BY MATT TUCK
After a year of waiting, the grand CGI spectacle that is Dune has finally reached theaters and HBO Max, and the first Dune comics have never been hotter.
Denis Villenue’s vision of Dune was worth the wait. The film is a two-part epic that helped fans forget about the well-cast, yet cringe-worthy 1984 original. This new version lies more on Frank Herbert’s original 1965 novel, and mercifully omits the numerous and painful inner monologues from the original, which was a step in the right direction from the start. The special effects are beautiful, though you will do a double take when you see Jason Momoa without facial hair.
Here we are on Dune’s second night in theaters, and it won’t be long before it’s called a box office failure, but that may not be accurate. With WarnerMedia’s decision to simultaneously release all its movies both on HBO Max and in theaters, naturally the ticket sales will be lower than films without a coinciding streaming release. As with all WB’s 2021 releases, there will be those who deem it another bomb, but they are missing the bigger picture with the streaming numbers.
Because Dune has been dormant for almost 40 years, it is easy to forget about the franchise’s comic history. Now that the movie is receiving high critical praise and overall positive fan reactions, collectors will be shifting their focus to the key issues. What may surprise you are the values these comics are achieving this year.
MARVEL SUPER SPECIAL #36
The original comic adaptation for Dune was, like many adaptations of the era, published by Marvel Comics. Anyone excited about the movie and looking for a piece of the story’s history will want to put this at the top of the collecting list. With Dune currently en vogue, it’s no wonder that this overlooked issue is hitting big numbers as of late. On October 5, a graded 9.6 sold for a record $320. For three years, the record sat at $188, and it may keep climbing once the second installment of Dune hits theaters.
The more impressive leap in value can be found with the 9.4. Until this year, it had never sold for more than $35, and that was in 2019. Then came May, and one brought $250, which was followed by a $205 sale also on October 5.
It doesn’t stop there. Down to the 9.2, the first Dune comic is now earning three figures after a $149 sale on May 15.
If you’re looking to add an MSS #36 to your collection, the raw grades might be the gamble worth taking. While there’s no guarantee on the grade, these have been selling in the $20-$40 range, though one sold for $70 on Friday.
A year after the Marvel Super Special #36 hit store shelves, Marvel saw dollar signs, and the Dune adaptation was rebranded in its own three-part limited series. Of course, this was the same script and art from Super Special #36, but the cover was updated and the title was changed to Dune.
Despite this being a reprint, Dune #1 is the biggest seller among the comics. Graded at a 9.8, it has averaged $463 for the past 90 days. Although it is a little suspicious, one sold for $700 on May 9. Even without that massive figure, the values have been nonetheless impressive. Since the end of May, it has sold for as much as $528, giving it three sales of $499 or more out of the past five transactions. There’s also been a $700 sale of a newsstand that graded a 9.8. All the way down to a 7.5, these copies are earning $100 or more.
It’s not just those first issues that are bringing eye-catching numbers. A 9.8 Dune #2 brought $300 in April. Before that, February saw a $278 sale. The most recent sale purchased $199 on September 13.
The third of the three-part limited series is keeping up with the other issues. A 9.8 Dune #3 last sold for $189 on September 12. Prior to that, an April sale netted a record-breaking $200. Another telling sign of this series’ booming popularity is that a 9.6 is still selling for $101.
DUNE: HOUSE ATREIDES #1 (2020)
The Dune remake was originally scheduled for a 2020 release date, which is why we saw comics, action figures, and other merchandise reach store shelves well in advance of the actual film. Among those was Boom! Studios’ House Atreides comic series. Graded at a 9.8, the standard cover for the first issue is already selling for $100 this year. The more impressive figure lies with the Pope variant, which sold for $280 in April and $190 a month later.
FRANK HERBERT’S DUNE: THE GRAPHIC NOVEL BOOK ONE
Finally, we have another comic adaptation of Herbert’s famed sci-fi novel. This time, it is Dune: the Graphic Novel Book One, which we can assume coincides with the movie’s two parts. While there are no graded sales to report, the raw copies are on the move on eBay. Prices are still quite reasonable, and most sales have been in the $20 range to this point.
It’s too early to say whether Dune will be a hit or a miss, but it has been a critical darling, and that will help sales from these 1980s gems. When the second part reaches theaters and HBO Max, if fans are anxious for its release, then we can expect prices to get another spike.
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.