The Usual Suspects 26

 

Welcome to this week’s edition of The Usual Suspects. Continuing in the holiday spirit that I started with yesterday’s Dollar Bin Digging, we find ourselves only a few short days before Christmas. With that in mind I am doing something a little special this week. Instead of my normal selection of books, I am going to throw down 10 Christmas themed books that caught my eye.

 

 

Truthfully I would have been more inclusive in my Holiday themed choices, but finding decent books that fit the bill isn’t that easy. So please, if you know any good non-Christmasy Holiday covers, please feel free to post in the comments below. Even searching for a decent Hanukkah cover was tough. The best I could come up with is this panel from the 1989 Christmas With the Super-Heroes.

 

 

From what I gather, Barry isn’t even Jewish. So welcome to the party, “out of left field.” I wonder if this panel inspired their casting of Erza Miller, who made the Justice League Flash the 1st onscreen Jewish Superhero. I’m not even sure that’s entirely true, as The Thing is Jewish and he’s been in movies for years, but they may have never mentioned his religion. And there’s the McKellen/Fassbender Magneto, but he’s more a villain I suppose. Regardless, if you Google it you will see tons of articles about The Justice League Flash being the first, so take that for whatever that’s worth.

 

 

Ok, so I got pretty far off track there. But basically I wanted to cover a few Christmas themed books before the holiday. You know a little something to get everyone into the holiday spirit. Some fun covers and stories. So let me start off by wishing you all…

 

 

Now I’m sure there are plenty of you that may not celebrate Christmas, or just outright don’t like it. I get it. It can be an annoying time of year. Day after Halloween, Jingle Bells is on the radio and Target has the Christmas trees out next to the discounted costumes.

 

 

So before you bail on the rest of this article…

 

 

So stick around and see if there’s a book that’s new to you, or maybe one you have in your collection that you’re curious about what it’s selling for now. I was too indecisive and couldn’t narrow it down to 5. Plus a few of them have very limited sales, so I pivoted and gave you all 10. Maybe you just want a break from your day and want to spend a few mins looking at cool covers and perhaps a few irreverent musings. If so, you’ve come to the right place.

 

 

Now, I’m giving abbreviated write-ups on these since we have so many this week. So without further ado…let’s get into it.

 

 

Solson Christmas Special:

 

Samurai Santa #1

(1986)

 

Finally grabbed one of these for myself this year. I had searched forever in the wild to no avail. So I finally gave up the search and just bought one online. I have been looking for one of these since the early 90’s. Why you ask? Is it because I love the idea of Sho Kosugi in a Santa costume?

 

 

Yeah, yeah I know Samurai and Ninjas are two different things. But it’s what that cover makes me think of. Plus I loved those Sho Kosugi movies: Enter the Ninja, Revenge of the Ninja, and Pray for Death. No idea what I’m talking about? Well then you have some homework.

 

 

Anyway, in case you don’t know what makes this book important, this is the first published work of Jim Lee. And Jim Lee being my favorite artist growing up, this was a book I always wanted. Pre-internet days, you had to just look for this book at shows and shops. So I did, for years with no luck. So I finally decided it’s been 25 years and it was long overdue to just buy the darn thing and be done with it.

 

Active Listings:  Less than 10 listings. Only one CGC copy and it’s a 7.5 SS for $139. If you want one you can easily grab one for $20-30, however high grade is tough. That black cover and it being a mostly unknown book that was mostly not cared for over the years. There’s one listed at NM for $100, but it’s 9.2 at best with a few spine ticks visible in the tiny preview image.

 

Market Analysis:  Not a big mover. Just look at the chart.

 

 

Batman #27

(Feb 1945)

 

Going back to the Golden Age for this one. Some great Christmas covers back then. And lots of them. In the Golden Age they didn’t shy away from the seasonal cover. It makes sense. Batman was only a couple years old back then. Had they done a Christmas cover every year, we’d have like 80 of them for Batman and another 80 for Detective Comics.

 

 

So I’m not surprised they make them few and far between these days. But Batman’s never been shy about getting into the holiday spirit. Plenty of dark knight tales around Christmastime. Silent Night of the Batman is a classic, and he isn’t shy about caroling.

