The Usual Suspects #36
Welcome back for another edition of The Usual Suspects. This week I wanted to shine a spotlight on a star that seems to be losing some of its shine of late. With Captain Marvel just around the corner, I figured it was a good time to look at her replacement as Ms. Marvel, Kamala Khan.
Her popularity has only grown since her introduction just a few years ago. Right out of the gate she went from a couple quick cameos to having her own ongoing series that’s basically ran the last 5 years. Sure Marvel restarted her series once already as Marvel likes to do. And surprise, surprise, Marvel is restarting her ongoing series once again in a couple weeks with the Magnificent Ms. Marvel.
I like the regular cover more than the upcoming 1:25 variant. Wonder if it’s a nod to the Captain Marvel trailer that has consistently shown Brie Larsen using her powers on top of a train, or if it’s a callback to Spider-Man 2’s classic El Train battle.
Let’s just hope she doesn’t make this face. Seriously I’m not sure if Toby is trying to stop the train here or stop an accident from occurring in his shorts. Almost there. Hold it just a little bit longer.
Anyway, going back to that upcoming 1:25 Babs Tarr variant. It’s not bad. But she’s very hit and miss for me. This cover isn’t bad, but it’s not great either. She did a Batgirl variant for issue #35 of the New 52 run that I really like. It worked perfectly for that run. It was bright and youthful with a manga-like quality to it that gave it a fun burst of energy. But then she can miss pretty badly for me as well. That recent Champions Annual B variant with Snowguard on the cover was just not very good, if I am being completely honest.
Those eyes were wonkier than Bubbles’.
Ok, enough about that book. It doesn’t even come out for another 2 weeks or so. Instead I want to go back and look at the books that lead to our introduction to Kamala Khan. For whatever reason a lot of the prices of her books seem to be down at the moment. I can’t really put my finger on why that would be the case, but it would seem that now would be an excellent to buy if you want to get on the Ms. Marvel train.
We know Marvel is behind her as a character, so she’s not going away anytime soon. From multiple ongoing runs, animated appearances, Halloween costumes, and toys, Kamala Khan is set to be a fixture for Marvel.
So with all of that exposure, kids today know who she is. She will be ingrained in their memories. She will most likely be a character that those kids will be out hunting for when they get older, have money, and are trying to recapture the nostalgia of their youth.
You know like the rest of us right now with the 80’s and 90’s. Some kid is going to stumble across an episode of Marvel Rising in 20 years and get all nostalgic and want to go out and spend some money. They may come across that doll at their parents’ house and get all nostalgic about it like we would if we stumbled upon set of McDonald’s transformer Happy Meal toys at a yard sale. I know I wish I had my Big Mac Transformer back right now when I see this picture.
Nostalgia doesn’t need to make sense. It’s just that trigger that sparks that something deep inside your soul that brings you back to another time. Kamala Khan is going to be that for some kid one day. My son knows who she is and he likes her. And it’s his money that is gonna matter one day.
Marvel has tried to bridge that gap with my generation since we are still the backbone of the collector market. So they’ve given her prominent roles in some of their line wide comic crossover events from Secret Wars to all of their Inhumans stuff. They even gave her a Marvel Legends figure. Those Marvel Legends aren’t meant for kids or to be played with. Those are for collectors, my age. To keep them boxed, sealed and displayed somewhere. You know guys like Al, from Al’s Toy Barn in Toy Story 2.
But with all of that effort, there has been a lot of resistance to her as a character. Outside of the Comicsgate crowd, there are plenty of folks who are just not into change. They want their characters to stay the same no matter what. That’s a much larger topic that I’m not gonna get into right now.
But I will say, that I feel a lot of “older” collectors have a hard time relating to a new youthful character. You hear the “she’s like today’s Spider-Man” comparisons and they just don’t connect with the older collectors. Why? Because we’re old. I can’t relate to today’s teenagers. I’m old. What do I know of how social media affects life in high school? I imagine it would be a nightmare. Smart phones, Twitter, Uber, no more cursive writing. Taco Bell delivers for god’s sake. Taco Bell. And you can go inside a Domino’s now and pick up a sandwich and wings. Inside a Domino’s. What has happened to the world?
But accepting that I’m old doesn’t mean that I can’t appreciate a new character. Even if I can’t totally relate. Like I said, I’m a 41-year old man with a wife and a 6-year old. What do I know about being an inhuman Muslim teenage girl in Jersey City with polymorphic powers? I’m from South Jersey. I can’t relate to those North Jersey folk. If you were from NJ, you’d know what I’m talking about. Life is different this side of Trenton.
Geographical differences of the residents of the Garden State aside, Kamala Khan has her fans. And I count myself among them. I have that Marvel Legends figure noted above and it is in the rotation of figures on top of my comic filing cabinet.
So with that said…let’s get into it.
1st appearance of Kamala Khan in, one-panel cameo.
So here it is, Kamala Khan’s first appearance. I suppose. I mean it is her, but is it anything more than a cameo. It’s just one panel and she’s not named. No thought bubbles, but she’s there. Granted I would guess she’s a grown woman and mother of 3 looking at how she is drawn here, but it is Kamala Khan. She is bound for the MCU one day. I’m certain of it. We may even see her appear in this Captain Marvel movie, or its inevitable sequel as she does below in issue #14 of Captain Marvel.
