BY MATT TUCK
The Suicide Squad propelled Bloodsport’s debut to #1, and a “leaked” audition tape pushed Young Avengers #1 back into the mix in this week’s Frankie’s Top-10 Comics.
10. POKEMON: THE ELECTRIC TALE OF PIKACHU #1
It is paying large dividends to check your long boxes for those old kids’ comics. It began with the Thundercats movie, which propelled Thundercats #1 to new records across the graded board. Then the Masters of the Universe took center stage with Kevin Smith’s Revelation. Transformers, G.I. Joe, and even the Silverhawks are all seeing huge figures thanks to nostalgia and revitalized fanbases. It even extends to the video game universe, with the first comics for Super Mario Brothers and the Legend of Zelda reaching impressive figures this year. This cartoon and video game craze has made collectors and investors alike take a second look at those toy and game tie-ins.
Now we see that it is not just the 1980s nostalgia fueling the market. With the recent announcement that Netflix is creating a live-action Pokemon series, collectors were jumping on the trade-card game phenomenon’s first comic appearance in the United States. Published by Viz Comics in 1998, Pokemon: the Electric Tale of Pikachu #1 was so popular that it went to an impressive 16 printings worldwide. Tracking down the different prints is a task unto itself, and CGC only has the third, fourth, ninth, and thirteenth in its census data.
The raw copies are selling quite well on eBay, where the entire four-issue set has been selling anywhere from $50 to $100.
9. EXILES #3
Marvel Studios keeps rattling off the Disney+ series like a card dealer, and each episode brings a whole new round of speculation. The newest edition to the Disney+ Marvel family is What If…?, and the studio has not been shy about promoting the alternate universe Peggy Carter. This version (or should I say “variant?”) sees Steve Rogers’ long lost love taking up the shield as a super soldier herself. That has speculators scrambling for this up-until-now forgotten comic.
In the pages of Exiles #3, readers were given their first views of Captain America Peggy Carter on the covers of both the standard and the 1:10 ratio variant.
It has caused an uproar for both of these issues before the new show debuts, but those Puzzle Quest variants have truly exploded. At 9.8s, these have been expensive for years. Back in 2019, copies sold for as much as $450. The values dipped to a high of $160 last year, but they rebounded and more in recent months. On July 26, one graded 9.8 sold for $909.
That’s not to say that the standard edition isn’t on the move as well. The last two 9.8s sales each netted $300 or more. However, that is a third of the value for the game edition.
8. EARTH 2 #19
Over the past couple of weeks, this issue has once again heated up the market. Earlier this year, it picked up steam along with Final Crisis #7 after J.J. Abrams announced that he was looking to cast an African-American Superman for the upcoming reboot. The speculation began; who would be DC’s first black Superman for the silver screen? The attention turned to Calvin Ellis and Val-Zod, two alternate Supermen from different Earths. At the time, the smart money was on Calvin, though that gamble fizzled out when Abrams and Ta-Nehisi Coates said the new Superman would, in fact, be Clark Kent.
For a time, those African-American Superman keys cooled significantly. Then came the news that Michael B. Jordan, who denied rumors that he was the frontrunner to play the new Superman, was bringing Val-Zod to life. That’s right: Val-Zod will introduce the DCEU to Earth-Two’s cast of characters for his own HBO Max series.
Immediately, values for Val-Zod’s early appearances were thrust into the spotlight. Although he did not appear in costume, the most sought after key on the list is his debut in Earth 2 #19. On July 30, a 9.8 sold for a record $1,000. Most collectors have turned to raw copies, which are frequently selling for $100-$125.
7. MARVEL SPOTLIGHT #5
There has been talk of Ghost Rider coming to movie screens for several months now. After Robbie Reyes appeared in the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. series, the Spirit of Vengeance was set to star in his own live-action Hulu show. Then Marvel suddenly cancelled that plan, and the word began to spread that there was a new project in the works. Kevin Feige and company have been mum on the subject, but the latest rumor is that several Ghost Riders will ride into the MCU either on Disney+ or on the big screen. In turn, that has ignited values for Marvel Spotlight #5.
The highest graded copy sold this month was an 8.0, which brought $4,800. That’s actually down from the year-high of $6,756, but it is still respectable. On August 2, a 7.0 sold for $2,640, while a 5.0 brought $1,700 a day later.
6. ALL-NEW MARVEL NOW! POINT ONE #1
So much is riding on the Young Avengers. Although Marvel Studios has been silent on the topic lately, it is more apparent than ever that the Disney+ series are building toward a live-action team up for the MCU.
One of those members will likely be Kamala Khan, who is gearing up for the debut of her Disney+ show. That has sent prices for her first appearances skyrocketing for the better part of a year now. Only lately, the Steve McNiven 1:75 ratio for All-New Marvel Now! Point One #1 variant has asserted itself as the top of the food chain when it comes to FMVs. This week, a raw copy sold at auction for a whopping $3,106.
