Weekend Update with Nico
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This is your Weekend Update!
Market Influencers and Trend Setting
I often chuckle to myself at the notion that the comic book spec market is influenced by the mouth breathers who write about comic books on Facebook, MeWe and websites like this one. I certainly appreciate that informed consumers read these posts and articles, make purchases and this moves prices, but I am afraid the impact of social media influencers is often wildly exaggerated by a herd mentality. I don’t know to what extent this will diminish or increase over time, but I think it is important to look at other measures of interest. This is one of the reasons that I am always interested when comics are on the top ten trending eBay items list.
This week another great indicator is available for us to look at as a market indicator. The 2019 Teen Choice Awards handed out trophy surfboards on Sunday. The reasons that I am most interested in this award show is that it is controlled by the 55 million teen voters who cast ballots rather than industry insiders. No surprise, Marvel dominated the film side with Avengers: Endgame and Spider-man: Far From Home winning top honors. Riverdale and Stranger Things won as well. While many of us pride ourselves in our ability to read the tealeafs of the pop culture zeitgeist, it is important to look at this kind of empirical data and appreciate exactly where we are before we make our predictions about where we are headed.
I doubt that there are many of us who don’t see the actor cast as the Silver Surfer holding a Teen Choice Awards surfboard in the next five years. What has me scratching my head is the enduring popularity of Riverdale and whether this will translate into a bigger push for Archie related properties on television. I’ve talked a number of different times in the past about Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, the Chief Creative Officer of Archie Comics and the showrunner for both the CW’s Riverdale and Netflix’s Sabrina . He is inextricably linked to Archie comics and his roots are as the writer of both the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and Afterlife with Archie. Remember that back in April he inked a massive new multi-year deal with Warner Brothers Television that was for five years and in the high eight figures.
Remember when Sleepy Jawn asked me why I was interested in Katy Keene? She is the first of the new projects that’s rolling out and the fact that Season 4 of Riverdale is going to do a Halloween special is very interesting to me. I like the long term potential of these properties. Comic collectors got real hot on the modern good girl risque and innuendo covers of the copper and modern age, but that has all cooled down for the moment. We’ve seen the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina books and Afterlife with Archie books spike and then return to very modest price tags. All of these are books that
I like as longer term plays because of the enormous interest in the properties by teenagers and the incredible investment made by Warner Brothers in the longevity of the properties that haven’t been this hip since the 1960’s.
Some of the key issues to think about are as follows. Any risque/innuendo covers; there’s a ton of them that are still out there and undiscovered. Friend of the show, and purveyor of all things perverse, Blind Adam, just told me about Betty #101 that depicts Archie bound and wearing a dog collar tied to Betty’s foot. This is barely a $20.00 book online that I suspect will go bonkers when people figure out it exists and I suspect there are a ton of other covers that will pop up naturally in the market as people continue to discover hidden gems. Because of the sheer scope of the undertaking, no one has taken to mycomicshop and examined all of the covers to generate a comprehensive list.
It’s next to impossible to find a Life with Archie #23 variant in the wild. People have been hip to that book since 2013, but the book is stone cold. The last recorded sale was on June 26th of this year when a slabbed 9.8 sold for $150.00. For whatever reason, eBay sellers are asking big prices for this book, so look for it at shows and talk number with dealers. Reputable dealers respect GPA and my experience is that they work with buyers who rely upon GPA. This book has potential and as we are all too well aware, sometimes all it takes is one outrageous eBay purchase to permanently swing numbers the direction contrary to our ideal buying/selling position.
Obviously there are a ton of opportunities when it comes to Archie horror books beyond Afterlife with Archie. I believe that Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa has to have a soft spot for Archie horror comics and that the success of the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and the recent convergence of two of the Archie universes in Jughead: The Hunger vs. Vampironica is indicative of the desire to tell these stories in a cohesive way. I suspect that it is as probable that we get an Archie monster universe on the small screen as it is that we get a Sony Legion of Monsters universe on the big screen and suggest that you invest accordingly.
