Overlooked Gems for Comic Collectors on Budgets
It's been a while since I dropped a column. And honestly in that time away it feels like the market has gone haywire. Everyone and their mother from Wyoming to Singapore it seems are specc'ing on books, ANY books. (Oh, maybe ‘X' will appear in the next film? Maybe they'll make a movie about ‘X' because of the success of ‘X'?) That sort of chatter has been driving up the price of everything, often needlessly. Obviously that makes it kinda tough for a regular budget collector who just likes to have cool books.
So I've combed through an assortment of comics to present you with some books that you can pick up for pretty cheap either in the flesh or virtually, but will make for very nice additions to your personal collection. Note, these will NOT make you $$$ or $$$$. But possibly $$. (In other words, lurking LCS owners/Bay flippers: don't suddenly jack up the prices on these books! No one will buy them.)
Buy it now:
Avengers (2010) #13 X-Men Evolutions Variant
Other variants from this series have been mentioned previously in Covers of the Unknown and within the G+ speculation groups, but this one curiously has fallen through the cracks. I don't know why, honestly. I fell in love with the many representations of Jean Grey. Added bonus is that the cover artwork is courtesy of Paul Renaud, whose Uncanny X-Force #20 Venom Psylocke variant cover is commanding serious bucks now. In the wild, you can find this Avengers book for under $10, online, $15. IMHO very underappreciated!
Dynamic Forces Punisher #1 Variants (2000)
Excited we're about to see the Punisher finally done right on the small screen thanks to Netflix. Cue the mad rush to get his first appearance in ASM #129, but man, that's gonna hurt the wallet no matter what grade of book you buy. Now I know Inigo recently spotlighted low print run Punishers. Some of them were truly obscure and maybe best forgotten. I'd like to point out a pair of #1s that were printed by Dynamic Forces in conjunction with the amazing 5th series (and likely inspiration for much of what we'll see) by Garth Ennis. Low print runs on both versions that have been forgotten in the passage of time. (Pictured at right is the snazzy chrome cover with the rainbow effect) which had a run of about 3,000/2,500 signed copies; the other is an all-black black cover with Dan Jurgens art. You can get lucky and find the pair for about $10-$15.
Dark Reign The List (2009) Variants, Various
Another artist that heats up every so often is Frank Cho, and these 1:100 variants seem to have come down to affordable levels. It's the perfect time to snatch them up for under $30, $20 and even $10. Remember — these were 1:100 variants released in the year the global economy was licking its wounds from the financial crisis. They have great white covers that make them a little harder to find in the wild in NM, but it's not impossible. My faves are ASM and Hulk. There's a great Daken and Punisher too. I have the temptation to consider completing the variant run. But thankfully the completion of another variant set demands my attention — for now.
Bonus: Guardians of the Galaxy Annual #1 (2014) This is an easy pick up of a very nice profile of Gamora by Frank Cho, one that you don't have to sheepishly hide in a paper bag. That's reserved for his custom covers (and I do want to get one of those for my PC, one day.) Also, this is actually a Nick Fury Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. #4 swipe that didn't make it into Yoni's last column!
X-Infernus #1b (2008)
The reason I'm adding this book to the list is that it seems every JSC variant is heating up these days. Whether that's a good or bad thing is another debate entirely. For the purposes of this column, please consider: a JSC variant cover that's relatively cheap ($30) and somewhat obscure. Admittedly it's not his most compelling cover, but it has its fans. Magik is one of those characters who needs her due, and the way things are going at Fox, they'll get to her. For some reason, this is a ghost. Print run for #1 was 48,410, and this was a 1:20. The culprit might be that it came out in 2008, during the winter of the market plummet, so possibly it just never made it to dealers. Maybe there is a stack of them sitting somewhere in a warehouse, and this mention will flush them all out. In the meantime, try your LCS.
Zenescope GFT Realm War #5 Cover C (2014)
Zenecope?? And just why is this here? That's because of Artgerm. You might've missed out on Zenescope's “Booby Fett” cover and now good grief you're curious about their books, maybe in the past you were embarrassed about cruising their offerings. I think this is a good choice. Not your usual pervy fare from the publisher, Artgerm keeps it classy. Also, you can have this variant for under $5 online. That's a pretty good deal considering it’s a nice full female image by one of the artists of the moment. BTW, if you're an Artgerm completist, know that he's done a few other covers for Zenecope too. So it might be worth digging around and seeing what else he's done for them if you're so inclined. Don't worry, she says, I won't tell your wife.
Vampirella Lives #2b Adam Hughes variant
You know how I like to stack up the lady… covers. So this is an Adam Hughes cover that had a print run of 2,000. It's been on a low simmer, but it definitely doesn't stay on the market for a long time. Hughes did a bunch of Vampi covers, but it's this one, with the atmospheric take and dangerously close wardrobe malfunction, that seems to get the most attention. Maybe that's due to the aforementioned print run? Anyways, if you look for it online you'll find copies, but often for $$. But when you look for it on the Bay, believe it or not, they sometimes turn up in BINs for $. Guess which option I selected, hmm?
