The Usual Suspects #3

Welcome to this week’s installment of The Usual Suspects. With Last week’s release of Cosmic Ghost Rider #1, I’ve been contemplating the potential longevity of the character. Will he be sticking around much past the 5 issue mini-series? Or will he simply fade into the ether and be lovingly referenced years down the road like Throg?

 

 

Truthfully I wondered the same thing about Spider-Gwen and Gwenpool, so the results are mixed. Even with Marvel’s recent penchant for mashing up their characters into something “new”, popular ingredients don’t necessarily make for a positive end result. Living outside of Philly, I love a good Cheesesteak, and I love ice cream; but I may not like them mashed up together. But who knows until you try, right Marvel?

 

 

That being said, I wanted to look at the Cosmic Ghost Rider’s effect on two of his main ingredients.  Both books have been seeing some decent gains in recent months. I’m not sure anyone can say for certain whether this is in any way correlated to Cosmic Ghost Rider or simply part of the overall uptick in Bronze Age books. Regardless, let’s take a look at the tale of the tape.

 

Marvel Spotlight #5

Origin & 1st appearance of Ghost Rider (Johnny Blaze)

 

Well you can’t have a Cosmic Ghost Rider without the Spirit of Vengeance. This book has been on my radar a while now and I still haven’t gotten myself a decent copy at a reasonable price. Logic would dictate that I shouldn’t be putting more eyes on this book if I want to procure one for myself; but this isn’t about me. This is for you, the people. And really who am I kidding, this book isn’t a secret, it’s just undervalued. Personally I believe this is a good investment book long term.

But prices have been climbing across the board for all grades the last couple years, proving I am not alone in this viewpoint. There was a significant jump back at the start of the year when Cosmic Ghost Rider was first introduced in Thanos #13, but this book just seems to keep chugging along. Apart from being released in 1972, that black cover makes high grades impossible to find. People think finding a dark cover released today in perfect shape is tough, try finding a black cover from over 45 years ago without color breaks or spine ticks.

The CGC Census only shows 3 graded 9.8’s and only one sale of a 9.8 for $36k back in 2013.  That sale doesn’t do us much good. So we can’t look at this as we would a modern book with the 9.8 or bust mentality. The bulk of the graded copies find themselves in the mid-grade range, so that’s where we will set up base camp.

Active Listings:  Currently there are only 18 Active Listings on eBay in both Raw and Slabbed copies. That is not a lot of options and most of those listings are graded copies with only a couple raw copies. When you compare the 18 active listings to over 150 sales the last 3 months, you can see the demand is there for this book in any grade, raw or slabbed.

Market Analysis:  As I said, only one Graded 9.8 sale and it was done over 5 years ago. And considering only 3 copies at 9.8 in the census, good luck waiting for another to pop up on eBay. Who knows, maybe you can use your eBay Bucks to knock some off what would have to be at least a $60k price tag in today’s market.

Best copy on eBay at the moment is a CBCS 9.4 priced at a 40% increase over the last recorded 9.4 sale back in March. That sae was for $4,300 and the asking price is now about $6k. Who knows, maybe they get it. Again, this is not an easy book to find in high grade. Looking back at 9.4 sales in 2013 at around $1,100, I might have to adjust my previous hypothetical 9.8 price. Taking that increase into context, a 9.8 could pass $120k at auction today.

The bulk of the Graded sales seem to be in the 8.0 range at about $800. What is interesting is that Raw High Grade sales are all over the place ranging from a low of $300 to over $1,100. Once again proving you need to examine those pics very closely, and not take the listing description at face value. Discerning buyers are willing to pay for true high grades as evidenced by the disparity in sale prices in “High Grade.”

I would like to note that there was a sale for an astounding $1900 for a raw copy.That the seller estimated the book at a 9.6 with slight color touch back in May. But that sale seems to have been cancelled, as the same book came up again in subsequent weeks from the same seller and finally going for a $1,000 Best Offer in June. The original buyer must not have been a purple label fan.

 

 

Reader Copy Sales: No True Believers reprint yet, but low grade reader’s come up every so often. One sold for $80 even though it was pretty chewed up with water damage and a detached cover. If musty, flaked paper isn’t your thing, then you can always look at a reprint. This issue has been reprinted in Ghost Rider Vol 2 #10, Original Ghost Rider #1 and Marvel Essentials: Ghost Rider #1.

 

Amazing Spider-Man #129

1st appearance of Punisher

1st appearance of The Jackal

 

Where are my Jackal fans? Who didn’t love the Clone Saga, eh? Huh? Huh?

