Subject 06: Cameos VS First Full Appearances
One of my favorite debates is about Darkseid's appearances in Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #134 vs Forever People #1. Let me ask you this question: if both books are in comparable condition, priced the same and you were able to see exactly what you are buying (meaning the content inside), which would you buy?
Don't answer that, it's rhetorical. I just wanted to get the blood boiling.
Also, I lied… I really couldn't care less about Darkseid's first appearance. There's no way on earth (or Earth 2 for that matter) I would buy a copy of Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #134, at any price.
However, that doesn't mean you shouldn't.
Regardless of where you stand on the whole Cameo vs Full Appearance debate, at the end of the day we all should want whatever is best for the market. There's no good reason to not distinguish the difference between a “cameo” and a “first full appearance”. Call it a “first appearance cameo”, I really don't care. The word “cameo” needs to be included when appropriate. It's a big part of why I write about comics and appearances. Not to affect value on the market, but rather to help folks avoid the wrong books.
The wrong book is going to depend entirely on YOU. For me, it's CAMEOS!
Here's an example of the wrong book for any Harley Quinn fan, Batman Adventures #11. It's the first “Mention” of Harley Quinn. What people don’t tell you in many cases is that it's in the letters page. If you're a Man-Bat fan or you're trying to complete a run of BA, you need it. However, I think we all can agree it doesn't need to be marked up because of two words in the letters page. Leave the BA#11's for the Man-Bat fans, their key books are expensive enough already.
Taskmaster – Avengers #195 is his first “Cameo” appearance. Avengers #196 is the first cover and first full appearance. Marvel Team-Up #103 is the second full Taskmaster appearance and cover. Simple. I don't know about you, but I'd think people would want books with Taskmaster doing…well, Taskmaster stuff, like stepping on Ant-Man.
Here's a straightforward example: Shado – Green Arrow the LongBow Hunter #1. Now unless you're a Green Arrow or Mike Grell fan, you're probably wondering who is Shado? If you're reading the Green Arrow Rebirth series, the woman with the red dragon tattoo, that's Shado. The LongBow Hunters was a 3 issue mini series and pretty much covers anything a speculator could want pertaining to Shado. Issue 1 is a full appearance, issue 2 is first cover and all 3 issues combined form the origin story. Simple. It's nothing complicated, nothing to debate.
Detective Comics #647 – first appearance of Stephanie Brown and first cameo appearance of the Spoiler. It could also be argued that Stephanie's two appearances are brief and therefore a double cameo. Regardless, this book is key all day. Detective Comics #648 is the first full appearance of Spoiler, it's also key. Should it trump #647? No, but it's not worthless either, both books have value. Not to mention Detective Comics #649 is part 3 of the story arc… so I guess all 3 have value.
Steppenwolf – his first full appearances is New Gods #7 (it's a full appearance, he's on the cover). Simple. He appeared over the years in many different books, almost none of those appearances amount to more than a cameo. A panel here, a page there. Even his first New 52 appearance in Justice League #6 is only a cameo. I don't think he makes anywhere close to a full appearance until Justice League #42. Even that's a stretch. Honestly, two of Steppenwolf's larger appearance are in Earth 2 #1 and Earth 2 #8 of all places.
Let's get to last week's poster child for exactly WHY there needs to be a clearer definition between what's a cameo and a first appearance. Invincible Iron Man #7, I’d classify as the “first cameo appearance” of Riri Williams…it's exactly two panels. To be completely honest, I’d call Invincible Iron Man #9 a second cameo. Not really a full appearance since it's 3 pages. Even though she is on the cover as Iron Man… I really don’t feel we’ve seen a full appearance for Riri….At least not at the time of writing this.
Wonder Woman #7 (1987) First Barbara Ann Minerva appearance. Wonder Woman #9 has the backstory, Cheetah's on the cover and makes a large enough appearance… I’m cool with just owning #9. In the New 52, her first “cameo” appearance is in the form of a hologram in Justice League #10. It's a group shot and they are all really tiny. Justice League #13-14 are probably the issues you want, she's on the cover and both are full appearances. Also, she shows up in Suicide Squad Volume 4 issues #20, #22 & #23… There might be more, that's just of the top of my head.
Don't misunderstand, I’m not saying a cameo should have more or less value either way. But let's look at the word “cameo” and see what Merriam/Webster has to say about this.
“a brief appearance or role”
Ok, so what does “brief” mean?
“lasting only a short period of time”
By very definition, a “cameo” is THE EXACT SAME THING many first appearances boil down to. I get that there are people that believe, cameo or not, it's the first appearance because it's literally the first appearance. Fine, call it a cameo. I don't always buy that argument anyways. A toothy grin floating in a panel of black doesn't cut it for me, literally or figuratively.
Personally, I don't need my collection full of books with panels of teeth and whatever other nonsense people are peddling. If a single panel is the sole reason the book has value, fine, list it properly. For me, a book needs more. Hot artist, character appearances, new series, new creative team/direction, two characters slugging it out or whatever. In case you haven't noticed, I'm a sucker for books where characters actually fight for more than a page.
All these factors all help determine the value of a book, they're selling points. Also, they're the exact same selling points dealers have no problem using to promote a book. So why is listing something as a “first cameo” and a “first full” such a big deal? I mean, beside potentially losing money, obviously….Sadly, there really isn't one.
YOU ARE THE MARKET! All of you reading this combined have more power and influence than you realize. It's completely up to you what you ultimately buy or invest in. Wouldn't you like to know if you're really buying one panel or 6 pages? I do!
Selling comics is a very predatory market. The practice of buying low and selling high is exactly like the stock market… and like on Wall Street, there are deceptive and ruthless people everywhere. I firmly believe we need a better system of categorizing early appearances that is accurate, specific and transparent. Calling a “first appearance” of a character a “first appearance” when it's only a panel or two isn't going to cut it anymore. By any logical definition that's a “cameo” and should be listed as such. You can call it a “first appearance” all day, that's fine, but the word “cameo” needs to be there too.
Till Next Week, keep your slabs stiff, your comics dry and the world will turn.