It is hard to isolate many specific books because of Namor’s long history in Marvel comics. The character’s origins are in the Golden age and he was first introduced in continuity in Fantastic Four #4. High grade copies of his principal adversary Tiger Shark are getting harder and harder to come by as speculators begin to gobble up copies of Prince Namor Sub-Mariner #5 (1968). The book Rise of the Black Panther #2 (2018) retells the first meeting of Black Panther and Namor and has a beautiful Namor cover and a Black Panther movie variant if your gut tells you that Namor will appear as the villain in the Black Panther sequel.
Another mechanism to introduce the character of Namor would be an Invaders spinoff featuring the classic Timely heroes. Returning Captain America to Golden age comic continuity in the 1950’s is the plot device that already may have set this plot in motion. Note that the manner in which time travel was discussed in the film would allow them to do either or both of these things. Also the ground work for the existence of the Golden age Human Torch was laid in Captain America: The First Avenger. His is brief appearance in that film remains one of my favorite easter eggs in MCU film history. If you are concerned that I am encouraging you to run out and spend thousands of dollars on Alex Schomburg classic covers, I am not. However, you should be aware that Alex Schomburg returned to Marvel comics to illustrate Invaders King Size Annual #1 (1977). One of the stories in Invaders King Size Annual #1 (1977) is Endgame, Part II and features the Human Torch, Captain America, and Namor in Nazi-occupied Paris, where they see (you guessed it) Black Panther. Good luck finding a high grade copy of this book.
You may also have heard the reference to “Braddock” in End Game which is at the very least an Easter Egg reference to Captain Britain. There was previously discussion about Guy Ritchie directing a Captain Britain film, but there has been no confirmation or subsequent rumblings surrounding this rumor in the last six months. The UK Captain Britain #1 is a magazine size that’s very difficult to secure in high grade condition. If you are shopping for this book in the wild, be certain that raw copies include the Captain Britain mask. Note that the mask complicates efforts to press this book.
There are a number of other major villains who many anticipate will make an appearance in the MCU. These characters include Galactus, Kang the Conquerer, and Dr. Doom. It is not unreasonable to conclude that Marvel may follow up Avengers: Endgame with another time travel film staring Kang. Similarly, it makes sense that with the acquisition of the Fantastic Four that Marvel will introduce Galactus, the Silver Surfer and Dr. Doom.
Also, it is reasonable to conclude that the MCU will see some modified version of the Young Avengers, the Dark Avengers or some combination of those team. There are a number of loud voices and mainstream media outlets who have championed the idea that Kate Bishop is coming to the Disney streaming network in a plot line that will focus on Hawkeye training his successor so that he can transition towards the same kind of retirement enjoyed by Captain America when he returned to Peggy Carter and Tony Stark in the years following the snap when he retired to a cabin in the woods with Pepper Potts. There has also been a number of voices championing the idea that young man from Iron Man 3, Harley Keener, will return as some iteration of Ironman or Ironlad. Note than in Modern Marvel continuity Ironlad is a younger version of Kang the Conquerer, and that before Kang ever took on his “Kang” persona, he was Rama-Tut who’s plan was to wait in Egypt for the rise of En Sabah Nur who is the X-Men’s archnemises Apocalypse (the 1st mutant), and steal his power for himself. The interrelatedness of these plot lines is impossible to ignore.
Another big take away from Avengers: Endgame is that Disney is setting up Secret Wars. The Russo brothers and the Endgame screen writers have both publicly discussed there willingness to do Secret Wars. By my count, the Russo brothers mentioned this in a half a dozen different interviews in the two weeks prior to the release of the film. The mega villain in the Secret Wars story line is the celestial/eternal level character the Beyonder. The Beyonder is just the kind of likeable, charming and narcist that fits squarely within the vein of MCU mega villains. I can see actors lining up to wear a white track suit circa 1984 and capture his fractured personality on the big screen. Like many of the other books I’ve referenced, the buy in for this character’s first appearance is incredibly cheap. The book that I predict will ultimately be the book to have if and when Disney introduces the Beyonder as part of Secret Wars is Secret Wars II #3. It is a striking black cover and is the first appearance of the Beyonder in human form. Note that I anticipate that we are more than 5 years away from a Beyonder reference in an actual film, but I also anticipate that these books are going to become increasingly difficult to secure in high grade condition (particularly in the wild where most copies have been abandoned as dollar fodder for the better part of a decade). Right now, these books are found in dollar bins, move online for less than $10.00 and CGC 9.8’s trade hands on eBay for around $75.00 shipped. I think it’s reasonable to conclude that Avengers: Endgame’s introduction of the multiverse opens the door for the Beyonder and a forthcoming Secret Wars. Remember, Dr. Doom is integral to the Secret Wars storyline and is arguably the greatest villain in the history of Marvel comics. Based upon my experience, I believe that this is the ultimate trajectory of the Marvel cinematic universe.
