The Usual Suspects 14

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Usual Suspects. As we are now just a week out from the release of Venom, I thought I’d take a look at some Venom books. Now, I still don’t know what to make of this movie. It has a strong probability of being a dumpster fire, and yet I am eager to see it. Got my ticket purchased with my AMC A-List pass and my assigned seat picked out. I’ve become spoiled. I need assigned seats. Seriously, I cannot go back to showing up 30 mins early to hunt for a decent seat at theaters like a bloody savage.

 

 

Anyway, I will give Tom Hardy’s weird accent the benefit of the doubt for sure. I mean he’s Tom Hardy, he’s awesome. Even if I can’t understand what he’s saying in half of his movies, they’re still generally pretty good. Just like Johnny Depp gets too carried away with the look and costumes of his characters these days, Tom Hardy tries to do the same craziness with his speech patterns. Mumbling aside, I am truly starting to get excited, but I would be doing you all a disservice if I didn’t at least note my trepidations.

That said, I figured I would highlight some books prior to the film’s release and before the internet has its chance to tell us all what we are supposed to think about this movie. I have a feeling that good or bad, the reactions will be divisive, à la The Last Jedi. Which I liked personally. Yeah, I said it. I liked the Last Jedi. What?

 

 

Now before we go off the rails off topic, let’s bring this back on track. So, without further delay…let’s get into it.

 

VENOM LETHAL PROTECTOR #1

Error Black, Error White, Gold Edition, & Regular Red Foil

(Feb 1993)

 

Yeah, there are a lot of these out there. And a few different versions at that. Released at the height of Venom’s popularity in the early 90’s, this was Marvel’s attempt to rehabilitate him into an anti-hero. So, Marvel threw together a mini and slapped a gimmick foil cover on and printed themselves some money.

This book has an estimated print run of about 1.5 million. Yes, one and a half MILLION. So before you go overpaying for a raw copy hoping for 9.8 gold, remember, this book littered dollar bins for decades for a reason. Actually 1.5 million of them.

That said, with so many copies printed, and a foil gimmick cover to boot, you can find yourself with a couple of errors in the foil printing process in addition to a Gold Retailer edition. I’ve run the numbers below for all 4 versions.

The main focus is on the Error Black edition as it hits that sweet spot of rarity and availability that makes it seem to be “the” copy to own. It’s rare, and yet you can find a copy if you are willing to throw down a chunk of change to own it.

From what I gathered this was simply an error in the printing process where the red foil either didn’t take or was missed in the printing process. As such it’s harder to find than the Gold Retailer Edition which is also a popular “variant” on the over-printed regular edition. Granted the White error is much, much harder to find as it is possibly a printed error of the Gold Edition, but truthfully I have no evidence to back that up. Whatever caused it, that White error is a ghosty ghost.

 

 

Active Listings:  So it’s safe to say that fever for this movie has kicked in full bore, with only one week left as evidenced by the current prices. That’s true at least for the harder to find versions. Right now there are 4 listings for the Black Error version. A CGC 9.8 is looking for $9,999.00 plus $20 shipping.

 

 

That unsaid, you may think $10k for this book is nuts, but when you consider there is an auction currently at over $4,300 with over 4 days left, it may not be out of reach. There are also two 9.4’s, one blue label looking for $3k and a SS for $5,500. Granted I realize this is an error, which has its own niche market and it’s not very easy to find. The print run would be impossible to guess, so this could be really rare, I get it.

But there were still 1.5 million of these printed. Even if the error affected one tenth of one percent, there would still be 1,500 of these out there. I realize that is not a lot, but paying $10k for this book?

 

 

Outside of that, you won’t find any White error covers. They just don’t come up for sale. So let’s move on to the Gold. Ebay has 40 listings for this book, and at more reasonable prices. CGC blue label is a cool $870 or you can shoot for a 9.8 SS signed by Stan Lee for $2,500.

 

 

Again, I’m not gonna get into it. If you’ve been reading, you know what that was for. But you can grab a raw for under $300 or take you chance on an auction.

As for the Regular Red Foil, you could pay up to $225 for a CGC 9.8 or throw down $400 for a 9.8 newsstand. Is that a fair price? There are 1.5 million, so I would save my money and just grab a raw for $10-20 bucks. There’s a decent shot you get a 9.8 considering over 63% of the copies in the Census are 9.8. There’s even 32 CGC 9.9’s and Ten 10.0’s. Ten. Just saying.

