Here Today, Khan Tomorrow

“You know those days you sometimes have? The days that seem totally ordinary when you wake up, but by the time you go to sleep that night, your whole life is divided into before that day and after that day? This is one of those days”

Kamala Khan

 

 

Here Today…

Khan Tomorrow?

 

 

Greetings from the desert fellow CBSI members. The elegance and or pulchritude that comics provide has many layers. The trials and tribulations our “Heroes” exude within these stories share parallels with some of life’s real complexities.

It is ironic, we use art and the narrative of these panels to find some sort of escapism from our everyday lives. Yet, many times the very themes within these pages breathe the reality of the existence we live in at that particular time. Kamala Khan (KK) epitomises this very notion on many levels.

However, this does not come without some controversy. In this piece I am am going to speak to these themes. This includes the traction KK has gained in today’s world with all ages regardless of ethnic background. In addition, with this meteoric rise, was a “Herd mentality” (Blind Followers) manifested within inner circles?

This includes for instance media pockets throughout the country. Finally, a look into potential financial hazards a multitude of covers bring into comic book speculation and where will all this lead potentially down the road. So let’s get started shall we!

First, it is important to gather all the facts so in turn the best educated decisions can be made on where the future lies with her. In 2013, KK made her 1st appearance in Captain Marvel # 14. She was created by editors Sana Amanat and Stephen Wacker, writer G. Willow Wilson and artist Adrian Alphona.

In full transparency, KK from day one has had to cope with four enduring realities of life conjointly, creating a bit of chaos. The first being she is of Muslim descent, the second is growing up a girl, third is being a teenager, and finally, coping with her new found powers.

That’s a lot to juggle in the unforgiving world we live in today. Let’s be honest, that does not sound like a comic that would resonate with the readers across generations does it? Yet she is portrayed as a Cosplay Queen, emulated by millions of fans who adore all that makes her so special.

On the flip side, haven’t we seen this played out over many comic canvases? “Teenage kid gets powers and struggles with everyday life”. Just ask that wisecracking dude who spent many of years out in Forest Hills, New York. What’s his name…Peter Parker?!

Another distinctive trait of KK in the MU is she is Pakistani American. She was also the 1st Marvel of that descent to headline her own series. Just how rare is it for women to have their own comic?

Chew on this, only 26.7% of all DC and Marvel characters are female, and only 12% of mainstream superhero comics have female protagonists. Want further proof? There are over 2,500 teams in DC and Marvel combined.

With this, 30% of all teams have no women, and only 12% have more female team members than male. Time to cue the detailed graph for those who are more visual learners.

 

Each dot represents one of 2,862 teams in DC and Marvel:

 

 

Alright some colored dots, go on. Okay deep breath, exhale…This next section I am not going to get too political one way or another. We all have our respective beliefs and I will leave it at that for now. However, the impact KK has had on many is something of great importance.

Wilson and Amanat have created a superhero whose patriotism and contributions to Jersey City emerge because of her Muslim heritage, not despite it.

She challenges the assumptions many Americans have about Muslims and is a radical departure from how the media tend to depict Muslim-Americans.

She shows how Muslim-Americans and immigrants are not “forces that threaten communities – as some would argue – but are people who can strengthen and preserve them”.

There was an interesting piece written by Coco Kahn for The Guardian post announcement that KK may be coming to the big screen.

 

In this article she states:

 

For far too long Muslims have been portrayed with suspicion, a threat, much-maligned and misunderstood.

Now, finally, a Muslim is the heroine in a mainstream, going-to-be-watched-by-millions blockbuster. And a Muslim girl for that matter, a demographic often silenced; spoken about and not spoken to, and battling not only Islamophobia, but misogyny from outside their community and within.

 

Strong words whose sentiments are echoed by many throughout our country.

 

 

Now there is another side to this story that helps fill in pieces to show the complete picture of this popular girl. While KK is becoming more of a household name for some, her comic sales are not stellar.

Yes, there is a strong presence of those who read her stories via TPB, or online on sites such as Comixology, etc. However, other Marvel titles have been cancelled for numbers similar because at the end of the day it’s still a business, right?

Or do politics play a part? Hmm more on that later. Here is an example of Ms. Marvel viewership in a two year snapshot:

Some months have been omitted to keep this data tight and concise.

