The Usual Suspects #27

Welcome to the last edition of The Usual Suspects for 2018. Don’t worry, I’ll still be here next week with more comic numbers and nonsense for you. Anyway, wrapping up the year, I thought it was a good idea to take a look back at the top variants released in 2018.

This list includes Incentive variants, B covers, and even an exclusive variant. I’m not a big store variant guy, so they won’t have a presence in this list. I was initially trying to whittle the list down to 5 and thought I had it all set. But before finalizing my list, I reached out to the CBSI Writer’s Room for suggestions and got even more options. It was evident after their suggestions that I would have more than I could squeeze into my usual 4-5 book format. Appreciate it, fellas.

It was difficult coming up with a uniform set of criteria for the list. I debated it for a while and had the beginnings of a few different versions of the list. Should it just be the 10 most expensive? The 10 best looking covers? The hardest to find? The 10 “hottest”? Largest increase?

What I ended up with was a hodgepodge list of 10 variants that I feel made their mark on the hobby in some way. Anytime you have a list, you have dissention. Why is this one on there? What about this one? I think it should be whatever. But there’s no pleasing everyone. So I just made a list I was happy with. No ranking, no top dog. This may seem random and just thrown together, but I assure you it isn’t.

This is all subjective, so I welcome the debate. I picked 10 and they will roll out chronologically. What did I leave off the list? What should get bumped in favor of your favorite? Let me know if the comments. You got something to say?

Now that we got that out of the way…let’s get into it.

Popeye #65 

1:10 Incentive Variant

(Jan 2018)

The year literally started out with a surprise out of the gate. This book went nuts in no time at all. How many people can say they saw this one coming? Sure it’s an awesome Zombiefied Popeye cover. But who was collecting Popeye reprints outside of Shaun Leggitt?

Seriously though, while many would have looked at this and said this will have a decent shot to be a $50 book. Who in their right mind would have predicted 6 weeks after release a CGC 9.8 would sell for almost a grand?

Anyway, this book was on fire at the start of the year. It was a battle between this and the Thanos #13 Albuquerque 1:25 variant. But that came it in 2017 so that didn’t qualify. This Popeye book, however, was impossible to find. It still is, but prices have come down from that insane 1st to market 9.8 sale.

Active Listings:  Only 2 raw listings. So you can debate between $430 with best offer and $400 straight up.

Market Analysis:  Not a lot of sales since there aren’t a lot of copies out there. We have 12 graded sales over the year and only 2 raw sales over the last 3 months. Prices seem pretty consistent though down a bit over the average. Last CGC 9.8 sale last month was only $300 which is a significant drop from that $986.35 sale on 2/13. It’s even down 25% from most of the 9.8 sales over the year which are in the $400 range.

Lowest 9.8 sale was one for only $215 back in July. That’s right in line with the last couple raw sales right around $200. Not sure those available copies on eBay will get their $400, but you never know. This book is a ghost, it just needs something to draw that bit of attention to get that market going again.

X-Men Blue #21

1:50 Incentive Variant

(Feb 2018)

This beautiful Stephanie Hans 1:50 Incentive variant came out the day after that ridiculous Popeye sale. This also came shortly after the first CGC 9.8 sale of that Thanos 13 1:25 variant on 2/3/18. I know this because that copy was mine.

At the time there was one 9.8 copy up for auction that was around like $680 with a week left. I had just gotten back my copy from CGC and it was the third 9.8. Everyone was worried about the color rub, but somehow after a quick press and submit, I had gold. So I threw that sucker up for $1,000 with best offer and sold it for $800 in a flash. Shout out to Mel V who sold me that copy raw from his eBay store. UD all over this article at the start.

So what does that have to do with X-men Blue #21? Not much, I just kinda wanted to tell that story and Thanos #13 didn’t qualify for my list. But I guess you could make the argument that at the time, following a week or so of climbing sales, everyone was looking at this Venom variant as the next Thanos #13, if you recall. So there you go. Boom.

Active Listings: A solid 15 active listings on eBay for this beauty.  Once you get past a trio of ridiculousness, prices come back down to earth. First of the trinity is a CGC 9.8 SS double sig by McFarlane and Michelinie for $1,250. Then there’s a raw copy up for $1,200 too.

