The Usual Suspects #18

 

Welcome to this week’s special Halloween edition of The Usual Suspects. To get into the spirit of Halloween, I thought I’d take a look at some classic horror/monster themed 1st appearances. So join me as we take a look at some characters that really shine at this time of year, like The Great Pumpkin.

 

 

Charlie Brown specials aside, there’s just something about this time of year that makes you crave something creepy. Apart from all the non-stop horror movies played throughout the month, who doesn’t love digging into a great horror themed book like a Gideon Falls or an Alan Moore Swamp Thing while sipping on a fall beverage like a smooth chocolate porter?

I know what you’re thinking. What about pumpkin….Stop right there. Personally I can’t stand the pumpkin spiced flavored nonsense this season brings. I just can’t do it. Don’t get me wrong. I love me some pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, but this rush of pumpkin coffee, pumpkin doughnuts, and pumpkin pasta. Blecht! Would I like a pumpkin beer?

 

 

Now with that rant out of the way, let’s move on. There are some great Horror books out there. That classic pre-code EC comics stuff is just outstanding. But that stuff is really outside of my wheelhouse, so I will leave those books for folks more knowledgeable than me to cover.

 

 

Again, those are some great books and I constantly think about dipping my toe in that pool and picking up one when I see it. But that’s a slippery slope. I don’t want to open another door and get lost down that rabbit hole just yet. I still have plenty of books on my current want list to hunt. Maybe after those are checked off, I will sneak over to that side of the fence.

 

 

But as the month of October draws to a close, the costume choices become more and more sparse. And all you have left to choose from is some off-brand Power Ranger or an Ol’ Timey Prisoner, we all start thinking about all the candy we need to replace last minute because we already ate all that we planned to give out to trick or treaters… Wait, is that just me?

 

 

Anyway enough about Halloween. We should probably start talking about some books. I decided to cover quite a few this week. It started out as 3, then grew to 5, and before you know it I had data on 8 different books.

 

 

So, without further dilly dally…let’s get into it.

 

House of Secrets #92

(Jun 1971)

1st appearance of the Swamp Thing

 

Is this the answer to the question, “which book will challenge Hulk 181 for Bronze Age domination?” It’s very possible. Sure Swamp Thing isn’t a household name and doesn’t have as large of a following as Wolverine. But Swamp Thing does have a devoted fan base, 2 movies under his belt, and a new series on the way on the DC Universe streaming service.

 

 

But seriously, if you look at the prices below you can see this book ain’t no joke. These prices are for real and this is not nearly as easy to find. You go to any con and nearly every dealer has a 181 or an ASM 300 on their wall. Now when’s the last time you saw a HoS 92?

 

Active Listings:  Only about 25 listings available on eBay that aren’t a reprint or an homage. Finding a raw copy isn’t easy as listed are graded copies ranging from low to pretty high.

Right now the top listing is a CBCS 9.4 available for $8,395 with best offer. Or if you prefer CGC, there is also a 9.4 up for $7k. On the raw side we have a nice looking copy listed as VF asking $3,200. If I had $3k burning a hole in my pocket I might consider it. I think this book has room to grow.

The prices on lower grades have a pretty wide spread. You can grab a CGC 2.5 for about $600 or a 2.0 could cost you over $900 from MyComicShop. And there are some cheaper lower grade raws mixed in as well. This could be a good time to pick up a low grade. Like 181 before it, we could be looking at upticks across the board.

 

Market Analysis:  Sales are steady and spread over all grades. No matter what grade you have, there is a market for that book.

Alright we have to mention the CGC 9.8 sale that sold for nearly $45k back in March. That was one of only three 9.8’s in the CGC Census. And that rarity puts this right there at the top of the Bronze Age with 181. Sure it doesn’t have the volume of a 181, but it has a lot of similarities.

Outside a couple of outlier sales, the chart below shows decent gains on recent average sales compared to over the full year. Especially in the mid grades. I have a feeling the next jumps will come from those low grades. I won’t be surprised if 2.5’s are over $800 this time next year.

 

Saga of Swamp Thing #37

(Jun 1985)

1st full appearance of John Constantine

 

Sticking in the Swamp, let’s shift our focus over to another character that thrives in this darker atmosphere, John Constantine. His first appearance has become more sought after in recent years, and here it is in the pages of Swamp Thing. Now I know what you’re thinking, is this really his 1st appearance?

There’s been a lot of debate around his first appearance, as his character seems to appear in an unnamed cameo 12 issues earlier in Saga of Swamp Thing #25. For perspective, I have provided some abbreviated numbers for #25 below, but I am going to focus more on issue #37 as his 1st full appearance the rest of the way.

