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!
The Power of the Newsstand
Last Friday we added another book to the list of newsstand standout books as a CGC 9.6 copy of Captain Marvel #14 (2013) sold for $1,700.00. That same day a direct market copy of this book in CGC 9.6 condition sold for less than $200.00. This week we also saw a copy of Kamala Kahn’s first cover appearance in the rare Captain Marvel #17 (2nd print) sold in CGC 9.8 condition for $1,550.00 in a live auction. Clearly Kamala Kahn fans are hear to stay.
We routinely discuss the major difference in sales data and desirability of newsstand editions on this website. Books published near the end of the newsstand in America being particularly rare and particularly desirable. Prior Weekend Update articles have documented newsstand editions of Ultimate Fallout #4 (the 1st appearance of Miles Morales) demanding a substantial premium over and above their direct market counterparts. The reality is that newsstand copies from this time are in very short supply and only a small fraction of the books delivered to newsstands at this late juncture were purchased by collectors who cared for the books. Accordingly most copies are at best in VF condition as most copies were manhandled until they inevitably found their way into the hands of collectors who bagged, boarded and cared for the books.
This is clearly an emerging trend and there is an opportunity to make money here. Captain Marvel #14 is of course the first cameo appearance of Kamala Kahn and a desirable book, but it is by no means the most desirable book from this time period. Keep an eye out for newsstand copies of other key books many sellers are not yet charging a premium for rare newsstand editions, but there are clearly an increasingly large number of fanatical collectors willing to shell out big books for this kind of variation.
It is fair to say that Miles Morales is a fixture in the cannon of Spider-Man comics. The Into the Spider-verse film was incredibly well received and the character is incredibly popular particularly with younger and newer Spidey fans. Many of you may recall the aloof reference to Miles (although he was not mentioned by name) in the Spider-Man: Homecoming film. With the introduction of the multiverse in Spider-Man: Far from Home, many fans are hoping for an introduction of Miles in the MCU. However, the fate of Spider-Man in Disney/Marvel films is uncertain as the character’s entertainment rights were licensed by and remain in the possession of Sony. Following a reported nine figure deal brokered by Sony to bring the Spider-verse and its related characters to streaming, cable television and film, it is a safe bet that we will be seeing Miles Morales in a live action film and/or television series in the very near future. Speculators are noticing and continue to pay record breaking prices for CGC 9.8 copies of the Ultimate Fallout #4 Djurdjevic Variant which sold for an astonishing $2,900.00 over the weekend. This is an uptick of approximately $650.00 more than the last sale which clocked in at $2,350.00. Raw copies of this book are selling around $300.00 and 9.6 copies have been moving around $750.00.
Here comes Atlas
At this years Cannes film festival, Steven Paul (who produced Ghost Rider) announced that he has acquired a majority interest in the Atlas Comics library. Paul indicated in a press conference that he signed a co-production and co-financing first-look deal with Paramount Pictures to develop, produce and distribute super-hero films based on the classic works of the comic books publishing company. Akiva Goldsman ( famous for his work on Paramount’s ‘Star Trek’ films) will oversee a writers’ room to develop the universe of the characters from the Atlas library which includes characters such as Tiger-Man, Sgt. Stryker’s Death Squad and Devilina which were featured comics on cardboard cutouts at the press conference. Other Atlas titles include, but are not necessarily limited to:
- Barbarians featuring Ironjaw;
- Blazing Battle Tales featuring Sgt. Hawk;
- The Brute;
- The Cougar;
- Demon Hunter;
- Fright featuring Son of Dracula;
- Grim Ghost;
- Hands of the Dragon;
- Morlock 2001;
- Morlock 2001 and the Midnight Men;
- The Protector;
- Planet of Vampires;
- Police Action featuring Lomax and Luke Malone;
- Savage Combat Tales featuring Sgt. Stryker’s Death Squad;
- The Scorpion;
- Tales of Evil;
- Weird Suspense featuring the Tarantula;
- Western Action featuring Kid Cody and Comanche Kid; and
- Wulf the Barbarian.