 

02/14  Ms. Marvel #1 –  50,286  (  — )
03/14  Ms. Marvel #2 –  38,357  (-23.7%)

02/15  Ms. Marvel #12 – 29,054  ( -2.7%)
03/15  Ms. Marvel #13 – 32,425  (+11.6%)
04/15  Ms. Marvel #14 – 32,058  (- 1.1%)
05/15  Ms. Marvel #15 – 32,185  (+ 0.4%)
06/15  Ms. Marvel #16 – 32,855  (+ 2.1%)
08/15  Ms. Marvel #17 – 31,567  (- 3.9%)
09/15  Ms. Marvel #18 –  33,761  (+7.0%)

Ms Marvel  #1 –  79,222
12/15  Ms Marvel  #2 –  46,610  (-41.2%)
01/16  Ms Marvel  #3 –  32,364   (-30.6%)
02/16  Ms Marvel  #4 –  30,916   (-  4.5%)
03/16  Ms Marvel  #5 –  31,871  (  +3.1%)
04/16  Ms Marvel  #6 –  29,863  (-  6.3%)
05/16  Ms Marvel  #7 –  29,840  (-  0.1%)
06/16  Ms Marvel  #8 –  31,798  (+ 6.6%)  (CV2)
07/16  Ms Marvel  #9 –  28,313  (-11.0%)  (CV2)
08/16  Ms Marvel #10-  29,395  (+ 3.8%)  (CV2)
09/16  Ms Marvel #11-  27,278  (-  7.2%)  (CV2)
10/16  Ms Marvel #12-  28,348  (+ 3.9%)
11/16  Ms Marvel #13-  23,621  (-16.7%)
01/17  Ms Marvel #14-  24,006  (+1.6%)
02/17  Ms Marvel #15-  19,870  (-17.2%)
03/17  Ms Marvel #16-  19,172  (-  3.5%)
04/17  Ms Marvel #17-  20,881  (+ 8.9%)

 

 

Alright, so her title lost half its volume in roughly two years. Is this the norm in today’s comic world? Maybe. Is it possible this may be construed as she is “Bigger than just register rings” for many of the aforementioned thoughts?

Perhaps. Is Marvel concerned with a backlash from many different outlets if they were to cancel this series? Not sure.

Finally, is there a double standard here that if KK were of a different ethnicity with this viewership would she would be shelved like many other superheroes that have come before her, and certainly after? Well, that’s for you to decide.

My goal is to deliver you the facts to make an educated decision on the overall long term future of KK. As a reminder, this is to look at her as a viable property on her own – Not set in a team environment like today’s Champions for example.

 

 

Finally, let’s look at the comics themselves. We all love when there is a clear cut 1st appearance, or in addition, a book that supersedes all in terms of value. It makes our lives easier right?

Well, it’s fitting with a character that seems to transcend into today’s mainstream due to a lot of complexities would be a little foggy on just what is THE book.

I know, it’s valid to say “CM 17 2nd print, not even close” I really do get the “Why are we having this debate, it’s the 1:75 All new Marvel Now Point One # 1”.  Yes, it does make some sense to the banter back and forth that “Why are we going round and round the CM # 14 1:30 is the clear winner”.

Hell, the strong argument of “You can have 1st appearance, I will take the Ms. Marvel # 2 1:50 Molina everyday as it’s an all time variant” does have some clout to it most definitely.

 

 

The problem, if you can call it one is does having three books in this case vying for 1st appearance hurt each other as it dilutes some of the value of just one winner?

I don’t have the exact answer to this, no one does at this point. The old “The market has decided” line is not really applicable to this case. So all I can do is state facts, and you can decide. Here are approx print runs and covers for reference.

 

Captain Marvel 14 1:30 Variant

Total Run 34.5K
Approx 1150 copies

 

 

Captain Marvel # 17 2nd Print

Approx 2000 copies

 

 

All New Marvel Now Point One # 1 1:75

Total Run 33K
Approx 440 Copies

 

 

In looking at purely print runs the Point One # 1 1:75 is the most scare at < 440 copies. However, it is strictly how you as a consumer view the age old debate over 1st cameo vs.1st Full or the whole “This predates that” argument.

In actuality, all these covers demand a higher premium. Now, will these hold as time goes by year after year? Now, that’s a great question and debate.

Some industry Vets would argue if Marvel continues to diversify at a rapid pace, characters such as KK may become watered down. In contrast, she has never been as hot in terms of speculation as she is as of this moment.

