The Usual Suspects #34
Welcome back for another edition of The Usual Suspects. Once a month I like to direct my focus on a variant theme. Given the recent release of a brand new Captain Marvel #1 just a few weeks ago, and since we are only a few weeks out from the Captain Marvel movie, now seems like the right time to look at some Carol Danvers variants. Specifically, I am only going to focus on high ratio incentive variants for Captain Marvel #1’s.
Despite the multitude of store variants that are also available, like the above, that’s not really my wheelhouse. Many store variants are absolutely gorgeous; however, I personally don’t view them as investments. Just not much room for growth given the high buy-ins these days. Generally, I avoid them as I just can’t fit them into my modest comic budget. But occasionally there’s one that I fall in love with and I loosen the purse strings.
Store variants have their place. But I think of them as PC only purchases. It’s a simple equation, “Am I comfortable paying for this and never seeing that money again?” If so I buy it. If not, well, you can probably guess. My wife said no. Granted there is the rare exception, but mostly there are enough copies of store variants made to satisfy the demand. And those increased prices are inflated in the short term due to FOMO.
Fear of missing out is real. It hit me on Wednesday when I lost out on an auction. Which subsequently lead me to make an offer on another copy that was quickly accepted. I had passed on buying it last week on a Midtown preorder, as it was priced over ratio and just a bit more than I was comfortable paying. Fast forward to today where I paid just under that Midtown price for the 1:50 Adam Hughes variant for Avengers No Road Home #1. Still over ratio, but you know what ol’ Jack Burton says at a time like this…
But let’s not get too far off topic with FOMO and store variants. No, this week my focus is solely on Carol Danvers. I don’t know about you guys, but I’m excited. Feels like we’ve been waiting a while for this one. But I got my tickets pre-ordered, got my day off from work on March 8th, and I even got a couple Marvel Legends which are kinda cool.
Ok, I’ll admit that the figure with the leather jacket and cat isn’t the best. Personally, I never liked when they gave multiple versions for movie tie in figures, even when I was a kid. I mean, who is going to play out the scene where Captain Marvel plays with her cat in her bomber jacket. Just give me the one CM and expand the line with another figure. I haven’t seen the movie yet, so I can’t speculate too much; but I’d rather have a figure of Photon’s mom, Maria Rambeau.
Anyway, like I said, I am looking forward to this movie. Brie Larsen is an Oscar winner after all, so I’m sure she’ll deliver. Granted she was not my first choice as I really liked some of the fan casting options when I saw them initially. I remember I was bummed when Emily Blunt had to drop from being Black Widow (thanks a lot Gulliver’s Travels), so I held out hope that she’d strap on the red sash as Carol Danvers. I mean Emily Blunt, Katheryn Winnick, or Charlize Theron would all have worked as far as I’m concerned. But I’m pretty confident those what ifs will be long forgotten once March 8th gets here.
Anyway, the 90’s setting also has me super-stoked. I mean, that’s my jam. Middle school into high school in the 90’s with the Asics Gels, Cross Colors, Z Cavaricci’s, Merry-Go-Round stores in the mall, Starter jackets and caps, Skater bowl cuts, Alyssa Milano on Who’s the Boss, Guess Jeans, Reebok Pumps, one strap down overalls, turtlenecks and chains. You know, all the stuff you’d find on Slobby’s World.
Oh, and for those so inclined, NKTOB. I was more of a New Edition guy myself, but I can respect a good boy band.
Granted I know The Right Stuff came out in 1988. But to me the late 80’s and early 90’s all kind of blend together. Especially when it came to my movie choices. I loved action movies and I can only hope there are some call-backs to action movies from that timeframe because those were some of the best. Arnold and Stallone were icons of the 80’s who eventually gave way to Willis, Gibson, JCVD, and Seagal.
For my money Die Hard is about as perfect an action movie as you can find. Again, I know it’s from 1988, but same difference to my memory. Plus this isn’t just about the first movie but the series of movies from Die Hard to Die Harder to Die Hard with a Vengeance. Yup that’s it. I can’t hear you. No other Die Hards exist. Nope.
Same goes for the Lethal Weapons. Shane Black’s stories for the first 2 Lethal Weapon’s were just pitch perfect for the time. Just a great buddy cop dynamic that so many other movies tried to duplicate. But Riggs and Murtaugh were the best. Not so much in the 3rd and 4th films. The 3rd was just, Eh. But that 4th one relied on way too many call backs and riffing from the guest stars. The back and forth between Pesci and Chris Rock were just brutal. That phone bit. Blecht.
And all of the Jean Claude van Damme movies might as well have been sequels to Bloodsport. JCVD goes to Thailand = Kick Boxer. JCVD goes to a hockey game = Sudden Death, JCVD goes to prison = Death Warrant. JCVD is a Cajun = Hard Target. Or JCVD has a twin = Double Impact. Basically the same movies, JCVD gets into some hijinks, does some splits, and beats up the bad guys.
