A Tale of Two Books: The Riri Williams Effect
At 6:27 AM PST on Wednesday, July 6th, Comic Book Resources published an article discussing Riri Williams and her upcoming role as the new Iron Man in the Marvel Universe. Wait…what!?! Previously, we had heard that Riri was going to take Rhodey's place as the new War Machine. As we all know, Iron Man is NOT War Machine. Though they look similar, the two well known characters play very different roles in the Marvel Universe. If true, this is big news. BIG news! It is the kind of news that comic book speculators love to hear.
As a result of this new and different information, and the avalanche of media coverage that came with it, people began to see what comic book speculators had been talking about for some time now: Riri Williams is going to be BIG. If you were late to the party and didn't know that yet, then you had to play a quick game of catch-up. You had to find out more about this character and track down her 1st appearance. If Riri is going to be anything like Ms. Marvel (a recent Marvel success story for speculators), her 1st appearance would skyrocket quickly to insane prices. You had to have her 1st appearance now, before it was too late. Wait…what was her 1st appearance again!?! Welcome to the next topic comic book speculators have been discussing for some time.
In the CBR article, it mentions that in Invincible Iron Man #9 Riri Williams is “introduced in full.” This has been discussed numerous times on several internet sites and pages. She was actually first seen in Invincible Iron Man #7. The creator of the character, Brian Michael Bendis, even confirmed this information on Twitter recently. She is seen in full in #7, though not in costume, and her name is mentioned. Because of this, there are many who believe #7 to be her 1st full appearance. Others seem to agree with what was stated in the article and have been actively seeking out issue #9, believing it to be her first full appearance because she wears the costume for the first time, is featured in more panels, and is also on the cover. Because of the way she was introduced, it may take a while for a decision about her first appearance to be made.
This is not the first time comic book fans and speculators have argued about what a character's first appearance is, or at least which is the best early appearance book to have. Look at Wolverine, Darkseid, Venom, and Gambit just to name a few. The debate over Riri Williams is just beginning and it is now up to collectors to decide.The decision will ultimately be made by how money is spent and which books are bought (and kept). This news about Riri started a buying bonanza on eBay. More than $2,000 has been spent on fewer than 135 comic books in the 48 hours that followed the publishing of the article and it would begin to give us an idea about how this question would be answered …
6:48 AM (about 20 minutes after CBR article published) – The first Riri related Invincible Iron Man book is snapped up off eBay. It's a regular cover #7 sold for almost $14, including shipping.
6:51 AM (almost 25 minutes post article) – The second book is bought. Also a #7. This time it is the Women of Power Mary Jane Variant Cover for $16.
Word spreads. The information about Riri is being broadcast on TV and radio as people start their work days. 8 books would be snapped up during the 7:00 AM hour. 3 copies of issue #7 (2 regular 1st prints and 1 variant) and 5 copies of #9 (4 regular and 1 variant). That makes a total of 5 copies each of #7 and #9 that have sold. The regular cover of #7 is now averaging $13.67 since the article was published. The #7 variant averages $17.46. #9 averages $12.67 for regular cover and $10.49 for the variant.
During the 8:00 AM hour only copies of #9 are purchased (3 copies -2 regular and 1 variant – if my research is correct). The average cost of the #9 regular cover increases to $14.10 and the variant is down a few cents to $10.24.
The 9:00 AM hour arrives and we see two more of each regular cover issue get purchased. Both see their average prices increase. The average for #7 (regular) is up to $17.00 and #9 (regular) is up to $15.44.
It's lunch time on the East Coast. 10:00 AM on the West Coast. Only one copy of #7 is bought this hour, a regular cover for $24.74 (new average price = $18.29). Three copies of #9 (2 regular and 1 variant). Regular cover #9 average price is up to $16.24. The variant is averaging $11.46.
Only 6 copies sell during the 11:00 AM hour. Four copies of #7 (two regular, one second print, and a variant) and two regular copies of #9. #7 regular cover average (8 total sold) = $20.72. #7 Variant (3 total sold) = $19.01. #7 second print = $22.98. #9 regular (12 total sold) = $16.81
We've made it to noon on the West Coast and books are still selling. Just 4 books sell this hour. Two regular cover #7's (average = $22.82) and two regular #9 (average = $17.37).
People all over the US and in other countries have talked about Riri around the water cooler and during their lunch breaks. Some people are able to run out to a comic shop in the middle of their day, but others are forced to scrounge around the internet. Four more books are bought between 1:00 and 2:00 PM. Three of them are regular cover #7. Each of these books sells for more than $30, including shipping, raising the average for this issue's regular cover to $25.42. One copy of #9. It's a regular cover and it sells for $22.95, bumping the average up to $17.74. Thirteen #7's have sold. Fifteen #9's have sold. Though #7 is consistently selling for more, it is still essentially neck and neck.