An example for the audience, Overnight after Feige’s interview 9.8s of the 1:75 which were at $480 began skyrocketing. Now a 9.6, not 9.8 is trending at $1K minimum. In addition, all key variants have become apparitions and went “POOF” into the eBay midnight air.

 

 

In closing up shop for this week I feel it’s important to speak in terms of the overall longevity of Kamala Khan.

If there is anything you take away from this article, please pay special attention to this information.

The easiest way to describe this last part is to use an analogy – KK’s physical makeup works perfect for this. Here is a visual once again for those who learn better seeing vs. reading. Yes, I raise my hand for this too!

 

 

Alright follow me in this, what happens when KK stretches one of her limbs? She “embiggens” correct? Not to digress, but this word is actually in the dictionary now.

Here is the exact verbiage: to make bigger or more expansive : enlarge, expand. Talk about KK becoming part of Americana! Okay, we will use the above figure to show this analogy. I am going to ask a difficult question, but needs to be addressed.

We all like winners correct? Whether it’s sports, horseshoes, or hand grenades, we want our teams, or endeavours to be the very best. Yes, I know there are still a few Browns fans of the world that skews this a tad.

So here is the million dollar question – Would we care about KK if she was not a good spec due to the fact so many issues hold strong monetary value?

The answer is an emphatic NO. Sure we can say the story is great, characters, minority lead, etc. However the majority of us on this site are a fan because she can make us money.

Yes, that can be said for many other heroes and villains – too many to have to name, but you get the idea. You also have a collective group of people who share her background and ethnicity.

Then you have the media who has latched onto her cause for political reasons. Finally, you have the purists, who value her as a character within Marvel without any outside influences.

Last time, cue the visual:

 

 

If you pull on one of the limbs it stretches or embiggens right? Thus KK as a whole gets larger both literally and physically. This is exactly what has happened to her as a comic book character.

She is the perfect storm for getting HUGE in popularity, due to the four groups mentioned stretching and pulling metaphorically resulting in growth. This is not due of Nostalgia or history at this time as she is too new within the MU.

Finally, what happens if one of the groups mentioned let’s go of a limb? She will start to shrink. A few of these groups will change if the wind blows in another direction.

I am talking to you the media as an example. There is another witch hunt for you to fawn over – just exit, stage left. In life, we share the unfortunate trait of judging something in haste.

People get categorized without real merit. Things get labeled and put in a specific box. If there was complete transparency, we all know we do this within our hobby. How do we know what 20,40,60 years down the road will bring, Hell even next year?

We don’t… So the Godlike complex displayed at times in this industry needs to be put in check.

 

 

However there is a item that cannot be judged, bought, rationalized, or marginalized and that is time / history. Is KK the next Spidey? Who knows, but the odds are stacked against it.

Here is one, what if a character does nothing for 10 years then goes on a run of issues that are worth money. Does that change the whole persona or outlook on a character because now they have a higher financial gain? It shouldn’t.

We need to all do a better job about making an educated decision on something in its totality. This is the tough piece of our hobby. We can’t fast forward time, nor do all Comics age better with history.

Any wine connoisseurs?

There are some solid parallels between wine and comics. Beyond the way they are  both handled, displayed, and the importance of both astically.

Also, just like comics, not all wine ages well. Some is best served earlier than later. Now is there a sure fire formula for this every time? No.

What we do know is there are four factors that go into deciding if a wine is worth aging – One that has higher acidity, the tannin structure, a low alcohol level and residual sugar.

Well that sounds just like comics right? We somewhat have a formula for what needs to sell quickly. In addition there are a few traits that reflect a long term hold. Interesting the similarities.

 

 

In closing what I wanted to accomplish is to give you facts to make a more educated answer in buying situations like with KK.

There are a lot of factors to look at with her as this is not just the speculators or comic geeks that have a vested interest – The real world in some aspects does too.

We must look deeper into our investments as the price of playing this game continues to go up exponentially.

If there ever was time for the saying “Work smarter, not harder” this is it. Those of you who may be newer within the group, CBSI provides so many great tools to help with all of this. The UD Podcast, listen to what they are saying.

This goes too for the Flip Side crew. They all know what they are talking about, trust me they were put together as a unit for a reason. Chemistry matters when you are speaking into a mic.

The articles that show up daily on the website, read each one when you have the time to devote to them solely as there is a lot to digest. Reach out within the community, get to know others.it can only help you prosper.