According to Variety, “budgets will start at $60 million and could reach ‘superhero level.’” I am not encouraging anyone to buy any of these books, but it is something interesting to take a look at and think about as a number of these books have top notch creators attached to them. For example, the title The Destructor features art by Steve Ditko and Wally Wood, (who inked the first two issues) and a CGC 9.6 copy is available for less than $100.00 right now at mycomicshop. Variety suggests that Atlas “leading characters and stories today include Wulf, Iron Jaw, Son of Dracula, Brute, Texas Kid and Dopey Duck.” I am not familiar with any of these titles. In 2011 Atlas comics returned and there is an Atlas retailer sampler that includes books like the Grim Ghost, Phoenix and Wulk. This attempted reboot featured work by creators like Steve Niles and Kelly Jones and have limited print numbers. Again, I would not necessarily encourage anyone to run out and buy up all the 2010-2011 Atlas comics they see. Admittedly there are some rare variants. What I would suggest is that this is indicative of an emerging trend by Hollywood to utilize comic properties as an Intellectual property development farm for both feature films and television series which is good news for the future of comic books and great news for those of us who invest money in comic books.
Disney controls Hulu
As of Tuesday morning, Disney completely controls Hulu. This is major news for collectors and speculators alike. This move should solidify Hulu as the destination for adult related Marvel content and associate Hulu with all of the adult related Fox properties acquired by Disney. The future is looking bright for the big budget, adult oriented Marvel television projects. I am particularly excited for books we’ve already discussed related to Hulu television speculation and imagine that speculators and collectors will have renewed faith in these projects because of this news. More importantly, this news is a clear indication that Disney is committed to the longevity of Hulu and its ability to distribute content and generate revenue. Keep your eyes peeled for more news about forthcoming projects.
Was Stan Lee the victim of elder abuse
Keya Morgan, the former manager of Stan Lee, is charged with, five counts of elder abuse, including false imprisonment of an elder or a dependent adult by the use of violence, menace, fraud, or deceit, and forgery stemming from an incident last Summer. Morgan, whose real name is Keyrash Mazhari, is alleged to have taken advantage of Lee’s age, impaired vision and poor memory. Approximately a year ago, Lee secured a Restraining Order against Morgan who allegedly moved Lee out of his longtime home and isolated him from his family and friends, held him hostage and had him read scripted hostage videos and stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from his family and removed many items of personal property from his home. When Lee filed for a Restraining Order against Morgan to keep he and his family safe, the pleading indicated that Morgan was arrested on the suspicion of filing a false police report after he called 911 stating that burglars had broken into his home, according to court records. The allegations against Morgan are shocking and we will update you on them accordingly as they develop.
Devil in a bottle?
It appears that Marvel is setting up next it’s next demon in a bottle arc with Chip Zdarsky’s Daredevil #5. Daredevil is apparently indulging in opioid pain pills and we know that Marvel loves a good political/social message. Tedesco’s covers on this book have been beautiful and fans have responded to this series with many indicating that it is the best book Marvel is putting on shelves at this point. Speculators are well aware that for whatever reason Daredevil spec pics rarely see returns, but following the massive interest in Immortal Hulk, I would not be surprised if this book takes off. Certainly if Marvel does a calculated press release for a drug addicted Daredevil plot line and the mainstream media gets a hold of it, sky is the limit. Remember that there is a Comicspro variant of the first issue that has gone no where and is dirt cheap on eBay hovering around $40 raw. This is one I’m going to keep an eye on in the coming months that may pay dividends down the road.
If you are interested in comics that discuss substance abuse disorders there are some classics. The most famous of them all is the Invincible Iron Man Demon in a Bottle run which began at issue #120 and culminated in issue #128 with the classic Bob Layton cover of Tony Stark in the throws of withdrawal. Marvel’s other big anti-drug comics are Amazing Spider-Man#96, #97 and #98. Issues #96 and #97 are particularly classic books because the Comic Code Authority refused to approve the issues and Marvel to its credit published the books without Code approval because they believed the message was too important for its young readers to kowtow to impotent regulators. DC’s most famous drug addiction storyline was the Dennis O’Neil’s “Snowbirds don’t fly” which ran in Green Lantern #85-#86 (1971) and has gorgeous cover and interior artwork by Neil Adams. If you are looking for Gold, you need look no further than Shock Suspenstories #12 which features a heroin addict on the cover. If independent books are your thing, there is always Rip Snortin’ Cocaine Comix #1 with a story by film legend Leonardo DiCaprio’s father George “Jung” DiCaprio (“What do you know about cocaine George?”). All of these books are classics and have incredible value as historical artifacts. The number of comic collectors recovering from substance abuse disorders is unknown, but significant. The number of comic book collectors who are recreational drug users is also unknown but equally significant. In light of the resurgence of the global epidemic of drug addiction (particularly opioid overdose deaths) and the number of Hollywood actors who identify with 12 Step recovery, I suspect that we will see Marvel or DC attempt to address the dangers of drug addiction on the big or small screen in the next five to ten years.
