Lists that Make Cents: Comic Books with Box Office Smashes

In 1989, something miraculous happened. That year, Batman arrived in the theatres. While the movie itself was good, that is not what the miracle really was. It was the first time the comics saw how much movies could directly influence the market. For years after, prices exploded and the market saw prices never realized. Unfortunately, less than a decade later, the market would also go into a serious comic recession. Companies folded, distributors stopped distributing, and artists themselves rallied for better working conditions. In reality, that is the way the comic market works. It can easily be tracked that every odd decade (I have been touting this for years), the comic market slumps. In the 1930s the comic market may never have become what it was but for the advent of Superman in Action Comics #1 in 1938. The 1950s saw the Wertham debacle, book burnings, censorship and the creation of the Comic Code Authority, and while the 1970s had some of the best artwork and stories, sales lagged. And so went the 1990s.

Incredibly though, the comic market that was on track for another down period in the 2010s, had the train derailed. In 2008, during the start of the monster real estate market and financial collapse, comics got stronger.  Right when they were supposed to be losing steam for the next downturn, they got a major influx of enthusiasts.  How could this possibly happen? Did comic books get cheaper? Nope, in fact if anything, they have gotten more expensive. Were the stories and art better? Arguably, no (I would personally contend that artwork from pre 1980s is better than almost anything produced today with the exception of a few artists). So what happened?

Two words: Iron Man.

2008 marked the start of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) that would span over a decade, culminating with Avengers: Endgame (at the time of this publication, should have been released less than a week), and presumably breaking all movie records in existence. We didn’t, however, get only one or two movies that then went away for 20 years. What we got with Iron Man was a movie that then fed into another movie, which wasn’t Iron Man, which then fed into ANOTHER movie that wasn’t either Iron Man or THAT movie. In short, the MCU created exactly that; a universe for which we could go to and escape our problems in real life. During the financial crisis, while many people were losing their houses, life savings and families, people escaped to the MCU to become that super hero they always dreamed of being. A new generation was thrust into comic books and comic movies that may have never picked up a book. In essence, all of a sudden it was cool to be a nerd.

Along with this, the comic market boomed. Instead of a lull, the market exploded. In my opinion there are three main reasons for this.

1) The new influx and generation of people into the market buying things because the movies were “cool” created a windfall of fresh money into the market. Supply couldn’t keep up with demand, and so book prices skyrocketed.

2) People who had collections sitting untouched for so long started bringing them to market. This still wasn’t able to keep up with demand but it allowed for fresh books to come to market, and collections saved many a home. Prices still moved upwards.

3) With the destruction of the real estate market, Wall Street money had to go somewhere safe. While the comic book market has lulled every odd decade, the one thing that has NEVER happened is this: comic book prices have NEVER tanked. They are about as safe an “investment” as a person could make (I won’t go into details as to why prices don’t go down. The why’s aren’t as important as the fact that it never has).

Individual books may lower a little, but they don’t crash. When I say this, I am not talking about that cool book that just came out that every kid has to have. I am talking about books that have sustained a monetary amount over decades. The influx of Wall Street money, demand for high end books and extremely short supply of higher graded books have created the market to do something never seen before: a sustained explosion and record setting prices, in which the end is nowhere in sight.

The summer movie blockbuster season is in full swing, culminating (but not limited to) Avengers: Endgame. In lieu of my normal list for the month let us change it up and create a list of books you may not be aware of, that may (or may not) be directly affected by these movies.

#10 Avengers #257 (Marvel 1985)

Avengers: Endgame

This is the book I understand the least. I cannot understand why this book specifically isn’t worth way more than it is. This is the first appearance of Nebula. Nebula herself played a HUGE role in the original series The Infinity Gauntlet. While she had a minor role in Guardians of the Galaxy movie, she has been steadily increasing in screen time. It sure doesn’t hurt that Karen Gillan is playing the character either. Expect her to have a major role in Endgame.

 The Avengers #257 (Marvel, 1985) CGC NM/MT 9.8 White pages.

#10 Avengers #257 (Marvel 1985)

 

#9 Marvel Premiere (Marvel 1972)

While Adam Warlock was only hinted at the end of Guardians of the Galaxy vol 2, he is set to show up eventually. Will he show up in Endgame or will the MCU bring him in during the next phase? Regardless, it is a book you should own now rather than later. The black cover makes a very high grade very difficult to obtain.

Marvel Premiere #1 Warlock (Marvel, 1972)

#8 Silver Surfer v3 #44 (Marvel 1990)

While most people focus on Infinity Gauntlet #1, I think this specific book is more important. This is the first appearance of the Infinity Gauntlet itself. While the item itself seems like it shouldn’t be a major key, everything centers around the gems themselves being put into the gauntlet and being used through it. No gauntlet, no movies or war. While most key issues center on people, only a select few center on items. After all, where would we be without Kryptonite? The Infinity Gauntlet is almost the Marvel version of Kryptonite.