I’m gonna lay it out there, I enjoyed Constantine’s show on NBC before it got cancelled. And I’m glad the CW decided to bring him over to the Arrowverse. However, I highly doubt this renewed interest in Constantine is related to his now being on Legends of Tomorrow. I don’t think anyone else watches that show. Now I won’t go so far as to say the show is good, but it is fun. And couldn’t we all use a little more fun in our lives?

 

 

Active Listings: Looks like over 30 listings up on this one. And I even noticed at least one set available with #25 and #37 so you can cover your bases.

Top listing is a CGC 9.8 for $600 that will be completed by the time you folks read this. But it’s either mention this book, or the next biggest book is a $410 PGX 9.6. By the way, thanks to the seller in noting NOT CGC.

 

 

Seriously, what’s the point of telling me what it isn’t. You might as well list it as NOT TACOS for all the good that does. Wasting my time so your listing comes up in my search. Hey BTW I have a movie for you, I think you’ll like it. It’s called Thor……Not Marvel

 

 

That’s just as good right? Oh and I have some Hydrox cookies and Mountain Lightning for you too.

 

Market Analysis:  Ok listing etiquette aside, Looking at the numbers below this book has been on the rise about 20% over the last year. That’s not bad for a book over 30 years old featuring the first appearance of a character that doesn’t have a big media push behind it.

CGC 9.8’s trade at a premium here at about triple a 9.6 or 9.4. Considering a raw will run you about $80 on average, or even just $112 at the high watermark, it could be worth a gamble. If you can score a 9.8 candidate, there’s money to be made there. And 9.8’s aren’t impossible even with that yellow cover with over 230 in the census, plus there’s even two 9.9’s.

And the market has decided for now it chooses #37 over #25 based on the below valuations, but that book still has some room to grow as well. I’m still hunting one for that cover alone.

 

The Tomb of Dracula #10

(Jul 1973)

1st appearance of Blade the Vampire Slayer

 

Switching over to the House of Ideas, another book that’s been showing some decent gains of late is the 1st appearance of Blade. I can’t help thinking that Blade would make a perfect addition to the Netflix Marvel Universe. Imagine the door’s they could open by delving deeper into the supernatural elements of the Marvel U. Sure everyone says Moon Knight, but I think Blade opens more doors to cool stories.

But that’s all a pipe dream as it looks like the Netflix Marvel Universe is closing up shop soon. At least that’s my read on what’s going down. Why deal with Marvel and competing directly with Disney’s streaming service with their characters, when they bought the whole Millarverse. Why worry about pushing the envelope with Marvel properties when they have ready-made genre breakers in their stable already. Just saying.

 

 

But enough about Netflix. We’re looking at ToD #10 and Blade here. I’ve come across plenty of other Tomb of Dracula books, but I can honestly say I haven’t run into this book in my travels. Sure I wasn’t looking for it specifically, but every time I did remember to look for it I have come up empty.

 

Active Listings:  Nearly 50 listings come up on this one. And sellers are looking to push the envelope on this book given the gains over the last year.

Top dog is a CGC 9.4 that’s asking for 9.6 prices at nearly $3k. I’m not saying they won’t get that, but it will be tough when they still have direct competition in another 9.4 at only $2k. Now I realize you buy the book and not the grade, but imagine what you could be spending that extra $1k on. Heck you could buy the entire 1-70 run raw for only $850.

As for raw copies, it looks like MCS has a couple Mark Jewelers copies up in the VG range. Those are some tough books to find and the top raws at $700 and $580.

 

Market Analysis:  Only 3 graded 9.8 sales the last year. And the most recent sold back in May for nearly $6,300. Not too shabby.

Like I pointed out already, prices on this book are up. Look at all the green below. All grades are worth grabbing if you can find them. Just another Bronze Age book make a push. This may plateau soon as Blade has never been strong enough to carry his own title for very long. And unless there’s some movie/TV announcement I don’t see a big spike coming. Sure it may continue a steady rise, but I think after the current Bronze Age swell subsides, these prices will level off.

 

 

Marvel Premiere #28

(Feb 1976)

Legion of Monsters (Morbius, Ghost Rider, Werewolf by Night, & Man-Thing) appearance

 

Please note the distinction that this does not say 1st appearance. That would technically be in Legion of Monsters #1 from 1975 that featured a team of Frankenstein, Dracula, and Manphibian. As you can see that roster was altered for this incarnation of the team, and this is the first appearance of this group of monsters.

Like the John Constantine situation above, I am going to give you guys the abbreviated numbers on Legion of Monsters #1, but I will focus my efforts on MP #28.