And then we have Steven Seagal is…Seriously nearly all of Seagal’s movies for a time were basically Steven Seagal is Above the Law. Steven Seagal is Marked for Death. Steven Seagal is Hard to Kill. Steven Seagal is Out For Justice. I can keep going if you like. Steven Seagal is Under Siege. Had enough yet? Steven Seagal is On Deadly Ground. Horse beaten to death yet? Anyway, not to shift gears too abruptly. Everyone knows the iconic Tom Cruise run, but are you all as well acquainted with Steven Seagal’s girly scurry? Look at those arms flailing like Barry Goldberg.
But apart from these iconic leading men, what else did 80’s/90’s action movies have in common? Simple ingredients my friends. Nothing to fancy. There are plenty of Action movie tropes that I really hope are paid homage to, but let me lay out the basics. First we have the big bad. The brains behind the operation. That smug villain everyone loves to hate. I’m talking about you Hans Gruber, Arjen Rudd, or William Strannix.
But what is a big bad without his number one henchman. You know the martial arts expert who is so much better than our lead character. That #2 that makes it appear that the hero doesn’t have a shot against a Johnny Ringo type without some miracle. I’m talking about you Karl, or you Mr. Joshua, or whoever Bolo Yeung is playing. Yes Bob, I’m talking about you.
But you can’t have just one henchman. You need some more colorful characters to fill out your roster of henchMEN. You know the guys whose faces you recognize, but you have no clue what their names are. When you see them you say, “”Oh that guy.” I’m talking about those unsung heroes of the classic action films. I’m talking about the Al Leong’s. You know the guy who was Endo in Lethal Weapon, the candy bar guy from Die Hard, a Wing Kong soldier in Big Trouble in Little China, who was also in Death Warrant and Showdown in Little Tokyo and Last Action Hero. The man played Genghis Khan in Bill and Ted. You know, That Guy.
Another classic Henchman, you always noticed but may not have known was named Sven-Ole Thorsen. Yes, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s workout buddy. Sure he was obviously in every Arnold movie from Conan to Running Man to Last Action Hero. But he was also in Lethal Weapon 1 and 3, Hard Target with JCVD, and even On Deadly Ground with Steven Seagal. He’s made the rounds and kept it going into the 2000’s with being in Gladiator with Russell Crowe and even The Rundown with the Rock. Yes, Duane Johnson, the heir apparent to the action star legacy has a bit of connectivity to those icons through Sven. My man was LaFlours in Mallrats.
Henchmen are important. So hopefully Captain Marvel takes note of this. The big complaint with a lot of MCU movies are that the villains are uninspired. I don’t mean Thanos, obviously, but a lot of the others didn’t leave their mark in any significant way. And I am of the firm belief that it wasn’t just because these big bad’s weren’t that interesting, but they didn’t have a quality #2 or a group of henchmen work remembering.
I’m talking about the type of henchmen that had their own little quirks that made them stand out as individuals even in limited screen time. You know, like Clarence Boddicker’s crew in Robocop. Or the 2 soldiers that go full villain in Michael Bay’s the Rock and stand apart despite wearing the same camo uniform as everyone else. You know, Candyman and the guy Clarence pesters about the Elvis article in True Romance.
And of course, we can always go back to the template with Hans Gruber’s crew. I’m talking about going down the lineup from Karl to Marco to Uli to the Huey Lewis looking guy at the front desk and even down to Theo. These weren’t CGI cannon fodder back in the day. These were mini bosses the heroes had to defeat on their way up to the Big Bad.
That’s all I’m saying. Sure with a lot of rambling it may have taken me awhile to get there; but hopefully the villain/villains of Captain Marvel capture even just a little bit of that 80’s/90’s Action movie epicness. We can hope the Skrulls aren’t just piles of Chitauri whatevers or Ultron drones or faceless Dark Elves or Hydra Stormtrooper types. Give my henchmen some substance. At least some uniqueness like you did with The Black Order. That’s what I’m talking about. Sure Brolin was great as Thanos, but don’t discount the impact of there being a crew of unique and interesting henchmen behind him.
So with that said…let’s get into it.
1:25 Adi Granov Incentive Variant
Alright let’s get back on track and start looking at some actual books. I know I can really go off on a tangent when I touch on something I love, like Kung Fu or straight up action movies. But I also love comics, so let’s get back on track. Following her introduction after having taken on the mantle of Captain Marvel in Avenging Spider-Man #9, Carol comes back with a brand new solo series released just a week later.