Based on availability and a significant difference in price, the standard edition remains the best seller by far. Raw copies are moving practically every day on eBay, and even higher grades are much easier on the budget, generally selling in the $200 range. If you aim for the graded variety, the 9.8 has averaged $1,693 in the past 90 days, with the last sale earning $1,799 on July 29.
5. SAGA #1
Three years ago, Saga had so much buzz surrounding it. The first issue was reaching record numbers as the series had fans on the edge of their collective seats for the next issue. Then it suddenly came to a stop. Saga creator Brian K. Vaughn has been adamant that the space opera has not seen its last issue, but three years in the comic book world is an eternity to wait between books. Earlier this year, there was light at the end of the tunnel. Vaughn announced that the series would be picking up where he left off, and there would indeed be more Saga on the market. While there is no official release date, fans are anxiously awaiting the next installment.
That excitement for the return of a fan-favorite series has sent collectors back on the hunt for Saga #1. Graded at a 9.8, the standard edition set a record high of $857 in May, destroying the previous mark set in 2019 by $220. Since then, prices have not reached that level, but it is still consistently selling in the $600-$700 range.
Once Saga is back in full gear, the standard cover will again push toward that record figure. What will be even bigger news will be when a movie studio options the rights to the property. With the series’ immense popularity, it seems a lock to happen in the near future.
4. GHOST RIDER #1 (1990)
Speaking of those various Ghost Riders screaming across the Multiverse, it has reignited interest in the ‘90s Spirit of Vengeance, Danny Ketch. There has been speculation for years that he would be the MCU’s Ghost Rider in Marvel Studios’ attempt to distance themselves from the Nicolas Cage movies, in which the actor portrayed Johnny Blaze. If the rumors can be believed, then Ketch and Blaze will share the screen along with other versions of the character.
What propels 1990’s GR #1 ahead of Marvel Spotlight #5 is not FMV. It’s quite the opposite, actually. Raw copies for Ketch’s first appearance have been selling enmasse as of late, and they typically carry a $20-$30 price tag. With the chances of him appearing either on Disney+ or in a movie, it makes this much easier to come by than Johnny’s first appearance.
3. X-MEN #94
Whenever the X-Men return to the spotlight, there are three issues that immediately get a bump: X-Men #1, Giant-Size X-Men #1, and X-Men #94. Surprisingly, it’s been the latter that has seen the most action in recent weeks.
What separates X-Men #94 from its holy grail peers is that this issue marked the first story in the legendary Chris Claremont run. It also saw the debut of the all-new, all-different team from GSX in the regular title. Although it does not compete with X-Men #1 or GSX #1 in terms of fair market value, that also makes it a collector’s darling because it is so much more affordable.
It was only a year ago that a 5.5 averaged $370, but now the 90-day FMV has skyrocketed to $1,119. The most recent sale was for over $900 earlier this week. Even a 4.0 has a three-month average of $762, and the last one to exchange hands online was for $630. When the lower grades are bringing those kinds of figures, it speaks volume for the comic’s popularity among collectors.
2. YOUNG AVENGERS #1
Get ready for this comic to get even hotter in the coming days. The word on the internet is that an audition tape featured an actor playing Tommy Maximoff for an upcoming project. Reportedly, the video has references that point toward the Young Avengers, which is basically the worst-kept secret in Marvel Studios at the moment.
The Young Avengers are the future of Marvel’s superteams. The pieces have been slowly falling into place. First, Tommy and Billy Maximoff debuted on WandaVision, then Isiah Bradley, aka Patriot, made a couple of cameos in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Up next is Kate Bishop, who will take up the purple bow and quiver from Clint Barton in Hawkeye. That’s not all. With the Kang variants incoming, there could be a chance that Iron Lad will make his way into the MCU.
It all spells inflated prices for those YA keys. Keep in mind the standard edition graded at a 9.8 has not sold for less than $900 since March 29. While it was at its peak in April, the first week of August has already seen sales of $990 and $978. This issue is so hot that even raw copies of the director’s cut edition regularly sell for over $100, while the graded 9.8 bring more than $600.
1. SUPERMAN #4
James Gunn is somewhat of a magician in the world of comic collecting. He can take an obscure character with an ignored first appearance and make both the hottest tickets on the market. Once again, he has cast his spell, this time propelling Superman #4 to new heights.
With audiences finally getting their looks at The Suicide Squad, Idris Elba’s Bloodsport is quickly gaining a new following. He is everything fans love from a superhero: he’s tough with a dry-cool wit, though Gunn provided him with a healthy dose of quirkiness, and his look will inspire action figures and statues for years to come. What’s not to like?
To think, the 9.8 was a $56 comic two years ago. Even last year, it was averaging $123. Now the 90-day average has risen to $232, and this week’s sales have been anywhere from $240-$375. Looking for a better deal? Raw sales abound across the auction sites, and eBay’s sold listings for this comic have generally stayed in the $50-$60 range.
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.