 

Market Analysis:  Well, with a ridiculous number of copies you get a ridiculous amount of sales. I had to cut the Regular edition off after 7 days of sales. I typically do the full 3 month eBay history, but after I hit 54 sales just this week, I called it. Just didn’t have the patience for it. Plus it’s just too random for Raws. You have copies selling for $5 to $41, just this week.

Raw Golds have been up almost 50%. And only 1 raw Black error to report and that was for a solid $1500. Again, who knows how many copies of the Black error exist. All I can tell you is that the census has 252 copies of the Black error listed and 2 of those are 10.0’s. Gold editions in the Census are triple that at 751. And there are only 2 copies of that White error.

If you are looking at the regular Red foil, you have over 4,500 copies in the census. I’m actually surprised it’s not double that, but prior to the last 12 months I don’t think anyone thought CGC’ing a book with this high a print run was worth the effort. A lot of this is simply nostalgia and younger fans grabbing a “classic” Venom book. I know it may seem silly to refer to this as “classic” but it is technically 25 years old, so we older readers need to get over it.

And I know I keep harping on it, but 1.5 million is just ludicrous. There are more copies of this than those sideways X-Force/Spidey crossover books. You know the ones I’m talking about. More than Cable #1, or Maxx #1, or that Deathmate prologue, or Darker Image. You know all those books you have to flip past in the dollar bins. Yeah, that many. So before you go looking for a nice CGC 9.8 of Lethal Protector #1 at Baltimore Comic Con, remember, 1.5 million.

 

 

VENOM #1 MCFARLANE VARIANT

1:1000 Incentive (Nov 2016)

 

While we are on the topic of print runs let’s look at one of the early high ratio incentive variants from Marvel. So, not only did Marvel have the novel idea of reusing old art, they decided to do it for crazy high incentive variants that only the largest of shops could handle. If you don’t live in a big city or if your shop doesn’t have a strong online presence, how could a shop even think to move 1,000 copies of any book?

That said, this book had an estimated print run of just over 90k. So simple math would say there are only 90 of these. Is that true? I would highly doubt it, with over prints for possible damaged returns and artist copies, etc; but who knows for certain how these things work. We just know most of our local shops did not qualify to get this.

But I can only imagine how that Marvel meeting went. “You know people seem to like our 1:50 and 1:100 variants, so why don’t we kick it up a notch and do 1:1000?” “Oh and they love big name cover artists. Wouldn’t it be great to get Todd to do a cover for us? But he’ll never do it.”…. “He doesn’t have too. We already have some. Bwhahaha.” Editor’s note: That ending came out more sinister than I intended.

 

Active Listings:  Only 3 copies of this book up right now. And graded or Raw doesn’t make much difference as the Raw is $2k while the CGC 9.8 and CBCS 9.8 are both over $2200. Technically the CGC 9.8 is closer to $2400 but the CBCS was so close, I just wanted to put them in them conversation. You know so they don’t feel left out.

 

Market Analysis:  Not a lot of activity on this book. But with only 24 in the census and our guerilla math estimate of 90 copies, that shouldn’t be a big surprise. But someone snuck a 9.8 just 10 days ago for under $1400, which was nearly 30% under the average. Granted that average is only based on a total of 3 sales including this one. But when those other sales were for $1,925 and $2,500, under $1400 seems like a bargain.

I mean an 8.5 went for $1k in June. And with Raws averaging a solid grand as well, that 9.8 looks more like a steal. Now I don’t play in that super high ratio variant yard, but I get it. I’d love to own some of these books as reused art or not, they look great. You are buying perceived rarity. But I am skeptical by nature, so without concrete information, I couldn’t part with the dollar amounts required to play that game. I’d much rather put a grand into a 9.8 NYX #3 or a nice raw ASM #129 or something. But that’s just me.

 

 

VENOM #1 REMASTERED VARIANT

1:500 & 1:1000 Incentive (May 2018)

 

So, Marvel scrapped Venom Space Knight after a year, started a new series with Eddie Brock back which then reverted to “Legacy” numbering after only 6 issues, and then came back with another new #1 after another dozen or so issues; all within like 18 months. Whew.

