BY MATT TUCK
Disney+’s plethora of Marvel content is sweeping across the secondary market, and the surprise leader of the pack is Agatha Harkness. Take a look now at the ten hottest trends in comic collecting with up-to-the-minute market data.
10. CAPTAIN BRITAIN AND MI:13 #1
Collectors are still lining up to get their hands on a near-mint Captain Britain and MI:13 #1. This stems from the epic bonus scene after the credits finished rolling for Eternals. Not only did we get the major hint that, indeed, Dane Whitman would take up the Ebony Blade and become the Black Knight, but Mahershala Ali is officially in the MCU as Blade. Even though we didn’t see Ali’s face, we heard his voice asking Dane if he was sure about lifting the magical sword.
At first glance, it would not seem that Black Knight and Blade have much in common. One stems from Arthurian legends while the other is a vampire hunter. Maybe I missed it, but I never read about King Arthur or the Black Knight battling the undead creatures of the night. When it comes to Marvel, anything is possible, and the two characters are linked through MI:13, the United Kingdom’s supernatural task force armed with keeping mythical monsters in check. It just so happens that Blade and the Black Knight were members of MI:13, and that appears to be the direction Marvel Studios is heading.
The Easter egg has prompted collectors to add those MI:13 keys to their shopping lists. The team was first known as The Department in 1996’s Excalibur #101, and they were officially renamed MI:13 in New Excalibur #1. However, one of the biggest sellers has been the first title with MI:13 in the name, Captain Britain and MI:13 #1. Be it the standard cover or the variants, this issue is on the move, and the popularity is only increasing by the day as audiences await the team to come together in the MCU.
Generally, the raw copies for either the standard edition or the sketch variant are selling anywhere from $15 to $30. There is also the Brandon Peterson variant floating about the auction sites, and it tends to bring $60 or more.
On November 7, the only graded copy to sell in 2021 - a 9.8-graded standard copy - sold for $200. Before that, there hadn’t been a graded 9.8 to sell online since 2018 when one brought $13. That, my friends, is the MCU effect in action.
9. MARVEL PREMIERE #10
One way or another, Shuma-Gorath is destined for the MCU. This monster is a godlike being (but aren’t they all?) who hails from a separate dimension. That may sound an awful lot like Dormammu, and it is, only Shuma-Gorath is a bit more of a horror character than the former. There are rumors that he will be the main antagonist in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, but he also seems a logical choice for Agatha: House of Harkness.
Shuma-Gorath originated in a Conan short story, “The Curse of the Golden Skull,” written by Conan creator Robert E. Howard. After the Comics Code Authority loosened its stranglehold on the industry in the 1970s, Shuma-Gorath was mentioned in Marvel Premiere #5, and he would make his grand entrance in Marvel Premiere #10. In his first story, Shuma-Gorath battled Doctor Strange after the Ancient One’s death.
Shuma-Gorath also fits into Agatha Harkness lore. Years after his defeat at the hands of the Sorcerer Supreme, the Lord of Chaos was summoned by Agatha’s warlock son, Nicholas Scratch. That could become a plot point for the upcoming House of Harkness, which only elevates Marvel Premiere #10’s speculative value.
Yesterday, a graded 7.5 sold on eBay for $368. Meanwhile, a raw copy brought $150, which was a day after another copy was purchased for $225. Whenever Marvel Studios makes it official where Shuma-Gorath will appear, this comic will light up the market in a big way.
8. MARVEL TEAM-UP #65
With the MI:13 Easter egg firmly planted in Eternals, it is only logical that the next piece to the puzzle will be Captain Britain. Not that there has been any shortage of gossip about the British captain coming to the MCU. Kevin Feige has said that several actors have approached him about bringing Brian Braddock to life, and Superman himself, Henry Cavill, recently stirred the pot when he commented on his desire to wear the Union Jack spandex jumpsuit. Factor in the Eternals post-credits scene, and it would seem that Captain Britain is inbound. Then again, haven’t we been saying this for years? This time, it might actually happen.
The trouble is that a high-grade Captain Britain #1, the character’s first appearance, is harder to find at a reasonable price. That’s why many collectors have opted for his United States debut in Marvel Team-Up #65. This comic saw the Captain join forces with Spider-Man against Arcade in his full debut.
Earlier today, a 9.0 was bought for $200. If you don’t want to pay that elevated price, consider investing in raw copies. Those typically sell in the $60 range, depending on the grade.
7. NAOMI #1
With a new live-action show on the horizon, collectors have a new reason to buy up those first appearances of Naomi.
