BY MATT TUCK
As the world waits for Hugh Jackman and Marvel Studios' next move, now is a surprisingly good time to buy those Wolverine keys while the market is in a lull.
After dominating the year with record-breaking sales week after week for the holy grails of Wolverine keys, things have died down in recent weeks. With all the Logan and X-Men speculation, it is hard to believe that we’re not seeing new records, but that presents a silver lining for buyers. Here’s more.
THE BIG NEWS
In the past week, Jackman posted two pictures on social media that caused a storm of theories and speculation. After months of gossip, the actor shared a Boss Logic fanart picture of Wolverine’s famous claws next to an old picture of Jackman alongside Marvel chief Kevin Feige.
Neither Jackman nor Feige have commented on the post since then, but it has led to speculation that the actor will return to the role as part of the MCU. Regardless of what is happening behind the scenes, one thing is certain - the post did exactly what it was meant to do, and that was to excite the fandom.
THE YEAR OF GOSSIP
This year may go down as the year of Wolverine rumors, and I bet Marvel is enjoying every minute. Whenever something official is announced about the X-Men and Wolverine, it will destroy the internet.
It started at the beginning of the year with WandaVision’s infamous trolling. Evan Peters, who portrayed Quicksilver in two X-Men movies in the Fox-verse, strolled on set to play what audiences thought was a recast of Wanda Maximoff’s brother, Pietro. The speculation led to the theory that Marvel would use the Multiverse to combine the Fox-verse with the MCU. That fed into the idea that Hugh Jackman would indeed play Wolverine for Marvel.
After MCU’s “Bohner” prank on its audience, the Wolverine speculation quieted down. Then came The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Set photos had revealed the Madripoor flag months before the series premiere, but when Sam and Bucky ventured to the island nation and made a stop at the Princess Bar, it sparked a new round of theories. In the comics, Wolverine is part-owner of that particular establishment, and there is little doubt that fact was not missed by Marvel Studios.
It doesn’t stop there. On the back of the Princess Bar speculation, there came another rumor that not only was Marvel bringing Wolverine into the fold, but he would star in his own Disney+ anthology series. Of course, Marvel Studios neither confirmed nor denied the report, and it soon died down.
With that, the rumor mill turned its attention elsewhere, and the Logan rumors went quiet. We all knew it was only a matter of time before things picked up. The MCU fandom is salivating over the inevitable arrival of the X-Men, specifically Wolverine, so any news goes viral in a matter of moments. Thus, Jackman’s Tweets caused the internet to go into a meltdown.
RUMORS, GOSSIP, AND SPECULATION EXTRAVAGANZA
I will be the first to admit that I love when an interesting rumor goes viral. Some may criticize, but I enjoy tantalizing gossip and innuendo when it comes to the MCU and DCEU. Even better is when it plays into a plausible theory of what’s coming next. Better than anyone else in showbusiness, Marvel keeps its audiences guessing, which gives birth to bigger and bolder theories.
Understandably, when your company model is based around the mystery of what’s coming next, everything you do will be put under a microscope. That is doubly true in the age of social media, and Marvel has put that to its advantage. That being said, Jackman could very well have planted those pictures simply to stir the pot. All we can do is wait and see what happens and have fun with “dream match” scenarios in the meantime.
THE MARKET IMPACT
Anytime there is a new wave of Wolverine speculation, collectors leap onto his key issues. In this case, we have not seen the immediate spikes in values as before. If you are a buyer, that is great news.
On that note, let’s take a moment to update a handful of the holiest of Logan grails.
INCREDIBLE HULK #181
For the past 20 years, Hulk #181 has been one of the most sound investments in all of collecting. Once Wolverine took to the silver screen, there was no turning back for this issue, especially for the complete copies with the Marvel Value Stamp.
With all the Wolverine speculation, this has been a banner year for Hulk #181. Month after month, it reached new records across all grades. Sales have remained solid through June and into July, but that record-setting pace has slowed despite the latest rumors. So far in July, the highest grade sold was a 9.4 that brought $18,600 on July 4, which is more than $4k shy of the record set in June. It’s a similar story for the 9.2. After selling for a record-high $19,800 in May, the last sale dropped to $15,100 on July 4.
The trend continues all the way into the lower grades as well. Take the 3.0, for example. That one earned a record $3,850 on May 2, but the next sale on July 4 saw the price dip to $2,240.
Normally, the prices for Hulk #181 immediately jump when a rumor starts. My best guess is that buyers have become leery of the rumors without anything more tangible, especially with such a lofty investment. The silver lining is that if you have been on the fence about buying a copy, now would be an opportune time to get in the game.
GIANT-SIZE X-MEN #1
Similar to Hulk #181, the Hugh Jackman social media post has not generated record sales for GSX #1. Here you have the second full and fourth overall appearance of Wolverine with the X-Men team that he would help make famous.
All year, this issue has been launched into an orbit all its own thanks to the persistent X-Men rumors. Again, July’s sales are still high, but they have dipped from those massive prices from only a month ago. The 9.2 has been the highest grade sold this month, but its $14,000 price tag is nearly $2k down from the record set in June. Likewise, the 9.0 was bordering on $13k in April, though the last sale was $8,425 on July 5.
The lowest grade to swap owners online this month has been the 4.0. From March to June, six of the last seven sales had all been for $3k or more. However, the price fell to $2,442 on July 3.
INCREDIBLE HULK #180
Although still well behind the colossal sales figures of Hulk #181, the true first appearance of Wolverine is coming into its own more each day. Hulk #180 will never exceed that first full and cover appearance, but it could someday be a holy grail in its own right and at a fraction of the cost for the same grades for #181.
So far in July, the highest grade to sell online has been the 9.6, which brought $9k on July 4. That nearly doubled the previous record of $5,000 set last year. Three days later, a 9.0 showed signs of rebounding when it cracked the $4k mark for the first time since May.
The most popular grade of the past year is the 7.0. Selling 43 times in 12 months, it has averaged $1,239 in that time. A year ago, its fair market value was nearly half that at $675. The most recent sale saw it net $1,675 on July 8, though that is well below those $2,300 sales from the spring.
WOLVERINE LIMITED SERIES #1
When collectors take aim at Wolverine keys, there is always a place for the character’s first solo series from 1982. While each of the four-issue limited series has seen an increase in value this year, Wolverine #1 remains head and shoulders above the rest.
Besides this being the first issue, Frank Miller drew what is still one of the most iconic images of Wolverine ever published. In today’s era of cover collecting, the art alone makes this a worthy addition to any collection, especially if the prices for the previously mentioned keys are too much for your budget.
Like the other comics on today’s list, Wolverine #1 has seen its FMVs take a slight dip in recent weeks. Earlier this year, the 9.8 struck gold with a record-setting $1,365 sale in April. Beginning last month, the values fell from that pace and stayed within the $750-$1,000 range. Following an $840 sale on July 6, the price got a bump from the new rumors, reaching $1,100 on July 8.
THE BIG PICTURE
I have predicted before that we will get some official X-Men news before the year ends, and I stand by that. The comic community and MCU fans are dying for word on when and how the mutants will be introduced, and Marvel Studios is expertly pulling those strings. What it will result in is the biggest MCU announcement we’ve ever seen, and that is when your Wolverine and X-Men keys will see truly insane numbers. Until then, it’s all just buildup for their inevitable arrival.
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.