The Usual Suspects #30

Welcome back for another edition of The Usual Suspects. Each week I typically look at a lot of higher end books that are out of a lot of our price ranges. I like to write about these books because I do not have the disposable income to just throw down $500+ on a lot of these high end slabs. I wish I did, and part of why I track and write about them is to live vicariously through my research.

I’ve gotta grind, hustle, flip, and save to make a move on a book in that range. That and I have to do some serious sweet-talking to the wife. God help me if she sees my credit card bill.

Anyway, the truth of the matter is that a lot of us have to sometimes sacrifice prized books to obtain that grail. I still miss my CGC 9.6 Daredevil 131, but that bad boy had to go back out into the world so I could gather up the extra scratch to make a play for my Hulk 181. It is what it is. Sometimes you get a book in your head and you must obtain it, at all costs.

But again, that is not the type of book we are looking at this week. So with that in mind, this week, I thought I would piggyback off the recent DC Universe movie announcement and look at some books that may not necessarily empty your bank account to obtain. Just last week, DC announced that it would be premiering Justice League vs. The Fatal Five on its streaming service possibly as soon as this spring.

An impressive voice cast and a focus on budding Green Lantern Jessica Cruz, this feature has peeked my interest. I still haven’t subscribed to the service, but if they keep adding quality material to their library I may have to sign up.

Now Jessica, as Power Ring, has had a bit of a fragmented debut. There are no less than 3 separate books that have partial claim to her 1st appearance. And to compound the issue, each of those comics also has multiple versions. The silver lining is that all 3 of these are still quite affordable.

I’d also like to note that speculating on Jessica Cruz’s 1st appearance isn’t solely tied to this animated film. This is just DC providing an extra spotlight on a character that has been growing in popularity since her debut in 2013 or 2014, depending on which 1st appearance camp you are in.

But she’s seen her profile raised a lot these last few years. She’s shared the Green Lanterns title with Simon Baz for 57 issues. It was a pretty good run and she had a few quality variant covers throughout. She was featured on some gorgeous B covers by Emanuela Lupacchino, Brandon Peterson, and Warren Louw.

And DC has been pushing her out in all of their properties. She’s popped up in DC Super Hero Girls, has a DC Multiverse figure, is a playable character in the DC Legends mobile game, and had a quick cameo in Teen Tians Go to the Movies.

She’s not going away any time soon with this kinda of backing and support from Warner Brothers. And in the expanding world of diversity in comics, she checks a couple of boxes. I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s featured in the eventual live action Green Lantern reboot. I’ve got a pitch for that myself and plan to look at some more GL books in the future, but let’s put a pin in that for now.

So with that said…let’s get into it.

Green Lantern #20

(Jul 2013)

1st appearance of Jessica Cruz in, one-panel cameo (face not revealed).

Again to cover all bases, I’m gonna take a look at ALL of her potential first appearances. The sub –header I am providing comes straight from the CGC Census, so if you disagree, don’t shoot the messenger. I’m just passing along that info. I know many of you don’t think a one panel cameo should count as a first appearance, I get it. I can hear the rumbling starting already.

Like I said, we are gonna look at them all. So just sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride. Whichever book you like and want to invest in, you go for it. There are options for everyone. The beauty of Jessica Cruz’s books right now is that you can get them all for cheap and cover your bases before they creep up outside of the easy buy range. Ultimate Fallout 4 was in that easy buy range not that long ago. But if you want to just pick one, go for it. No judgements.

So we start off with Geoff Johns’ last GL issue. He had one heck of a run. I loved his Green Lantern. It was one of the things that really got me back into reading comics again after a bit of a layoff. I liked his run so much, I wore Green Lantern cufflinks to my wedding in 2010.

I also performed Ice, Ice Baby live with my best friend during the reception; but that’s neither here nor there. I’m a weird dude, and my wife god bless her, is a very understanding lady.

So anyway, there isn’t much to say about Jessica Cruz in this book as she only appears in one panel. Sort of. Honestly, I’m not sure I can say this is even a full cameo, but it is what it is. I mean, they say her name.

Brief? Sure. But it’s still a desired issue and it has a couple of variants as well. There’s a sealed combo pack edition as well as a 1:25 B&W Incentive edition. I grabbed a 1:25 a couple months back for cheap because who knows where the market will go on these books if or when her character blows up.

Active Listings:  This is not a hard book to find. Again, it was the last Geoff Johns issue and the finale of his last big GL event, Wrath of the First Lantern. It was also an oversized issue that had a cover price of $7.99, so keep that in mind when pricing the copy you may be looking to purchase.