What is Tom King going to do to Batman next?
Many of you are already well aware that DC has agreed to let Tom King write 100 issues of Batman. Suffice to say, his tenure on the character has been less than well received by many fans, but those who are fans of King’s work are rabid fans. King (a former CIA field operative) recently revealed that he was gearing up for an epic turn of events that will unfold over the course of the next two years beginning in July with Batman #75. In a recent interview, King remarked: “I’ve been talking to, not just DC, but Warner Brothers and AT&T. What we’re going to do for the last 15 issues is something no one’s ever seen for the character. It’s something that’s going to change the character for a generation, or maybe more. Maybe forever. I never thought we’d get this kind of stuff approved; when you’re working with a corporate character, you think you’re going to have to reset. But this is a change that’s going to shake the world of Batman and it’s going to leave my mark on the character.” What does Tom King have in store for Batman? Who knows? But, if you can predict the plot line accurately, you can speculate intelligently and make profit on the plot development as it unfolds in real time. Many have long suggested that King’s plan is to have Batman kill Bane and believe that King has long been foreshadowing this turn of events. Note that the first appearance of Bane sells for around $275.00 in CGC 9.8 condition.
Truth be told, Batman keys are blue chip books and very few have seen a proportional increase value that is commensurate with the rest of the market. Batman books hit an all time high mark with collectors shortly after the Dark Knight film when Snyder and Capullo where knee deep in their New 52 run. Since this time, few Batman books have appreciated in value at a proportional rate with the rest of the market and even fewer (sans Detective Comics #880, Batman #181) have caught fire. Once a Modern mega-key, the black and white sketch variant of Batman #1 (2011) barely sells for ratio. Snyder and Capullo’s once acclaimed run is all but forgotten and copies of books from the Hush run and the Black Mirror run are ending up in dollar bins. Detective #880 has been relegated to a cover buy. Detective #871 is an after thought and very few collectors seem to care about the rarity of the second print which has generally been relegated to non-key forgotten variant. Batman books are cheap right now.
The last sale of the once mightiest variant in comics, the Batman #608 RRP was $1,610.00 for a copy in CGC 9.4 condition. Just a few short years ago, this would have been an unthinkably low number for this book. In sum, 2019 has not been kind to those attempting to unload their Batman comics. Therefore, there is an amazing opportunity to buy Batman books at criminally low prices from motivated retailers looking to turn their inventory. Batman will survive Tom King’s writing, he will survive bad movies, no movies and will live on in comic mythology as arguably the greatest hero of the 20th century. Pay attention to opportunities for long term investment plays with the money you are hopefully making on your shorter term speculative investments on other books. There is no reason not to parley the money you made selling books like Naomi #1s into books like Batman #171 (the first Silver age appearance of the Riddler) which sold for $406.52 in CGC 6.5 condition on May 5th (CGC 9.8 copies of Naomi #1 are selling for $400.00 at the same time on eBay).
The Batman casting rumors
Many in the comic book community are horrified that Robert Pattinson had been officially announced as being cast as Batman in the forthcoming Matt Reeves’ movie The Batman. There certainly was a time in America when Leonardo DiCaprio was considered by much of the public as a chump for his portrayal of Jack in the film Titanic (there was room on the door). Nevertheless, his acting career made a marked turn along with his public perception following his roles in films like the Beach, Gangs of New York and the Departed. The far more interesting question for me is which storyline and villains will The Batman portray and what impact this film will have on the back issue market. As discussed in previous articles, Reeves has indicated that this film will focus on Batman as the world’s greatest detective and this is the only major clue as to the direction of the film thus far.
Netflix is Making Moves
Netflix inked a deal that affords them the first look at all Dark Horse titles for film and TV adaptations. The two companies are apparently exploring options for future projects beyond the world of traditional superheroes – branching into horror, fantasy and family entertainment according to Cindy Holland, vice president for original content at Netflix.
