Sadjunk went crazy! Look at all these comic books!
Short and sweet folks.
For anyone who's confused about the motives of my column: I collect books based on what I like. And what I share here is based on my picks and that's it. I'm independent from everyone else at CBSI (i.e. no one orders me to write about a book) and don't consult or conspire with anyone to mention a book either. If you notice, I almost always spotlight older issues. That's because I try to mention books I think are cheap but great buys, which may have been overlooked but still shine because of the cover art or story significance.
OK, now that that is out of the way… let's get on with what you came here for.
This is an extra-long edition since it was a while since my last column. The reason being is that it's getting harder to pick out books since everyone is trying their hand at the spec game these days!
Buy it now!
Venom #14 (2002)
Some folks see fit to spend over $200 on the recent Venom variant done by Clayton Crain. Which is cool; spend it how you wish, there's no wrong way to collect books (Just don't hate on others.) I prefer however to spend 1% of that price to get this book, which is an outstanding Venom vs. Spidey cover (I love the interplay between aqua, red, and purple!) and from what I can tell, it happens to be Clayton's first ever Venom work too. Not easy to find in high grade, believe it or not, since it was a low-print run and those dark colors. I think this is a major sleeper book. Other covers late in the run from Scottie Young are also worth hunting down. Unlike his baby covers, I think he did some good work in this run; I especially like the cover to issue #15. Actually, the covers from Mike Deodato and Sam Keith in this run (only 18 issues total from the short-lived Marvel ‘Tsunami' line) are also pretty awesome Venom renditions, and art-wise run circles around some of the current Venom covers that people are grabbing (i.e. most of the Venomized covers). Look at Keith's cover for issue #3 and ponder … if they were variants released today people would be plunking down mega $$ for them, I'm sure. So all things considered, especially the timeline when these were published … remind me why these issues are so easy to pick up so cheaply?
Buy it now! (Tie)
Amazing Heroes #197
I went back and forth over whether this book should've been the first on the list, but since it's technically not a comic, it gets second mention. I think this is Brian Bolland's best Wonder Woman cover in terms of sheer beauty. Just amazing line work. Look at that smile, that hair. Full disclosure, I am biased as Bolland is one of my favorite artists. I own an original art cover by him, and it's a WW too. As for this book, well it's not that plentiful due to the time that's passed and frankly hard to find in high grade. People read it like a magazine, not a comic, so it wasn't cared for the same way. Funny enough, when I started researching this book, I saw that someone had actually slabbed their copy, a 9.0 by CGC. Which makes sense since this is high art IMHO.
Zatanna #5 (2010)
Nmadtoh! The sexy magician has always been fanboy bait, what with the fishnet stockings and high heels and the long raven hair. Ladies, more cosplay like this… PLEASE! So there are some great renditions of Zatanna, but this one has always been my favorite. Art appreciation here: subtle, yet sexy. And again, another Bolland cover! Your appreciation for this is totally warranted. It's a 1:10 and I always would come across it and admire it, but never picked it up because, well, I always thought I'd be able to find it and buy it. Welp, it started getting a lot harder to find this book. And I've noticed the asking price has gone up from the $5 just a year ago to well over $30 now — watch out for Amazon sellers where it is over $70!!! Now, when sellers put it up for auction on eBay it sells for less, but it's still a $20 book on most days. Hunt them down, now, this book is on an upward trajectory.
Other Bolland covers worth grabbing cheap? There's Zatanna: Everyday Magic (2003) and the other Zatanna 1:10 variants from the same 2010 run which includes the Hughes variants at the end that now fetch a decent amount of $$$. There was a time to pick these books up cheap folks at your LCS. That window is almost closed. Hustle!
Elektra Vol. 2 (2001) # 23, 24, 25
Surprised by the recent rush for Bill Sienkiewicz covers? Where have you been? This guy's stuff is always lit, always fresh. So folks chased the new Elektra variant he did and some other variants that recently came out, but they could've done themselves a favor and find this trio of covers he did for the short-lived series of the Greek assassin over a decade ago. I think these are all smokin covers! And cheap! Again, it's been a couple of years now, so finding copies that aren't banged up in bins just from the normal course of time will be a challenge. But that's how we like to play the collecting game. There are some other covers in this run I'd also recommend getting if you come across them cheap just for the cover art alone, including #26 (Rodolfo Migliari) and the last issue, featuring great work by master artist Brian Stelfreeze!