 

 

Active Listings: Only 5 active listings on eBay for this golden age beauty.  A CGC 7.5 will set you back almost $1500, but the cheapest copy you can grab is a 3.0 for $450. Now if you have $5k lying around you can score a CGC 1.0 that’s certified from the private collection of Jerry Robertson.

That’s pretty cool, but I don’t think it’s $5,000 cool. But hey, if you have the loot and are a mega-Batfan, maybe it’s a steal. But that’s not for me.

 

 

Market Analysis:  Graded sales seem to be down over the last year, but raws (if you can find them) seem to be on the way up.

 

 

Amazing Spider-Man #314

(Apr 1989)

 

This great X-mas cover is right in the middle of that iconic Todd McFarlane ASM run. Sure everyone only thinks of the Venom appearances, but really all of these books are worth owning. Yes, even the ones with Paladin on the cover.

 

 

McFarlane always draws with so much character. And he’s no stranger to drawing Santa either. Anyone else remember those awesome Christmas Wizard cards that were included in old Wizard magazines? One was done by Jim Lee, another by Todd, and the last by Rob Liefeld.

 

 

He even did a line of Twisted Christmas themed characters, a sort of creepified version of holiday favorites. I especially enjoy the Frosty.

 

 

Active Listings: Plenty of copies of this book out there. Marvel wasn’t shy about printing Todd’s books back then, but regardless they are still desirable as there are still more and more folks who want them. A CGC 9.8 is looking for $180 on the high side, while the cheapest copy is a raw for $2.49

 

Market Analysis:  Prices are up like most Todd ASM books. You can find one for super cheap or you can pay a bit extra for a higher grade. Plenty of options for both avenues.

 

 

Teen Titans #13

(Jan 1968)

 

Ok so sure you’ve heard this set up before, a character is watching/reading something and then it happens in “real life.” In this case, Robin is reading Charles Dickens “A Christmas Carol” and then wouldn’t you know it, their next adventure plays out just like it. Sure, amidst some ham-fisted oh-so-close names like Ebenezer Scrounge and Bob Ratchet, the young team pulls one out and saves the day in “The TT's Swingin' Christmas Carol.”

 

 

The 60’s were fun weren’t they? I actually have no idea, as that was before I was born; but they certainly seemed like a good time. Just check out Adam West. Bats, they said stay AWAY from the brown acid.

 

 

Active Listings: Currently there are nearly 30 active listings on eBay for this one. Not bad for a book from 1968. Top listing is a CGC 5.5 for only $112. Bargain hunting? Then you can score a low grade raw for $7. This is the type of book you might even score for a buck at a flea market if you know where to look and if condition isn’t a deal breaker.

 

Market Analysis:  Not a lot of sales on this one. Guess a Swinging Christmas Carol just doesn’t have the cache of a first appearance.

 

 

Uncanny X-men #143

(Mar 1981)

 

Ah, the 80’s are more my speed. This was John Byrne’s last issue of the X-men, and this book was done as an homage to Alien with Kitty Pryde in the Ripley role. It seems obvious when you realize it or know it was intentional after the fact. Byrne admitted as much.

 

 

Kitty had only officially joined the team a few issues ago, and this one really was a solo story for her. What’s the significance?

 

 

Active Listings: Lots of copies of this one out there like most X-men books. Not hard to find at all. Unless you want a CGC SS copy, the top listing appears to be a CGC 9.8 for $180. On the flipside, you can buy a cheap raw copy for $5.

 

Market Analysis:  Prices look to be down over the last year. Could be the uncertainty of the film franchise’s future, or just indifference to this era of X-book. No real reason to have this one graded, and you can see there are plenty of raw sales.

 

 

Batman #33

(Feb 1946)

 

Going back to the Golden Age for another classic Batman Christmas cover. See I told you they weren’t afraid to bang these out. The last Christmas cover was only 6 issues ago and here we go again.

Looks like Robin is knocking that sucker over. So why is Batman smiling? His ward is in trouble about to tumble on top of a 9 foot pine tree covered in glass ornaments, you’d think Batman would spring into action and save the day. But nope, he’s grinning like a goof looking forward to the crash. Even if he didn’t help, I would’ve thought Batman would be more uptight about it. You’d think he’d react more like Clark Griswald.

 

 

Active Listings: Not easy to find this one. Only one graded copy available, but it’s a nice one. A CGC 8.5 is up for $2,875.

 

 

Looking for a raw, there is also only one option available and it’s listed just under $500.

