Usual Suspects 33
Welcome back for another edition of The Usual Suspects. This week, I wanted to focus on some books I had been keeping an eye on for a while now. The Marvel Rising series premiered pretty successfully last year and has spawned subsequent specials and even a toy line. Personally I am very supportive of them focusing superhero programming that is more girl friendly.
This show feels more organic and natural than say, the DC Super Hero Girls which is most definitely aimed at young girls. Marvel Rising feels more like these are the characters and this is the story they are telling. They didn’t de-age their existing characters to put them all in the same super hero high school or whatever, this is just a team that comes together that just happens to be mostly female.
The series itself has really just been a few specials. The first of which was called Initiation and debuted as a series of 6 short 5 minutish little episodes that when combined, equated to about a 30 minute episode. This premiered on Disney XD back at the tail end of Summer.
That introductory special was quickly followed by another special entitled Secret Warriors that focused on Inhumans. This short feature length that ran about 1 hour and 20 minutes and handled Inhumans better than that jumbled nonsense we got on Agents of Shield. Admittedly, I like that show, but that stretch of eps where they focused on Inhumans was a chore to get through. I couldn’t have been more disinterested in a storyline.
And let’s not even talk about that Inhumans show. Can we all just agree that it happened; and it mercifully went away pretty quickly? Like the last time you had diarrhea, it was short, messy, and nothing we need to discuss any further.
And whose brilliant idea was it to premiere the 1st two episodes of that show on IMAX? Did no one actually watch it? I mean, I get that they announced it and they probably felt some pressure to go forward with that asinine plan. If they pulled it, it would mean they had little confidence in it. Sure pulling it may have given potential home viewers some caution, which could have led to it failing, or they could actually push forward and show that garbage to paying customers and it can just fail on its own merits.
Anyway, let’s get away from the failings of ABC Marvel. When you consider a good number of the Marvel Rising characters are actually Inhumans, it made sense to lean on that early. The show itself has a simple animation style, but a solid voice cast and a fun mix of characters. That said, it’s obviously a kid’s show that’s aimed pretty young.
But having a 6-year-old, I’ve had to watch some things I can never un-see. Thankfully he’s over Paw Patrol. Oye vey, I just don’t get that show. Why is it that just those dogs get to talk? The Mayor’s weird/unhealthy relationship with her chicken. The crazed neighboring Mayor Humdinger with his knockoff Kitty Patrol and his insane schemes. How is that guy not in prison? And where’s Social Services? How does this kid take care of all these dogs and pay for all these vehicles and contraptions? Who is funding this operation? And who would willingly want to live in Adventure Bay where all of their emergency and public works services are controlled by a 10-year-old boy and his pack of puppies?
But getting back to Marvel Rising, Disney/Marvel is obviously behind these characters. So we can expect to see this group in one form or another for years to come. They don’t just give toy lines to just anyone anymore. Gone are the days where they’ll just produce any idea that pops in some executive’s head like Rock Lords, Crystar, or Bravestarr. What were these guys smoking and where can I get some?
Granted the Marvel Rising toys are aimed more at the girl market considering they are Barbie style dolls, but not exclusively. I’ve noted it before, my son likes them, so I’ve had to hit up the local targets hunting these darn things. The boy wants Spider-Gwen, you can bet I’m gonna find him one. The things we do for our kids, am I right?
But it was just last month that Disney snuck the latest special out on You Tube before premiering it on Disney XD soon after. That one was Marvel Rising: Chasing Ghosts which drew the focus back on one of their hottest characters, Spider Gwen. Granted in both this show and the Marvel Universe proper, she goes by Ghost Spider; hence the title. I still don’t get it, just let her be Spider-Woman like in Into the Spider-verse. I’m not gonna rehash my argument, but whatever she’s called, she is obviously going to be hanging around for a while.
With that, there is still one more Marvel Rising Special announced. No set premiere date yet, but based on the releases so far, I imagine it may be in the next month or two that we get to see Marvel Rising: Heart of Iron which will introduce us to Riri Williams, Ironheart.
So with that, I feel it’s a good time to look at the 1st appearances of the characters on this show in the source material. Now I’m not going to suggest that a limited animated series focused on girl super heroes is going to do much to move the needle on comic prices in the market. But with increased visibility on this show, the toy line, and the Halloween costumes; I feel pretty confident that we can expect to see more of these characters in the near future. Potentially in live action and with bigger roles in the published Marvel Universe.