All of us at one time or another felt like we were drinking water thru a fire hose. There is so much info to be learned regardless of tenure within collecting.

 

 

Two things define you; your patience when you have nothing and your attitude when you have everything

 

Such is life, and comics…

 

Talk Soon,

Clint

Clint@comicbookinvest.com

 

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24 comments

  • Eman

    Very nice intuitive arrival. I tend to agree with you. I do think most people (comic book collectors) are invested in her to profit. I don’t own any of her 1st appearances so I don’t have anything to gain or lose if she really blows up or not.
    If sales are not doing well then Marvel should pull the plug…like Mockingbird a couple of years ago, what did it last 8 issues or so before Marvel shut it down.
    I do think it’s somewhat political in a way and also because there are very few female lead superheroes out there Marvel continues to run the title.
    I feel the same way about Miles Morales..I’m not prejudice in any way, shape or form..but why make Morales Spiderman!?! Why couldn’t Marvel make Morales into his own superhero? I known if they get a character of ethnicity and turn him into a major superhero (Spiderman, Hulk, ect) the transition of acceptance is easier. But still, in my opinion they should be their own newly created character. Amadeus Cho same thing.
    Have Morales join the X-Men and call him Voltage or something.

    I might have gone off topic.,.KK is a cool character but if the comic is struggling it should be cancelled.. That’s business 101.
    Maybe Marvel does feel outside pressure. Or Marvel has big plans for her and they’re just riding out the wave.

    While on this subject, some people think Moon Girl should be cancelled. That it’s still running for some of the same reasons you mentioned about KK.
    The character seems interesting enough and Moon Girl could be a fun read at times…overall, I just think they’re keeping around for like I mentioned, the same reasons they’re keeping KK around.
    Food for thought… If Mockingbird was of different ethnicity or religion would her title still be running?

    • I really appreciate the in-depth response and your opinions. This is what I envisioned when writing this piece was all of us to learn from each other. I think there is valid points on both sides of the fence. I would like to see all these characters succeed as it would help comics

  • MerrillMarauder
    MerrillMarauder

    Informative, and well written article.

  • Ben C

    Superb job. Super informative and to the point, well done.

  • great article! well thought out and well written. haven’t most of the books that have been cancelled by Marvel had sales under 19k for some time? Also, in todays market i don’t think we can go by comic sales alone. In my opinion comics are the smaller market today and the larger market would be electronic media and movies. It would be really helpful if we could see comixology sales per month for different titles.

    • Thanks for the response and reading the article. Agreed on seeing all the numbers would give us a better idea of how sales really are. Perhaps someday that will happen

  • Gary Nusser

    A lot to digest as always in here, Clint… and some of it only sinks in on a second read. In terms of numbers dropping, I think in everything there is a law of diminishing returns whether we are talking about comics, or any kind of media or anything that is in the zeitgeist.

  • emiobeg

    Amazing!!!. This is the type of article & in-depth content that separates CBSI from the rest. Always fresh and informative. Hats of to you Clint.

  • Very well written article Clint.

    I really believe that most people that visit this site don’t fully understand the impact of KK. Just by some of the comments already posted you can tell that single issue sales seems to be the biggest thing on their minds. But how many people here actually read Ms Marvel? Most likely 1%. lol.

    Even the creators of Ms Marvel believed that the book would be cancelled in 10 issues. Yet the success that this character has had through digital and TPB sales has kept the series going. Ofcourse we can only speculate on how much money she generates through other venues but some of the things to point out: (1) Amazon’s best sellers lists for comics always has Ms Marvel on their list of bestsellers. (2) G. Willow Wilson admitted that Ms. Marvel issue #1 was the most read title on the Marvel Unlimited app when it was released.

    Basically, I’m saying that the direct market is not everything and this character has done well outside of the direct market. Will she be the current generation’s Peter Parker? Many people here would disagree with me but I think there’s a very good chance that she will!

    • Thank you for reading and contributing your thoughts. I am in agreeance with you that there is more to measure her with then just numbers. She is transcendent in a sense. I am all for her blowing in up big time. It helps our hobby. Conversation pieces like this are the reason for me writing this article. Thank you both djinn155 and Counterzerointerupt for brining this to the table!