That said, the combo pack edition is not easy to find. There are only 2 of those up right now. Both raw and one at $70 and the other $150. Seem crazy high? Maybe, but go ahead and find one. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Anyway, there aren’t many copies of the 1:25 B&W Incentive variant available either. Only a pair of those up right now, but both of these are slabbed. One CGC 9.8 is up for $250. The other is a 9.6 that is in a lot with issue #0 that is also a CGC 9.6, up for $275.

But going back to the standard edition for a moment, the highest priced copy on the market is a CGC 9.8 Newsstand up for $300. I’m not covering the newsstand separately on this one because with the 1:25 and the digital combo edition, I think that is quite enough. A Direct market edition 9.8 by comparison is available for $160.

There’s a High Grade raw up for $100 that is priced the same as another CGC 9.8 copy. Outside of that anomaly, most raws are in the $25-35 range. That said, there are plenty of copies for less than $20. So it seems that one page fist cameo or not, the variants are the copies folks will pay top dollar for on this one.

Market Analysis:  So this book actually had two sales of the lone CGC 9.9 copy in the census. Both sales were completed within a month back in 2016. The first sale was in March for $150. Someone saw an opportunity and scooped it up, only to flip it less than 3 weeks later accepting $400 best offer on an $800 ask. Someone got used.

It’s ok though. I’m sure the 1st guy made his money. And the reseller made his. It’s the nature of the beast. But the last 2 CGC 9.8 sales of the regular edition have both been well over $100 and well over the $85 average on the year. Is it a trend or just an anomaly? Suffice it to say, anything below the 9.8 is all the same in the $30-$50 range.

Not many Combo Packs graded. Only 16 in the Census and only one tracked sale. Not a lot to go on. Apart from being quite hard to find, perhaps folks are scared to pop their copies out of the polybag.

The 1:25 on the other hand has over 50 in the census, but still only 6 tracked sales and all in 9.8. Looks to be a $150 book easy and trending up. Raws mirror this trajectory as prices are on the rise.

Justice League #30

(Jul 2014)

2nd cameo appearance of, Jessica Cruz (face revealed)

This is another book with multiple editions to be on the lookout for while on the hunt. Sure you have the regular pictured above, but don’t forget this has a Combo Pack edition and a 1:25 Mad Magazine Incentive variant.

Like a burlesque tease show we get a little bit more to go on here. Full first appearance? Not quite yet, but we do at least get to see her face this time. And in this panel we get to see her chosen as the next Green Lantern.

This has been quite the slow burn for an introduction of a new character. This was a full year after that hand appearance teaser and name drop in GL #20. Can’t really think of a comparable slow played debut like this one.

Not saying there haven’t been any. On the contrary, I’m quite certain there have been. My brain is just fried this week. So I leave it to you dear friends to fill in the gaps. So feel free to throw out a cavalcade of examples below.

But seriously, go ahead. There really isn’t much more to say about this book except maybe this constitutes a traditional one page cameo a ’la Hulk #180. We’ll see more of her in the next issue.

Active Listings: A quick eBay search returns a couple thousand results. Justice League 30 just brings up to many results, but if you add the “Cruz” qualifier you get a more reasonable 54 results. That I can work with. So could you sneak a copy that doesn’t actively list this noting Jessica Cruz? Sure, but be prepared to do some sifting through a ton of irrelevant books.

By and large this is a relatively cheap book. It’s easily found in the $13 range, but can also be found in lots with the other 1st appearance books at a decent price. Even the Mad Magazine 1:25 can be found under ratio for like $20. And those difficult combo pack editions can be picked up for $30. No real graded copies available right now.

Market Analysis:  Not a lot of movement on the graded side of things. CGC 9.8’s have been trending up from their $55 average with the last sale hitting at $85. Not a lot of sales, but they are trending up, but considering we are talking about a $50 CGC 9.8 that isn’t hard to do. So that isn’t a big buy in to take a flier.

I brought up Ultimate Fallout 4 before because there are a lot of copies of that book too. And for years most people were indifferent leaving that a $15-20 raw book. Then all it takes is a little spark to ignite the fuse.

The variants really don’t have many copies or sales. Only one graded Combo Pack edition and it doesn’t have a tracked sale. Even the Mad Magazine Incentive only has 2 sales and those were both under $50 sales way back before March 2016.