 

Market Analysis:  Prices on this bad boy are up across the board. Graded copies over the year, as well as raws, are all up in the green. Guess folks like the tree more than they like Santa’s sack. That sounds dirty for some reason. Eh. Moving on.

 

 

Daredevil #229

(Apr 1986)

 

This is not an obvious Christmas cover, but Matt Murdoch’s paranoia has taken the form of a knife wielding Salvation Army Santa.  Hey maybe it’s the same Santa from ASM 314.

 

 

But this is a key issue in the classic Born Again storyline. This is the 1st appearance of Maggie, Daredevil’s mother. I believe this story is in the last season of Daredevil. I still have yet to watch it. I’ll get around to it, but now that I know it’s the last season, I’m not in a rush. I heard its good, but I’m kinda keeping it in my back pocket. Plus, I have to finish up Cage 2 and Iron Fist Season 2 first.

 

 

Active Listings: This is mostly listed in sets with the rest of Born Again. But if you want a CGC 9.4, it can be yours with an auction whose bidding starts at only $45. Or you can grab a raw newsstand for $25. Just need a fine copy, it’ll cost you 4 bucks.

 

Market Analysis:  Prices are up a bit on this. Possibly due to the connection to the Netflix series. Wonder what the effect will be now that it is cancelled. Drops I suppose. Maybe I can buy back my CGC Daredevil 131 if prices tank.

 

 

Fantastic Four #4

(Feb 1997)

 

There’s nothing classic about this one. In fact, as much as I like Whilce Portacio, I really don’t like this one. The Thing looks like a creeper, Mr. Fantastic is oddly over-muscled for being stretched, and Sue Storm looks more like Starla from Napoleon Dynamite.

 

 

Seriously, I just don’t like it. But I wanted to point it out and write about it, so here it is. I can just imagine Reed Richards in a pair of American Flag pants giving this speech.

 

 

Active Listings: Does it matter? This is a dollar bin book if there ever was one. Top listings however are a few incorrectly listing this as a Jim Lee cover for $8-10. Maybe they mean the interiors, but I feel it’s a bit misleading. Regardless, ten dollars for this?

 

 

Market Analysis:  Who’s reading up on this one? It’s a dollar. I cannot condone spending more than a dollar. If you can’t find it for a dollar?

 

 

Sensation Comics #38

(Mar 1945)

 

One last trip back to the Golden Age. Sure delivering presents on a snowy rooftop in high heeled stripper boots is probably not the best idea, but what the heck is that guy doing up on the roof with a Tommy Gun? Was he just waiting there? Is this his big score? To rip off a sack full of kids toys?

 

 

Active Listings: Currently there none.

 

 

Market Analysis:  Not a lot of sales and this isn’t easy to find. But considering this book is 73 years old, can you really be surprised? But there were 3 graded sales this year, the largest being a CGC 9.4 for over $3,500. Even a raw sold for over $600.

 

 

Spectacular Spider-man #112

(Mar 1986)

 

Okay this book has come up before but I just like it. No one messes with this Santa. Now it clearly looks like an homage to the Terminator poster. But that cigarette hanging out of his mouth reminds me a lot of Stallone’s Cobra…

 

 

I like to think of it as a cross between the two. Yes I realize Sly has a toothpick hanging out of his mouth and not a cigarette. Believe me, I have seen Cobra. If you haven’t, then you have some more homework to do. So off to the video store with you.

 

 

Remember going to the video store? It used to be an event. You were planning out your entire weekend with your movie choices. I used to work at a Blockbuster back in college. Such simpler times. But that little nugget probably gives a good indication as to why I use so many movie gifs and memes. Its how the ol’ noggin works. And that’s where I met my lovely wife, working at Blockbuster. She even helps me out with some of these when I get stuck. And no, she’s not standing over me as I type this. She’s the greatest.

 

 

Active Listings: Plenty of copies up at all times. This is a book you can grab for a couple bucks plus shipping.

 

Market Analysis:  Like I said, this is a $2 book. Even a CGC 9.8 sold for only $15.50 back in August. That’s a little less than grading costs. Someone really just wanted to get rid of it I guess.

 

 

So until next time, I’ll wrap up this condensed, yet expanded edition. I think I may utilize this format one more time for my special year end plan next week. And with that …

 

 

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