BY MATT TUCK
How are your Alien and Predators keys looking now that the Marvel machine is in full gear? Spoiler alert: it’s good news (for sellers, at least).
THE MARVEL ERA
The first of the Fox properties has made its way into the Marvel Comics stable, and fans are gobbling it up.
Earlier this year, Marvel unveiled a series of Aliens variant covers that pitted the company’s elite characters against the xenomorphs. It was a huge hit with fans of the classic sci-fi series, and it served to hype the first issue of Marvel’s debut Aliens comic. Just yesterday, the newest Aliens #1 reached local comic shops, and it has been a success.
Next on the agenda: Predator.
Coming in May, Marvel will use the same formula and launch a series of variants with the Predator tormenting the top-tier superheroes. Of course, we all want just one thing: Predator versus Wolverine, and I am sure that limited series is in the planning phase as I type.
All this has put both the Aliens and Predator franchises back in the comic spotlight for the first time in several years, and the fair market values for their 1980s and 1990s keys have been getting a significant boost for the past year, and they aren’t slowing down. Take a look.
ALIENS #1 (1988)
Dark Horse had a hit on its hands when it published the first comic from the sci-fi/horror franchise in 1988. Aliens #1 was such a success that it eventually warranted four printings. After all the hype for Marvel’s foray into the Aliens universe, it has upped the ante for all four editions.
Back in the late ‘80s and into the ‘90s, the differences between printings were subtle. In some cases, the publisher would change the background color or make another small alteration to the cover. The most famous case of subsequent printing subtleties is Mirage’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 being so close that it takes a keen eye to discern which is the early print.
In the case of Dark Horse’s Aliens #1, the covers are identical, so you will want to look closely at what you are buying to be sure you are getting what you paid for. The only way to tell the difference between the four is to check the copyright on the inside cover. Also, be careful when buying graded copies, as CBCS notified me that they only indicate the subsequent prints on its labels.
The first print is the one to have, and the 9.8 has been raising the bar in anticipation of the Marvel release. In 2018, the record was set at $775, but it was shattered following last year’s announcement after one sold for $1,750. It didn’t stop there. In February, another traded hands for $2,301, only to be surpassed by a March 1 sale of $2,500. Of course, it is so valuable because of its rarity, at least in such a high grade. The CGC census has just 53 copies registered while the 9.6 has 148.
Outside of the 9.8, the other grades are just a fraction of that price. At a 9.6, one recently brought $502, while a 9.4 earned $330. Even the 8.0 sold for $225 in February, but it is much more affordable than those near-mint grades.
If you just want an Aliens #1 on the cheap, look no further than the subsequent printings. While the third and fourth prints both earned triple digits in the second half of 2020, only the first print has seen any sales in 2021. That should help keep the prices relatively low for the second to fourth prints.
Once Marvel’s Predator variants hit the local comic shops, getting your hands on a high-grade Predator #1 will be much more difficult. That is especially true for that elusive 9.8, although it is easier to find than a first-print Aliens #1 at the same grade. Overall, CGC has 245 9.8s listed on its census data as opposed to 345 of the 9.6s.
Speaking of that 9.8, it has really taken off since Marvel announced it was taken over publishing duties. Last year, the 2014 record of $700 was broken by $26. This year, the roof has begun to come off as one copy sold for $875 on March 19. In fact, there has not been a 9.8 that sold for less than $800 since February 24.
The better deal is the 9.6, but it is on the way up, too. Although it has a 90-day average of $196, the most recent sale was for $270. Just below that is the 9.4, which is currently selling for $150.
There is also a second print that is making the rounds, and it commands a notable FMV. Earlier this month, one sold for $550 at a 9.8, while a 9.6 earned $140.
DARK HORSE PRESENTS #36
The modern originator of the shared cinematic universe, the Aliens and Predator franchises crossed paths for the first time in the closing moments of 1990’s Predator 2. With that tease, a new world of warring xenomorphs and Yautja was born with the colonial marines caught in the middle.
In the comics, it began with Dark Horse Presents #36, and we are bound to see the two franchises interact in the Marvel Universe. That is making DHP #36 a hot issue. The 9.8 sold for a record-high $570 last year, and one has already reached $460 this month. For a little less money, you get what I consider the better cover art with the variant edition. At the same 9.8 grade, it is selling for $300.
If you don’t want to part with close to $500 for the standard edition at a 9.8, the 9.6 for both editions dips below $100.
Sooner or later, both the Aliens and Predator franchises will have crossovers with Marvel’s superheroes. Dating back to the Dark Horse eras, they had plenty of interactions with the DC characters, and fans have been waiting for a Marvel battle for decades. We are on the cusp of having just that happen, and it will only make these key issues that much more expensive.
Matt Tuck is the author of the novel, Lost Bones of the Dead. He is also a teacher, freelance writer, comic collector, and an international man of mystery. You can follow him on his Facebook page, The Comic Blog.