You hear it over and over, hook them when they are kids and you will have fans for life. It seems like a silly concept; but it’s true. Think of all the things we older folks are still fans of to this day because they are from the cartoons and shows we watched as kids. From Transformers to G.I. Joes to Masters of the Universe, etc.
Granted not all of these movies worked, and not all are even yet released yet. That He Man movie isn’t gonna make it out this year, but there is one in the works. The current execs and decision makers grew up on this stuff, so now they are putting big budgets and top talent behind bringing those ideas to life. Now we may not see Squirrel Girl and Kamala Khan mixing it up in the MCU tomorrow, but it’s not that far-fetched that some years down the line characters like Spider-Gwen could be anchoring the film universe.
So let’s look at their first appearances now and get in on the ground floor if possible. That said, anyone not already onboard for Spider-Gwen already kinda of missed the boat on Ms. Stacy. I’ve covered her 1st appearance already, way back in August in issue #6 of The Usual Suspects. Go back and take a peak if you like. We do have some time before I come back to check in on how that book is doing. Gotta let it breathe.
And I am going to skip Ms. Khan as well. Don’t worry, I already have other plans for her in the coming weeks. So just be patient and sit tight on that one. That still leaves us plenty of books to look at and maybe see if it’s a good idea to add to the old PC.
So let’s dive in with the rest of the Marvel Rising crew and see where they came from. Like I said, you never know what the future will bring. But if past history tells us anything, it’s that some silly kid out there is going to grow up and bring us a live action Paw Patrol movie at some point because it’s what he grew up on.
And god help us all.
So with that said…let’s get into it.
(May 2016) Print Run: 51,748
1st appearance, of Riri Williams in cameo on last page
Alright let’s start with Riri, who isn’t even on the team yet. Coming out of nowhere back in 2016, this 15 year old genius stepped into Tony Stark’s shoes and rolled as Iron Man in the MCU proper for a time. This book snuck up on most retailers as this was not heavily ordered by Marvel standards.
No Incentive variants on this one, but there was a Women of Power variant that came out with Mary Jane on the cover. I recall passing on it and leaving at least 4 copies on the shelf. I did not care for it. It looks like some harassment in the workplace pamphlet cover.
Even after the A cover had some heat, those MJ covers remained on shelves for a bit. Like I said, I recall passing them by. It’s just not a great cover. It’s almost as if David Lopez was giving us MJ as played by Sandra Bernhard.
Seriously though, I’m surprised that now that cover commands a bit of a premium. I get that it’s harder to find, but it’s not like it has Riri on the cover. I would’ve figured it would be as sought after as that Justice League #40 1st Grail…. You know the cover I mean.
Yeah, I’m not quite sure who thought that was a good idea. Probably the same joker that pitched Inhumans for IMAX release. But getting back to the book, as noted above, this issue was just a cameo. A Last page cameo at that, more akin to Incredible Hulk #180 than her first full appearance that came 2 issues later.
(July 2016) Print Run: 49,334
1st full appearance of Riri Williams.
This one was nearly ignored for a stretch, but it’s coming on strong of late. It seems the market is now shifting towards her 1st full appearance. Not sure what’s driving that change, but it is interesting. I was picking these up for cover or less every chance I got. I still have a few left in my ol’ spec box. Might be time to dust them off and see if any are CGC worthy.
I don’t know how other people do it, but for moderns, I will only submit if I feel there’s a decent shot at a 9.8. Unless it’s a super-hot or expensive book, anything less than 9.8 is pretty pointless. Just look at the numbers below. Every week it’s the same story. You’re better off saving the money and keeping it raw over getting a 9.4 or something. In most cases, you’ll have an easier time moving a kidney stone than moving a modern 9.4.
Active Listings: Plenty of copies available of #7 in both covers and in lots with issue #9. Being a modern book, most are in VF/NM condition if stated at all and there are plenty of slabbed copies of all books available as well.
Top listing for each version of #7 is a CGC SS 9.8 signed by Stan Lee, regular $650 and the variant $1200. Not interested in a SS, then the variant is up in CGC 9.8 Blue label for $450 while the regular is looking for $300. Again, those are the highest asking prices and there are plenty of other options for both in high grade slabs with the cheapest copies available in 9.8, regular $130 and the variant $350.