That’s all you really need. A quick cameo in an MCU film and this book goes nuclear. That’s the marketplace we live in right now. Realistically, we don’t even need to see that cameo. Just a reputable rumor, a set photo leak, or confirmed casting and the cash will start flowing and these copies will dry up.
Truthfully this could work. Hear me out. A quick cameo much like the above could be enough to set the stage for a Disney Streaming TV show. Her power-set and supporting cast and even locale lend itself to a smaller scale rather than a feature film. She doesn’t need to use her powers over and over and with Disney’s budget, it could really shine in selective use on their service. And with the proposed connectivity to the MCU she could bounce in and out of the occasional MCU film while telling her own stories in long form on her own show. I’m just saying I think it could work.
But getting back to the comic, it really is a stretch to call this a cameo; but it is what it is. It’s been confirmed that is Kamala, and it was intentionally placed there to build towards her full appearance. This book has become quite sought after and there is even a decent Amanda Connor 1:30 Incentive variant that is really tough to find. There was no prior promotion of this cameo appearance, so for intents and purposes, this was just a random issue of a low selling title that was given a high ratio variant.
No pumped up sales following a lot of spec and news like we have today. I mean how many people were on the 1st appearance of Snowguard? They had two connecting cover 2nd Prints ready to roll within weeks of her 1st appearance. Granted Marvel was ready for Kamala as well, with them slapping her first image in costume on the 2nd Print of Captain Marvel #17 ahead of her actual 1st appearance in costume. But we’ll get to that later.
Active Listings: Over 100 listings up right now. Many folks seem to be dumping copies before the Captain marvel Movie hits screens next week. We currently have 15 CGC 9.8’s available and they range in asking price from $400 to $1k. That’s a pretty wide margin.
Outside of a couple auctions with days left, raws are $200 to $300 buy it now’s. And there are currently no copies up right now of the 1:30 variant.
Market Analysis: Prices are down on this one. Short term, not so much, but over the last year CGC 9.8’s are down over 20%. Once a $500 9.8, is now only a $400 slab. Definitely not the trend you want to see. Especially when it’s not a natural drop following a manufactured spike like a movie appearance, etc. No idea why prices are down, unless it’s evidence of a shift in the market preferring a more substantial showing for a “1st appearance”. This “cameo” is pretty weak. This may be like calling the below the 1st appearance of Jesse Pinkman.
2nd appearance of Kamala Khan in, cameo on last page.
Here’s another cameo building towards her full introduction. This slow build reminds me of how they introduced Carnage. They knew what they were doing and they kept slipping in teaser appearances to progress the story while building towards something bigger.
In this issue of Captain Marvel, we at least get a full page building off that lone panel. This page establishes her fandom for Captain Marvel. After seeing her in action in issue #14, Kamala became fan-girl #1. A couple panels, hint at powers, and tease the Ms. Marvel logo and boom, the hook is baited. Eventually we’ll reel her in.
But like I mentioned, this is very similar to how the rolled out Carnage. So let me hit up my filing cabinet that I mentioned earlier, and start pulling some books. They introduced Cletus in issue #344 as Eddie Brock’s cellmate, stretched out a few single story pages across a small handful issue over the year, and then dropped a quick one page cameo in ASM 360 preceding his first Full appearance. But that’s a deep dive for another article.
And I already covered the 2nd print of this issue in my second Usual Suspects article all the way back in July. Technically you could say it was my 1st regular article on the site if you don’t count my one-off tryout in the 1st CBSI Writer Wars.
Seems like so long ago now. But so does Kamala Khan’s 1st appearance. She feels like an old standby in the Marvel Universe to me now. I don’t consider her a newbie. When you consider the sheer number of new characters and first appearances that Marvel has pumped out the last 2 years, she definitely feels like a classic character at this point.
From the Red Goblins, Weapon H’s, and Snowguards to the Legion of the Unlivings, Vigils, and Omnipotentises. Maybe one day we'll look back on these characters and be surprised how some writer took them to new heights. But for now, most are just thrown at the wall like some al dente pasta to see if it sticks.
Active Listings: A lot of copies of this book on the market too. CGC 9.8’s seem to be in the $150 to $400 range. Raws can be had for anywhere between $40 and $150. In case you were curious the 2nd Print is about a $2k CGC 9.8.
Market Analysis: Despite the asking prices above, this has been a sub $100 CGC 9.8 when you look at the averages. And recent months have it down 20% to under $80. But the last sale rebounded back to $90 so maybe it turns around. Raws are about $50 as are any slab under 9.8. I really think the market may be shifting away from these cameos to All-New Marvel Now! Point One. Maybe I should’ve done full coverage on that one. Oh well.
Kamala Khan becomes the new Ms. Marvel
This is Kamala Khan’s first solo title and her officially taking on the mantle as the new Ms. Marvel. Her first full appearance was in All-New Marvel Now! Point One the month before, but we’ll get back to that later.