Justice League #4 1:200 (2012)
OK, pop quiz: How many Aquaman variants are out there? And, how many of them are 1:200s and done by Jim Lee? To my knowledge, this is the only one. Is this the rarest Aquaman variant? Is this the best Aquaman variant ever? You can be the judge that. You can also get this cheap; I found a copy for $30 in the wild. I picked it up because I thought Lee really captured the royalty and raw power of the character and gave him the respect he deserves. Time to put an end to the wimpy Superfriends Aquaman persona! And that time is now upon us; I think it's fair to say that Aquaman is going to blow up based on the screen rendition we've seen already. And that's coming from me, a guy who's hated the excremental work of Snyder. As Momoa says, “I can dig it.” This just might just be the variant to own.
Also: Aquaman #10 Cover B (Rebirth) An amazing Mera cover by Joshua Middleton. You know, the guy who did the art for a little known series called NY X? Check his website, he is cranking some seriously good looking covers for DC these days, and this one is a winner. What makes it so amazing in my opinion is the color play between the deep greens, the aquamarine, the orange fish and Mera's flowing red locks. This is a modern classic that can still be had for cover wherever you can find it.
Batman 679 (2008) / Superman 675 (2008) / Batman No Man's Land No Law TPB (1999) / Superman Forever 1 regular (1998)
Alex Ross is blowing up again, partly thanks to some great variants of late. Which is crazy when you think about it; was he ever NOT good? Anyways, did you know over 1,000 people showed up for his most recent signing, and even then people got turned away. The smart collector knows that the market is gaining a new appreciation for his work. People really liked the widescreen Justice League 2nd printing cover I featured in this column a few months back, and that's still a good get whenever you can find it cheap. Now these books I think are totally worth finding in NM quality, getting them slabbed and signed. They represent amazing, classic renditions of Superman and Batman. They are dirt cheap. And they are already a couple of years old, which means you'll have to hunt for them to get the right condition. And that's the real trick here (unless you picked them up when they came out) especially the all-black covers.
Also: Justice 2nd, 3rd printings
I can't talk about Alex Ross's older covers without pointing out these 2nd and 3rd printings of the epic Justice mini-series. Back in February my fellow columnist Jason S. pointed out the Shazam cover. But there were also epic Superman and Batman covers done against all-white backgrounds too. And the two team portraits — you have to admit it is some pretty awesome art, if you have never seen them before. It's amazing how some people develop tunnel vision. One online vendor I found had all the other books in NM save the Shazam, presumably because that buyer read Jason's column and only bought that book. Completely missed the point… anyways, the ask online for all these printings is inching up, so hopefully you can find minty copies sitting in a bin at your LCS. More candidates I think for Alex Ross SS… P.S. Ross noted on his FB page the similarities between his third print and the current JL group promo poster, giving more credence to the idea I posited a while ago that the art direction for these films are looking to his work for visual cues.
Power Girl Vol. 2 #20
Everybody at this point knows the deal with Power Girl #27 (the asking price for 9.8's now have me doing a double take). She sure looks pretty, huh… Well I noticed that this book is also beginning to see a higher ask online too. The reason why? A combo of white background and a massive boob window, I imagine, though it is also the first appearance of the G.E.L.F.s. (not to be confused with the G.I.L.F.s., and if you don't know what those are, go ahead and Google the acronym. Do it at work, preferably.) At your LCS and online vendors, you'll discover this issue is missing from the back issues of this run. Sneaky, sneaky, sneaky! If you can, grab 'em (uh I mean it, the book, of course) if you can get them cheap!
Avengers: The Children's Crusade Vol. 1 #3 variant
It seems that the other artist named Adam — Art Adams that is — is on a hot streak too. Again, all it takes apparently is one hot variant and then folks go scurrying off to find other variants and shorter run issues that he has done. So the zombie spec herd is going through all sorts of covers he's done, including this one. Admittedly, it's not his best cover. I mean, damn girl, you really can do the twist! Maybe that's why you could've had this cover for $5 a year ago. Now, well, the price on this book online keeps going higher and higher it seems, up to the $40 mark. I'm sure some online or LCS sleuthing will dig up a cheaper copy though.
Ghost Vol. 2 #17 (1998)
Regular cover, regular price and … OMG a Jason Pearson bondage cover! What's the big deal? Not much, but then again there are all these bondage cover collectors out there. Which I didn't realize was so big a thing, until I started seeing actual references to that term on eBay. (Another Google search I suggest you try at work too!) Usually such specialties charge for a little extra, but this book can be had cheap. Lots of nice Ghost covers btw out there, not sure why she never caught on in a big way among fanboys. Don't believe me, take a look. I did, and I was kinda blown away, and I definitely will be looking for these books when I go hunting. Raise your spirits for sure! Alright lame puns aside, if Pearson's work tickles your fancy it should be an easy enough pick up online or at your friendly neighborhood LCS.