Marvel just kept rolling with this idea of reusing McFarlane’s interior art from his ASM run for covers taking a panel from Amazing Spider-Man #317. Going back to the well again they gave us another pair of high ration Incentives with a 1:500 color and a 1:1000 B&W version. But this time the print run jumped to an estimated 225k copies. Now to do some quick math estimates…

 

 

…So that means there’s like 450 of the Remastered and 225 of the B&W edition out there. Seems right. I suppose. Well regardless, there’s like 60 copies of each in the census so do with that what you will.

 

Active Listings:  Quick eBay search returns 18 copies of the Remastered and only 5 of the B&W. The Remastered CGC 9.8 is looking for $700-$1,000. While there are no B&W Sketch editions in 9.8, the 9.6’s are asking between $455 and $1,000. There is one raw B&W up for $800, but I would call that a risky buy considering you can knowingly purchase a 9.6 for under $500. So you better be sure it’s got a shot at 9.8.

Raws of the 1:500 Remastered can be had for $200-$450, that is unless you want to take a shot at an auction. These are more reasonable prices compared to the other high ratio Incentive Venom #1 from 2016; but consider it has more than double the print run. Factor the Store variants for this book, which means there’s a few extra copies floating out there.

 

Market Analysis:  So prices of these high ratios seem pretty solid. Not much fluctuation, however these did only come out a few months ago. With 9.8’s selling for right about ratio, I guess we can say this appears par for the course.  

Raws sales however are way below ratio. These are moving for half ratio or less. Granted this may mean that these are more affordable and I should consider jumping in, but nah…

 

MARVEL COLLECTIBLE CLASSICS: SPIDER-MAN #1

Amazing Spider-Man #300 Chromium (Oct 1998)

 

So this was Spider-man’s 25th anniversary edition that reprints Venom’s first full appearance. Considering I already covered ASM #300 back in my first edition of The Usual Suspects, I didn’t want to repeat already. I maneuvered around that issue by looking at this book, which is technically not the same comic. This is a special edition reprint with its own new #1, regardless of all of the 300’s on the cover. So…

 

 

Print run estimates put this book at just over 3200 from what I could dig up. That’s like your typical store variant these days. But this, however, has a bit more cache as it’s a reprint of a key book with a fun gimmick chromium cover that came out 20 years ago now.

I’ve never actually come across one in the wild that I can remember. But I can’t honestly say I would have been paying that much attention back in 1998. Back then I was just a weekly ham and egger grabbing my read piles and continuing my runs of X-men and Spidey.

I would’ve laughed if someone suggested there would come a time where I would spend a few hundred on a comic or even a thousand and think it was a “good deal.” Honestly, rereading that statement, I don’t know if that is a good or bad thing. Eh, whatever.

 

 

Active Listings:  So, there’s one of the 13 CGC 9.9 copies on the market right now, and it can be yours for the low, low price of $40k with free local pick up. That makes sense. If you are paying $40,000 for a comic you can prob spring for a flight to pick that sucker up yourself. Do you really want to trust that being mailed?

But before I move on, who would pay $40k for this book? I don’t care if it’s a 9.9, you can have an AF15 for that. Seriously who is crazy enough and reckless enough with their money to buy a book like this? Well, except maybe this guy.

 

 

Outside of that, there’s a raw looking for $1500 that must feel it’s a lock to be CGC 9.9 number 14 because you can grab CGC 9.8’s of this for $1200. Another raw is only looking for $600. Correction, just a cover only is looking for $600. Weird.

 

Market Analysis:  Not an overwhelming amount of sales but enough to gauge that prices have remained pretty consistent over the last year. And with 2 out of every 3 graded copies being 9.8 or better, it looks like this gimmick cover is pretty resilient. The paper stock or whatever it is made of must not take defects too easily. One would hope not because this would not be pressible.

 

 

Well that’s it for this week. I’m going to pray that Sony doesn’t completely screw this up. I can get over straying from the source material as long as what you give me is good. This is something many of us have dreamed about since we were kids. Sure it’s not exactly as we imagined, but I can still hope it’s ok. As long as they don’t drop the ball completely, I can get over no Spidey and you will find me sharing the below sentiment:

 

 

And on that note, I leave this message to Sony. I will be at the theater next weekend for Venom…

 

“Where we go from there is a choice I leave to you.” – Neo

 

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