Everyone under the sun is speculating about the future of the MCU. For example, the Hollywood reporter ran a story speculating that Valkyrie will take over the mantle of Thor circa the 2009 Ultimatum run. Be cautious that your speculation is rooted in facts, that its feasible and fits the trajectory of the plot developments in the MCU. It is easy to allow wishful thinking to sound a lot like speculation. Do not believe your own wishful thinking or worse the wishful thinking of others fantasizing about plot lines they dream of seeing on the big screen. Suffice to say, there are a ton of theories and ideas to speculate about regarding this film which affords fans a lot of room to imagine what the future holds for the MCU. Only time will tell.
Here comes the Sony extended Spider-verse
It appears that Sony has enormous confidence in the sustainability of comic book related media projects. Deadline reported first that the Oscar-winning writers/directors/producers Phil Lord and Chris Miller have signed a five-year deal with Sony Pictures Television which allows the pair to develop Sony’s Universe of Marvel Characters in their own projects for network, cable and streaming platforms, as well as develop and supervise other writers’ projects. This is a major development that follows Lord and Miller’s departure from 20th Century Fox TV after it was absorbed by Disney. Precise details of the projects are unknown at this time, but we can anticipate more news in the near future. Expect to see renewed interest on all of the main characters from the Into the Spider-verse film as well as other tangentle properties including Spider-Man 2099, Silk, Spider-Woman, etc. It will be interesting to see if this translates to renewed interest in other Spider-Man related characters such as Black Cat, Silver Sable and Kraven the Hunter, all of which have been rumored to be “in development” for treatment on television and/or film.
The possibilities for speculation are countless and I don’t necessarily see any real standout opportunities. If you are looking to speculate on the properties which may appear in the extended Sony Spider-verse, I would encourage you to look for books which you believe are currently undervalued and/or titles where you can divest without losing money in the event that your speculative picks don’t make the cut. It is clear that those who collect the books of our web-headed friend spend money. This week a beautiful raw copy of Amazing Spider-Man #667 Dell’Otto variant sold for $6,877.00 (or GBP 5,257) in a live auction out of the UK.
An ultra rare high grade copy of the first appearance of the beloved Charles Schulz characters from Peanuts in Top Top #173 sold in a live auction on Sunday for a whopping $4,211.00. This book rarely comes to market and this copy was an extraordinarily nice specimen generally only seen in the custody of the most exclusive auction houses. The last known recorded sale of this book was in November of 2018 at a Heritage auction where a CGC 5.0 copy sold for $3,120.00.
Hulu is the home for Marvel occult
In a surprise move, Marvel television announced two new series slated to launch in 2020. The first is a Robbie Reyes version of the Ghost Rider. Many will recall that this iteration of the Ghost Rider appeared a few years ago on ABC’s Agents of Shield television series back in 2016. This series is executive produced by Ingrid Escajeda, (also showrunner), Paul Zbyszewski and Marvel’s Jeph Loeb.
The second show is Helstrom. According to Deadline, the plot of the Helstrom television series is as follows: “Daimon and Ana Helstrom are the son and daughter of a mysterious and powerful serial killer. The siblings have a complicated dynamic as they track down the terrorizing worst of humanity — each with their attitude and skills.” Marvel’s Helstrom is executive produced by Paul Zbyszewski, who will serve as showrunner and Marvel’s Jeph Loeb.
