BY MATT TUCK
Cap #117, Hulk #181, and Special Marvel Edition #15 saw huge numbers with plenty of record-breaking sales this week, placing them firmly at the pinnacle of this week’s top-10 comics.
10. THE MARVELS #1
After a lengthy pandemic-related delay, The Marvels #1 is finally seeing the light of day. What makes this one so special is it features the debuts of Threadneedle, Warbird, and Kevin Schumer.
With so many new characters introduced left and right these days, there is only so much room in the spotlight, and they can’t all fit. Will these new heroes play a larger part in the Marvel Universe? That is what will have to happen for this key to become the next Young Avengers #1 or Marvel Point One #1. Still, speculators are buying up every copy they can find just in case the newbies get the live-action treatment.
Prices have yet to balloon like we normally see for first appearances, and that is a good thing for collectors. On eBay, you can still get most of the variants for about $10-$20. That could change rapidly if there is any indication that one or more of the new faces could play a bigger role in the Marvel Universe, so get those copies while they’re cheap.
9. IRON FIST: THE LIVING WEAPON #1
Iron Fist did not exactly win over fans with his Netflix series, and it was an act of mercy when it was cancelled. For a time, his keys faded into the background, and collectors let them collect dust. Then the rumors began circulating that Marvel Studios was going to re-introduce at least some of those Netflix characters to the MCU. Once the Shang-Chi news broke, the idea was that Iron Fist would appear in that movie or a possible sequel (and we all know how much Marvel loves its sequels). After the Danny Rand-led series crashed and burned, Marvel Studios may be looking at bringing in a new version of the character. Enter: Pei, who made his first appearance in Iron Fist: The Living Weapon #1.
Despite not having any graded sales this year, this issue is on the move, but it is still very much affordable. That is great news because this issue has so much potential if Pei gets the power of Iron Fist in the MCU. At the moment, the raw copies of the standard edition are staying in the $30-$40 range, but that could change drastically if any new rumors emerge.
8. NEW AVENGERS #40 SECOND PRINT
Here is a great spec issue for the list. As we gear up for Secret Invasion on Disney+, not much is known about the MCU adaptation of Brian Michael Bendis’ modern classic crossover. All that has been publicized is that Nick Fury will be in the starring role. We can assume it will center on the Skrulls, which could introduce the Skrull Queen, Veranke, who debuted in New Avengers #40. In the comics, she was the centerpiece for Secret Invasion, impersonating Jessica Drew/Spider-Woman as her minions infiltrated the superhero ranks. Whether or not that will be a plot point in the Disney+ version remains to be seen. At the moment, the Skrulls are benevolent refugees in the MCU, but that could change.
With the popularity of the Secret Invasion storyline in 2008, New Avengers #40 went to a second printing, and that is the one you will want. As I have written before, this is the age of cover art, and Veranke is featured on the wraparound cover for the second printing. That first cover art has made it a prime target for collectors. At a 9.8, it last sold for $400 on April 20 after it averaged $160 last year.
While you are looking for the second print, keep in mind that the first printing is heating up as well. Although there has not been a 9.8 sold this year, a 9.6 earned $200 on April 29.
7. JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY ANNUAL #1
The Hercules speculation has been reignited. For a time, it looked as though Marvel Studios may add Herc to the cast of The Eternals, but that gossip did not pan out. Things may be changing now that Zeus is reportedly coming to Thor: Love and Thunder, at least if Russell Crowe is telling the truth. That would roll out the red carpet for the sky god’s favorite son, Hercules, which has made JIM Annual #1 highly coveted among the speculation market.
The thing is, the Prince of Power can fit into virtually any scenario in the MCU. He has been an Avenger, Bob Layton took him into the cosmic realm in the 1980s with the Prince of Power series, he has a lengthy history with Thor, and he had a romantic relationship with She-Hulk. He could even be used to set up Amadeus Cho, who was Herc’s sidekick for a time.
Ever since the Zeus story broke, JIM Annual #1 has been hitting record highs. An 8.5 sold for nearly $2,200, while a 7.5 is now selling for over $1,500 when it was less than half that price a year ago.
6. CAPTAIN AMERICA #25
There’s no comparison between Cap #25 and Captain America #117 as to the bigger key, but this one has made huge gains ever since The Falcon and the Winter Soldier finale. In this issue, Steve Rogers passed his legendary shield to Sam, and that is what makes this a modern classic.