In what amounts to a surprising change in the market to me is that issue #9 is consistently listed with the higher ask now in 9.8 with all regular covers asking between $225 and $300. There are also less copies available. Could this be a shift in the market where the 1st Full in #9 is now the one to get? Also interesting to note, that there are no graded copies of the #9 Tron variant on the market at present.
Raws seem to be running at around $130 for the #7 variant, whereas the regular is still in the $50-90 range. Sets of 7 and 9 are a solid $75. Raw copies of Issue #9 regular are now between $20 and $60. The Tron variant is $40-$50 all day, as Slobby would say.
Market Analysis: Overall sales are down for Riri over the year. Perhaps due to the lukewarm response to her solo series. Miscalculation on the part of Marvel. They should have let her character breathe a bit. That said, the market seems to be supporting the shift with asking prices for #9 rising above #7 is many cases. Sales of #7 regular are inconsistent. Raws have sold for $15 one day and $40 the next. Also note there are multiple printings so anyone who wants a copy can get one.
Winter Special. 1st app of Squirrel Girl
I know I used to have this book. I remember the cover from back in the 90’s when it wasn’t worth anything. I don’t even think I noticed Squirrel Girl being in it as I just had it for the Erik Larsen cover. I liked Larsen. His simple yet exaggerated style was easy to mimic when I used to draw.
Anyway, now we know what this book is and it’s no longer dollar bin fodder. Sure I still keep my eyes peeled for one just in case. You never know. However this oddball creation of writer Will Murray and artist Steve Ditko now has a place in the lexicon of comic book culture.
I really didn’t take notice of her as a character until Dan Slott used her in his Great Lakes Avengers series. Totally underrated mini BTW. If you haven’t read it I recommend checking it out if you enjoy the bwahaha style of comics.
And then Bendis started using her as a babysitter for Luke Cage and Jessica Jones’ daughter back in New Avengers which was a bit of genius if you ask me. Say what you will about how one note his writing may be, there was a stretch when Bendis could do no wrong. Granted in retrospect all of his characters had the same exact snarky voice, but hey he’s not the only one guilty of that. I love Joss Whedon’s stuff, but one could point out that he suffers the same affliction of one voice writing as Bendis.
Regardless, Squirrel Girl found a wider audience by being used in that New Avengers run as she was. It was a perfect use of her character at the time.
Active Listings: Decent amount of copies available for a Marvel Winter Special, but it was printed in the 90’s so there’s that. Top listing is a CGC 9.8 up for nearly $1100. Wow, that’s a pretty tall order there Nordberg. I’d like to point there are multiple copies available for under $400, so do with that info as you will.
There is a raw up for $500 that’s signed by Milana Vayntrub (who is the voice of Squirrel Girl). So if you are a big fan of the AT&T commercial girl, you can scratch that itch.
Raws will run you between $50 and $180 so don’t expect to find one that cheap. That said, this is a weird marvel special, so there’s always an outside shot you can score one in a dollar bin buried amongst the copies of Plasm and runs of Malibu books.
Market Analysis: CGC 9.8 are down slightly but are consistent. That said, the high sale over the last year was for $475 while the bargain steal was only $195. The lower the grades go, the less consistent the sales go. Plenty of bargains and bidding wars to throw off the curve. So you could be on a rollercoaster ride with this one.
(July 2004) Print Run: 116,556
1st appearance of Quake (Daisy Johnson)
This is another one Bendis had a hand in. He created Daisy Johnson along with artist Gabriele Dell'Otto, and she first appeared in Secret War #2. Bendis also used her as a supporting character through a good portion of his Avengers run as well, but it was her inclusion in this Marvel event where she got to play with the Marvel Big Guns right out of the gate lending her a bit of instant credibility.
It’s been said that Dell’Otto modeled her look after Angelina Jolie’s character in Hackers. I may not have given it much thought at the time, but yeah, I see it.
That said, we’ve already seen a live action portrayal of her as they snuck her in Marvel’s Agents of Shield under the guise of a character named Skye, played by Chloe Bennet. They may have telegraphed that twist a bit, but she is still one of the best parts of that show and quite easy on the eyes.