Anyway, I don’t believe I need to bother explaining the importance of this book. This is a book many non-comic readers can identify. Even my wife knew what this book was thanks to Coyote Ugly. The Punisher, is one of those creations that is sewn into the fabric of our culture. An era defining creation, often imitated, never duplicated, etc., etc. And here I said I wasn’t going to explain.

Has any other character been through as many solo title relaunches and character changes as Frank Castle? What other character has been a vigilante hero, a villain, changed his race, become a Frankenstein, donned the War Machine armor, to now not only housing the Spirit of Vengeance, to wielding the Power Cosmic  while serving as a herald of Galactus to finally become the right hand of the Mad Titan Thanos. Whew. I’m sure I missed a bunch of stuff, but you get the point.

Everyone wants this book. And if they have it, they want another copy. Even if they say they don’t, they really do. I thought I didn’t need it. That was until after I sold my Low Grade copy and realized the mistake I made shortly after packaging it up to mail out. Now I have a much better copy, but it cost me quite a bit more. Books always come back around to collections, but this one is starting to reach that irreplaceable status. Where if you sell it, the chances are slim you will reacquire it without an inordinate amount of luck or a large bank roll. I have neither, so after I send this bad boy off to CGC, it’s staying in the PC for good.

Active Listings:  Currently there are at least 100 Active Listings on eBay, a good balance of graded and raw. Truthfully it’s difficult to get an accurate count with the number of reprints, foreign editions, and people trying to sell their other ASM issues by title referencing 129. Suffice it to say there are plenty of options in graded and raw copies in various grades. This is a book that there is a market for in any condition.

Market Analysis:  Graded 9.8’s are easily double the 9.6’s and fetching 5 figures. Even with 117 copies graded 9.8 in the CGC census, they don’t come up very often; as only 3 sales occured in the last few months. Prices have been wildly inconsistent of late, with 2 of the 9.8 auctions ending within the same week in May, but with a $5k difference between them. CGC 9.6’s have been steadily in the $5-6k range, but the real movers are in the VF/NM range.

Prices of the 9.0’s and 8.5’s have been on the rise. And even though there isn’t much difference between those 2 grades, there is a consistent $500 difference in price. This distinguishes very concrete plateaus for this book with regards to pricing. Anything 9.0 hits $2k , 8.5’s are $1,500, 7.5 at $1,000, and so on down the line. Grades matter and a ladder system has arisen thanks to collectors constantly on the hunt to go up a rung and get a better copy when they can.

With tons of raw copies available, you can see the grade chase in action. With “High Grade” sales ranging from $540 to nearly $5k you can see the potential risks and rewards at work. I can’t say it enough, buy the book and not the grade. Slight differences in grades could mean $500 swings in value based on online pics and CGC grader moods.

 


Reader Copy Sales:
This book has a number of reprints that are all pretty easy to find. You’ve got Marvel Tales, Marvel Milestones, and Toy Biz editions that are all very affordable. However, if you are looking for an original 1st print reader copy for the PC, those will still cost you a couple hundred bucks at present.

So who’s to say if Cosmic Ghost Rider had any impact on the gains these 2 books have made in recent months. It could just be guilt by association, where Cosmic GR simply reminded people to hunt these keys before they appreciate out of range. But since we were looking at Cosmic Ghost Rider’s effects on his ingredients, why not take a quick peek at the book that took our hobby by storm at the start of the new year.

 

Thanos #13

1:25 Incentive Rafael Albuquerque Variant

1st appearance of Cosmic Ghost Rider

 

Much debate over the merits of this book over the last 6 months. Is it worth it? Does it have staying power? It rose to great heights quicker than anyone could’ve predicted. And it’s surprisingly held pretty well.

I’m not sure if anyone remembers, but I posted about my sale on the G+ page back in February. Bought my copy off Mel V on eBay, sent it in to CGC, and was one of the first 3 copies to be  9.8’s in the census. There was one 9.8 up for auction when I got mine back whose bidding was already over $250 with like 8 days left. So as a goof, I listed my copy at $1,000 with best offer. Got an offer for $800 and thus the market was set.

Truth be told I should’ve had two 9.8’s, but an amateur Pressing mistake by myself cost me that second shot. It was my own fault trying something different in my process causing awful color rub on that crappy Marvel paper. You live and you learn.