Last week it appeared speculators were eyeing books like Harrow County and Lady Killers while this week, discussions have turned to titles like Donnie Cates book Buzzkill (alcoholic super-hero) and Rick Remender’s Fear Agent (which has a retailer incentive cover of the first issue that is really affordable at the moment, but it appears that the rights to this book are creator owned and the book was last published by Image not Dark Horse). The other book that is being discussed is The Last of Us which is a print treatment of the highly popular video game and while I am not privy to the contractual agreement between Dark Horse and the developers at Naughty Dog, I think it is more probable than not that the entertainment/media rights rest with the game developer and not with Dark Horse. All of these books were great and have seen some prior interest from the speculator community, but none of these books appear to be anything other than a long shot for development.
As mentioned on the podcast, books like Concrete are much more probable to be part of the Netflix deal than other properties. Dark Horse Presents #1 (1986) is the first appearance of Concrete and there’s a CGC 9.6 copy rests unsold on eBay at little more than a hundred dollars.
If you are thinking about investing in Dark Horse properties it may be a little more complicated than it appears at first glance. Many properties at Dark Horse are creator owned, others are a mixture and some of the most popular properties have already been developed. Characters like Hellboy and BPRD have seen some treatment already as has cult favorite Tank Girl.
Tank Girl is one of my favorite Dark Horse properties and although she is unlikely to have any relationship at all to this media deal, her early appearances are classic Copper age key books. Rather than focusing on Dark Horse / Netflix speculation, the safer investment is adding books like Deadline #1 (1988) and Tank Girl #1 (1991) to your portfolio of key comics. These books are never going to be tough to re-sell. Particularly Deadline #1 which rarely appears on the US comic market for too long. Tank Girl’s publishing rights have been sold to Titan and it is unclear whether Dark Horse reserved other entertainment rights to the character so her development is again a long shot at best. On the other hand, if she is adapted by Netflix for a television series or elsewhere, there is no telling where the price on these books could go. Some speculators are already buying up copies of these books, but this is not a property that is probable to benefit from the Dark Horse deal.
Clearly there is an opportunity to make some wise moves following the deal between Dark Horse and Netflix, but you are going to have to do your homework. If you want to speculate on one or more titles, I would encourage you to limit the price tag on your buy in(s) or to buy books that you can divest from without much risk (in other words to focus on titles that have high re-sellability regardless of whether or not they receive TV treatment). It’s clear that there are going to be more opportunities to make especially risky gambles with little to no chance of a pay day than calculated and wise investments so tread carefully.
Of other import, Netflix ordered Mark Millar’s ‘The Magic Order’ to series with Aquaman’s James Wan & Lindsey Beer executive producing the series. There are a lot of cool Magic Order #1 books. There’s a number of 500 print run store variants, a gorgeous Adam Hughes variant and a Swamp Thing #1 homage that are all sharp books. If the show takes off, I anticipate these will be the sought after books because the print runs are so high on the other covers. Expect there to be some interest in this title by speculators in light of the success of Umbrella Academy and for interest to spike as we approach the release of the first season. The Magic Order was an excellent read and I have high hopes for the show because of the quality of the source material. The Magic Order joins, Jupiter’s Legacy and American Jesus, and three feature length films (Empress, Huck and Sharkey The Bounty Hunter) which were green lit last year.
Stumptown appears to Capture the Source Material
It seems as if every day there is more and more comic book related media that is being developed on the big and small screen. As we’ve discussed in prior articles, Stumptown is moving right along. This week it dropped its first trailer and reactions were very positive. The trailer benefited from a top quality sound track and a little bit of controversy. I have high hopes for this television series. As we’ve discussed in the past, quality television does not always translate to higher values. Copies of Stumptown #1 have been conspicuously absent from eBay and the sole remaining copy is now listed at $100.00. There’s a second print of the first issue of the series which has yet to resonate with buyers in a comparable manner and is available in the range of $35.00 which is the price tag this book was selling at when we started talking about it several months ago.
Akira is rolling along
In other news, it appears that the live action version of Akira will begin filming this Summer. Director Taika Waititi, is is slated to begin filming in Los Angeles and Michael Golamco has been tasked to co-write the film alongside Waititi. Remember that the later issues of this series are virtual ghosts and that there are multiple printings of the first issue so be careful when purchasing this book that you confirm you are buying a copy of the first print. Issues 37 and 38 have always been coveted by collectors and fans of the manga film. These books were incredibly difficult to purchase before the increased attention accompanying this film. If you want to secure copies of this book at a reasonable price, be aware that you may be approaching a now or never point.
