BY MATT TUCK
Before The Falcon and the Winter Soldier becomes the number one show in the world, take a look at the top-10 FATWS keys that you should be watching.
Out with the old, and in the with new, right? WandaVision just wrapped up last week, and now we are just a week away from the premiere of The Falcon and the Winter Solider. While many fans still have a bitter-sweet taste leftover from WandaVision, they are now turning their sights to some FATWS speculation.
As we all know, the MCU rules the comic world. That is especially true when it comes to those key back issues. All it takes is for a name drop or an Easter egg, and collectors sprint to eBay, driving prices up overnight in some cases.
Which issues stand the best chance of getting the Disney+ bump? Here are ten comics to get you ready for the show’s premiere and keep you busy while you wait.
10. FALCON AND WINTER SOLDIER #1
This is more or less a consolation prize for FATWS collectors, at least at the moment. While the first issue of their team-up comic may not immediately grab your attention, there are a couple of first appearances here: The Natural (no, not Robert Redford) and Veronica Eden. Those names may not mean anything to you now, but they could get much bigger depending on whether or not they are used in the Disney+ series.
If it tells you how overlooked this comic has been, there are no graded sales to report. The plus side is that it leaves prices very low. Cruise over to eBay, and you should be able to grab one for $10-$20. For that price, what is there to lose?
9. CAPTAIN AMERICA: SAM WILSON #3
Here is yet another minor first appearance that could turn to gold under the right circumstances. Sam Wilson #3 saw the debut of Joaquin Torres, who would ascend to new heights under Sam’s tutelage as the new Falcon. Wouldn’t you know there is speculation that Joaquin will follow his comic roots and become Falcon in the MCU? That won’t make this comic jet into the stratosphere, but it will cause a chain reaction for Sam Wilson #3.
Once again, this is a comic with no universal graded sales to note, but the raw sales are generally sticking to the $25 range for the time being. That is a small price to pay for a gamble that could turn a worthy profit.
8. NEW AVENGERS #11
Here is another first appearance that you will want to grab prior to Falcon and Winter Soldier’s streaming debut: Maya Lopez. At one point, Maya was known as Echo, but she would use the name Ronin and wear Clint Barton’s costume for a time as well. What makes this a good investment is that Maya Lopez/Echo/Ronin has been confirmed for the upcoming Hawkeye series, but she may also play a role in FATWS. If she makes a grand entrance and gets a fan following, this could be a hot issue.
At the moment, the fair market value is down for New Avengers #11. Two years ago, the 9.8 averaged $127, but the current 90-day FMV is below the triple-digit threshold. However, the last was for $125, so the market for this one is picking up as the Disney+ premiere approaches.
7. CAPTAIN AMERICA #1 (1996)
Rob Liefeld’s short run on Captain America in the mid-1990s goes down in infamy for his odd depiction of Cap’s inflated chest. Now FATWS is giving you a good reason to want this issue. The rumor making the rounds has it that Rikki Barnes will enter the MCU as Bucky Barnes’ granddaughter. In the comics, Rikki was Bucky to the Heroes Reborn Cap in an alternate timeline. After she entered the Earth-616 universe, she became Nomad. There is yet another rumor that after Rikki debuts FATWS, she will get her own Disney+ series as Nomad.
You would think the MCU speculation would make this issue more expensive, but it is still very much affordable. At a 9.8, graded sales are averaging $80, although the variant edition last sold for $140.
While you are at it, you might as well invest in Nomad: Girl Without a World #1. The last time a graded copy sold, a 9.8 brought just $21 in April 2020. Again, it is a low-risk gamble that could pay major dividends if the rumors pan out.
6. CAPTAIN AMERICA #323
Back in the 1980s, Steve Rogers quit as Captain America and the title was taken up by the all-American John Walker (not to be confused with Johnny Walker; that guy makes whiskey). In this issue, he was known as Super-Soldier, though he would reach the height of his fame when he again followed Steve’s footsteps and put on the black and red U.S. Agent costume. Walker will be appearing in FATWS, and this issue will get an immediate bump when he debuts in live action.