It was only a couple years ago that Naomi was one of the hottest new characters in all of comics. Her debut in Naomi #1 was a sellout across the country, and near-mint graded copies were bringing a premium on the secondary market. Day after day, records were made and then broken. Then things plateaued before taking a downward spiral.
What happened? Anytime we see a new character in either Marvel or, in this case, DC, the impact is only as broad as the editorial team wants it to be. Buyers jump on those first appearances hoping to have the next Hulk #181 in their hands, but oftentimes the creative team doesn’t see the same potential as collectors. As the character loses importance in the stories, the key issue loses value to collectors and speculators. Such is the case with Naomi.
At one point, it seemed Naomi would be the next major force in the DC Universe. Her past was a mystery, and she was rumored to have powers on par with Superman. Then things fell flat, and she was not given the mighty push that makes or breaks so many characters. Thus, Naomi #1 lost momentum on the market.
In this situation, patient collectors and Naomi fans are being rewarded. The live-action Naomi series is on the way, and the buzz is breathing new life into those graded 9.8s. Although the FMVs are well away from 2019’s record figures, the past three sales since November 6 have been for $200 or more. It was only yesterday that an ungraded standard edition brought over $100, which is slowly getting back to the 2019 values.
6. FANTASTIC FOUR #185
Much is being said about that mammoth Disney+ lineup. Over the next two years, the streaming service will have 14 different shows in both live-action and animated forms. So far, the talk of the internet has been Agatha: House of Harkness. It is no surprise that Agatha’s first appearance in FF #94 was the first to shoot to the top of the sales charts, but savvy collectors are readying those speculative dollars for another character likely to make his MCU debut in the show: Nicholas Scratch.
Premiering in 1977’s FF #185, Scratch is Agatha’s son and a crafty warlock. He leads the magical community of New Salem, Colorado, where all the residents are connected to the mystical side of the spectrum. They want to go unnoticed by the outside world, and Nicholas sees Agatha’s ties to the Fantastic Four as a betrayal of their beliefs. That leads Nicholas to put his mother on trial, sentencing her to death before the FF intervene.
I doubt we will see the FF in House of Harkness, but swap that element for Scarlet Witch, and we could very well have the basis for the show’s inaugural (and perhaps only) season. Don’t forget that Scratch was the name of Agatha’s pet rabbit in WandaVision, and it is unlikely that was by coincidence. It all adds up to heaping values for FF #185.
Other comic fans must have the same idea because Scratch’s first appearance is tearing through the sales charts. There aren’t any graded sales to note this month, but a 9.8 earned a record $399 on October 6. Where this FF #185 is turning heads is the raw sales. The best part is that as much potential as this issue has, it is still a cheap find; most copies are selling for less than $20.
5. WEREWOLF BY NIGHT #32
Out of all the Disney+ announcements, House of Harkness may be getting the most attention, but Moon Knight has the potential to be Marvel’s best show to date. The teaser footage revealed Oscar Isaac in full costume and accentuated the mental health issues of the man in the suit, Marc Specter. The show is said to be the most violent entry into the MCU to date, ranking alongside Netflix’s Daredevil and Punisher series. That is leading collectors and speculators alike on a scavenger hunt for one of the gems of the comic community, Werewolf By Night #32.
This issue was already in high demand. Even before the Moon Knight series was made official in 2019, rumors were flying that Khonshu’s favorite superhero was coming to the MCU. When the announcement was made, fans rejoiced, and it ushered WBN #32 to new heights. With the first official footage being released, there is a feeding frenzy for Moon Knight’s debut comic, and records are bound to fall in short order.
On November 14, a raw copy sold for over $1k, which is commonplace for WBN #32. Where you can truly see this issue’s popularity is when the reprints are bringing increasingly expensive price tags. Yesterday, a 9.8 facsimile edition sold for $80.
4. IRON MAN #55
If you invested in Iron Man #55 when it was setting records in 2018, then you will want to thank Harry Styles for helping to usher in a new wave of enthusiasm for the key issue.
What happened to Iron Man #55 is what eventually happens to all the villain keys: the character’s time on the screen expired. Marvel Studios meticulously built an entire lore around the Mad Titan, culminating in one of the biggest moments in modern movie history, Infinity War. After all the cameos and allusions to Thanos, it was onscreen magic when he finally made his full debut in a Marvel movie. Infinity War did not disappoint, essentially making Thanos the protagonist of the film with an ending that left fans shocked. All great things must come to an end, and every villain must be defeated. By the final chapter of Endgame, those copies of Iron Man #55 almost immediately began to lose value, at least compared to the inflated prices of the previous year.
