Weekend Update with Nico

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This is your Weekend Update! 

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If you don’t think this Punchline stuff is a joke, I’m not doing my job.  There’s a reason that there are a lot of shrewd, experienced collectors moving away from comics.  There’s a reason that there are a lot of seasoned, veteran collectors who are disappointed at the modern market.  Much of the blame is traditionally being directed at CBSI, the KeyCollector app, Comic Tom and other content creators.  I am here to tell you unequivocally that they are no more to blame for insanity in the comic book market than Movies, TV and video games are to blame for juvenile delinquency.

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The truth of the matter is that we have our value system screwed up.  People are looking at the comic market as a get rich quick scheme and some collectors are clearly going to get burned.  This week we saw copies of Batman #89 sell for $40.00 each with CGC 9.8 pre-sales moving in the $150.00 range. Copies of Hell Arisen #3 have been selling for $30 to $40 with pre-sales of CGC 9.8 copies moving in the vicinity of $150.

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I frankly don’t care about those sales.  They are adorable. In much the same way that it’s funny to watch people get “hurt” on the television show Jackass.  But it’s a little less humorous for me to watch people routinely pay $300.00 for the error variant of Batman #89 when they know absolutely nothing about the character, the rarity of the book, etc.

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While I do my best to refrain from discussing the weekly hot garbage that gets everyone’s panties in a bunch, I would like for you guys to think back to when I suggested that the Batman Who Laughs was already dead.  That’s not to suggest that Simon Beasly quality pencil and a story written by Neil Gaimen couldn’t make that character explode in popularity all over again. That is to suggest that in a comic culture that is always looking for the next hot thing, the next hot book/character, it is increasingly important to be self-aware about your buying and selling practices.

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If you are like me, then you probably skipped Punchline unless you were able to get copies for cover price.  If you are like me, you will wait and decide whether it makes sense to grab copies of these books when you know more about the character.  If you were able to grab copies of these books at cover price (remember I ordered 20 copies of these books at cover price and everyone jumped bad at me like I was a moron), I salute you.  Incidentally, the retailer I ordered books from did not fulfill my order. He actually didn’t provide me with a single copy of the book.

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That is mildly disappointing, but I will not be spending some exorbitant amount of money to buy these books in the secondary market.  If you want to roll the dice for fun on a copy or a few copies, more power to you. I hope that the gamble works out. It’s your money.  I suspect that the book is going to maintain its value much in the same way that Cosmic Ghost Rider, the Batman Who Laughs, Jenika and others have maintained their value.  If the character is interesting, the books will probably appreciate incrementally over time. For me, at the buy, I’m not interested.

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In all sincerity, it is probably the time to be buying Harley Quinn books.  Following the lackluster performance of Suicide Squad and while everyone has their eyes set on Punchline, this week may be the week to scope out a live auction on a Batman Adventures #12 or any number of her other key books.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Matt Reeves the Batman will be a box office success and we will soon be living in a world where Batman reigns supreme.

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The comparisons between Punchline (a character with a handful of panels)  and Harley (who has two major motion pictures and hundreds of comics under her belt) is something to laugh about.  I’ve heard people talk incessantly about this idea that the Joker and Punchline are somehow inextricably linked because of their names.  This kind of irrational justification is adorable until collectors start dropping $300.00 on an error copy.

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Without beating a dead horse, all I am suggesting is that you be careful and remember that your buddy Nico reminded you that for that kind of money you could purchase a beautiful Golden Age work of art.

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Better Batman Spec

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The reality is that very few collectors have the cash necessary to buy the Golden Age Batman key books.  Unless you are willing to drop a few thousand or few tens of thousands, you can’t even play in that market.  But Silver, Bronze and Copper Age Batman keys are still amazing books. I want to talk about a couple of those books that I like to help get you thinking about these books ahead of all the attention Matt Reeves Batman film is going to bring to these books.

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Batman as a character, like the X-Men, had runs that were incredibly sought after in my youth that are now all but dollar bin fodder.  A prime example of this is Batman Year One issues #404 through #407. Another great example of this is Batman Death in the Family., particularly Batman #428.  While CGC 9.8 copies command a premium, we see books like Batman #428 sell for about $80.00 in CGC 9.6 condition and copies of Batman #404 command less than  $40.00 in CGC 9.6 condition.

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Some of you may remember that back in September we discussed some of the other Batman buying opportunities.  These are the books I continue to think about when putting together a collection, an investment portfolio and/or a short box:

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Batman #222 (classic Beatles cover)

Batman #222

Batman #227 (the classic Neal Adam cover swipe of Detective #31)

Batman #227

Batman #234 (1st Silver Age Two-Face)

Batman #234

Batman #237 (1st Reaper)

Batman 237

Batman #251 (Neal Adams Joker).

Batman #251

Batman #155 (the first Silver Age Penguin)

Batman #155

Batman #190 (a great Penguin Silver Age book)

Batman #190

Batman #171 (the first Silver Age Riddler)

Batman #171

Batman #232 (the first Ra’s Al Ghul)

Batman 232

Batman #181 (the 1st Poison Ivy)

Batman #181

Batman #189  (first appearance of the Silver Age Scarecrow)

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Batman #189

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There are a ton of other key appearances that are worth noting in any cursory review of Batman speculation. For example, while now may not be the most opportune time to buy the Vengeance of Bane #1, this book is tough in high grade because it is oversized and square bound.  Bane has become a major contemporary Batman villain and I suspect that we will see him again on the big screen.