Cap #323 has seen huge increases in FMV in recent years. Back in 2018, there was just one sale of a graded 9.8, and it brought $125. A year later, nine copies traded for as much as $300. Then last year, 25 of those high-grades were bought and sold online for $191 on average. So far this year, that same 9.8 has reached $600 with an FMV of $383.
5. CAPTAIN AMERICA #168
Zemo made his MCU debut in Captain America: Civil War, and we'll finally see the famous purple hood in FATWS. The original Baron Heinrich Zemo debuted in Avengers #1, but Baron Helmut Zemo would make his first appearance under the guise of Phoenix in 1975, and it is the Baron Helmut Zemo key to have. With the Baron reportedly playing the main antagonist for the show (and possibly rebuilding Hydra and spearheading a team of his own in the process), he could quickly become a household name.
The highest grade that has sold this year has been the 9.4, which earned $275 last month. For those needing something cheaper, look to the 7.0. That grade happened to bring just $65 in January.
4. INCREDIBLE HULK #449
There has been ample speculation surrounding this issue for over a year now. Even before FATWS was confirmed, there were unconfirmed reports that Marvel Studios was planning to bring the Thunderbolts to life. With Zemo returning to the MCU in FATWS, the feeling among many fans and theorists is that he will follow the comic lead and form the Thunderbolts in live action.
With signs pointing towards the Thunderbolts, it is no wonder this issue has been a hot seller. The 9.8 unsurprisingly leads the pack, averaging $365 over the past 90 days after a $510 sale earlier this month. The 9.6 is a much cheaper option, but even it is selling for $250 these days.
3. CAPTAIN AMERICA #25 (2014)
It was not the first time Steve Rogers had put down his star-spangled spandex, but it produced one of the most important modern comic moments. This is when Sam Wilson, as Bucky did before him, rose from supporting actor to star as the all-new, all-different Captain America. Even after Steve Rogers made his triumphant (though completely expected) return to the role, Sam stayed on, giving readers two Captain Americas in the Marvel-616. It looks like Sam won’t be losing the shield anytime soon, so he will be the longest-running Cap besides Steve.
The standard edition at a 9.8 recently sold for $330 earlier this month. At the same time, a convention edition earned an impressive $450. Out of all the variants, the Hasbro edition has been the least expensive, bringing $60 this month as well.
2. CAPTAIN AMERICA #6
For the record, Ed Brubaker’s Captain America run is the best I have ever read. Granted, I haven’t read every single issue of Cap ever printed, but Brubaker and Steve Epting’s work was brilliant. Then there are the stunning covers worthy of Alex Ross himself, none of which are better than both the standard and variant editions of Epting’s Cap #6 commemorating the premiere of Bucky as the Winter Soldier. Since the vast majority of us will never hold a Captain America #1, much less own one, this is the closest to a Bucky first as you will get. Honestly, he was infinitely better as Winter Soldier anyway.
Graded at a 9.8, the standard cover earned $765 on March 8, while the variant brought a whopping $800 a day earlier.
1. CAPTAIN AMERICA #117
We couldn’t wrap up this top 10 without giving an update on Sam Wilson’s first appearance, could we? This one has been blistering hot for years, but it truly reached new levels after Endgame when Sam took up the shield from Steve Rogers in the MCU. With the series on the horizon, this issue is only going to get more expensive.
This behemoth, graded at a 9.0, brought an impressive $2,218 earlier this month. The lowest grade sold this month, the 4.0, last sold for $340 on March 4. That should tell you all you need to know about this issue’s popularity.
Matt Tuck is the author of the novel, Lost Bones of the Dead. He is also a teacher, freelance writer, comic collector, and an international man of mystery. You can follow him on his Facebook page, The Comic Blog.