2:00 PM hour. A #7 variant sells for almost $50!!! It is the only #7 that will sell this hour. A regular cover #9 sells for almost $30, but another sells for only $14. Prices are confusing. Buyers and sellers are confused.
The market is quiet for more than an hour. No sales during the 3:00 PM hour.
During the 4:00 PM hour, we see two more #7's and three #9's. All regular covers and all sell for about $20 each. Has everything evened out? Will we have dual key books for the foreseeable future?
Things have definitely not settled. Three more regular #7's sell in the 5:00 PM hour. $40. $30. And then a #7 variant sells for $20. What!?! A regular #9 sells for $20. The average price of a #7 regular is $25.96, while a #9 is selling for $18.30. The gap between the two is widening. Will it be maintained?
When the first #7 regular cover sells during the 6:00 PM hour, twelve hours have passed since the CBR article posted. It sells for $31.75. A #7 variant sells for $51.45. A #9 regular cover sells for $22.98.
Things slow down between 8:00 PM and 5:00 AM. Five regular #7's. A low of $21.49 and a high of $33.99 during this time. Only one #7 variant and it's down $10 to around $40. Two #9 variants sell, each around $30. The only regular cover sells for $35!
An interesting thing happens between 5:00 and 7:00 AM. Only two copies of #7 sell, both regular covers for $30 each. During that same time, twenty-four copies of #9 sold. Two separate lots of 10 issues each (#9 regular covers) are sold. First batch of 10 books sells for about $10 each. The second batch reaches $11 each. It seems the owners of these books wanted to get out from under them quickly and make whatever profit they could. The buyers for these books are more than likely hoping to turn a profit when they resell them, but will the price maintain long enough for them to even have a chance?
The regular cover average for #7 is $27.22 and the regular cover average for #9 has dropped to $15.43.
This seems to be the turning point. After these two big splashes in the #9 regular cover sales pool, the regular cover only gets close to $30 one time. There are a total of 21 more regular cover #9 sales, but most are in the area of $20 or less. One more #9 variant is sold, for $33.99. Nearly 48 hours after the CBR article, the average sale prices for #9 is $16.68 (regular) and $22.83 (variant).
The pattern for #7 sales changes also. Twenty-four more #7's are sold. At this point they begin to be bought in combination with other books, mostly 1st print and 2nd print pairings. Just like with the #9's, this change in sales tactic lowers the overall average cost of the books. When sold individually, the regular cover sells between $25 and $35. It finished with an average for the 48 hour period of $26.85. Four of the sales include 2nd prints. The second print average finished at $18.48. There were two more variant sales during the final hours. Each one sold for more than $50! Overall, the average of the #7 variant was $36.00.
Approximately 59 copies of #7 sold during the 48 hours after the CBR article posted. 44 regulars, 6 second prints, and 9 variants. About 75 copies of #9 sold. 68 regular copies and 7 variants. The dumping of 10 issue lots and combining issues with other issues are the signs that undercutting has begun. #7’s are sometimes being paired together in two-for-one lots. #9’s are being bundled by the 3’s and 5’s. Time will tell what that undercutting will do to the overall prices of these two books. At the end of this writing, there were 24 lots featuring issue #7. The regular cover was grouped with multiples of the same cover, the second printing, or issue #9 in 3 of the lots. 2 variants and 4 second prints for #7 were also available. 43 issues of 1st print regular cover #7 were up for sale. 5 variants of #9 were on ebay. 8 of the lots featured combinations with multiple copies of #9 or with other books.
Looking at the average sales prices, their current finishing prices, and how they are being sold, it is pretty clear to me that #7 continues to be the book that sells better on its own and for consistently higher prices. If we minimize the two sales of 10 books each to just one book for each sale (because we don’t know if any of them will be resold when the buyer receives them) the sales numbers over the past 48 hours are essentially the same. 59 copies of #7 and 57 copies of #9. For future investment purposes, I think #7 is clearly the book to invest in. #9 will continue to be a nice book to have if you get it for a decent price, or bundled with some other books, but it is not the one that will demand the higher prices going forward.
I have copies of both, none of which I have sold or even listed on eBay … yet. I am not telling you that you need to buy anything. Please use and interpret my information however you choose. Buy the one you think will hold its value long term. Buy the one you think you can flip. Buy the one you think looks the best. I don’t personally care. Just have fun and enjoy the hobby we all love!