The Usual Suspects 22
Welcome to this week’s edition of The Usual Suspects. Once a month I like to focus one article on all variants. Love them or hate them, they are a big part of the current comic world. This week I wanted to take a look at the great Adam Hughes and some of his beautiful DC Incentive covers. Why DC only? Well Hughes has done so many covers I had to narrow it down somehow. I mean just look at this gorgeous Sabrina cover that we will finally be getting from him.
Adam Hughes is a master cover artist. If you see his name listed as cover artist in the previews list, you order that book sight unseen. There’s a better than average chance you will not be disappointed. His unique pin up style art is often imitated, but never duplicated. When Hughes does a cover there’s very little chance you can confuse it for another artists work. He has a few classic cover runs on DC including Catwoman, Wonder woman, and The Fairest for Vertigo.
Sure Hughes is mostly known for his pin up style, but look at the above group pic. The composition of the image filled with so many characters telling small stories within the image. This is the wraparound cover for issue #1 of The Fairest.
Just look at the use of the bed post framing the front cover while creating a natural separation to the back cover while still maintaining one cohesive image. He’s squeezed 14 characters onto this cover and it doesn’t seem overcrowded. The expressive faces giving a sense of character and relationships between them. Plus look at the textures he achieves in that bed spread.
Hughes isn’t afraid to mix it up a bit with his style. Sometimes his art has an almost painterly quality, while others appear like straight up line art. He sometimes plays with his outlines giving some of his images an almost sticker-like quality to them. And with his current cover run on the Superman B covers, Hughes appears to be playing a bit with perspective.
That recent Superman cover reminds me of one he did back in his Wonder Woman. It was Wonder Woman #195. It wasn’t one of his iconic covers that everyone hunts for, but rather just an interesting piece from a unique perspective. It was WW shown in the reflection of a pilot’s helmet. The motion blur and first person view is what comes to mind. It’s covers like this, that prove that he’s more than just a cheesecake pin up artist.
Sure I could go on for another thousand words just looking at more Adam Hughes covers. We could probably spend all day on that Catwoman run alone. But that’s not what I wanted to focus on today. This is my monthly variant edition, so I am exclusively looking at Hughes Variants. Incentive DC covers to be even more specific.
So without further ado…let’s get into it.
1:10 Incentive Variant
Yup, I’m leading off with this one. This should come as no surprise to anyone. You say Adam Hughes cover and this image pops up first in most people’s minds. It’s iconic and could have been one of the 1st books to set off the Variant craze.
I still remember when I found this little beauty. I was just coming back into collecting more seriously again. I had never stopped, but I definitely slowed after my son was born. Priorities shifted. I had my weekly pull list, but I wasn’t paying attention to anything outside of the few books I was still picking up. This was a few years ago, maybe 2013 or 2014.
So, there I was at an LCS I hadn’t been to in a while and they had maybe 15-20 long boxes out of dollar books. I remember flipping through box after box and pulling whatever caught my eye. I was out of practice. My mental rolodex of comics was near empty. I probably missed tons and tons of books. Sorry if I’m rambling on, but I’m getting there.
Anyway, I was flipping through and I saw this cover. I didn’t know much about it, but I knew it was something special. So I pulled it along with 20-30 other books. That’s right, I got it for one dollar. I got some other good stuff in that first stop at this shop. But those are tales for another day. I will just say I have looted quite a few treasures from that spot. Many of them for a buck.
To this day I don’t know why these were out for $1. This was someone’s full collection. Books were in order, nearly alphabetical. Sure the big keys were gone, no new mutants 98’s or ASM 300’s; but there were tons of quality minor keys and just hard to find books. And they were just a buck. And the owner was there, so it wasn’t a mistake. My best guess is he was clearing stock to make room for the Magic the Gathering Tournaments.
This store is now almost comics secondary, as it runs tons of card tournaments there now. But I still find good stuff. And even though there is someone now pricing books, there are still great deals to be found. He’s got some good stuff. Classic stuff priced Overstreet by my best guess. I still regret not pulling the trigger on a Fantastic Four #52 priced around $500. It was in nice shape. I’m getting off topic.
Now I didn’t know what I was doing back then. I was rusty. Had I found that collection of books today I would’ve cleared the store like a Niffler. Leave me alone, I saw Fantastic Beasts this week.
Granted I pulled a lot of good books that day; but I didn’t have the long view. When I pulled the LOSH 23 and thought I scored a $20 book for a buck. Then I got home and checked eBay. At the time, raws were listed for around $400-500.
So I threw it up at market price and accepted a best offer of $350 in about 3 hours. Again I didn’t know what I had. I knew very little about grading books or pressing books. Looking back now, it had a couple defects that I could’ve pressed out and it would have had a shot at a 9.8. But I only saw $$$. I had just bought it for a dollar, so $350 for X-mas presents for nothing, I jumped at it.