Circling back to my streaming Ms. Marvel TV show idea. Imagine if they showed Kamala being impressed by Captain Marvel during her current day adventures in Endgame. You could pick up that story on the Disney Streaming service following that whenever you’re ready. This let’s you get through maybe the first season without her officially suiting up. Keep the season’s short, six to eight episodes max. Cast someone likable in the role and you are off and running.
For instance, I thought Geraldine Viswanathan would be perfect when I saw her in that movie Blockers. You know that cheesy prom sex comedy with John Cena playing her dad. It had a few funny moments if I’m honest. But I liked her attitude and thought that could pull off Kamala. She has the comedic chops as well as a general likeability about her that would be necessary to pull off this role. Not sure how old she is though. Maybe early 20’s. She’s currently on that Miracle Workers show right now with Mr. Pink as God and Harry Potter and Dopinder from Deadpool as her co-workers.
And I’m not the only one who thinks this is a good idea. Apparently there was a social media campaign in support of it. And she even recently commented as recently as last month that she would be interested if Marvel approached her in a Variety article. Come on Marvel, make this happen.
That said, there were a handful of variants for this issue. Jamie McKelvie gave us a design variant. Not sure why Marvel keeps giving us design variants. Personally I don’t like them. It looks like interior material. I don’t want that on the cover. Looks unfinished. But that’s just my preference. So is my preference for finished art over the black and white sketch versions. Despite the higher ratio on the sketch, I prefer the 1:50 color Art Adams over the B&W 1:100. And Adams is one of the rare artists whose uncolored inked art still pops. But despite that, I still prefer the color.
In addition to the design variant and the incentives, there are also a number of later printings on this book too. They just did various color changes on the trade dress. I think there were 6 more printings. You put them all together it looks like an Andy Warhol painting.
Active Listings: Lot of versions means lots of copies available. Incentive variants are at a premium obviously with the 1:100 CGC 9.8 $500. Raw of that books is half that at $250. A regular CGC 9.8 is anywhere between $160 – $300. Regular Raw is between $30 and $80.
Market Analysis: Lot of versions which keeps prices in check. This is another book that is trading at about 20% under what it was last year in CGC 9.8. Even though this is her #1 issue in her first solo title, she’s had 3 “appearances already at this point, so that steals some of the shine off of this book from collectors. Still a book to have in the PC.
Jorge Molina 1:50 Retailer Incentive Variant
This brings us to one of the hardest to find and more expensive Kamala Khan Covers, the 1:50 Incentive variant to issue #2. I’ve never actually seen one in the wild. Outside of the Captain Marvel #17 2nd Print, there isn’t another cover as sought after among collectors. The Marvel Tsum Tsum #4 made a decent run at it a while back, but that’s fallen back into the second tier of Ms. Marvel books for now.
The Jorge Molina cover is pretty good. I like it. It’s an interesting angle and different take on the usual superhero fare. The more suburban setting lends itself to a different vibe as opposed to the big city shots we typically see. That said, if this were the regular cover it would probably be double cover. The truth of the matter is that the rarity is really the driving force behind these prices.
Maybe I’m wrong and maybe this would be a desired cover even if it wasn’t just an impossible to find ratio variant. I do like it, and it is one of her better covers from that run. I’d put it on par with #5 which I really like. It’s a dark cover making high grade tough, but I just like the layout with her sitting on the street light looking at the big city of in the distance. I’m sure there’s a metaphor or some form of symbolism in that image.
But outside of the rarity, there really isn’t much else to say about the 1:50 variant. I’d love to have it, but honestly it falls pretty far down the priority list of books I’d drop several hundred dollars on. So with that said, I will just show you one more cover that I really like. And that would be the Manga variant for Issue #18 by Retso Tateo. It’s just bright and fun.
Active Listings: Only 3 on the market right now. You can have a CGC 9.4 for a grand. Or choose between two raws for either $800 or $900.
Market Analysis: Not a lot of sales and prices are not dropping down on this one. This is super tough and if you want one it’ll cost ya.
Ok that’s it for this week. Now it’s time for a double shot for Last Call.
1st full appearance of the new, Ms. Marvel (Kamala Khan)
Ok this is truly Kamala Khan’s 1st full appearance. This was a $10 book forever. Seems like over the last year some of the Captain Marvel #14 and #17 dollars have shifted to the more affordable 1st full.
But now that added interest has driven the price of this up in the $30+ range. This is also a thicker book so CGC 9.8’s may be tougher to get. At this point, if you want to buy in, you should prob do it soon before this becomes a $50 raw.
Typical Sales Data:
CGC Census 9.8 – 78
1:75 McNiven Variant
There was also a high incentive variant for this issue as well. This book is tough to find and that is reflected in its price.
I’m not seeing a lot of room for growth when it’s a $1,200 CGC 9.8 but I said the same thing about the Edge of Spider-verse #2 1:25 Land variant and that sucker peaked at $3,500. Not saying this will reach that, but you never know Not having Ms. Marvel on the cover though hurts it a bit in my eyes.
Typical Sales Data:
CGC Census 9.8 – 11
Anyway, Captain Marvel hits theaters next week and personally, I can’t wait.