The Clock is Ticking
Reports are indicating that production on a number of shows is imminent. For example, production of the Suicide Squad is slated to begin in September. This is important for those who have not stocked up on Suicide Squad related spec books. Remember, it has not been confirmed that Idris Elba will be playing the Bronze Tiger and the lack of confirmation may be all the impetus necessary to secure these books at a discount.
Similarly, while we’ve repeatedly heard rumors about John Cena being in “talks” to play Peacemaker this casting has never been confirmed and some now believe that Elba may be playing Peacemaker. It has widely been reported that Peacemaker is a pivotal character in the film. Peacemaker first appearances are hard to come by as are the Charlton Peacemaker #1′s. These books are drying up and high grade copies are hard to find. The other big dollar book that we may all regret not buying in bulk when it was affordable is Detective #300 (the 1st appearance of Polka Dot Man who is played by David Dastmalchian).
Daniela Melchior is playing Ratcatcher, and because this character has always been depicted as a man in the comics, these books have remained relatively inexpensive. We’ve seen the gender swap casting with the Eternals and it remains to be seen if this will have a long term negative effect on the books. I also suggest that you not sleep on Detective #586. In the era of “I didn’t get enough copies of the first appearance so I’ll scream about it being a cameo” you shouldn’t ignore copies of this book which depicts Ratcatcher on the cover. Detective #586 is in dollar bins and readily available at cover price.
There has been some suggestion that Benicio Del Toro is in talks to play one of the films two villains, but this is unconfirmed. I have heard rumors Del Toro is playing Vandal Savage and this is a classic character who’s first appearance is already an undervalued Golden Age monster. Vandal Savage first appeared in Green Lantern #10 (1943). The last recorded sale was in November of 2018 when a CGC 2.0 sold for $775.00. This sale followed a $710.00 sale of a CGC 4.0 copy in April of 2018 and a CGC 4.5 sale in February of 2018 for $1,021.00. Clearly this is a book that is in high demand and the only copy I found for sale online was a $500.00 copy solicited by mycomicshop with half of the cover missing (it’s also completely detached) and the book has a chew hole through the first six pages.
For those not interested in searching for this Golden ghost, there is a Silver Age alternative. Vandal Savage’s first Silver Age appearance is in Flash 137. A CGC 9.0 copy of this book actually sold on eBay for $550.00 as I was writing this article following very minor discussion of this book on the TRENDS MeWe group chat prompting my inclusion in this piece. This book is dirt cheap and completely off people’s radar. With a recent CGC 4.5 copy moving in a live auction on July 21st for $62.22.
This is a book you should be hunting for before and not after a formal announcement of Vandal Savage as the Suicide Squad villain. While conventional wisdom often suggests that big books are not affected by movie and/or TV announcements, my experience has been the exact opposite. I think if you look historically, media deals drive new buyers to buy these big books that would not have cared otherwise. New money is always good for the value of comics whether the book is a Golden Age key or a modern spec book.
Deadline Jeph Loeb Interview
The Jeph Loeb Deadline Interview is a must read for speculators. It is an inside look at what is being discussed by Marvel surrounding the future of its TV properties and there’s a lot of information to be gleaned from Loeb’s statements. Although Loeb was tight lipped surrounding the future ABC “mostly brand new” female super-hero to the small screen, Loeb did indicate that Marvel was looking to bring Young Adult heroes to a young adult audience on television. This has led most speculators to conclude that Kamala Khan and/or Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur are the “mostly brand new” property that is being discussed.
While those who are heavily invested in Kamala Khan are on the verge of a panic induced stroke at the thought of Loeb and company controlling Kamala Khan, it is a legitimate possibility and to suggest otherwise is naive. My money is on Moon Girl who was already eyed by Black-ish and Grown-ish executive producers Laurence Fishburne and Helen Sugland, along with Cinema Gypsy Productions and Marvel Animation for a TV show in 2018.
In his interview Loeb described street level Marvel characters as the Marvel Knights fueling speculation regarding the potential for an adaptation of Sentry on the small screen. While many have hoped for Feige to develop Sentry on Disney Plus, there is little doubt that the creative team behind Daredevil can do justice to this character. This description has also given renewed hope that we may see Daredevil, Punisher, Luke Cage and Iron First return to the small screen in some iteration as these characters are integral to the Marvel Knights brand. Interestingly, Yelina Belova was introduced via Marvel Knights and it will be very interesting to see if there is any cross over between Feige’s characters and Hulu level Marvel.
