CONNECTING THE DOTS: RED GUARDIAN
There are two types of speculators: those who lead and those who follow. By the time news hits, cheap copies of relevant keys are gone and sometimes all that are left are overpriced, often lower grade scraps. It’s the individuals who actually read and research comics who ultimately profit by making insightful, sometimes far-out, connections that puts them far ahead of the market.
Marvel Cinematic Universe movies are a haven for speculation. Prior to casting news, trailers and premiers, speculators descend on every morsel of information and rumor in hopes of finding relevant keys to purchase. This is especially true of Avengers films. While speculators wait for Endgame to premier in May 2019, they are buying up copies of New Avengers #11 (1st Ronin) and #21 (Hawkeye as Ronin), Hulk #377 (Smart Hulk) and every single Marvel comic titled “Endgame.”
Multiple outlets are reporting the anticipated Black Widow film starring Scarlett Johansson will begin filming at the end of February for a potential May 2020 release date. Little verifiable information has been released; reportedly character breakdowns from casting calls have been leaked. While this information is far from reliable, it does start the process. Whom are the key characters that might appear in the film? Media outlets have already begun to speculate. The Hashtag Show suggests the Red Guardian (KGB agent Alexi Shostakov) or The Taskmaster might be considered as the antagonist. Shostakov is a logical assumption, considering he was the former husband of the Natasha Romanoff.
Those wanting to speculate on the Red Guardian would immediately turn to Avengers #43, the character’s confirmed first appearance. Published in August 1967, it’s a silver age book that is expensive in the highest grades. The CGC Census notes 193 graded copies, with a single 9.8 listed, (which sold in 2012 for $2,500.) While not a difficult book to find, since it is by no means a major key, this book is probably a safe investment. However, what’s interesting about this character is that in the first issue of the 2011 mini-series Widowmaker, Shostakov becomes Ronin! Ronin, whom Hawkeye becomes in Endgame, is a speculation darling and is connected to Black Widow by way of two characters.
This is where knowledge of the character can reap significant rewards. Widowmaker #1, which has estimated sales of 18,245 according to Comichron, also has a 1:15 Paul Renaud variant, which lowers the number of copies to potentially 2736, and features Ronin on the cover. The book also has one of my favorite qualities: no graded copies.
While it’s likely if Red Guardian and/or Alexi Shostakov appears as an antagonist in Black Widow, it will only be for a single film, like most of the lower key characters in the movies. However, if the character returns as Ronin in some media property, then this book becomes very significant.
While most speculation is conjecture, taking the time to do our own research (before anyone else does) on a character and actually read the books we purchase helps us find hidden or undervalued gems and minimizes a loss of potential profit.