The Usual Suspects #15

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Usual Suspects. As much as I try to avoid it, it seems like there are leaks and photos released every week for a movie that is still a year away. These movie are usually on lock down with production footage and pictures.  I can only imagine this is all just a ploy to garner some good will with fans, but I gotta say I am really indifferent.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the Joker. He’s one of the best villains in all of comics; if not, “The” best. That said, who asked for this movie? It makes no sense whatsoever. Let’s put aside the fact that Warner Brothers already has another Joker in Jared Leto. Let’s also ignore the fact that this doesn’t take place inside their already struggling movie universe. Let’s also not think too deeply on why the director of Road Trip is the choice to helm this flick. Yes, this guy.

 

Who wants to know the Joker’s origin? I mean we all remember how we all loved it when we finally go to see Wolverine’s true beginnings in Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. I mean Origins. Awesome am I right? We got to find out where his fetish for redheads was born. And we even learned his real name wasn’t anything to do with Logan, but rather it’s James Howlett; because Wolfie McDogboy was a little too on the nose. Yes, give me this but for the Joker. Do we learn where he gets his first purple suit? Or his first squirting flower? Or will we learn where he gets his name like we got to see in Han Solo? I mean his name is Arthur Fleck? A. Fleck. Affleck? Oh ho, ho.

 

Ok, ok we are getting pretty far afield. Let’s recalibrate and get back on track with what you are all here for, comics. I’m sure you’ve all had enough on my trepidations regarding this movie…for now. So let’s look at some books because the Joker has some great ones. Come on, that Jim Lee cover for Justice League #8 just a few weeks ago?

 

Right? I’ll be curious to see where that 1:100 is a year from now. But that’s not our menu for this evening. So, without further gilding the lily and no more ado…let’s get into it.

 

DETECTIVE COMICS #880

(Jul 2011)

 

Just an iconic cover by Jock. It just conveys so much in its design and in the simplicity of the 3 color scheme. The black and white just make that red pop. That grin, and those bats, just perfection. A tip of the cap.

 

Sure it doesn’t hurt that this was part of Scott Snyder’s initial run on the character of Batman. Beginning with #871, he wrapped up the long running Detective Comics series just before the New 52 relaunch. But outside of that, this isn’t a key issue for the book’s contents. No 1st appearance or death to speak of. The heat on this book is pretty much all based on that cover.

Full disclosure, I actually just picked up a copy of this for myself recently. I didn’t plan it. It was one of those impulse bids you throw out there with still hours to go. I fully expected to be outbid based on recent sales, but low and behold, I wake up the next morning to find out I won. Happy accident I suppose.

 

Since its release, this book has done nothing but appreciate. It’s been a slow climb the last few years; however, the price has just about doubled over the last year. I wondered what the recent Foil Edition would do to its price and popularity. And from what I can tell it looks like it’s actually benefited the original. It seems to have triggered more sales, while the prices have held at their all-time highs.

 

Active Listings:  So right now you need to sift through all the foil versions listed; but when you do, you will see there aren’t many copies available of this book. I count 6 right now. But even if you count the foils, there are still only 39. And with around 200 sales the last 3 months, this book has much more demand than supply.

Right now the two CGC 9.8’s available are both SS and are looking for $900 for Snyder’s signature, and $1,050 for a double sig with Snyder and Jock. After that, for the slabs, you only have a 9.4 asking $600 Canadian for a Newsstand edition.

Outside of the slabs, you also only have 3 raw copies on the market. Big Dog is asking $525 raw. Then there’s an active auction that’s up to $100 with a couple days left. And finally, a copy for only $200, but it’s got a lime green Snyder Sig on it. Does that matter?

 

I’m just not a signature guy. Don’t get me wrong, I can see the idea behind the green on this cover, but it doesn’t add to the cover in the way they had hoped. It’s a detriment to me. It sullies a great image with neon green scribbles on the Joker’s face. Personal preference. But if that’s your thing, then $200 with a CoA isn’t bad, all things considered.

 

Market Analysis:  Well, as I already mentioned, the prices on this book are rising across the board. Slabs or Raws, both are up over the last 3 months, as well as over the last year.

I would also point out that there have been 13 sales of CGC 9.8’s over the last 3 months, and all but one sale have been over $600. And the one that was under, sold for $563. So I would confidently say that the going rate for a 9.8 is at least $600 now. That price is about double the cost of a 9.6.  After that, anything 9.4 and below seems to be in the $150-$250 range.

Raw copies have still been brisk. With 60 sales over 3 months, that means two copies are selling every 3 days or so. That’s not bad considering this isn’t that cheap of a book anymore. Raws sell for between $100 and $260 depending on condition; and many sales have been over that $200 mark.

And for the fun of it, I figured I would look at the Foil sales as well. Matching the 60 raw sales of the original, it seems that is a “good enough” copy for a lot of collectors. I say “good enough” because this is a more affordable alternative at about $50. It’s the same art and the same book at a quarter of the price. I’m sure there are some speculators who think the foil may one day be more desirable due to a limited print run and virgin foil cover; but come on.

Batman: The Killing Joke

1st Print (Jan 1988)

Holy multiple print runs Batman! Something like 14 print runs, a hardcover, and even an animated film. This is probably the most iconic Joker story ever told. Words like iconic and classic just seem too small in trying to convey this book’s place in comic history.

 

I don’t have to tell anyone reading this article why this book is important or sought after. Everyone needs some version of this book in their collection. It should be a comic collecting prerequisite. Comics 101, The Killing Joke and Watchmen. So if you don’t have one, just go get one.