Interestingly enough, Ms. Bennet even provides her voice on the Marvel Rising animated series. That said, while she may shine as a standout in live action on Shield, her character can get lost on the animated series. Designated to being the stuffier leader type, her animated look is rather muted by comparison to the perfect Ghost Spider design and the flash and flare of characters like Squirrel Girl and Ms. Marvel.
Sure the pop of purple adds something, but I’m not sure if it’s enough. I bet her toy sales lag behind those of the flashier members of the squad. That said, every team needs a Cyclops.
But getting back to the comic, this is a very easy book to find. It was a highly printed event book. Comichron numbers are above showing there are over 100k of this book out there. Granted high grade could be tough with that black card stock cover along with the foil. If it was packed tight in a long box that foil and the black cover would be a breeding ground for scuffing and color rub. You can probably see it in the cover scan above.
Active Listings: Tons of copies of this book on the market and it’s cheap. It’s almost not worth buying on eBay as the shipping cost is more than the book in many cases. Besides this is a book you can find in most shops with ease.
That said, if you are looking for a high grade slabbed copy, then eBay is probably your best shot rather than trying to submit your own copy. Don’t be scared off by the signed by Stan Lee and Chloe Bennet copies that are listed for $425. Then again there aren’t that many slabbed copies on the market. You can grab a CGC 9.8 Blue Label for $155. Or if you are bargain hunting you can grab a 9.8 for $80…though it’s a color touched. I told you, color rub is real. But who wants a Purple label?
Market Analysis: There is a CGC 9.9 out there somewhere, but it has no sales history. CGC 9.8’s though have dropped with the most recent Blue Label selling for less than that Purple I mentioned earlier. Lower grades seem to be up as do raws. Though, like I said, you may be better served grabbing a copy at your LCS for $7-8 rather than paying for shipping. This way you can see the copy you are buying and not have to take the chance on what you may receive in the mail. Just something to consider with a cheaper book like this. Besides…
(Sep 2011) Print Run: 25,873
1st app. of the new Miss America (America Chavez)
1:15 variant Estimated Print Run: 1,724
Last but not least, let’s not forget about America Chavez, Miss America. Ok, her name is a bit on the nose, but don’t sleep on her. She hasn’t had the biggest role in the series so far, and her solo title may have ended, but her 1st appearance is still sought after. Especially the 1:15 Mike Deodato.
Truth be told I don’t even remember when this mini-series came out. Most folks don’t. It was years later that her character rose out of obscurity and garnered some level of relevance. I remember I found a few copies in a 50 cent box just before her solo series started. But I only have one left, and you can’t have it.
But her short lived solo series may have only lasted 12 issues, but it had some killer incentive variants. My favorites are probably the 1:25 Jamie McKelvie #1, the 1:50 Art Adams #2, the 1:25 Marguerite Sauvage #2, and the 1:25 Jen Bartel #8.
Anyway, a character like her may work better in that team dynamic. She’s only been around since 2011, but she’s already been a team member on the Young Avengers, A-Force and the Ultimates. And this Marvel Rising squad makes it her 4th team. She gets around.
That all said, I wouldn’t mind having a Deodato 1:15 Vengeance #1 in my PC. I do have a couple of her solo series variants. You can still grab those for cheap. Who knows, over time if she remains relevant, these books will only grow. And if not, at a cheap enough buy in, you won’t have much to lose.
Active Listings: Not a lot of copies of this on the market. Only about a dozen and only 1 of the 1:15 variant. And that one will run you $500. The regular Dell’Otto Cover seems to be about a $40 raw book or $150ish for a CGC 9.6.
And what’s with Dell’Otto doing all over this list? He’s been directly involved in the last 2 books. That’s kinda strange. Not something I would have guessed. That said, on a completely unrelated note, if you don’t follow him on Instagram you should. He’s been posting these awesome colored pencil on black paper sketches. Great stuff.
Market Analysis: Not a lot of sales but prices seem to be on the upswing. Raws for both are gaining at a decent clip. CGC sales are few and far between for both versions, but 9.8’s which are not cheap, still seem to be creeping up. Based the current market, it’s not a stretch to say the regular might be a $300 9.8 before long and the 1:25 could be a $1k CGC 9.8 before you know it.
Ok that’s it for this week. Now it’s time for Last Call.