FOOM #12 (1975)
So now that pre-comic first appearances are gaining traction among collectors, it would be hard to ignore this issue, which features and promotes the upcoming introduction of Nova. It was published in December 1975, while Nova #1 wasn't published a full nine months later. Now, you can debate this all you want and I don't have the authority to declare this to be a first appearance. But, the record shows that other FOOM books have also taken off in value once collectors realize the timing disparity between the magazine and the comic i.e. Foom #10, the X-men issue. Heck even that FOOM issue with the alleged Wolverine prototype that Marvel tried to deny was the basis for Logan went up in price and never really came down. This book has a full presentation of Nova which I've included here. So you can make up your own mind on what this constitutes. But if you can grab it cheap, wouldn't you buy it? I know I would!
Star Wars Vol. 1, #43
This issue features the first appearance of Bespin and Lando Calrissian. NOTE: It's a reprint of a reprint of the original issue, or maybe not… who knows. Depends on who is collecting. That's a Jaxxon hole I won't fall down. But if you were speculating on first appearances of Star Wars characters, this is Lando's, according to the Marvel Wiki. And if it's on a Wiki, you know it's gotta be true, right? I'm interested to see how Donald Glover reinvents the character. Hopefully he'll have less of an 80's game show host persona going forward. That could give Lando books a boost. I don't play in the SW sandbox much, so that's just a guess, not gospel.
Star Wars: Blood Ties – Boba Fett is Dead #4 (2012)
The canon versus non-canon drama that is Star Wars now marks these Dark Horse stories as largely irrelevant, however you have to admire a nice cover when you see it. I really like this portrait of Boba Fett and it's cheap too, so scoop it up and put it with your other Boba books, because I know you have some, everyone does. This also features Boba's daughter Ailyn Vel, who makes her first appearance in Star Wars Tales #7. The crazy thing is that according to Wookiepedia, which almost every force-loving SW nerd considers gospel, ” the references in The History of the Mandalorians and Legacy of the Force: Sacrifice have made [Ailyn Vel's] existence canonical.” Interesting…
Gi Joe Cobra Civil War #0 regular edition / Red Sonja Vs. Thulsa Doom #4 virgin cover / Spiderman Unlimited Vol. 2 #10
Here's a clutch of really nice Gabrielle Dell'Otto covers that might surprise you. First up is GI Joe Cobra Civil War #0, which was reproduced two times — once as the ‘Muzzle Flash' edition which was also featured in a Ghost Hunting column, and again for the 100-page spectacular. This however is the regular edition, which for some reason is kinda hard to find. I'd pick it up cheap. Second up, is a Red Sonja virgin cover which I think is among his best artwork, and can be found for cheap. Every artist lathers on overt sex appeal with Red Sonja covers, but Dell'Otto manages to paint a beautiful woman without having to drape her exposed décolletage across the cover. Finally, a muted but sweet picture of an unmasked Spidey and MJ, long before the Renew Your Vows storyline rolled out. Now if you’re a Dell'Otto completionist, you may have overlooked this cover, and I can't blame you. Who the heck even keeps Spiderman Unlimited in the back issue bins? And not even Vol. 1, but Vol. 2?? And, finding a copy in better than VF+ condition? Yeah, it's not going to be worth a fortune. But you might be the only guy or girl to have a decent copy.
Death Of Wolverine #4 Cover B / Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe #1 (2nd Printing) / Superior Spider-Man # 29 J Scott Campbell Variant LA Mole Comic Con Exclusive
No list of mine could be complete without some JSC covers. First up, Jean Grey and Logan half-well consummating all those years of UST. [One more term to look up while at work, natch.] Midtown JSC variants tend to veer toward the forgettable but I think this one is a diamond in the rough. It reminds me of JSC's ASM #606, sans a shocked MJ ball-and-chain. I'd also peep the Deadpool Kills 2nd print, which is a sketch version of the bikini-decorated submission in the infamous HTF JSC variant pair. For the price that you can get this book for, I would buy this rather than the Mexican color reprint of the same cover. The sketch cover allows for remark possibilities too! Finally, just to demonstrate no shade to La Mole covers, I'd recommend picking up the Superior Spiderman variant, as it is an original Black Cat JSC cover. It's been inching up in price… folks are looking for unique books, so I wouldn’t ignore it.
Good hunting guys!
P.S. Remember, I'm here for the little guy, not “the rich.” If you can buy a sweet book for a dollar, you'll never lose!