The Usual Suspects #8
Welcome, welcome, welcome. This week I am beginning a special 2-part installment of The Usual Suspects. It was just about 2 years ago that we all were fortunate to receive access to an invaluable tool in the form of the Top 100 Variant List.
I’m sure you’ve all used this list at one time or another. Whether it brought your attention to which variants you should be keeping an eye on, or if it introduced you to a variant you had never even knew existed. It was a one-stop shop of books we should all know on sight in case you find yourself fortunate enough to run across one in your travels.
Now I’m not going to begin the monumental task of doing an updated list. “Nordberg, that’s a pretty tall order. You’re gonna have to give me a couple of days.” But what I am going to do, is provide a market update on the Top 5 this week and then hit up some of my favorites from the rest of the list next week.
This Top 5 is a list of Ghosts. True, impossible to find, nonexistent ghosts. Good luck finding these books. Sales over the last 2 years are very few or even nonexistent. No one wants to part with their treasures, even at the prices these books have reached. Truthfully I have never even seen any of these books in the Top 5 in person.
Considering the sparse activity, I have very limited data to work with; but what I am providing is every tracked sale I could find from the last few years using every tool in my utility belt. This is it. We’re talking 10 or less sales in most cases. But these are some big boy books, so I can’t say I am completely surprised.
So without further delay…Spoooooon!!!!
DELL'OTTO 1:100 VARIANT (MARVEL 2011)
Is there a prettier Spidey cover? The simplicity of the design. The simple 3 color make-up. An original pose and angle that conveys action in its stillness. Just downright beautiful. I’ve considered picking up one of those Italian editions just so I had a copy in my collection, but that feels like a cheat. Like I’d be buying some knockoff bobo version 4-stripe pair of Adidaz.
Active Listings: Nope.
Market Analysis: In 2 years I found 4 valid sales. Four. In 24 months.
Last 9.8 sale was in August 2017 for $10k. Only 27 in the CGC census. No CBCS sales of any kind that I could find. There were however 3 sales of 9.6’s. Back from the original list in 2016 a 9.6 was running at $4,000. Last 9.6 sale was in November 2017 for $8k. Price doubled in less than a year and a half. Good luck finding a Hedge Fund with that kind of return on investment.
Raw copies just don’t exist. The article from 2016 noted a $2,500 sale, but I would imagine if any Raw came to market today, in any condition, it would command $4-5k at minimum. If you were lucky enough to find one, why wouldn’t you get it graded? You aren’t flipping through this book. You aren’t buying it for the story or interior. This isn’t some Silver Age beauty that you want to smell the paper. I know that sounds weird, but you know you all love that smell.
You are buying this book for the rarity and the cover, so why not encapsulate it for its own sake. Below is the full CGC Census. 30 graded copies. That’s it. Good luck finding one, and watch out for those fakes. Just check out Deno’s experience with that from an old Tales From the Flipside.
DEADPOOL CAMPBELL VARIANT (MARVEL 2010)
This won’t be the last Jason Scott Campbell cover we see in this list. Love him or hate him, the man knows his business with doing a cover. Now, I didn’t originally know that to get this variant, retailers had to send 50 unsold copies of DC's Blackest Night crossover in to Marvel to get 1 copy of this variant. That seems crazy to me. Even with a mass produced DC Event book, how many LSC’s had 50 copies left over? And then how many would send those copies in for 1 copy of this book? The answer is not that many; or we would see more of this book for sale and more in the census.
Once again, that is the complete CGC Census below. All 120 copies, and 6 sales in 2 years.
Active Listings: We’ve got 4 listings currently. 3 Graded and one raw dog. There are two 9.8 signed copies listed, but only one is CGC Signature Series which is looking for $3,800 or Best Offer. The other is a signed Green Label that is at a 20% discount for $3k. Or if you have $3k burning a hole in your pocket, you can grab a Blue Label 9.6. Looking for that one Raw, it can be yours for the low, low price of $2450.
Market Analysis: The last 9.8 sale from back 2016 was for $2,350. Just this past June another 9.8 sold for $2,950. A healthy 25% gain. But that has actually been the going rate the last 2 years looking at the numbers. Granted 5 sales over 2 years is not a deep well to draw from, but the largest sale was from June 2017 for $3,500 which was actually the 1st sale after that one from 2016. So an argument could be made that this is actually on the downturn over the last year from that sale. That is also supported by the $300 drop from 2016 to 2017 in the lone 9.4 sale. No raw sales completed to speak of, and the lone Raw up right now was also listed last month before it expired unsold. It has been relisted after knocking off $50.
LUCILLE RUBY VARIANT (IMAGE 2012)
This is our most active variant on the list. The most sales by far. Unfortunately for this book, the sales are going in the wrong direction. Two years ago this book may have been close to overtaking Walking Dead #1, but not anymore. Is it just general fatigue from the show, or just a matter of it peaking a few years ago and now trending down? Or can we blame the announcement of Andrew Lincoln leaving the show, as this was still on the rise back in 2017.
Active Listings: With 9 active listings, this is again one of the more plentiful variants on this short list. All Graded with a few signed copies listed, but the top dog is CGC Signature Series that is double signed by Kirkman and Adlard with a sketch that is looking for $3,500. The lowest 9.8 is listed at about $1500, which is well under the $2400 price tag in 2016. Whoa boy, that’s a drop. And with Negan introduced on the show ages ago, there really isn’t anything that may trigger a spike coming from AMC any time soon. Best hope for a price rebound is simply long term holding. This is still a limited book with a print run of only 250. But if you want a cheap one, you can grab a 9.4 for under $765 right now.