While Bob Igor and others have championed the notion that Feige is in control of all things Marvel TV and film, the Loeb interview suggests that Marvel Television has no involvement with the upcoming Disney+ series produced by Marvel Studios. Some believe that Marvel Hulu television is the kiss of death for these characters, because characters being used by Marvel TV have a substantially diminished opportunity to make it to the big screen. I would encourage you not to ignore the opportunity to make money on these books because of the bundling of Hulu and Disney+ and the fact that the Disney+ series are integral to the MCU means that viewers are going to be tuning in to Marvel TV by proxy.
It is important to note that Loeb very candidly indicates that Marvel TV has as-yet unannounced projects. He also suggested that Spirits of Vengeance, Ghost Rider and Helstrom are collectively Adventures into Fear but details regarding what this actually means were not provided in the interview. We’ve discussed these books in weeks past. Again, I encourage you to get in with low grade copies or high grade copies as these are the books that tend to move in price the fastest and maintain price increases the longest when prices recede as they almost always do.
Right now the X-Men are hot. Jonathan Hickman has fans buying back issues and anxious to read X-Men books on a weekly basis. I honestly can’t remember a time that the X-Men where this popular since Jim Lee was gracing the pages with his pencils. I don’t suspect that the excitement surrounding the series or the characters will last many months beyond the finale of Hickman’s House of X and Powers of X mini series. However, I do believe that it is time to start making a list of key X-Men related books to acquire before the characters begin to appear on the silver screen. In that regard, I am going to try and pinpoint some of the key books that have potential depending on the casting of the film. If this is something that interests you, I suggest paying close attention to the plot and the cast of Hickman’s books as we will probably see some of these plot points recycled by the screen writers who are charged with re-inventing these characters on screen iterations.
The big score for any X-Men collector is the Silver Age grail, X-Men #1. This issue is the first appearance of Professor Xavier, Cyclops, Jean Grey, Beast, Angel (Warren Worthington III), Iceman, and Magneto. The book is a monster and shows no signs of coming down in price.
X-Men #4 is an amazing book for any fan of the X-Men. It is the first appearance of Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, Toad, and Mastermind. This book has a classic Magneto cover and it has not seen the price explosion that many have routinely predicted. With the WandaVision series coming to Disney Plus, I suspect that we won’t have to wait long for this book to pop.
X-Men #6 is an interesting book that may be more important from a plot perspective than from a collectability standpoint as it is this issue where Namor is first revealed to be a mutant.
There have been a lot of rumors surrounding an A v. X film. I’m neither sold nor excited about this possibility. If you are, you may want to think about X-Men issue #9 which is the first meeting of the X-men and the Avengers.
A number of self proclaimed “news” sites that claim “insider” knowledge have suggested that Ka-zar and the Savage Land are coming to the MCU. I’m not buying it or copies of X-Men #10. X-Men #60, the first appearance of Sauron, is a comparable hard pass for me. If you are going down this path, for whatever reason, I wouldn’t forget about X-Men #62 which is the first appearance of the Savage Land Mutates (Amphibius, Barbarus, Brainchild, Equilibrius, Gaza, Lupo, and Piper). Again, this whole X-Men into the Savage Land angle is a hard pass for me. There are lots of ways to spend money and this is not a gamble I’m interested in making.
A book that is moving off of convention walls is X-Men #12 which is the first appearance of the Juggernaut. Frankly, I’m not really excited about this character. The Juggernaut appeared in the Fox Deadpool movie and the proposition of Juggernaut reappearing is not something I’m excited about personally. This is a classic book and a key by any definition, but I don’t see a lot of upside to this character. If you do pick this book up as an investment, I would suggest that you shop around and get in on a really high grade copy or a lower grade copy that will be a nice entry level purchase for the next prospective buyer of this book.