Active Listings: Only 5 copies listed right now. That’s surprising to me as this isn’t that hard of a book to find. I’m ignoring the Italian version because foreign editions are a whole other thing that I just can’t get involved in.
The most expensive listing is raw copy listed as VF/NM for $1,800. That’s nearly double the last CGC 9.8 sale, but hey maybe it’s a make me sell it price. Maybe the seller doesn’t want to sell it unless they get an ungodly sum.
The next highest listed book is another raw, but looking for a little more reasonable $975. But that’s still a stretch as next up we have 2 CGC 9.6’s, one listed for $800 and the other $900. So if you are gonna pay $975 for a raw, it had better be a 9.8 or you’re just giving money away.
Market Analysis: Looking at the chart below it would appear that the sales are down over the last year based on the Red. But remember that’s just comparing the last sale to the average over the year. So while the last sale may have been at a discount, the average is up.
So good on you if you grabbed a copy on the cheap, and maybe try to score one quickly if you are in the market at a discount. But on the whole, prices are still on the rise. CGC 9.8’s are about a grand, and 9.6’s are about half that. Raws are a premium as you can see by sales that raws move close to the same price as 9.4 or 9.6’s. This is really an all or nothing 9.8 type book. And we have seen that lone 9.9 come to market a couple of times, but I don’t think Trey really wants to sell it. Really wish I still had my copy though. But what are you gonna do?
Teen Titans #75
1:25 Incentive Variant
Good luck finding this one. I have never seen this book in person myself. This is quite difficult to track down. Look at the census and the sales numbers. Only 2 raw sales and 7 CGC graded sales. This is a book we count in the dozens. What do we call these things again?
Seriously this book is impossible to find. It rarely comes up for sale and when it does, it does not last long. There are none on the market right now as all copies have been sold. This is a book I would love to own and is still probably undervalued.
For a quick hypothetical, please take a look at this immensely hot book below. It came out last month and is a high ratio variant at 1:100. Not an easy book to find for sure.
Now considering this book is pulling anywhere from $500-$1,000 raw, which would you rather own? There are currently 15 active listings compared to Zero for the Teen Titans. Lifetime tracked sales of Teen Titans 75 show only 10 tracked sales. Meanwhile, Ghost Spider has only been out a month and has 87 sales on eBay alone.
I know which book I’d rather throw my $700 at if I had to choose. Here’s looking at you Teen Titans.
Active Listings: Like I said, we got bupkis.
Market Analysis: Not much to report here, but we do at least have something. I do find it hard to believe that after 9 years, we only have 10 trades to report. But that’s the data I have so that’s what we got to work with.
The last sale was just a couple days ago and that set a new high for the CGC 9.8 at $750. This book seems to be slowly rising over time, but honestly I figured this should be much higher by now. It really is a rare book as opposed something like the LOSH 23 which was a 1:10 of a higher printed book. Don’t get me wrong, I love the LOSH, but I really think this Teen Tians #75 deserves more respect.
1:25 & 1:75 Incentive Variant
Up next we have not one, but two Incentive ratio variants. This is an anniversary issue homage to Sensation Comics #1. The art of this is beautiful, but there’s something about that pose that is bugging me. It reminds me of something but I just can’t place it. Wait, I think I got it. Tell me I’m wrong, but she’s rocking a House Party Dance.
Ok, despite the fact that Kid stole this dance move from Wonder Woman, these are an interesting pair of variants. They sell pretty close to one another in price despite the large gap n the ratios. Simple math would say that there are 3 times as many color copies than the B&W sketch version. I’ll be honest, I prefer the color version. Though that is usually the case for me. I’m not a huge fan of sketch covers.
Let me clarify. An actual sketch, I am a big fan. But I am not a fan of reusing the art for different versions. It seems lazy to me and it’s not always a great image. I mean some images don’t lend themselves to be shown mid-process. I mean take this book. The B&W version just seems boring by comparison to the color version. It just looks incomplete.
I know I’m not alone in that. I think the low spread in price is evidence of that fact. Most people would rather have the color. The rarity of the B&W keeps it slightly ahead, but not nearly by the margin it should be. Truthfully, if the ratios were flipped or if there was new art on the 1:75, it would easily be at least double the price of the 1:25. I’m certain of it.
Active Listings: Not a lot of copies of this one on the market. Quick scan only shows 2 of the 1:75’s and six 1:25’s. For an anniversary issue, I would’ve thought there was a heavier print run and there would be more copies available. But Wonder Woman wasn’t a top seller back then, and that was before the days of the store variants driving up the number of ratio variants on the market.