    • Eman

      I agree comic book sales is just one part of a characters popularity.
      Cartoons, toys, advertisements also have a lot to do with it.
      My two 5 year old Nephews love Flash and Night wing…they don’t read comics yet.,they’re influences came from the cartoons and toys. Comic books had nothing to do with their likes and dislikes.

  • Dale Valiant horton

    Dude. You just broke the specu-net with this one. Holy crap this is amazing and i have to give it another read before i even begin to talk about all the points and content in here. Very in depth look at kamala and comics im general. Bravo my friend bravo!

  • CountZeroInterrupt

    Thorough article Clint. I couldn’t agree more with djinn155 though. I truly think her success is underrated by too many comic readers who should know better. G Willow Wilson recently mentioned on her twitter about how there are many people involved with KK’s creation and ongoing development (she says this in the broader context of Feige’s recent hints at KK’s MCU future and how that generated a lot of online discussion about how GWW should be allowed to play a part in that). You can tell that all the people who work on this title are as passionate about the character as anyone else who labors to create something great. It shows on the page.

    I understand that this is a site dedicated to speculation as a primary objective but I assume that the writers and the readership are made up of people who got into comics for their love of the characters and their stories (or at least some of them). That’s the case for me. Speculation for me mostly starts with liking the character/stories. I liked Miles Morales enough when he debuted to snap up every Ultimate Fallout 4 Variant that showed up on my radar . The same was true for KK. This is actually how many collectors speculate. We can’t buy everything, LOL!

    I think that KK’s appeal is bigger than the orthodox metrics that have always been used to measure such things. There are many folks who don’t consider themselves “comic people” who are loving this character. She’s a crossover hit! I’d love to see the Venn diagram of people who know who this character is!

  • Eman

    I do agree with you Clint, that we wish all characters can thrive and succeed in this comic book world.
    I wish all the Nationality’s were represented in the comic book world…specially as hero’s and not just villains.
    Funny story, I’m Sicilian, so I fall in the category of being Italian.
    My 12 year old Nephew asked me just last month who do we (Italians) have as superheroes…I told him to Google it. He was like no, you can’t name one Italian Superhero!?! Off the top of my head I thought of Witch Blade.
    My Nephew was like who’s that?? Lol.
    Long story short he was a bit disappointed to find out that Italians don’t have a major superhero like Spiderman, Batman, Wolverine, ect.

  • Fantastic! I rarely get so deep in a read that I forget my surroundings. I probably need to do a couple more reads to fully digest it all. My kids still aren’t old enough to read and I don’t have any KK comics lying around, but they love her. The only reason they even know who she is comes from a three minute episode of Marvel Super Hero Adventures with her and Spider-Man. Whatever it is about her they see it and love it and we watch it nightly.

  • Manofwar

    There are ups and downs for characters throughout comic book history. It takes time for characters to develop, prime example, Harley Quinn. Her character was around for some time before she could make her own title run and stick with it. Which in turn depends on the artist and writer to make it happen. It’s the same for kk, the character will take its lumps lose series and come back, it’s hard for any comic character to just jump in there own title and be a success. She is an arbic superhero who is muslim and appeals to a lot of people. There is nothing wrong with that and it makes her who she is to her core.

  • Cruzzer2

    This is a great article. I do want to read it again and digest it slowly. Just a quick comment. The Captain Marvel #14 Connor 1:30 variant has a much more lower printing rate. The reason I say this is because I got in to many LCSs that have a subscription rate of 5-15 so not every LCS is going to order 30. Take example there are 3 stores in my area. If they all ordered 15 max they dodnt qualify for the 1:30 ratio. 34,500 copies may have been ordered via all the stores but if you add the numbers there is no way stores all ordered 30, even 25 at such a high number (#14) in the story. Moon Girl 19 is a perfect example I can see it for issues #1-4 easily but as you go up readers drop off, even though the final number maybe 34,500. This shoots the number WAY down.. I mean Moon Girl #19 and Moon Girl #28 are 2 perfect examples with the print run and variants. I love this article and will read it several times. Thank you Clint for this.

  • Martin Fairlie

    Amazing work Clint.

    Like a lot of the other comments have already said, this piece is so thoroughly researched and so well written, it will take a couple of read throughs to really digest all the points you have raised.

    With all the attention she is starting to get from the media, it seems like her popularity is growing almost organically. KK could very well be the eye of the perfect storm, coming to the attention of the public at just the right time.

    Really appreciate all the hard work you put into your articles.

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