A book I am a lot hotter on is X-Men #14. This book is both the first appearance of the Sentinels and the notorious Bolivar Trask. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Trask front and center as the villain of an early X-Men film. The character is interesting, not a mutant and would be cast and played by a monster actor. I’m sure we all remember Peter Dinklidge playing this character and I don’t suspect that Disney would use anyone other than an A list celebrity to play this character.
X-Men #54 is a really undervalued book in my mind. It is the 1st appearance of Alex Summers (a/k/a Havock) and this is a book that has never really had its day in the sun. If Havock is an MCU character, this book is an overnight monster. and Living Pharoah/Living Monolith.
Personally, I like X-Men #64. Sunfire is a Japanese character who could look truly amazing on film. He fits my mold for characters with international appeal and while Silver Age books are by no stretch of the imagination rare, this Silver Age first appearance is tough to find in high grade. I suggest keeping an eye out for a high grade copy of this book in a live auction that you can steal and stick in a box. It’s a good long term investment in a character with potential.
If you haven’t stuck a copy of Giant Size X-Men #1 in your short box, it may be too late to find an affordable copy. Although a lot of the interest in this book appears to have hit a crescendo, the price has certainly not returned to Earth. Giant Size X-Men has always been a key book and since the deal for Disney to acquire Fox was finalized, people have scrambled to secure this book. I’ve said before that I like Giant Size books because I think dealers often under-grade them so I think there may still be an opportunity to buy a raw copy of this book at a show and not get clubbed over the head. This book is a monster and features the first appearances of Storm, Nightcrawler, Colossus, Thunderbird and Illyana Rasputin. It is also a super early appearance of Wolverine (just behind Hulk #180 and #181).
The book that has yet to really see the massive appreciation that many long time collectors thought it would see is X-Men #94. This book at one time was as valuable and in some circles more valuable that Giant Size X-Men #1. This is the first appearance of the new team in continuity and a monumental issue. -Sunfire, Jean Grey, Iceman, Angel, Havok, and Lorna Dane leave the X-Men.
The last book that I want to talk about is X-Men #96. This is the first appearance of Moira McTaggaart. Depending on how the rest of the Powers of X and House X runs shake out, this may be the book to have. It’s already seen a lot of action and although some suggest that it is premature others are committed to the idea that this is a smart long term play. The reality is that high grade copies of this book are rare. I love this book as a long term play, but for the time being it is going to be a struggle to secure a high grade copy of this book. As I have indicated in the past, the most opportunity is at the top and the bottom of the grade tiers when a book spikes.
That’s a quick and dirty rundown of the first 100 issues of the X-Men. There are a ton more books in a bunch of other titles including this one that should be on your radar, but this is a good start.
Shout out to my homie Sleepy Jawn for reminding me about the book Stumptown. I’ve been jawin about this book for at least six months. The title was hot back in 2009 when it was released. The distribution (estimated/alleged print run) of the first issue according to comicchron is 6,626 copies. Less than 25 copies of this book were slabbed and there are a sum total of 17 in CGC 9.8 condition. The first issue of this book is selling really cheap right now in the range of $40 or less in live auctions although the ask for BIN copies is of course higher.
The first episode of the TV show airs on September 25th on ABC. While other YouTube channels have been pushing you to buy copies of dead spec (e.g., Dakota North who is also a comic book detective, but not an ABC TV show), we’ve been emphasizing the opportunity to invest in books like Stumptown. If this show is as well received by audiences as some of our other picks (e.g., the Boys, Umbrella Academy, etc.), I suspect for the price tag on this book to jump sky high. You have about a month to secure a high grade copy before the show is released.
D23 Exclusive Marvel
Marvel dropped its D23 exclusive Humberto Ramos cover and the speculation community has gone bonkers. The cover depicts Namor on a poster in the background and many have concluded that this is somehow a hint of what is to come at D23. This coupled with recent buzz surrounding the inevitable introduction of the sub-mariner in the MCU has caused prices on Namor books to pop again. The best example is the $395.00 sale of a CGC 6.5 copy on eBay yesterday. The 12 month low for a slabbed copy in this condition is $168.00. The price tag on books like Fantastic Four #4 have already began to sale upwards, and if the announcement happens there is no telling how high these books could go.
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.
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