This is a book I am adding to my want list. I’ve never been a big horror book guy, but this just looks like fun. Plus it’s relatively affordable. Maybe it’s in part that my son has us watching Monster Squad upon his request when I got home from work, but I am gonna grab myself a copy if the situation presents itself.

 

 

This may be off topic, but I love me some Monster Squad. Sure some of the dialog is dated and a bit offensive given today’s sensibilities; but Shane Black did capture how kids spoke to each other back in those days. Yes, the same guy who gave us Lethal Weapon, Last Boy Scout, and even Kiss Kiss Bang Bang gave us a Goonies inspired monster flick for tweens. Does it hold up? Well, to be honest if you weren’t already a fan or if you aren’t a 6 year old, this may not seem as awesome to you as it actually is.

 

Active Listings:  Looks like about 28 listings for this one. The top listing is a MCS eBay listing asking $1,660. After that, you have a pair of 9.6’s in the $500 range. Most expensive raw is seeking $135 but looks like a decent copy. There’s also a CGC 8.5 that seems pretty reasonable.

If you were hunting a Legion of Monsters #1, it could be a bit tougher sledding unless you are including International listings. And there’s even an original art page of this book listed for $800. It should also be noted that this book is magazine sized. So if you are looking for a slab, it won’t fit in a regular slab box. Just an FYI.

 

 

And in case you’re wondering, it was the latter.

 

Market Analysis:  Well the top active listing seems to be pretty close to market as the last 9.8 sold back in August for about $1,600. Same goes for the 9.6’s in the $500 range.

Prices haven’t spiked much over the last year. Small gains for the most part with the largest gains in the 9.6’s. Raws however are a crapshoot. You could be looking at over $100 for a nce copy or you may score a reader for under five bucks.

The market for the Legion of Monsters #1 is a bit slower. I would guess that’s in large part due to the limited copies available. A 9.8 hasn’t sold since 2015. And a 9.6 exceed that sale at $325. I would venture to guess a 9.8 of this would prob come to market looking for $700-800 today easy. And they might get it.

 

John Byrne’s Next Men #21

(Dec 1993)

1st full color appearance of Hellboy

 

Last book in our overstuffed Halloween edition. And this is another character with a complicated 1st appearance. A prototype version of the character first appeared on the cover of Dime Press #4 back in March 1993. That book is super hard to track down, so I am not going to bother running numbers on it. If you see it, just grab it.

That was followed later that year by the 1st full Hellboy appearance in a black & White 4 page story in San Diego Comic Con Comics #2 in August. I have provided some abbreviated sales data on that book below. But I am again going to focus on the Next Men book above as it is more widely recognized.

This is one character I wish I had more of. I loved the Guillermo Del Toro movies and was bummed when I found out they wouldn’t be making a 3rd with Ron Pearlman. I guess Clay just got too old and the studio didn’t want to put up the $$$. But in looking at the promo materials for the movie, we seem to still be getting a slice of awesomeness. Time will tell, but I think Hooper is gonna crush it.

 

 

Active Listings:  Looks like we have in excess of 30 listings on the Next Men #21. Big dog is a CGC SS 9.8 signed by both Mignola and Pearlman. I’m not a signature guy, but that would be a pretty cool book to own. Not sure I can justify shelling out $750 on it though. Not saying it’s not worth it, that’s just not me deal.

Following that book we have 5 other Blue Label 9.8’s for about $450 and a sixth undercutting at about $400. The cheapest copy looks to be an auction currently at $70. Don’t want to gamble and get sniped, you can buy one straight up for $110.

If you’re interested you can buy a raw pair of the NM#21 and the SDCCC#2 for about $550 shipping from down under. Or if you just want the SDCCC, you have about 30 options. A 9.8 will cost you at least $700, or you can buy a different 9.8 for $2k. Hmm with at least a half dozen other 9.8’s available in the $900 range, who is gonna buy the $2k? That has to be a make me sell it price, but if you want to throw $2k at it, then go for it.

 

 

Market Analysis:  Plenty of copies of NM#21 have moved over the last year. Prices have been a bit up and down as recent sales have dipped in the lower grades. I imagine that will turn around as we near April. Plus I expect a huge spike once that first official trailer drops.

The SDCCC#2 however has done nothing but go up. Looks like the market has decided that’s the book they want. For years it was NM#21, as the SDCCC was more of a secret to most collectors. I’ve personally only really been aware of it myself the last couple of years. But with more excellent sources for quality comic book information…cough cough…CBSI…cough cough, we have a more informed market.

 

 

Well that’s enough for this week. Definitely gonna cut back next week. I might need to do a solo issue deep dive. We’ll see how it goes. Whew, I’m exhausted.

 

 

And on that note, let’s wrap it up.

“Is she a virshin?” – Eugene, The Monster Squad

 

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