Robbie Reyes has incredible potential for speculators and rabid fans. He first appeared in Volume 6 of Ghost Rider (2014). There are about a half a dozen variants of his first appearance including a 1:50 Tradd Moore variant that is legitimately a ghost in its own right. Expect to see renewed interest in this book as well as in the 1:25 variant which is not an easy book to find in its own right.
The first cameo appearance of Helstrom is Ghost Rider #1 (1973). This book is the safest bet if you are going to spec on this title. There is little downside to this low risk investment. That being said, there is certainly less upside than the admittedly riskier first full appearance of Helstrom in Ghost Rider #2 (1973). High grade copies of Ghost Rider #2 (1973) are in short supply with ultra high grade copies having all but disappeared online. This book could become a monster, but there is obviously risks associated with this book. Those staying away from it liken it to the first appearance of Lucifer in Sandman #4 arguing that the plot summary of the Hulu series sounds like too big of a departure from the source material to attract new collectors to older key books. The pros and cons of this speculative investment are numbered and you are going to have to do the longer analysis for yourself.
It appears that the Helstrom show will also feature Helstrom’s sister Satana (or as she is referred to in the series “Ana”). Vampire Tales #2 (1973) is the first appearance of Satana Helstrom. This book has long been coveted by the collector community and enjoys a gorgeous cover and a magazine format. Inexpensive copies of this book are few and far between. If you are not already sitting on a copy of this book in high grade condition, the buy in is probably going to be at least a few hundred dollars.
Note that earlier this month, Marvel registered several production-based trademarks for four titles: Glyph, Helstrom, Ghost Rider, and Spirits of Vengeance so the announcements regarding Ghost Rider and Helstrom may be just the beginning of Marvel’s Hulu horror shows. Remember that the Spirits of Vengeance moniker has traditionally been utilized to signal a team that includes none other than Blade the Vampire Hunter. It is unquestionable that these announcements are good news for anyone hungry for more of Marvel horror, and hopes are high among some that Blade and Moon Knight may receive some sort of treatment on the big or small screen if these initial series are well received. I also think it’s fair to say that almost everyone is happy that Marvel is making adult oriented programming for it fans via Hulu.
In case you were asking yourself, “who is Glyph?” Glyph first appears in the Howling Commandos of S.H.I.E.L.D. #1. There are a number of ratio variants for this book the hardest to secure is the 1:25 incentive by Declan Shalvey. Glyph (Nadeen Hassan) is a teenager with the ability to summon ancient Egyptian spirits and I would grab her first appearances anywhere and everywhere you see them. Marvel solidifying the production based trademark of Glyph is a clear sign that there are big plans in store for this character’s future. I would not be surprised to see her get a major push in the comics and on Hulu.
Some will undoubtably point to Runaways as a clear example of why Hulu projects are doomed. After all, it is an enjoyable show that was well received and the series (penned by fan favorite Brian K. Vaughan) has little resale value. An equally compelling argument can be made for the viability of Hulu comic book related TV properties. Hulu has grown to 28 million subscribers and is the forthcoming home of 4 novel adult oriented Marvel animated projects and it appears that we may see as many or more live action Marvel properties in the near future. This is substantially more original content than the DC streaming app which was wrangling more and more subscribers with each new production. While the jury is out on the future of Marvel at Hulu, one thing is for certain – there are no easy answers.
Cates can’t help himself
Everyone’s favorite source of speculation news, conjecture, rumor and innuendo, Donnie Cates, can’t help but confess to his fans. Cates posted on social media that he is in talks with Vincent D’Onofrio who stole the hearts of comic books fans with his acclaimed portrayal of Kingpin in the Netflix series Daredevil. The precise details of their meeting remains unclear; however, many fans are hoping that D’Onofrio will agree to work with Cates on God Country. As mentioned first on a comicbookspeculation youtube video Donny Cates first work is found in the Antman and the Wasp #2 (2011) which is a tough find in the wild in any condition and a real tough find in high grade condition. As we approach the release of Silver Surfer: Black fans are clamoring for speculation picks and some have turned their attention to Silver Surfer #62 and #63 (1992). The interest in these books is peculiar to the extent that we did not see comparable interest for the OG iteration of the Cosmic Ghost Rider. I would strongly encourage you to be a seller and not a buyer.
