BY MATT TUCK
FB@ The Comic Blog
Marvel is set to introduce yet another Hulk, and it’s causing a stir for Hulk #3 and the upcoming Hulk #6.
Titan, also called the Black Hulk, is making waves across the investment spectrum. Not much is known about him. He appears briefly in Hulk #3, which was released this month, and the word on the internet is that he will make his full debut in Hulk #6. Anytime there is a new character, collectors scramble to get their hands on the debut issue, and that is driving the market towards both those issues.
THE CATES RUNS
There’s no denying that Donny Cates knows what collectors and investors want from new comics: first appearances. His Venom run was marked by several new faces, most notably Knull, God of the Symbiotes, and Eddie Brock’s son, Dylan, who took up the mantle from his old man at the end. Cates has used the same formula in his current run on Thor, and he’s caused a frenzy for Thor #21 with the first appearance of the God of Hammers.
Love or hate the strategy, new characters sell comics. This is the age of speculation, and nothing gets a modern comic to a sell out like a hot new character. Past the speculation side of things, it also helps to keep the stories fresh. When Knull was brought into the Marvel-616, it gave Venom the one thing he had been missing from his solo adventures, and that was an arch-nemesis. Once the God of the Symbiotes’ popularity went through the proverbial ceiling, Knull expanded outside the pages of Venom and became a cosmic-level threat. That presented fans with new hero-villain matchups never seen before, and it made for several best sellers.
What does Cates have in store for Titan? The sky could be the limit.
While Cates was working his magic on Venom, Al Ewing was building a cult following with his work on Immortal Hulk. Ewing picked up in the wake of the not-so-stellar Totally Awesome Hulk era, a younger, trendier Green Goliath who was meant to appeal more to teenage readers. It’s not to say that fans hated the Totally Awesome Hulk, but there’s just no replacing the original. When Bruce Banner returned in Avengers #684, a new Hulk was born, the Immortal Hulk.
Injecting mature themes and a horror tone and atmosphere to the character, Immortal Hulk became an instant classic among fans. The Hulk title and all its supporting characters were given a second life. Like Cates did for Venom, Ewing expanded the Hulk mythology by introducing a new, powerful villain, the One Below All, as well as the concept of the Green Door. He even managed to take Hulk to Hell and back.
Once their respective runs were complete, Cates and Ewing swapped writing duties. So far, neither is experiencing quite the success he had with his former title, that’s not to say either Hulk or Venom has been a flop. Sales have been solid on both fronts, but Hulk is about to get a massive sales boost as Titan is set to make an impact very soon.
As investors and speculators await the arrival of Titan in all his glory, it has caused a spike for his first appearance in Hulk #3. In the grand scheme, this will go down as a cameo appearance, but it remains Black Hulk’s debut all the same.
On eBay, the standard cover with a vintage whiskers-era Wolverine in the background has begun pushing into $20 territory, though most copies are still selling for around $15. Meanwhile, the 1:25 ratio variant (in other words, for every 25 copies of the standard edition, comic shops get one copy of the Tradd Moore cover) has sold for as much as $45 since the weekend.
Speaking of FMVs, what is the state of the market for those Hulk #6 preorders? Keep in mind, the issue to have will be the Ryan Ottley variant cover with Black Hulk on the cover. The standard edition will likely see massive sales numbers when the issue hits local comic shop shelves thanks to Titan’s appearance on the interior pages, but his first cover appearance will spark the biggest FMVs. Time and again, we have seen a character’s initial cover art outsell even the in-story first appearances. It happened with Incredible Hulk #181, and we’ve seen it happen with the third print of Venom #3. It could happen again with Hulk #6, though it is doubtful it will reach the levels of Venom #3 third print, but that doesn’t mean it won’t rack up impressive figures.
At the moment, Hulk #6 is being pre-ordered across the auction sites. The standard cover is staying reasonable, and most copies have about a $5 price tag, which is close to the cover price. There will be several variant covers for this issue, including the Ottley variant with Black Hulk on the cover. EBay sellers have plenty to choose from with variants from notable artists Geoff Shaw and Alex Garner as well, though the artwork has not been revealed for their issues. It is safe to assume at least one of those two will also feature Titan in the artwork, and that could diminish the values for the Ottley variant, depending on which cover reaches local comic shops first. At the moment, the Shaw and Garner “spoiler” variants are being listed for about $5, which is worth the investment for that price.
The cover to watch could be the Marco Mastrazzo variant. Although no images for this particular edition have been released just yet, there was a preorder for $44.95 on Saturday. Once the artwork is revealed, that could give the prices another spike.
A VARIETY OF HULKS
With so much attention on the latest of Bruce Banner’s many personalities, this makes for a good time to check on the alternate Hulk market. Over the years, there have been many versions of the Hulk to set foot in the Marvel-616 and beyond, and a full rundown would require a blog all to itself. To keep things succinct, we’ll focus today’s efforts on the most recent Hulks, namely Immortal Hulk and Original Hulk.
When Ewing brought the Hulk back to the forefront of modern comics, this issue got a major boost in the collector circles. While it is not necessarily a first appearance since the retconned story established that Hulk has always been immortal, fans were nonetheless enamored with the debut of Immortal Hulk in Avengers #684.
The record for the graded 9.8 was set in 2019 when it sold 558 times with a high of $300. There hasn’t been another sale to match that record, but one copy did reach $242 in 2021. How are things going this year? We could be in for impressive figures. While the high sale remains at $180, which is the cheapest it’s been in four years, the low sale is the figure to notice. Over 10 sales in January, the lowest price so far has been $134. That is head and shoulders above the low sales for each year since 2018.
IMMORTAL HULK: TIME OF MONSTERS
In 2021, this looked like a future key waiting to happen. The fan excitement for the debut of yet another Hulk took the comic world by storm. This time, it was the Original Hulk who premiered in the Immortal Hulk one-shot, Time of Monsters.
As the story goes, Original Hulk hailed from 10,000 years ago. Members of a primitive tribe were sacrificed to the Green God - a comet that gave off gamma radiation. The story proved to be not only the prehistoric origins of the Hulk, but also the origin of Ewing’s Green Door.
Since Time of Monsters hit shelves, nothing else has come of the Original Hulk. There is still the potential for him to emerge in a future story and throw down with Hulk, so there remains speculation that this issue could gain value.
Prices are down for the graded copies, but that is not a bad thing. Last year, the standard cover at a 9.8 averaged $78. So far in 2022, it has hovered closer to the $50 mark. Meanwhile, the variant cover last sold for $70 in November, which was $14 higher than its 2021 average.
THE POWER OF GOOD MARKETING
No question, new characters sell, and no one has a claim to the new character throne quite like Cates. In the last three years, he has created several fresh faces for Marvel across all of his titles. In addition to Knull and Dylan Brock, there’s Cosmic Ghost Rider, Old Man Thanos, Worthy Silver Surfer, Black Winter, and recently the God of Hammers. Suffice to say, Titan is only the first of what will likely be many characters added to the Hulk mythos during his run on the title.
The bigger picture is always the movie potential for any character, and that is where the investment speculation finds its thunder, particularly with Cates’ creations. There have been rumors and theories of both Knull and Dylan being used in a future Sony or possibly MCU project, which keeps the fair market values for their firsts inflated.
The possibility of another Hulk ascending to the land of live action is much less than that of the aforementioned characters, but he could become a greater threat in the comics. While the limited movie prospects may put a cap on FMVS for Hulk #6, it will still get a boost simply because the Black Hulk is a new character.