BY MATT TUCK
With the unconfirmed reports of the X-Men’s first MCU film title, prices for those X-grails will shatter what were already high ceilings. Here’s your X-Men market update.
The word floating about the internet is that the X-Men are going to be entering the MCU earlier than expected. Several comic websites are reporting that Marvel Studios has begun pre-production on an X-Men film with a working title of simply “The Mutants.” There is even an unofficial movie logo attached to the story that looks suspiciously like the classic New Mutants title font.
Before we get too excited, remember the Feige Rule: Rumors mean nothing until Marvel chief Kevin Feige confirms it. That is not to say that rumors and speculation don’t pan out, but the Feige Rule definitely applies here.
The timing of this is more than coincidence. In January, Patrick Stewart said in an interview that he had rescinded Feige’s offer to reprise his role as Charles Xavier. Only weeks later, Evan Peters is revealed as Pietro Maximoff in WandaVision, though it was later revealed in-story that Agatha Harkness had conjured the likeness. Then there was the Deadpool 3 news from Feige himself, who also announced the franchise would remain rated R.
Now we get the unconfirmed reports that The Mutants has been given the mythical greenlight, and the X-Men are on their way to the MCU. As close to the chest as Feige and company like to play things, I doubt these three events all accidentally timed out so close to one another, so there is a likelihood that the latest reports are legitimate. Again, however, I invoke the Feige Rule before totally committing to the idea.
THE HOLY GRAILS
Be that as it may, The Mutants news will undoubtedly push those holy grails of X-Men keys further into the stratosphere. The likes of X-Men #1, Giant-Size X-Men #1, and X-Men #94 were already super-expensive keys, and this news will only escalate their status even more. If you don’t have a copy of your own, be ready to take out a second mortgage to get one, especially the higher grades.
Like most things Marvel, it all began with Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. In 1963, the two co-created the first incarnation of the X-Men featuring what was essentially Doom Patrol meets the Fantastic Four. Fans did not immediately embrace the new title, and many readers viewed the team as a second-hand FF. Sales were dismal, and for the first 93 issues, the title would regularly be on the brink of cancellation.
Regardless of fan reception for the early days of the X-Men, this remains the biggest X-key of them all, and for good reason. Anything from the creative genius of Lee and Kirby is solid gold, and we have the debuts of the original X-Men, Cyclops, Jean Grey, Iceman, Beast, and Angel, as well as arguably the greatest villain in all of Marvel history, Magneto. What’s not to love about this comic? Actually, a lot because it is not a great story, but it’s the first appearance, nonetheless.
No matter the grade or if it’s even a complete copy, X-Men #1 is ridiculously expensive.
Just for fun, let’s talk about those high grades. This is like walking through a Porsche dealership for me; I know I can’t afford one, but it’s fun to look. The highest grade that has sold so far this year has been the 8.5, complete and with the blue universal label. That one happened to sell for more than $50,000 in January. The highest grade sold since February has been a 7.5, which happened to earn $29,500 on February 2.
As I have written many times before, you can see the true indication of a comic’s popularity by looking at the lower grades. This one does not disappoint. An incomplete 0.5 earned an impressive $3,500 this year. Then on February 22, someone paid $819 for the front cover only. This has gotten out of hand.
GIANT-SIZE X-MEN #1
X-Men #1 may be the holiest of grails in the land of the mutants, but this is when the real X-Men took center stage.
Up to this point in 1975, the X-Men title was floundering. Things had gotten so bad that, in lieu of outright cancellation, Marvel began reusing pervious stories but with new covers and numbering. The final issue featuring an original tale with the old guard was X-Men #66. Then came the hot new character, Wolverine, and Giant-Size X-Men #1.
After making his debut in Incredible Hulk #180-182, Len Wein and Dave Cockrum made Logan a hero with an edgy, antagonistic attitude. The excitement for Wolverine helped add attention to the revamped title, and GSX #1 also saw the debuts of Storm, Colossus, Nightcrawler, and Thunderbird. Although Cyclops would stay as the team leader, the rest of the old team was out, and the new, more diverse X-Men was born.
What is great about the Bronze Age X-Men keys is that they are bargains compared to X-Men #1. Notice, I did not use the word “cheap.” Afterall, a complete copy graded at a 1.0 sold for $902 on February 27, and a 1.5 brought $990 in January.
On the high end of collecting, there has been one sale for a 9.8 this year. Back in January, a near-mint-plus sold for a record-high $22,500.
You cannot talk about the X-Men without mentioning Chris Claremont. His name is synonymous with the X-Men after his nearly two-decade-long run on the title. While GSX #1 established the foundation for a new era of X, it was Claremont who truly made the title a brand of its own that would ascend to becoming the premiere team in all of comics by the 1990s. It all started with X-Men #94.
It should come as no surprise that X-Men #94 is the cheapest of the three X-grails. Again, that does not mean that it is a cheap buy. On the contrary, a 9.6 earned $7,800 in January. More recently, an 8.5 brought $1,200 on March 1 after another copy sold for a record $1,600 on February 26.
So far this month, the lowest grade to sell online was a 4.5, and even that one had a price tag of $425. Suffice to say, all the major X-keys are skyrocketing.
SO MUCH MORE TO COME
As anyone who has followed my blogging career can attest, I am a diehard X-Men fan, and I never miss an opportunity to share my love of all things X. In the coming weeks, I will keep you in the loop on the X-Men’s MCU status and breakdown the current market for those key issues decade by decade, and in some cases, character by character. Stay tuned.