The 3rd of the trio isn’t nearly as high as those, but when you consider the last CGC 9.8 sold for $215, asking $650 for a CBCS 9.8 seems a bit wonky. After that, there are a few in the $350 range which I guess is reasonable. The all-time high sale was $500 best offer presale for a CGC 9.8 on 2/16. Crazy times and crazy prices back then. I mean paying 10 times ratio for a preorder CGC 9.8 only 2 days after releases doesn’t seem like the wisest allocation of resources.

Personally I would never preorder a CGC 9.8. Too much risk in hoping the market will hold. Look that buyer paid $500 on a preorder and that book never reached that high again. In fact the next highest 9.8 sale was only $345. So, my advice is don’t preorder a 9.8 during that first rush of FOMO or I will have to say Atodaso.

Market Analysis:  After that first rush of sales, this leveled off pretty quickly. The few months, 9.8’s have been a consistent $200+ while raw copies have been a solid $100. Double ratio nearly a year after release for a raw isn’t bad.

Gideon Falls #1

ComicsPro Variant

(Mar 2018)

Following in the long line of Image #1’s to be grabbing heat right out of the gate. This insanely creepy horror story from Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino has been outstanding from Jump Street.

Sure the regular covers were only grabbing double to triple cover, but they find themselves still in that range following the news that the title was optioned over the summer.

The big winner however is the ComicsPro variant that appears to have been released at or soon after the ComicsPro conference at the end of February. This bad boy is not cheap, and it is not easy to find.

 

Active Listings:  Only 5 copies available at the moment. Four of them are CGC 9.8’s. One is at $700, a pair at $600, and the bargain of the bunch is only $499.99. Those are all healthy increases over the last 9.8 sold back in November for $300. And if you’re looking for a raw copy, you only have one shot at $250 or best offer. Not cheap my friends.

 

Market Analysis:  Only 7 CGC sales and they were all 9.8’s. That $300 sale was the high water mark for this book so far. But if we get news that this is actually going into production, it could easily reach those current asking prices without much trouble.

That said, the $300 sale is a decent increase as the average sales before that one were only around $232. Raws however have been averaging $187, with the last sale completed just last week for the bargain price of $157.50.

Will these prices hold?

Most optioned properties don’t go anywhere, but this is a good story. So as long as they keep pumping them out at his level of quality, these prices could hold. A production would be icing on the cake and most likely cause the market to double or triple it current rates.

Batgirl #23

Variant B Cover

(May 2018)

Ok so this is one of my favorite covers of the year and I am obviously not alone. The simplicity of the profile. It shows depth and emotion in those eyes, and they aren’t even looking at you the viewer. This cover was Josh Middleton’s coming back onto the scene.

After this cover, so many people started talking about him like he was a new artist. He’s been around for nearly two decades. Did everyone forget he helped bring us X-23?

He even had two other hot covers come out the previous July. Do these two covers ring any bells?

Both Batman #26 and Aquaman #26 B covers came out with some heat. But nothing like the inferno that followed Batgirl #23. It’s rare for a non-incentive variant to hit 10 times cover price so quickly. I’m just glad I got my 9.8 for the PC. This book is fire.

Active Listings: There are about 25 active listings on eBay for this one. Mostly graded copies ranging from about a hundred dollar 9.6 up to a $300 CGC 9.8. But most 9.8’s are in the $150-$200 range. There are a handful of raws looking for $50-$75 as well.

Market Analysis:  A lot of sales for this one. Looking at the chart below you are looking at nearly 20 CGC 9.8’s sold each month on average. The high sales were back in July when this was a solid $200-$225 book. This has come down quite a bit due to the sheer number of available copies. The average over the last 3 months is only around $125.

And 185 raw sales equates to about a sale a day since this was released back in May. It reached a high of $100 raw, also back in July. This has since settled in for a solid $50 and has sold that way consistently for months.

Last Jedi #4

1:25 Incentive Variant

(Jul 2018)

I will be right there to defend Last Jedi. Was it Empire? Of course not, but it was actually something different and not exactly what I expected, and that’s a good thing. With the number of comic movies we get that we all already know the storylines going in because we already read the comics, it’s nice to actually not know what’s coming next.

That said, it still had its issues. That whole casino section.

Ok, well enough about the movie. What we have here is an incentive variant for the 4th issue of the film adaptation.

But seriously I really don’t know why this got that hot to begin with, let alone maintained. I get that it’s not easy to find, but are there really that many Vice Admiral Holdo fans out there? I couldn’t get this out of my head every time they said her name.