Looking at the 1:75, there’s a 9.8 up for $300 which is a bargain. That’s well below the averages as well as the last sale. Looks even better when compared to the $225 ask for a 9.6.
But alas I think the B&W cover I what is holding that book back. But the prices on the 1:25 color are kinda all over the place. The 2 highest priced are 2 9.6’s at about $400. Then a CGC 9.8 is only $300, followed by a raw copy that’s looking for $250. And bringing up the rear is CGC SS 9.8 signed by Hughes at only $240.
Market Analysis: What I find odd is that the data below is the exact opposite of the current market. As I noted the color seems to be more in demand currently over the B&W, but the data below suggests the B&W is slightly on the rise, while the color has been on the decline.
Plenty of red when comparing the last sale to the past averages on the color variant. There are some bright spots where there are slight gains in the 12 month average over the lifetime average, but it’s mostly down. Especially in the lower grades. They are dropping like rocks.
And to continue to odd trend, the raw color copies are selling for more than the lone B&W 1:75 sale. And these are recent sales, so I would not be entireky surpired to see these selling for the same amount in a few months. The only question will be whether the color has risen up to the B&W, or will the 1:75 simply drop down to the 1:25 price point?
1:25 Incentive Variant
So for our final DC Incentive variant, I wanted to include this 1:25 New 52 issue of Harley Quinn #1. This series is really where Harley started rising to the next level. They had redesigned her into this Hot Topic floozy, and her fan base multiplied.
It’s odd, everyone says they prefer her classic look, but it wasn’t until they tarted her up, did she reach the next level of popularity. But this cover evokes exactly what they wanted out of her character. That crazed look in her eyes really sells it. This image alone tells you that she’s a sexified nut job that should probably be locked up, but with that winning smile, how can you not root for her?
Harley has edged herself into that next level of DC hero following the Big 3. She’s being counted on to carry major motion pictures now. Sure we knew she was going to stand out in Suicide Squad even before we saw that steaming pile of mediocrity. You probably thought I was going to bash the movie, but honestly I don’t think enough about it to really care one way or the other. It truly was just a mediocre by the numbers super hero flick.
And here we are a couple years after that two hours of “meh” and now we know she’s going to play the most prominent role in what we expected to be another ensemble pic. I’m not expecting much out of “Birds of Prey and the longest possible title ever that it can’t possibly be the final title but people will see it if we tell them it stars Harley Quinn.”
Active Listings: Plenty of copies on the market at the moment. Looks to be around 20 or so in both raw and graded options. This book is currently in the midst of some rough times, but I feel a bounce back is on the way.
Top listings are a few CGC SS books looking for a grand. Following that we have a few 9.8’s also hoping for $700+. Even the raws are sitting hoping for about $400. It may get back there, but it’s gonna take a while so those copies might be sitting on the sidelines a while.
Market Analysis: Lots of red here. At its height back in 2016, this was nearly a $1k 9.8. Last sale was $436. How the mighty have fallen. Those highs must’ve coincided with the release of Suicide Squad which embraced the Hot Topic Tart look over the classic costume.
Seems that following that film’s release this book has just been trending down, down, down. Not good news for those folks still holding to their guns looking for prices double the most recent sales. Who knows, if you wait around long enough the prices might come back around.
Honestly I feel a rebound is on the way, and if I had the extra loot to throw at a 9.8 I might do it. Of course that’s at the most recent $400 price range, not the current asking prices at $700+. That’s more like the price point after the dust settles on the next rocket ship back up as the hype for this next movie begins in earnest next year.
Granted I doubt this book will reach those highs of near a grand again, but I see no reason this particular variant can’t climb back up over $600 and maybe, just maybe even reach $700. But time will tell.
Ok that it for this week, but I’m going to try something new out. This is a work in progress so feedback is welcome. Instead of closing with a movie quote, I’m gonna throw out one more book. Many of the books I cover are quite pricey. Not everyone can relate or jump in and grab a book for a few hundred just like that. So with that in mind I’m going to throw one more book in at the end that’s a relatively affordable option related to the week’s topic. Not full coverage. Just a quick hitter like my Dollar Bin Digging article. So with that, let’s get One More for the Road.
This is a 1:10 DC ratio Incentive by Hughes that most of us can pick up if we’d like to without breaking the bank.
Solid cover that could see some gains with the character appearance in this upcoming Birds of Prey movie. Granted we are getting a different take on the character, but I will admit I enjoyed Jurnee Smollett-Bell in Roll Bounce. Yeah I said it. I liked Roll Bounce. What of it?
Typical Sales Data courtesy of Covrprice.com:
CGC 9.8 – $132.00
Raw – $55.98