Justice League #31

(Aug 2014)

1st full appearance of Jessica Cruz

Which brings us to Justice League #31. It’s been over a year since we saw her first hand and read her name. Finally, here we have Jessica Cruz’s undisputed 1st full appearance…

But this is it folks. I don’t care if she’s only on a like 4 pages mostly unrelated to the bulk of the issue. This is her. Only took 13 months and handful of panels, but we finally have our full introduction to Power Ring.

Yeah that name is pretty weak. You might as well just call her Generic Item. And what’s with the headband? I feel like she’s gonna try and sell me some cheap crystal jewelry from street stand at a St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Seriously, that headband and face-paint make her look like she’s part of an Irish themed Motley Crue cover band.

OK, maybe not the Crue, but it’s definitely a Bret Michaels look.

Don’t get this twisted. This is not a dig at the bands referenced above. I love both the Crue and Poison. Seen them both in concert. Multiple times. I am not ashamed to admit that. This was more a commentary on the dated look of that character design. Just awful. Looks so much nicer once she got to join the Green Lantern Corps officially. More on that later, so hang around for Last Call.

Active Listings: Not much difference between pricing Justice League 30 and 31. A lot of listings even have them as sets like I noted before. No real slabs available right now and raws are all over the place. You can grab a solo raw for $7 or $45 depending on the listing.

No Combo Packs available and just like the 1:25 Mad variants, you can find the 1:25 Batman ’66 incentive variants for about $20.

Market Analysis:  Very similar sales history to JL #30, but this one had a CGC 9.8 sale hit $125 just over a week ago. That was nearly double the $69 average sale for the last year.

Only 5 Graded Combo packs and no tracked sales. Even the Batman ‘66 Incentive only has a few sales and those were both under $50 sales way back before 2017. Something seems familiar about that. Do you ever have déjà vu?

Adventure Comics #352

(Jan 1967)

1st appearance of the Fatal Five, (Tharok, Mano, Emerald Empress, Validus and The Persuader)

Ok this last one has nothing to do with Jessica Cruz. What is it doing here you ask? Good question. If you remember, this article is based on the announcement for the animated film Justice League vs. The Fatal Five. So here is their 1st appearance.

So this one doesn’t fit the “cheap and affordable” notion I had started with, but hey we just covered a 3 part debut of a new character with each part having 3 versions, so after 9 books I think I deserve a little latitude. Plus this is still on topic and I can’t make their 1st appearance cheaper.

But honestly, I don’t know much about this book. I don’t own one, probably never will. But let’s take a look at these guys.

Looks like we got a big hulk type with a huge Krang brain in glass helmet. Why is it when there’s a floating brain, it’s always visible? Does it get sunburn? Ok, next I see a Mysterio knockoff in the Creepers tights. A Polaris/Scarlet Witch amalgam holding The Orb’s decapitate eyeball head as some sort of belt buckle for big brain there. Then we have Captain Generic with a Chameleon helmet. Can we knockoff anymore Spidey villains in this group or what? Or, oh I almost forgot. It’s Five. Where is the last one? Oh there’s the Two-Face Cyborg dude in the Brain Hulk’s crotchal region.

I’m just not intimidated by this bunch. I’m sorry, I know they are originally Legion villains which makes them pretty vanilla, but they might as well be an alternate lineup for The Get Along Gang or some random Monchhichi’s.

Active Listings: Realistically this is a cheap book if you aren’t too picky on grade. Plenty of decent copies are under $20 for this one. It’s only the high graded copies that would be pricey and there aren’t any on the market right now. So if you want a copy you can get one.

Just to prove the point I just bought a VG/F copy for under $5 as I was writing this.

Market Analysis:  My purchase notwithstanding, you can see that high grade slabs command quite the premium over my reader copy. Not a lot of copies and not a lot of sales so there isn’t much to utilize to spot a trend. That said, my $4.50 purchase was still at a premium to the average $4.08 raw price.

Ok that’s it for this week, now it’s time for Last Call.

Justice League #50
(Jul 2016)

Jessica Cruz becomes an official member of the GLC

This is the final part of the Darkseid War, which was a pretty decent read. It’s worth picking up the whole 10 part run or the trade.

This issue features Jessica Cruz officially joining the Green Lantern Corps and getting a half decent costume as a result. Not groundbreaking stuff, but well written and good art.

There’s a John Romita Jr. variant cover as well. This book may have been better served in Dollar Bin Digging, but hey this is a “cheap” article this week.

Typical Sales Data courtesy of Covrprice.com:

CGC 9.8 – $40.00 on 1/7/19

CGC 9.8 B – $59.99 on 9/28/18

Raw – $8.75 on 11/21/18

Raw – $7.70 on 10/22/18

Let's Get Rambling.

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