Active Listings: Not a lot of copies of this one out there. In fact I only see 4 listings. The cheapest is a new auction starting at $75 and the highest is $180. No graded copies available which is not surprising as there are only 2 in the census. This reminds me of Thanos #13. Whomever has one of those 9.8’s should throw it up for $1k buy it now and be happy they convinced someone to do something silly.

Market Analysis:  Last sale was only about $75, but sales have been strong with an average of $121. That’s a pretty decent return on a 1:25. I still don’t really get the frenzy around this one. It seems to me to be a product of FOMO. Everyone else wants is? Then I need it. Why? I don’t know. I love Laura Dern and want to impress her with a chicken walk?

Batman Damned #1

Variant B Cover

(Sep 2018)

Yes, yes. We all know what this book features. Use whatever fun nickname for it that you’ve read or thought up yourself for it. Go ahead. I’ll wait.

Ok, did you get that out of your system? Apart from that little first appearance, this book could have generated some heat. It’s the first in the DC Black Label line. It is a highly touted story with some top tier creators. Features an interesting Elseworlds take on familiar characters. But would that have been enough to make this hit the heights that it did.

Active Listings: Saying there are a lot of copies is an understatement. Currently there are 121 listings of this book up and one might argue that the cover A is the more popular cover. I love Jim Lee, but honestly the Bermejo cover is better, but both are severely over-priced. I got in on the action and quick flipped a set the week it came out for $50 and thought I had stolen that $$$. The way the prices went on this is just mind-boggling.

Top listing is a Double signed CGC SS 10.0 for over $2200. Yes, there are multiple 10.0’s available for this as they are not that difficult to obtain due to the prestige format. So if you want to throw away $750 on a 10.0 Blue label, be my guest. It’s not that rare. You won’t find me throwing that kind of money away on this, but if that’s what you want to do you go right ahead. Even if you want to spend $100 on a raw, I won’t stop you. But you won’t find me doing that.

Market Analysis:  I find it very interesting that for all of the graded copies 9.8 to 10.0’s in the census, only about 11% have sold. Now do you think that’s because 89% of the owners just couldn’t part with their copies or just couldn’t move them?

Bottom line, there are way too many of these for it to be selling for this much. And the market is finally catching on. This book has only been out 3 months but it’s already selling for 30-50% less than the average. This time next year, this will be a $200-$300 10.0 and 9.8’s won’t be moved for more than $50.

Life of Captain Marvel #3

1:200 Incentive Variant

(Sep 2018)

This cover was not universally praised when it came out. Some thought it was only just, meh. Personally I like it. Honestly though, this image works better with the trade dress. The top is just empty for no real reason. Had this been a flying shot or even a falling shot, that empty area would elicit a feeling of falling and motion. This is just empty floating. It’s cool and I like it, but crop this sucker so she fills the cover.

Maybe it’s just me but I think this is way better. But I digress. This was a high ratio variant of 1:200. I don’t know about your LCS, but none near me have these on the wall. That isn’t to say they may not get these sometimes, but I never have a shot at them. If I was crazy enough to want to play in the high ratio variant game, I would have to page stalk Midtown the week before to preorder.

Even though I like it, and it is relatively pretty rare; I still don’t see the buy in. Is there an important first appearance I am not aware of? Honestly, I am behind on my reading so I don’t know. But I imagine it’s all about the cover and the rarity. But for $600-$700 I can think of plenty of other ways I’d personally rather invest my money in other books. But if this is what you want to do…

Active Listings: This is not easy to find. But there are 4 CGC 9.8’s listed right now for $600-800.

Market Analysis:  Prices are actually down on this. But consider the sample size is also very small as only 5 CGC sales since release back in September. But considering it’s a 1:200 that sells for under ratio raw, I wouldn’t invest too heavily in this one, even at 9.8. But people seem to want to invest in this, so go for it. I have been wrong plenty.

Heroes in Crisis #1

1:200 Incentive Variant

(Sep 2018)

Here’s another 1:200 high ratio variant from September. With an event book such as this, there are still a lot of copies, even at 1 in 200. But like I said on the last book, I just don’t play in that high ratio variant yard. It is a lovely Mattina cover, but it just didn’t do it for me.

This really didn’t seem like it was any better than the Suicide Squad B covers he was doing at the time. And those are only a $4 buy in so I’m fine not having this 1:200 in my collection.