With so much riding on the Sam Wilson Captain America, this issue will only get more valuable. Since it is not a first appearance but a re-imagining of a classic character, the ceiling is much lower than that of Cap #117. On the plus side, that keeps the prices halfway reasonable, relatively speaking. There were seven variants printed for this special issue, but the standard cover is by far the biggest seller. Graded at a 9.8, Cap #25 sold for a record-high $660 on April 24. There is also the second print that sold for $621 that same day.
5. STRANGE TALES #159
The Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine only made what amounted to two cameo appearances in FATWS, but she left a crater of speculation for her future. She has seemingly recruited John Walker for a team of her own, and there are plenty of theories going around that she will be the evil Nick Fury, rounding up members for her squad. If she follows her comic roots, the Contessa did just that when she became Madame Hydra and reformed the Hydra High Council, and it all began in Strange Tales #159 with her first appearance. This issue will stay hot as long as the Contessa is lurking in the shadows, and it will really take off if she becomes Madame Hydra in the MCU.
Last week, I reported on the ST #159’s launch into the stratosphere. It’s still going. A 9.4 is nearing the $3k mark, and a 9.2 recently sold for $1,600. Even an 8.5 has now crossed the $1k threshold. The more hype that surrounds her involvement in the MCU, the higher this issue will go.
4. INCREDIBLE HULK #449
This is another of several spots taken up by The Falcon and the Winter Soldier keys. Why wouldn’t this week’s top 10 be covered up with FATWS? It has been the most popular series in the streaming realm, and the hype for the final episode has things at a fever pitch. Even better, it is possibly setting the stage for the formation of the Thunderbolts.
We know Val has recruited John Walker for...something, and Baron Zemo has been taken to a Wakandan prison, so that leaves him very much on the board. Could it be the two will form the foundation of the Thunderbolts? That seems like a likely scenario.
The possibility of the group emerging in the MCU has made this one of the most sought after keys on the market. All year, the 9.8 has been setting records, but now that we are close to seeing the team come together, it has reached four figures, setting a record high $1,100 on April 23. That gives it four sales of over $900 in the past week.
3. SPECIAL MARVEL EDITION #15
The Shang-Chi trailer has dropped, and the hype for The Legend of the Ten Rings is just getting started. Ever since Marvel announced it would be bringing the Master of Kung Fu to the big screen, a fire was lit under this issue. Now that we have our first look at Simu Liu in the role, collectors have been all over Special Marvel Edition #15. The movie appears poised to be another huge hit for Marvel, and the company is clearly banking on it bringing strong international appeal.
All of this will elevate Shang Chi both in the MCU and in the comics, which will keep raising prices for SME #15. Already this week, a 9.8 sold for a record $13,516, and a 9.4 reached a new high of its own with a sale of $2,500. Only two days ago, an 8.5 nearly reached $1,500, and a 7.5 sold for $1,250. Even a 7.0 has now reached the $1k mark.
2. INCREDIBLE HULK #181
The rocket boosters have kicked in for Hulk #181. What was already the key of keys among the Bronze Age has been blistering the market all year. At the moment, it is as hot as ever with all the speculation surrounding Wolverine’s MCU future.
Week after week, there have been more rumors about his casting and introduction, and every bit of gossip only sends collectors on a hunt for those elusive Hulk #181s with the Marvel Value Stamps intact. In the past week, four different grades have broken records: the 9.0, 7.0, 5.0, and the 4.5.
Just yesterday, April 29, a 9.0 reached yet another record high this year when a copy sold for $14,125. Four days prior, a 7.0 set a record of its own when one brought $9,000.It doesn’t stop there. On April 27, a 5.0 eclipsed its personal best when a copy sold for $5,500, while a 4.5 hit a new high on April 25 with a $5,000 sale.
That’s not to mention all the grades that have blown past their previous highs this month alone.
1. CAPTAIN AMERICA #117
Sam Wilson stands at the summit of the MCU. FATWS wrapped a hugely successful first season, and Sam ascended from sidekick to star, sporting the red, white, and foam body suit by the final episode. Immediately after the season closed, the word spread that a fourth Captain America film was in development starring Anthony Mackie. Clearly, Marvel is fully invested in his version of Cap, and FATWS garnered plenty of support for the character. That has made Cap #117 the hottest key on the market, and with such a bright future for Mackie’s Cap, the first appearance of Sam Wilson will only get hotter.
Now that Sam is the official MCU Captain America, you will be lucky to find even a 7.0 graded Cap #117 for less than $1,000. In fact, even the lowest grade sold this month - the 2.5 - brought $350. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the 9.2 is knocking on the door of $4k when one copy brought a record $3,800 on April 25.
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.