BY MATT TUCK
Like New Year's fireworks, DC Fandome lit up the comic community with its trailers this weekend, and fans can’t stop talking about Black Adam. Now it’s created a new round of speculation for his key issues.
There is so much to unpack after DC’s online extravaganza, Fandome. WarnerMedia released a new trailer for The Batman and offered a teaser for The Flash with Michael Keaton and the 1989 Batcave. If that weren’t enough, one of the biggest reveals was Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson introducing a clip of him in full costume and CGI glory as Black Adam.
Considering Johnson has made a career from being the face of action comedies, the footage was surprisingly brutal, especially for a movie that will be tied to the kid-friendly Shazam!. Then again, comic fans have long appreciated Black Adam’s violent nature as his character skirts the line between good and evil.
The clip is already causing plenty of fervor for all things Black Adam. Since he is a Golden Age villain with a mighty price tag for that coveted first appearance, many collectors are taking aim at his Bronze Age keys. Let’s breakdown the market data for a closer look.
MARVEL FAMILY #1
The first time readers got a look at Black Adam was in 1945. This issue is filled with reasons to be a key. Not only do we get the comic roots of Ancient Egyptian Prince Teth-Adam as he became the wizard Shazam’s champion, but it’s also the origin of Captain Marvel’s superpowered siblings, the Marvel Family. Between those two plot points and this issue being a Golde Age key, there’s no question why it’s an expensive comic to own.
Just for fun, let’s start at the top of the grades. Last month, a 9.4 that was part of Heritage Auctions’ Promise Collection sold for an astounding $186,000. For the rest of us, there is the 1.5 that sold in August for $3,800, which is expected for a Golden Age first appearance like this.
Black Adam has been such a popular part of the DC Universe for decades now, and it’s hard to imagine there was a time when writers virtually forgot this prince of Egypt even existed. Amazingly, it took 32 years before Black Adam made his second appearance in a comic. In 1977, after DC bought the rights to Captain Marvel and his family of characters, Teth-Adam made his triumphant comic book return. It’s also the first official cover appearance of the infamous villain. Technically he was featured on the cover of 1964’s Alter Ego #7, but that is a fan-made magazine, so it is an unofficial cover appearance.
October has been a great month for Black Adam’s Bronze Age debut. At the top of the list, a 9.8 sold for a record $6,999 only yesterday. The Fandome fallout was felt throughout the graded spectrum, and a 6.5 reached a record of its own, selling for $500 yesterday as well.
Earlier this month, a 9.6 brought $1,350, but that price will likely be obliterated when the next 9.6 goes up for auction.
DC COMICS PRESENTS #49
Thanks to plenty of rumors about both Black Adam and Shazam: Fury of the Gods, this has been a much more popular issue in the past year. The cover art alone is what has made this a hot seller, but it goes deeper than that. The gossip has been that Henry Cavill will make a cameo in Fury of the Gods to team with Captain Marvel to battle Black Adam. With Cavill’s Superman future in doubt, it’s hard to imagine that he will be part of either movie in more than a cameo role. After all, filming is underway for both movies. Still, the allure of a Superman/Black Adam face off keeps this issue on many wish lists.
Compared to those earlier Black Adam keys, this one is much more affordable. The highest grade to be traded online so far has been the 9.4, which brought $150 only a day ago. In fact, it has never sold for more than $228, so this should be the comic to target for Black Adam fans on a budget.
This issue could fly under the radar until the Black Adam movie premieres. Since the New 52 era of DC Comics has such a dubious reputation among comic fans, many issues are shunned by collectors. In this case, it may be worth your while to get a copy. What is so special about it? This is the first appearance of Black Adam’s wife, the second Isis. She has been confirmed for the movie, and that has bolstered this issue’s fair market values. Could we see an Isis spinoff movie in the future? That is always a possibility.
Already this year, a 9.8 has sold for a record $400. The last time one sold, it brought $132 on October 5.
BLACK ADAM #1
It took 62 years for Black Adam to star in his own comic series, but it was worth the wait for the amazing Alex Ross cover art. While this issue is not a valuable addition to your collections based on the story itself, it will get a major boost in popularity once Dwayne Johnson makes Black Adam a household name among mainstream fans. There’s just no denying the brilliance of Ross’ work here, and it will only get more popular.
This year, the Ross variant has kicked in the afterburners. This was already an expensive comic; even in 2019, it was averaging over $200. So far in 2021, the 9.8 has sold for as much as $650, though we haven’t seen a sale since September.
THE MAINSTREAM APPEAL
Casting Johnson in the role of Black Adam will prove to be a brilliant move for WarnerMedia and the DCEU. From being a modern wrestling legend to one of the biggest movie stars in the world, he brings instant credibility to the film. In an industry dominated by Marvel Studios, mainstream audiences will flock to the theater to see the Rock as a superhero whether or not they have heard of the character.
Matt Tuck is the author of the novel, Lost Bones of the Dead. He is a professional writer, avid comic collector, former teacher, and an international man of mystery. You can follow him on his Facebook page, The Comic Blog.