Active Listings: About 15 listings for this one. Some graded and some raw. CGC 9.8’s are anywhere between $350 and $550. Raws are between $120 and $370. For a 1:200 incentive, $120 isn’t bad. That’s nearly half ratio. I’m still not getting on board but that’s just because I just don’t care enough to shell out the dough for this.

Also consider the Foil version if this that came out around NYCC. If that’s your kinda thing, it could be a cheaper alternative for just a flashier shinier copy.

Market Analysis:  Bits of red. The CGC 9.8’s seem to be pretty steady around $400. And raws are dropping to around half ratio now. Not sure if that’s a byproduct of the foil version coming available or just general disinterest at this point. Looks like the high was a $500 9.8 sold the week it was released so that had to be a preorder. CGC Preorders?

Spider Gwen: Ghost Spider #1

1:100 Incentive Variant

(Oct 2018)

Remember when I said I’ve been wrong before? Well here’s a prime example. I like the cover. I remember having a shot at it on Midtown the week before it came for just over ratio. I passed.

Yup, I didn’t think this would hold. I knew it would be hot right away. But ordering a book like this online, you have to watch those initial sales rush out the door while you await yours in the mail. I’m not one to sell something before it’s in my hands. I just don’t like it. What if it comes damaged. I don’t want to sell a book with unknown condition. I’m not gonna send someone a damaged book, but I also don’t want to cancel the sale, do the refund, etc.

So anyway, I didn’t get on board. Even after it jumped to $300, I said no way it holds. $500? Nope. $800? Uh, I don’t think it can hold. $1,000 CGC 9.8?

Yeah you can see my comments doubting this one at every turn on G+. Sometimes you just miss. It’s ok. I’ll take a miss where it cost me no money by not buying in, over buying into the wrong book every time.

Complete side note, I hate the title. Spider-Gwen: Ghost Spider. Ugh. Make a decision will you. I get it, Spider-Gwen makes no sense from a practical standpoint. It’s not Spider-Pete. And yes, her costume is a bit ghost-like, but what exactly is a ghost spider? Plus wasn’t it this guy?

So why doesn’t Marvel just embrace her as Spider-Woman like they did in Into the Spider-verse? Really was it to avoid confusion with Jessica Drew? You know the scores of Jessica Drew fans would be up in arms. Wheer were all those Jessica Drew fans when they cancelled her 6th volume. Maybe she can make it past 17 issues next time. Just make Jessica Drew someone else and let Spider-Gwen be Spider-Woman. Make Jessica Drew Ghost Spider. She was a spy or something before right?

Active Listings: Looks like 18 active listings. CGC 9.8’s are listed from $850-$1800. Really? Didn’t notice your competition is less than half what you are asking? I don’t think anyone is gonna throw you an extra grand just because you have CHU in the listing title. But you go ahead.

That said, Raws are around $500-$800. There are a couple of auctions under $500 but those have time to go, so feel free to take a shot. I missed the boat and I am definitely priced out of this one.

Market Analysis:  Not a lot of sales in 9.8 but they are all consistently around $1k. Raws are a solid $550.

Black Order #1

1:50 Incentive Variant

(Nov 2018)

In-Hyuk Lee followed the success of Ghost Spider #1 with this little book the next month. Once again I did not believe, albeit for different reasons. The art isn’t nearly as nice as the Ghost Spider cover. Traditionally group shots don’t maintain high values. Go ahead think about it. All the big time variants are solo shots. I don’t know why, but it is what it is.

On top of that, Mini-series don’t typically do that well either. Add in no notable 1st appearances, so what would make this a potential key issue?

Exactly. So I don’t believe in this one long term either. Could I be wrong again? Maybe. But I’m ok with that.

Active Listings: 17 copies of this up right now. This is a book you can grab for anywhere between $100 and $300. Only graded copy available is a 9.6 for $200.

Market Analysis:  No graded sales yet, but there aren’t many graded copies to even sell yet. Too new, most probably haven’t gotten their submissions back yet. But raws seem to have been on the decline with the last sale down 25% from the $120 average.

Ok that’s it for this marathon week, but let’s get One More for the Road…

Phoenix Resurrection #4

This is just an awesome cover. I like it. It is not unlike the Black Order above in that it’s an incentive variant for a mini-series book with no 1st appearance or any other reason to make it a key book.