Silver Surfer V3#44 (Marvel, 1990)

 

#7. Captain Marvel Adventures #29 (Fawcett Publications 1943)

Shazam!

Whether he shows up fully in the sequel or the third installment as the main villain, the first appearance of Mr. Mind will be a book that you will want to have. He had a brief cameo at the end of the movie and most people unfamiliar with him will go “really… a caterpillar?” Mr. Mind, however, was one of Captain Marvel’s main villains and sustained through many of his books. This book will be out of reach soon for many people.

 

#6. Whiz Comics #3 (#2) (Fawcett Publications 1940)

It is hard to pinpoint, but this is actually the first appearance of Dr. Sivana, another of Captain Marvel’s arch nemesis. Trying to find one unrestored or complete copy may be difficult, but should be a fun treasure hunt. It will be interesting to see if Sivana shows up in future movies especially since, in the comics, Sivana and Mr. Mind team up.

Whiz Comics #3 (#2) (Fawcett Publications, 1940) CGC GD+ 2.5 Off-white to white pages

#5. Wow Comics #18 (Fawcett Publications 1943)

This one is pure speculation, but it stands to reason that Uncle Dudley may show up at any point even if it for comic relief. While he wasn’t in the current movie, there were so many comic references throughout the movie, that him showing up in any way, whether trying to dupe the Marvel’s or lend a hand with a change of heart, could be a very real part of the story line. If that happens, this book will be a catch.

Wow Comics #18 (Fawcett Publications, 1943) CGC FN 6.0 Cream to off-white pages

 

#4. Whiz Comics #21 (Fawcett Publications 1941)

This one is flying under everyone’s radar. This is the first appearance of the Lt. Captain Marvels. While not exactly the same, it is clear that this book was adapted directly to the end of the movie. This book should be a major key just because of the fact the movie pulled directly from it. If you haven’t seen it, I won’t spoil it… but you should get this book before people wake up.

Whiz Comics #21 (Fawcett Publications, 1941) Condition FN-.

 

#3. Amazing Spider-Man #13 (Marvel 1964)

Spider-Man: Far From Home

Of all the items on the list, this is probably the most well known. After all, it has been common knowledge that Mysterio is in the next movie. What we don’t know is who else is. The MCU is pretty good at keeping things under wraps, so even trying to speculate is difficult. As of right now, Mysterio is what we are going to see. Don’t be surprised if a few other villains pop up during the movie.

 The Amazing Spider-Man #13 (Marvel, 1964) CGC FN/VF 7.0 White pages

 

#2. Ultimate Fallout #4 (Marvel 2011)

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse

I typically talk about books from the Bronze Age or older. However for the last two, I have to give credit where credit is due. Fresh off an Oscar win for Best Animated Picture, the corresponding first appearance of Myles Morales should be in your collection. I wish I could tell the future, and that this book will sustain throughout the decades. Personally, I think it will only if the character stays relevant. If the character cannot stay relevant, then prices will not either. Tarzan and the Lone Ranger were some of the most popular books of their times, however they have fallen out of what made them relevant. This has caused a large loss of interest and, if not loss of value, then loss of care for sure.

 Ultimate Fallout #4 (Marvel, 2011) CGC NM/MT 9.8 White pages

#1. Edge of Spider-Verse #2 (Marvel 2014)

Spider-Gwen has been a huge success with Marvelites and continued in the movies. Rumors of Spider-Gwen getting her own movie have been prolific. Pictured above is her first appearance, and next to it, the variant edition of the same book. As I said above, it remains to be seen if this is just a flash in the pan. As long as she remains relevant, this book is a keeper.

Now that comic movies are a mainstream genre, more and more books are being affected within the market on a daily basis. While much is wide speculation, and trying to stay ahead of that speculation is almost impossible (even for me), there is no denying that the comic market as it currently stands is very strong. This could change if Marvel (and I say Marvel because the MCU has been the driving force behind it now for over ten years while DC is playing catch up) ever tosses a rotten egg into the mix, but their brilliant business model SO FAR, has played to perfection. As more movies are released, try to look at books that aren’t the main, obvious ones to pick up. It should be far cheaper, and may be a better hunt than the obvious first appearances.

Visit our comics department for upcoming auctions, or browse through our auction archives for pricing data. If you are looking to find value for your comic book or collection, reach out to our experts for a free appraisal.

Edge of Spider-Verse #2 (Marvel, 2014) CGC NM/MT 9.8 White pages

 

Edge of Spider-Verse #2 Variant Edition (Marvel, 2014) CGC NM/MT 9.8 White pages.

 

 

 

Posted by Brian Wiedman

Comics Grader

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