Women Of Marvel One Shots (2010)
Why settle for a pair when you can have several? If you're up on the variant news, you know Marvel's coming out with a “Women of Power” month. They actually tried this once before with their “Women of Marvel” initiative. There was a series of one shots that was part of that effort. From that run you may have seen the Galacta book go for some $$, and there's an X-23 that will probably command some bucks in today's market. But one of the standouts for me is the Spitfire #1, with cover art from Jenny Frison, which I have featured here. How about a Namora variant by comic art legend Ramona Fradon? There are some choice picks here that can be had for under $5.
Legion of Superheroes #1 (2010) Jim Lee 1:10 Variant / Second Print Sketch
More women! Yaaaaa I can't stop myself. You probably noticed in that amazing recent episode of the Flash the image of the Legion of Superheroes ring as he traveled through the alternate worlds' stream. Well I have long admired this Jim Lee rendition of Saturn Girl. Wouldn't it be nice if she suddenly shows up on the show, and then it's such a hit that they get their own show …. waitaminnit I'm sounding like such a wide-eyed speculator! Did you know this also comes in a super-spiffy sketch version too. $10 says you can easily find these books cheap at your LCS or online. (Less so the color version, so be aware). This is for all the readers who didn't have the wallet or guts to drop $5K on a Jim Lee special sketched/signed DKR 3 edition.
Ms. Marvel #40 – #45 (2006)
This is my last female-focused pick. I've always found that this run of Ms. Marvel Vol. 2 is always missing from longboxes, and for obvious reasons. Not only because it features a pretty sweet Manga-ish rendition of Ms. Marvel by Sana Takeda. Takeda's covers are also a set, guys, and you all know I LUVVVVV sets. My OCD takes over and I need to get them all. But that's not all: The storyline features Deadpool! Spider-man! Wolverine!!! (Pls. note Deadpool appears inside one issue and on the covers of two). Due to these factors, there are prices all over the map on this run as a result. Experience has shown me that you can find 'em cheap at your LCS. Online, they might cost you an extra couple of $.
Ghost Rider Vol. 2 #87 – 94 (1998)
I like this particular run because no one really talks about it, but there are always people ready to buy these books. Largely because the print run on these books were low, but more importantly, because these books contain a pretty awesome storyline. Spoiler: Ghost Rider becomes King of Hell. What??? (Finances prevented an immediate conclusion to the story. It was a very bad time for Marvel.) Now, what people ask for the last books (esp. #93) can be surprising, usually $$. And even at auction, these books gather $$ together. But you can find them cheap with some concentrated digging. So, to recap: awesome story line, low print run, collector desirability, but neither variants nor keys. That's what I call good comics, for actual readers, that have a value that would confuse the gold-pressed latinum-counting Ferengis.
The Immortal Iron Fist #1 (Second Print)
I leave this one for last because I haven't found one yet. Damn it! And now there's real rumors that an Iron Fist has been cast for Netflix. You know what that means. People will start scouring for Iron Fist books. Among the obvious choices will be that *schweeeet* Iron Fist logo variant (The Immortal Iron Fist #17 Virgin variant to be exact). But I suspect this will quickly become a chased-after book. For quite some time I liked this book and didn't even realize until too late that it was a Gabrielle Dell'Otto cover. (Thanks Inigo!) When I went to look for it, poof, it was gone. And so was my chance to buy it for less than $5. Now I will settle paying about $. But once it becomes $$ I will be kicking myself.
Uncle Sadjunk's Crazy Bin Digging Stories
Rookie love: Everyone who finds CBSI has their moment of clarity. Unlike other dog-and-pony groups, we give our information away freely and try to spread the wealth around. (Go Bernie Sanders!) A newcomer searching the Internet stumbles upon what we share, and boom, they start digging like their lives depend on it. So proud of the finds, they are compelled to return and share. Best part, there's no humble-bragging about our gets. That's the way it is: If you find a deal, savor it, don't be a receipt-waving show-off or a sermon-giving douchenozzle. Here's an example of the handiwork by a Mr. Pop, who definitely didn't fizzle out after reading our articles. He went to a flea market for digs, didn't find anything great, but then stopped at a LCS to give his luck another shot. Persistence and effort always yields gems. Good job Mr. Pop, and welcome to the group.
Now, do I have one hell of an amazing haul story to tell. I mean, I won't ever have a story that can top it. But I have to wait until it's done. And then, then I will let you know about it. The world will know about it. Tears will be shed, first-borns will be sacrificed in the name of jealous rage and black magic. Let's just say it's the equivalent of finding the Porsche Speedster in a barn for $500 story. (If you like cars and you're old enough, you will understand that reference).
Keep digging guys, and find those gems for a dollar!