This is simply a beautiful cover that is worth having in the PC. A relatively affordable book considering it’s a 1:25. It had a bit of heat around release date. But it has since fizzled. Perhaps like a phoenix it will rise again. Oh my soul hurts after writing that cheesiness. But I’m too tired to edit. So there you go. Also the Incentive Jenny Frison variant for #2 is also worth grabbing for the cover alone.

Typical Sales Data courtesy of Covrprice.com:

CGC 9.8 – $95.00 on 12/17/18

Raw – $39.99 on 12/18/18

You Want One?

So until next year, albeit a few days early …

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8 comments

  • Avatar

    Long time reader here. Overall great fun article and wit.

    My gripe is you sometimes put down sellers who price a book high due to different spec reasons even when historical numbers may not be there.

    Spec sellers may have different reasons to price a book high, long term demand, future movie or TV shows, expected demand, etc. thats why there specs.

    I know because you wrote about some of my previous listings. I’m scratching my head when you did the same by posting the Thanos 13 book you mentioned for 1k when there was limited data on the book.

    If you are promoting and profiting on specs for books based on any personal spec reason, it’s painful to hear you put down other speculators.

    Just saying. No harm no foul.
    Hope this is taken as a positive constructive criticism.

    I do make reading your piece one of my top reading material due to the insights.

  • Peter Renna

    Sorry bud. Just having fun. Don’t intend to be that harsh. I’m not trying to put down other speculators. I am usually just pointing out when there is a large discrepancy between comparable listings.

    While all graded books are not created equal, there is at the very least a comparison to be made. take for instance the Ghost Spider variants. Say there are 2 CGC 9.8’s listed. One for $850 and another for $1,800. That’s a thousand dollar difference between arguably equal books.

    But when I am researching listings and I see these two books “on the shelf” next to each other; and one is a thousand dollars cheaper, I put myself in the buyers shoes and laugh to myself over which I would choose as a buyer. That’s the perspective I am coming at it from when I write. If I were in the potential buyer’s shoes only looking to buy 1 book, which would I choose? And when some prices are so disproportionate, I make an observation.

    But you are right. I shouldn’t do an apples to oranges comparison over current listings and previous sales as it isn’t quite the same thing. That is a very good point and I’ll try to be cognoscente of that going forward.

    Like I said I realize there’s a lot more to it in the market place. Undercutters, old listings, speculation, and even a make me sell it listing. But I just wanted to give you a little context on why I come at it from that angle. It’s strictly for the sake of amusement. Sorry if I offend. I’m not trying to pick on anyone or any specific listings. It’s just in the moment and I don’t even look at the seller’s names. Just the numbers and whatever nonsense pops into my head when i think about it.

    I appreciate the constructive criticism. And I honestly do appreciate you taking the time to let me know your thoughts. It’s all good.

    • Avatar

      No worries, I totally get its all for fun and understand and enjoy your writing style in general.

      I just get deflated when we come here to be excited about the spec potential of some investment books but then get thrashed.

      I do have to say that because I don’t just follow historical data I’m also able to make some record sales of a number of books based on other techniques. Historical data doesn’t take into account some other factors like there’s only less than a handful available left, etc so now it’s down to supply and demand.

      Also, even if there’s undercutters, sellers have the option to meet the lower price to compete, or they can choose to wait until the lower priced book is sold and buyers then have to go to the next lowest priced book, yadda yadda.

      I laugh when buyers sometimes PM and tell me a book I’m selling sold for a lower amount recently. I sometimes reply great now my book is the last copy and I raise the price if I believe in the book 🙂

  • Avatar

    Great info but c’mon with all the memes. Are you auditioning for something?

    • Peter Renna

      I realize the memes and gifs can be a bit much but it’s the best way I can convey what I am thinking. I think and quote film and tv all the time and try to relay how I am thinking about to what I am writing to the reader.

      Sure I can just say Merry New Year and maybe 6 people get that it’s from Trading Places. I put in the gif and now maybe more folks get the reference and hear Eddie’s voice in their head when they read it like I do. But I get that can be a bit much

  • Avatar

    Haha I think the memes add to the fun of reading this article IMO

  • Avatar

    So glad you like The Last Jedi too.

  • Avatar

    I bought that ghost spider variant from midtown. At first I wanted to just flip it and then I was like I’ve never had a high priced variant and decided to keep it for the old PC. I did buy that last Jedi book for about $15 and ended up getting $100 for it. Good list of books and looking forward to what next years books will bring

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