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If you prefer modern books, there are a ton of opportunities to find keys in dealers show boxes and back issue bins at your LCS.  I personally think that Scott Snyder’s early work on Batman in the New 52 has a lot of potential. It was a beloved series, Snyder is clearly a preferred voice at DC and everyone has already expressed their disappointment that Snyder’s work with the Court of Owls has not been incorporated into Reeves film (I personally don’t know that it was or wasn’t just that other people suggest they are angry because the film is using the Long Halloween as source material and not the Court of Owls).  The reality is that the ratio variants from this run were mega hot books for a number of years and now they are found for a fraction of the former selling price. I would think about grabbing these books if the price is right.

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Detective-Comics-880-cover

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One book I will be kicking myself for not purchasing is the Detective #880 CGC 9.6 newsstand variant that sold on eBay on February 21, 2020 for $549.99.  This book has become the classic cover of the modern age and newsstand copies of this book are scarce. Congratulations to the buyer.

I will refrain from talking about the virtues of Golden Age Batman comics.  There’s enough there to write a separate article. Please let me know in the comment section if that is something you may be interested in reading about.

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Error Comics 

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Since were talking about the Batman #89 error variant, I think I’ll take the opportunity to discuss the lucrative error comic market.  There is no denying that collectors pay top dollar for error comics. My experience has been that the the key to selling an error comic is getting it slabbed and getting it on the CGC census.  If CGC gives it a blue label and lists it as an error variant, you are in business. Green label, printing defects are much more difficult to re-sell. This week we saw a really rare error variant come to market and sell in a live auction.  Namely, Web of Spider-Man #100 printing error.

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Web of Spider-Man Error

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The CGC label indicated that it was manufactured with partial green hologram foil but appears to be a white variant cover.  A CGC 9.6 copy sold for $955.00 on February 24th.  This wasn’t the only sale either.  A raw copy sold a few weeks ago for considerable money as well.  Be aware of these foil errors. They are always coveted by collectors and can bring you serious money.

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Wolverine #75 error

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There have been three sales of the Wolverine #75 distorted blue hologram books.  Many of you may recall how much excitement there was around this book in several years ago. This is a great example of a book that was really hot for a minute and that is undoubtedly still in the wild in long boxes and dollar bins that could bring you hundreds of dollars if you secure a copy and get it acknowledged by CGC.  To give you some idea of the trajectory of this error comic. In 2017 the average price for a CGC 9.8 was $110.00. In 2018 there were two sales. One for $300.00 and another for $200.00. In 2019, one copy of this book sold. It brought home a price tag of $800.00. In the last 90 days there have been four copies of this book sold with prices ranging from $867.00 to $350.00.  This is a 90’s classic and it certainly checks all the nostalgia boxes for collectors (e.g., Hologram, Wolverine, Adam Kubert, Bone Claws, etc.). The most interesting fact of the resurgence of this book is that there is absolutely no information available on the CGC website that indicated how many copies of this book have been slabbed. Frankly, I don’t have enough information to determine whether or not there is any real legitimacy to the variety of eBay listings suggesting that they are “hologram errors” but I am confident that this notation from CGC on a label will unquestionably help you sell your copy of this book.  Don’t be fooled by imposters. As far as I can tell the error copies have a hologram that is basically blue no matter which way it faces and there is a lack of 3D effect which is why it is described as “distorted” on the CGC label. Do comparison shopping and proceed with caution.

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Venom #1 error

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Error comics are nothing new to the hobby or to experienced collectors.  We are all familiar with the Venom: Lethal Protector #1 Black Error. A CGC 9.8 copy of this rare book sold on Christmas day for a whopping $4,400.00A CGC 9.6 sold for $1,804.00 in a live auction on January 26th of this year.

Most of us are similarly familiar with the Spawn #1 books that were manufactured with uneven black ink.  High grade copies of this book command thousands of dollars as well.

Until next time, “Happy Hunting you bunch of Savages!” .

– Nico, Esq.

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7 comments

  • NEIL Adams, huh?

  • You seriously going to cry over not getting Batman 89 and Hell Arisen 3 at cover price ?? Not a good way to start this article.

  • I have to agree with Monopoly. Most of the article was a rant. I bet that rant wouldn’t of been as bad or long if you’d gotten your copies. As well I think if you preordered and it wasn’t filled we need to know who it was so we don’t spend our hard earned money with them.

  • I’ll agree that this article did sound sore that you didn’t get your 20 copies. Shit, I would be too, but you have a responsibility to be more objective in these articles. The fact that Teen Titans #12 goes for $300+ in 9.8 tells you that there is a lucrative opportunity in fresh key appearances, even if you don’t get them at cover price. Were Punchline to follow that same trajectory, there’s still an easy $200 to be made on buying a CGC ready copy even at today’s going rate of $40/copy. Would be interested in your thoughts about those types of opportunities and how they can potentially finance even better opportunities.

    Would be very interested in an analysis of Golden Age Batman. Know that a lot of these keys are out of reach for most, but curious to know what the growth market is for books like those. Example, we all know Riddler will be in THE BATMAN. If it’s an interesting take on the character, will Detective 140 go up in value? An 8.0 just sold for $20k at auction. Can a film appearance really inflate the value of a book already that high?

    Enjoy your articles and read weekly with excitement, but encourage you to dig deeper. Not all of us get lucky at garage sales and in dollar bins, so where else can we be rubbing two pennies together to build opportunity and our personal collections?

  • I’d be interested in reading about golden age batman keys, especially ones with room to grow, I know all the really early batman books are big money and the joker cover books are going crazy but would be interested on your take of keys that could catch fire like the joker covers books

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