 

Active Listings:  Only 5,000 listings pop up when you search for this book, so you know you have options. I’m only looking at the first print edition for the sake of my article. So I’m not going to get into which print is rarer or what the different colors in the cover title represent. Just the 1st print O.G. copy.

PGX alert! We have a PGX 10.0 listed with an asking price of $4,995 plus $15 shipping.

 

My gripe with a shipping charge on a big ticket item aside, this opens an interesting debate. Would you touch that PGX book at that price? Granted the last CGC 10.0 sale was 3 years ago at $3,800 so inflation and current market may make $5k reasonable. But do you trust PGX? And on the same token if that were your book, do you risk cracking and submitting to CGC? Especially with their new ½ off submissions of competitors slabs. That is an interesting dilemma to ponder.

But if that’s not your thing then you can slum it and pick up a CGC 9.9 for $3k with free shipping. Hats off to that seller.

There are more super high grades of this book than you would think. Look at the census numbers below. But outside of those super high grades you can basically pick from nearly every combination of grade and print, with plenty of SS in there to boot. Not a hard book to find at all in any price range.

 

Market Analysis:  With availability comes a high number of sales, at least as far as this book is concerned. And with the high quality paper stock of this Prestige Format book, the grades tend towards the high side. And I did my best to filter for only 1st print sales with regards to my data below. So that narrows our target population of sales from thousands to hundreds.

So over the last year we had 4 sales of CGC 9.9’s with a high of $1500 and a low sale of $500. The standard deviation on that is nuts. A $1,000 price swing. Most grades all seem to be on the rise, but this is still an “affordable” CGC 9.8. I realize our hobby has collectors of all kinds and economic means. I write about thousand dollar books because I can’t afford them. It’s just not a yard I can play in right now, but that is an impressive swing set. I know many people who would not spend $200 on a comic book. That said, I only say “affordable” in the sense that you would not have to mortgage your house to get a CGC 9.8 copy of this if you really wanted one.

And I didn’t pull that $200 out of a hat, as that was the last 9.8 sale as of October 1st. And that $200 sale was actually at a premium to the 3 month average. If you wanted to take a flyer on a raw, it’ll only cost your $45. Or you can grab a deluxe Hardcover for under $5 plus shipping if you just want to read it.

 

BATMAN #251

(Sep 1973)


With my last entry this week, I just went with a personal favorite cover by Neal Adams. Granted this is a favorite of many, so this isn’t a novel selection. But that’s exactly why it makes for a good candidate to be a “Usual Suspect”.

People know this image. It’s classic Joker in every sense of the word. No metrosexual, Hot Topic Joker here. This is more old school grease paint over the mustache Cesare Romero, and definitely not scarred face psychopath Ledger.

That’s the thing about the joker. He can be many things and still work in the hands of a capable writer. Over the years he’s been whatever the writer needed him to be to tell their story. Funny, creepy, psychotic, or even a sympathetic character, the Joker can be any or all of those at once. That goes away as soon as you try and “explain” him in an origin story. The origin doesn’t matter. In most cases it’s a detriment, as it can create an anchor that binds a storyteller. Why are they making this movie?

OK, ok. I’m not gonna stray off topic and start ranting about this Joker movie again. We have Bronze Age Neal Adams. Focus.

Active Listings:  Quick eBay search returns 85 listings. Only a few prints and t-shirts mixed in, which is to be expected. It is a classic cover image after all. It’s gonna find its way onto some merch.

King of the hill listing is a CGC 9.6 looking for $3,300, followed closely by a CBCS 9.6 at about $3k. After that we have a few CGC 9.4’s and 9.2’s ranging from $1,500 to $2,400. Next are a cavalcade of raw copies in various grades. A couple raws are seeking close to $1k, but most find their way down closer to the $600 range in high grade.

Cheapest buy it now is a low grade copy for $75. Or you can buy this image on a light switch for $10 bucks.

 

Market Analysis:  So prices are generally on the rise. Sales are spread out over all grades in both raw and slabbed. This is a book you want in any condition. Sure you want the best bang for your buck, but I don’t think anyone would say no to a solid Fine copy of this book.  

So we had one CGC 9.8 sale this year and it almost hit $5k. About a half dozen 9.6’s which are closing in on $3k. From there the books tier down over grades. A high grade raw will cost you about the same as an 8.0 or 8.5 which isn’t bad for a book that’s 45 years old.

By and large a decent VG copy will prob cost you about the same as a nice High Grade Tec 880 or a CGC 9.8 Killing Joke in that $175-200 range. So if you are in the market, and have $200 bucks burning a hole in your pocket, you have your choice.

Well that’s it for this week. Like it or not, we are getting a Joker movie. But regardless of that hot mess on the way, we still have decades of great Joker books. I really shouldn’t jump the gun and assume this is an impending dumpster fire. Just because I don’t want it, doesn’t mean it may not be a quality picture. I suppose we will just have to wait and see.

As you all read this, I will probably be on my way to see the other potential garbage fire, Venom. Here’s to hoping it’s at least as good as The Meg. Having seen that movie in Dolby Digital, I am well aware at how low I am setting the bar. I mean it was no Skyscraper. But I’ve heard some good things about Venom…

 

 

And on that note, sometimes you gotta take a shot and hope for the best…

 

“You can’t lose what you don’t put in the middle, but you can’t win much either.” — Mike McDermott

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