With no indication that Thanos would return to the MCU, collectors shifted their focus to other hot keys and new faces coming to the movies and Disney+. Then came Eternals, and suddenly the worm turned. The former One Direction front man stepped onto a spaceship dressed in full red and gold regalia as Thanos’ brother, Eros, aka Starfox. It sent shockwaves through the secondary market, and Iron Man #55 is once again a coveted collectible. Last week, a 9.4 sold for a record high $3,240, and that was followed by a $2,987 sale on November 11. Just yesterday, a 6.0 sold for a record $900.
3. AVENGERS #62
There has been a lingering question in the MCU: who will be the next Black Panther? For the past year, Marvel Studios has said that it won’t recast T’Challa after actor Chadwick Boseman’s death. This week, the company doubled down on those remarks, saying that Chadwick Boseman would be the one and only T’Challa of the MCU’s Earth-616. That careful wording does leave things open for someone else to step into the Black Panther suit, even if that character is not the Prince of Wakanda.
Collectors have put their money on Shuri taking up the mantle, and that seems like a safe bet. At this point, it is assumed she will be Black Panther in Wakanda Forever. That inspired speculators to buy up all the Shuri keys they could find. Now, a new contender to the Black Panther throne has come into the fold: M’Baku.
We have seen M’Baku a few times in the MCU. He challenged T’Challa at the beginning of Black Panther, later joining his rival to thwart Killmonger. He returned for the massive battle scenes in Infinity War and Endgame, and he is confirmed for Wakanda Forever. The latest rumor has it that he will take up the Black Panther moniker by the end of that movie.
Collectors are seeing a clue that this is the plan. Originally, M’Baku was one of Black Panther’s prime antagonists as Man-Ape, the leader of the White Ape tribe and rival to Wakanda. In the current comics, M’Baku is being positioned as a hero, which lends to the theory that Man-Ape will be the next great MCU hero. Naturally, it has caused a rush for Avengers #62. Mid-grade raw copies are selling for $200+, and a graded 8.5 recently sold for a record-breaking $599.
2. FANTASTIC FOUR #48
It has been a big year for the World Eater. First, there was the Void in Loki, which comic readers know as the darker half of Sentry’s personality and the source of his power. Much more interesting was the big reveal during Dark Reign when the Void said that it was actually Galactus. Next, there was Ultron armed with all six Infinity Stones. During his battle with the Watcher, he enlarged himself to gargantuan proportions, Ultron’s open helmet giving him the appearance of wearing a certain purple helmet. When he bit down on an entire galaxy, it was clear he was doing his best impression of Galactus.
Then came Eternals, which has set a Galactus-sized stage in the MCU. Not only did the movie introduce Arishem the Celestial, which establishes the giant godlike creatures in the cosmos, but one of the film’s screenwriters, Kaz Firpo, was quoted as saying, “[...] the door is very much open for world-eating villains.” If that doesn’t give you the feeling that Galactus is more than just on the table for the MCU, then you aren’t paying attention.
With the Fantastic Four and its family of characters at Marvel Studios’ disposal, comic fans may be more interested in the arrival of Galactus and Silver Surfer over the FF themselves. Here we have another FF key on the list. To truly see the value in FF #48, look at the low grades. Earlier this month, a 1.8 sold for $987 after earning $1,400 in October. Then there is the 2.0, which has sold for $1,450 and $1,200 since Halloween.
1. FANTASTIC FOUR #94
Is there a way to not hear “It Was Agatha All Along” when you see Agatha Harkness’ name? Now that House of Harkness is officially in the Disney+ mix, her fans are rejoicing, and it is sending a shockwave through her first appearance in FF #94.
The issue first made waves last year when the initial promotional images for WandaVision featured their perfunctory wacky neighbor, Agnes. Comic readers immediately latched onto the idea that Agnes was secretly Agatha Harkness, a centuries-old witch that helped train Wanda Maximoff. Of course, she was initially written into the comics as Franklin Richards’ nanny, and readers knew her as an elderly woman. Still, the hints were there from the beginning that Agnes was more than she first appeared. When it came time for the big reveal, it was less a surprise and more of a confirmation. That is the same for her starring show.
For months, there have been rumors that Agatha had a live-action series in development. It caused an initial spike in her key issues, though that fervor simmered for a few weeks. Following the Disney+ announcement, speculators and investors jumped at the chance to own her first appearance in FF #94. Over the weekend, raw copies were surging, and it was consistently earning over $150. On November 13, a 4.5 sold for $200 while an 8.0 brought $499.
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, or on Instagram at matt.tuck.writer.