Personally I don’t see why Avenging #9 is so “valuable”. It’s just a name and costume change. I mean why isn’t Tales of Teen Titans #44 more valuable? Sure it’s a $40-$50 raw book but if Avenging #9 is a $150 raw book, then I would argue TT#44 should be over $200. I mean the change to Nightwing from Robin was a much more significant event in comicdom.
This was the OG sidekick going out on his own as a brand new character. A much more important event to me than Ms. Marvel changing her name to Captain Marvel.
Seriously though, I am super supportive of the empowerment of women in comics. I love seeing all kids, boys and girls alike, getting psyched about these characters. Give me more of it I say. I’ve joked about my son’s affinity for some girlie stuff, but honestly I could care less about what he “should” like. He can’t wait to see Captain Marvel. He has no clue she used to be a dude and he doesn’t care. She’s just cool to him. His favorite superhero is Wonder Woman, and after Gal Gadot, can you blame him?
That said, a name change doesn’t move the needle much for me. I’d much rather have her 1st appearance or even Ms. Marvel #1 over Avenging #9 in my collection. I don’t let the market dictate which books I want in my collection. Except when I am priced out, then I am unwillingly dictated by the market to be standing on the outside looking in.
But I would also rather have her 1st solo title with the new Captain Marvel mantle, and especially one with a pretty sweet variant cover by Adi Granov. Granov needs more love. He has some pretty great covers on his resume. If you are a Granov fan, don’t worry. I got something to spotlight him next month.
With a print run north of 40k, one might guesstimate that this 1:25 incentive variant would have over 1,600 copies out there. That seems like a lot to me, especially with less than 80 in the census. But who knows? I just know I like it and would like one in my PC. I was watching a raw copy that I missed out on this week. But I’ll get back to that in a moment.
Active Listings: Only 10 listings up right now. There’s a 60/40 split between graded and raw copies. Top listings are a couple of CGC 9.8’s up for about $400 each. Looking for a bargain? Then just grab the CBCS 9.8 for $325 + shipping.
I get that most folks prefer CGC. I’m in that camp as well. CBCS just takes waaaay too long. I had a book with them like 6 months last year. That’s just ridiculous.
Anyway, maybe they will get their act together and really challenge CGC. I get that CGC sells for a premium, but if you can save nearly 20% by buying a 9.8 CBCS it has to be considered.
But raws will run you between $75 and $120 at the moment.
Market Analysis: That said, one just ended today for $49.99. A combo of me not paying attention and burning my extra cash on that FOMO Hughes I mentioned earlier, cost me this book. But that’s ok. It seems to be trending down in price, so maybe I can pick one up on the cheap later. Not sure if the Captain Marvel spec is just burning out or what is the catalyst for some of these depressions in the CM variant market. Whatever the reason, go ahead and drop I say. I just want this for the PC so I’m not too concerned with the spec long term. Yes I am selfish.
1:25 Leinil Yu Incentive Variant
Here’s another one I want for the PC. This is the next reboot of Captain Marvel in 2014. The last series lasted just 17 issues before they wrapped up at the tail end of 2013 and restarted again a couple months later. What’s weird, is that they just introduced Kamala Khan in her first full appearance and then said. Ok, new character, that’s it.
But as we all know, that would not be the end of Kamala Khan. Well, that’s the end of her for today’s festivities in this article, but relax I also have something planned for her coming up as well. Sorry for all the teasers, but I got things mapped out for a good stretch. Like I said, I got plans.
Anyway, Leinil Francis Yu is another artist who doesn’t get enough love from the market. I’m not sure why. The man has talent. The fine details and that line work. Par excellence.
This Captain Marvel seems to be his most expensive and most popular variant cover. It’s the highest priced and has the most copies sold at the top end of the recently completed eBay searches. The next closet would probably be that Thunderbolts #110 variant. Another excellent example of his talent, and yet another book I have yet to acquire. Just take a gander and tell me why this guy doesn’t get more cover work?
I suppose I should pointing out that there was a 1:50 John Cassaday variant for this issue as well, but honestly the Yu is better. I like Cassady as he has his moments. But sometimes the work is just “ok” to me. Great panel to panel storyteller, but the covers just don’t have that wow factor. Like this one is pretty good, but pales in comparison to energy and pop of the 1:25. The below 1:50 just looks like a cover to me. Rarer? Sure, but I will still take the 1:25 Yu.
Active Listings: Only a dozen active listings and they are all slabs. A CGC 9.8 will run you anywhere for $200-$275. That said, it may be worth taking a flier on a 9.6 for $100 or best offer. Outside of that, you can get in on the ground floor of an auction with over 4 days left that is currently only at $5.50. You never know.
Market Analysis: Just like the last CM variant, this one has prices on the downturn. Again, good for a buyer, but not so much for a seller. Folks seemed to jump on this early as a “Binary” cover, but that excitement has seemed to have faded. It could be that we are in the homestretch for the film’s release, or speculators have moved on.