Anyway, fears of how that color rub would be viewed by CGC seems to have subsided a little as 35 copies have earned 9.8’s in the census today as opposed to the lonely 3 when I sold my copy. Where I was quick to sell and move on from that book that I did not see having any legs, here we are nearly 6 months later and prices have remained pretty consistent.

Active Listings:  Currently there are only 4 Active Listings on eBay, all graded and no 9.8’s. If you look at the over 50 completed sales compared to only 4 listed, the demand is still there. But this book is a gamble. Raw sales go pretty consistently, but eventually all worthy copies will probably end up in the census one way or another. Especially at the prices folks are paying for raws.

Market Analysis:  Graded 9.8’s are obviously the copy everyone wants to own. And with 35 of the 131 graded copies in the census at 9.8, supply may not meet the demand. This could explain why the price has held despite the concerns of many in the long term viability of the character. Prices are still averaging just under that $800.

Prices of the 9.6’s and less, however, show a steep drop. A 9.6 will only fetch half the 9.8 price, its’ a wonder why so many are gambling on the raws. If a 9.6 only moves for about $350, is it really worth gambling over $300 for a raw ($275 average price plus grading/shipping costs)? But plenty seem to be doing just that as the Raw sales are there. There is a small anomaly in the average price of a 9.2 exceeding that of the 9.4, but the last 9.2 sale was in April and with only 8 copies, we may not see another for a while. And the 9.4’s have been moving more recently, at decreasing prices.

Back to the Raw sales, I can’t even really differentiate between the High/Mid grade sales. Basically for this book, if the listing even hinted at VF or even NM-,  I considered it a mid grade. But folks are still paying over $200 with no shot at a 9.8 and a ceiling of a $250 9.4 right now. Doesn’t make sense to me. Whole lotta risk, for what is not looking like much of a reward. Overall the numbers are on a downturn for this book, which does not bode well for long-term prospects.

 

 

Reader Copy Sales: Just buy the lenticular since no one seems to want that variant.

Well that wraps up another week. I was going to do Fantastic Four #48 too, but that is a personal favorite of mine and worthy of an article all it’s own. So until then, when investing…

“Always know if the juice is worth the squeeze.”

 

7 comments

  • Great article!

    Thanos 13 boggles my mind. Why is the lenticular worthless? If a comics value is based off of a few things;

    1. Major event, all of the covers check this box

    2. Great cover, I agree cover A and the 1:25 are the best, but the lenticular($5) is cooler than the trading card($50) or the headshot($40)

    3. Rarity, Here’s where the 1:25 pulls ahead obviously, but why is the 1:10 headshot selling for 1/2 of cover A? I’d say because of rule #2 but the headshot is almost as cool of a cover as the trading card, and 10x as rare, but sells for 10-20% less than the trading card.

    I guess Thanos 13 makes the arguement for always buy cover A or the top ratio variant, or the worst non ratio variant…

    • Peter Renna

      I agree, the values of the Thanos 13 covers boggles the mind. They make little sense and are prob due for a course correction soon. But with regards to your point about buying cover A, I will admit my OCD makes me always buy cover A as I feel it’s the unofficial true cover for completing a run. The variants are all extras, but if I want a complete run I need cover A.

  • I think Cover A’s do well overall because most average comic collectors only know Cover A. They don’t keep up with all the variants, store exclusives, etc. I think Thanos 13 is an exception though. Most of your value is still in the variants because of limited supply. Cover A is the one that ends up so often in the dollar bins.

    • Peter Renna

      I agree that most of the time cover A is the most plentiful. But like you said that isn’t always the case. The LCS I was in yesterday must’ve had 40 copies of the Hughes B cover for Superman #1 and only 4 copies of the A. It gets tricky with the open to order variants as each store handles their orders differently. Some stores default to the A, and only get a couple B’s. While other stores play it fats and loose and over-order B’s when there is an orderable variant cover by a hot artist.

      • Yeah, always forget there are other shops than my 2 LCS 🤪 One never orders Bs and the other only orders mostly for pulls. I’d have to drive an hour to get to shops that go hog wild on all covers.

        • Peter Renna

          Yeah, I also have to realize how lucky I am in South Jersey. I have 5 shops within 15-20 mins of my house and another couple I can hit at work or on my commute home. But each shop is different, and each has there own strengths and weaknesses depending on if it’s an incentive or just a regular hot book that i am hunting. There are still a couple more near me that I have to check out and that’s not even counting the stores if i want to cross the bridge into Philly.

  • Big Kahuna

    Really enjoyed this, thanks!

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