Classy numbers for high grade Bronze and Copper classic covers
While some will declare that the Death of Superman marked the actual demise of America’s first super-hero and that he’s never recovered from his untimely death in the 1990’s, America’s greatest super-hero continues to secure big numbers from committed fans. I think we can all agree that Superman has many great covers, but there are perhaps none as classy as Bronze age beauty – Action Comics #419. This book has seen a monumental rise in the last year and this Sunday a live auction of a CGC 9.8 copy ended with a $1,032.00 sale. This is a high mark for this book and is the second sale of more than a thousand dollars in recent history, cementing it as a classic cover with avid appeal from collectors. Expect to see more and more collectors looking to secure ultra high grade copies of bronze and copper classic covers. This book follows two $395.00 sales in April for the classic Copper cover of Spectacular Spider-man #101 which depicts a similar skyline background with great eye appeal.
Suicide Squad casting continues
The current casting slate for the Suicide Squad reboot includes Margot Robbie (Harley Quinn) and Jai Courtney (Captain Boomerang) who are both reportedly returning. James Gunn has reportedly cast Ant-Man actor David Dastmalchian in the role of the Polka-Dot Man. Daniela Melchior has reportedly been cast as Ratcatcher, and according to Variety Melchior’s Ratcatcher will “have some connection” to the undisclosed role Idris Elba is playing. Some are speculating that these are a throw away team while others are banking on at least one if not more of these characters rising to the level of stardom of Gunn’s iterations of Star-lord, Drax, Rocket Racoon and/or Groot. I’ve attempted to reserve judgment, but would encourage you not to overpay for these characters first appearances or to spend significant cash on their respective first appearances until more is known about the characters.
Subsequent printings and more ratio variants and store variants
This week Image comics announced that it was going to a second print on The Walking Dead #191 and Spawn #296. This is an unconventional move in many regards. Modern publishers are apt to reboot series after a few dozen issues. In point of fact, the big two routinely reboot their entire universe these days (e.g., Marvel Now, the New 52, Rebirth, etc.). By contrast, these two books from Image have defied conventional publishing’s purported wisdom for years. Neophyte, Little Bird #1 is also being rushed back for a third printing. Meanwhile, publishing giant Marvel comics is championing ratio variants for its 5th printing of Immortal Hulk #2 and Major X #1. Both books are getting 1:25 ratio variants. Be extra careful if you are purchasing ratio variants of any kind when there is store variant(s) of that issue. Retailers receive ratio variants proportional to the number of store variants published which increases the number of ratio variants in a manner which often extinguishes the heat on these books.
It is difficult to predict when or if we will see a later printing of a particular issue catch fire in the manner that Captain Marvel #17 (2nd print), Batman #608 (2nd print) , Batman #1 (5th print), Spawn 166 (2nd print), and others have in the past. Certainly there are some more recent books that have enjoyed some heat on the secondary market, but it’s often hard to gauge which books will take off. One thing to think about is that books with new cover art (particularly gorgeous new cover art) and first cover appearances tend to do better on the secondary market. It appears that collectors are less inclined to books with color variations, but with books like the Walking Dead #33 (2nd print) and Batman #871 (2nd print) as counterfactuals, this is by no stretch of the imagination a hard and fast rule. Similarly, it appears that books which merely recycle interior art are less likely to catch fire. That being said, the recent hype surrounding Thanos #15 (4th print) which is selling for around $40, and Avengers #682 (2nd print) demonstrate why this is not a hard and fast rule.
Suffice to say, I encourage you to be judicious in your decisions regarding later printings. It has only been in the last ten years or so that we’ve seen the normalization of later printings and this has corresponded with collectors desire for rare modern variants. Therefore, I encourage you to apply the same kinds of principles to these books that you do for your selection of other variant covers and to proceed with caution when purchasing these books as a speculative investment.
I hope you enjoyed this installment of Weekend Update. That’s all for this week. I’ll be back next week with more news. In the interim, “Happy hunting You bunch of savages!”
– Nico, Esq.