1:25 Adam Hughes Incentive Variant
This is another gorgeous Adam Hughes variant. I don’t know why I’m on such a Hughes kick of late, but I keep dropping cash on AH covers. I don’t have this one either. This might as well be my own personal Captain Marvel wishlist which continues to grow at this point.
That said, I am a fan of this cover. Something about the lighting with that lens flare effect in the background like it’s a JJ Abrams movie.
And the Trade Dress reminds me of the original Dazzler #1 that has been seeing some action this week. That was a dollar bin book that’s now jumped due to the recent Hulu animated series announcement.
Plenty has been said about AH mailing it in on his covers lately. His Superman run in particular has taken its fair share of criticism. But I think he’s still killing it. Sure he’s tried a few different things with perspective and focus, but what’s the alternative? He could stand pat and keep churning out the same thing over and over just because that sells.
But this cover is classic. It’s one of the few reused virgin art covers that has been pumped out the last year or so now. I believe the culprit has mainly been Unknown Comics which reused this art for their cover of Life of Captain Marvel #1.
Sure the art is gorgeous. It was the 1st time it was used too. I just don’t like this trend. It’s one thing if it is a straight reprint of the same book, but these covers are being reused on other books that may have the loosest ties, like that Dell'otto X-23 cover reused on X-Men Red #1. I just don’t like it personally. It’s cheap. It’s like using someone else’s words and images in clips and gifs to get your point across. I mean who does that? Oh yeah. I suppose I do.
Active Listings: Only about 14 listings for this bad boy. Seems to be the running average in the range of a dozen listings for Captain Marvel #1 variants. Once again the top listing is a CGC SS 9.8 signed by Stan Lee for about $900.
Not even gonna get into it. But following that there are about four 9.8’s in the $400-$525 range. Not a cheap book at all. In fact there are about 5 raws up, both those will also cost you about $125-$175.
Market Analysis: This seems to be the ace of our little group here as it has the highest prices. Not the hardest to find and any key issue status apart from just having a great AH cover. We’ve seen it before and we’ve seen it again. Perhaps even later on in this article. But I still want one. Somehow, some way I will figure it out.
1:50 Alex Ross Incentive Variant
Ok so I’m starting to hear the Oscar music starting to play me off. Just one more, and I will try to make it quick. This is the highest ratio on my list with this being a 1:50 Incentive variant. This is a pretty sweet Alex Ross variant.
There’s been a lot of discussion the last few years as to why Ross variants don’t heat up and hold value as well as some other artists. He’s obviously one of the best working out there today. I mean have you seen what he’s been doing on Immortal Hulk?
Granted Ross typically works on big titles that sell very well already, so maybe it’s just that they are heavily printed titles which may keep prices down. I don’t know. He’s in Cooperstown, or will be, or whatever the comic book equivalent is. You know what I mean.
Sure there are some instances where he leaves himself open for some level of criticism. Sometimes the characters look older that what we may have imagined. Sure, Supes has been around since the 30’s but we still don’t see him as a grandpa type. And yes, Wonder Woman is an Amazon, but I’m pretty sure we all prefer the Gal Gadot version over the one built more like Chyna.
Yes, sometimes it looks like a lot of the characters have the same photo reference face. I mean look at the JLA above and tell me you don’t just see same chin for Supes, Bats, and Aquaman. And yes sometimes the characters are painted to look more like old timey strong men, rather than the super cut versions with the 12 pack stomachs. But Ross can do that too. Take a look at his Conan.
Active Listings: Maintaining our theme of a dozen available, there are 13 active listings of this book up right now. Granted I am not counting the B&W sketch version as that is not the same book, so don’t let the 33 search results fool you as most are that sketch version.
That said, we have quite a wide range in the asking price on this one. A CGC 9.8 could run you anywhere between $250 and $650. I’m not including the Green label signed CGC 9.8 because I don’t like the green ones.
Market Analysis: Not a lot of sales but prices once again seem to be down. If you are patient you may be able to wait out a deal. I like this Ross. It has a nice layout and I like how the lens flare and power up plays in with the trade dress. Composition is key.
Ok that’s it for this week, now it’s time for Last Call.
1:25, 1:100 Adam Hughes
I told you Hughes would be back. This is the issue that came out last month. You have two flavors, the 1:25 with the trade dress or the 1:100 virgin.
This is more to Hughes current style with a mix of heavy bold black lines and other area s with no outline at all. That mix of line work makes it appear more like a tattoo to me. Or maybe I’ve just watched too many seasons of Ink Master. That’s said, I picked up a trades dress 1:25 because it was within my price point.
Recent Sales Data:
1:25 – CGC Census 9.8 = 16
1:100 – CGC Census 9.8 = 26