Market Analysis: As I already touched on it, the last 9.8 sale from back 2016 was for $2,400. And it’s had its ebbs and flows over the last 2 years. There was even a $2k sale back in January of this year. But then the next sale in April dropped to $1,371. Overall the most recent have been at significant decreases in the 30% range across the board. And no raw sales to speak of at this time, even though there would have to be close to 100 ungraded copies still out there if my math is correct.
CAMPBELL “DEADPOOL” VARIANT (MARVEL 2010)
Continuing our theme, there are not many sales of this book to report. Less than 10 that I could find, but we do have a CBCS sale to note this time. This was another book where retailers had to send other titles back in to get a copy. Rumors have this at a print run of 450, but all I can say for certain is that there are 152 copies in the CGC census, and that CBCS copies exist as evidenced by the dual sales shown below. And another JSC cover, though I do find it interesting that both are Deadpool and not his bread and butter, sexy female covers.
Active Listings: We’ve only got 2 active listings at present, and both are signed copies. One is CGC Signature Series 9.4 for $3200 while the other is a raw signed by Stan Lee for $3k. Personally, I am not a signature guy. I have a few, but it’s just not my thing.
But what really baffles me is why people get Stan Lee to sign books he has nothing to do with. It’s a Deadpool cover. Stan didn’t have a hand in Liefeld copying Deathstroke. Stan also didn’t create Wolverine, so why get him to sign this? Is it millennial ignorance, where they think Stan made everything at Marvel? Or is it because he had cameos in the Fox Marvel movies?
And in particular why would you deface a super rare variant? Some people collect sigs, but I look at this one in particular as a defect to this book. I don’t want it like this. I’d rather have it signed by Fabien Nicieza. I was gonna make some joke at his expense, but then I saw he also went to Rutgers on the Wikipedia page; so I will leave my fellow RU alum alone. But the point remains, if you get a book signed, have a point to the signature. Tangent over.
Market Analysis: Not a lot of sales to speak of, but prices appear up. Last 9.8 sale was in June for $3,250 and represents an $850 jump over the 2016 price. This book hit a 9.8 high of $4,500 last Christmas. The 9.6 is also up a bit from year to year, but no sale since January 2017. So I would guess a 9.6 should be about a $2,000 book today.
And we even had 2 CBCS 9.8 sales earlier this year. One went for $2,800 back in January, and was followed by a $2,450 sale in March. Both sales were a significant discount to the $3000+ CGC 9.8 sales. But that seems to be the case until CBCS pulls itself back up to be the Pepsi to CGC’s Coke, or vice versa. I don’t know which is bigger, nor does it really matter. Point made.
QUINONES MARY JANE VENOM 1:50 VARIANT (MARVEL 2012)
Yet one more big boy book with very few sales. A good, but not great cover if I am honest. I like the homage to that classic Spidey moment, and I appreciate the wordplay as it involves Venom. I get it. I understand why it’s as desired as it is. But I personally can think of a few other covers I would covet more. But that’s just me. Just something about the lumpy belly region that I just don’t get. Just seems like an odd choice. I mean MJ is tone everywhere else, what’s going on with the droopiness there. Hey I am all for putting a little meat on her bones, but with the itty bitty waist he gave her, that little paunch seems weird. But I’m wandering off topic.
Active Listings: We’ve only got 4 active listings after you weed out the La Moles and reused Virgin art variants. Time for another tangent. I am not a fan of those reused virgin art variants. What’s the point? The loosest of connections to reuse that art on a Venom #1 just to sell variants. Like Peter Griffin, that really grinds my gears.
Off topic again. Prob shouldn’t be drinking while I write. Anyways, on the market right now are 2 CGC Signature series copies. A 9.8 that is looking for $15k, and a 9.6 that’s a bargain at $6,300 by comparison. Looking at the 9.8, that has to be a make me sell it price. I mean, a 9.8 sold just last month for just under $6k, so I can’t see a $9k jump based of a month’s appreciation or just on the strength of Dan Slott’s signature. But again, not a signature guy, so moving on.
There are 2 raw copies available currently. A Buy It Now at $6k and a VF auction that is only at $910 with still days to go. I’ll be very interested in where that one ends up. And it’s coming from the Philippines. My partial ancestral homeland. That’s weird. Also weird to share that. Drinking. Almost done.
Market Analysis: So I already mentioned the 9.8 sale for $5,995 from July. And that was the only 9.8 sale I could find since the 2016 mark set at $3,275. Nearly double. Maybe it’s just ASM that has that kind of double investment return. I suppose we will see next week when I look at some more books from the list.
The 9.6’s have jumped up from $1700 to over $2800. There have also been a few SS sales, but I’m not looking at those as part of this review. The prices on those Signature Series books can be influenced to much by who signed it, remarks, sketches, etc. Trying my best to compare apples to apples.
Even the 9.2 price has risen from $900 in 2016 to nearly $1600. And that 9.2 sale was over a year ago. So that was only one year of appreciation. I would think another year would add a few hundred more if one were to come up tomorrow. And we’ve even had a CBCS sale to speak of. A 9.8 CBCS sold for $4k last year. That’s a jump, albeit a small one by comparison to CGC prices.
Finally, a raw sale from earlier this week has doubled the $1300 price tag from 2016. Another variant on an exponential rise. Supply, well short of demand.
Well that’s a lot of numbers for one day. I still have more to cover from the Top 100 Variant list. Take a look at it again. Let me know if there are any you really want to see covered going forward. Looking at another handful of highlights for next week, but I am sure I will come back to others from this list in the coming weeks. Next week, I’ll try to lay off the drink and stay on topic.
And with that, we wrap up yet another edition of The Usual Suspects. So until then…
“Bring us a pitcher of beer every seven minutes until somebody passes out. And then bring one every ten minutes.” – Thornton Melon