What is really going on with Namor
The Sub-Mariner #1 is a book that has been jumping for the last six months as many speculators believe that it is only a matter of time before Prince Namor makes an appearance in the MCU. Namor, like the Hulk, has problematic film rights which keep him from starring in his own solo film, nevertheless the indicia of underwater activity was all the evidence needed for some speculators to go all in on this book. Sales of Sub-Mariner #1 are reaching all time highs with two CGC 9.6 copies nearing the $2K mark. On Sunday a BIN copy in CGC 9.6 condition sold for $1,949.95 and another BIN copy also in CGC 9.6 condition sold for $1,750.00. This week one of the screen writers for Avengers: Endgame film in response to an inquiry regarding the prospect of Namor making an MCU appearance indicated “I wish we were that smart,” and many including CBR.com have interpreted this as a firm repudiation of this fan theory. I am less convinced. Marvel film makers have a long and storied history of misdirecting the public in order to prevent possible spoilers and this statement may be an attempt to misdirect the public. And for the record, I doubt that the writers of the film Avengers: Endgame who use quantum mechanics as a plot devise think of themselves as not “that smart.” We will know soon enough and this statement does not appear to have slowed down speculation on Prince Namor books.
Memorial Day is a go!
Big news for fans of Teen Titan GO! The Cartoon Network took to Twitter to announce that the titular team in Teen Titans GO! are receiving a new member in an episode called “Forest Pirates,” and it is set to air on Memorial Day. There has been no news or even hints about who will join Robin, Raven, Starfire, Cyborg, and Beast Boy, but fans of the series are speculating with impunity.
This week a number of rumors surfaced online that are interesting food for thought, but certainly not substantiated in any manner whatsoever. Chief among them is that Disney is eyeing Zach Efron for the roll of Warlock in the third Guardians of the Galaxy film. We have no word from Efron or anyone at Disney to substantiate this rumor. Also in the rumor mill are reports that Nova was preliminary set to appear in Avengers: Endgame and that a feature length film is now in development. Uncorroborated sources are indicating that the film’s plot will focus on the decimation of Xander and the Richard Rider iteration of Nova will be featured. These same sources are suggesting that the High Evolutionary is set to premiere on the big screen in the third Guardians film. The plot is purportedly going to focus on the High Evolutionary being the “creator” of Rocket Racoon and Beta Ray Bill. Again, none of this is confirmed.
Many in the comic community suggest that the Nova film is in early development, but again no confirmation of these rumors exists at this time. Other sites are also reporting that the Mandarin will be introduced as Shang Chi’s father rather than utilizing the Yellow Claw as a the villain in the film. It is unclear whether or not there is any truth to this rumor whatsoever. Other unsubstantiated rumors include the following animated feature films: (a) a two part adaption of the Long Halloween; (b) Superman: Red Son; (c) a new Batman Beyond film; and (d) a Deathstroke film. These Warner Brothers projects were reported by revengeofthefans and are unconfirmed. Last, and I fear maybe least reliable, wegothiscovered is reporting that Keanu Reeves is playing the villain in the Eternals movie. I’ll believe it when I see it.
Long live the Goon
According to the Goon Kickstarter page, The Goon movie is officially in development. The Kickstarter announcement indicates that the film is being developed by 20th Century Fox with David Fincher attached and the The Chernin Group producing. This sounds like a continuation of the original adult oriented animated project many readers will recall included Paul Giamatti voicing Frankie. Copies of the first issue of the original Avatar volume of the Goon are in short supply and coveted by collectors. A recent warehouse find of key Albatross books has, at least in the short term, driven down the price on these books, but I do not suspect that will last in light of this news. I suspect that this announcement will inspire new interest in this title which has long enjoyed a cult like following of highly committed fans. According to the press release, we may have a green light, but we are far from a film. “So, what exactly does ‘development’ mean? Well, it doesn’t mean that we’re making the movie next week — the proverbial Hollywood ‘green-light’ always happens in phases — but it does mean we’ve got fresh wind in our sails, the resources of a studio and some ‘heavy-hitter’ producers behind us. It’s the next, necessary step along the path to making the film.”
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.