The Usual Suspects #42
Welcome back for another edition of The Usual Suspects. This week I thought it would be interesting to look at later print books that are more sought after than their 1st Print counterparts. Is it about lower print runs, new cover art, or something else that has caused this upside down pricing?
In our hobby, so much centers on firsts. First appearances, first cameo, first cover, and first print. And 95% of the time, first print is king. However, there are a handful of exceptions to that “rule.” Now I’ve already covered one of the more popular and more expensive 2nd Print issues a while back with Captain Marvel 17.
This book checks off a few of those boxes I already mentioned. Much lower print, first appearance, and new cover art featuring the first cover of that new character has all made this book a monster. Like I said, this book was already covered way back in Usual Suspects Chapter 2, so I’m not gonna give it the full coverage again just yet. But don’t worry, I have plenty more for you.
But just as a quick market update, back on 7/3/18 a CGC 9.8 sold for $1,050. Less than a year later and with no concrete news or announcements, a CGC 9.8 sold on 3/30/19 for $1,799. And over the last 3 months the 9.8 average is $1,571 which is more than a 50% increase from what it was in July 2018.
But the market is just getting insane these days. Crazy spikes and just as drastic drops. It’s nuts out there, so be careful. Now one of the books that has triggered a lot of hoopla and hullabaloo of late is Immortal Hulk #16. From clashes in the community over the spec value to the quality of the cover art, there wasn’t a shortage of opinions on that book. Personally, it was a hard pass from me from Jump Street. Sometimes a book can be too hot too quickly.
When it book is that hot pre-release and prices are shooting up, I don’t typically buy in. I also don’t try hopping on moving vehicles either. Who am I, Vin Diesel?
But what really set the community into a fervor was the announcement of a 1:25 Incentive 2nd print of said book. This was announced before the first print was even released. And then to add gasoline to the fire, stores subsequently announced exclusive variants for the 2nd print as well.
This 2nd print isn’t due out until 4/24, but will anyone care? The first print is already taken quite a hit on the aftermarket. How upset must those early adopters be now? That first print was selling at a high of $200, but has most recently moved in the $70 range. Ouch.
And a couple weeks ago, based on the strengths of those first print sales, the second print had a starting price at $65. Considering we are still in presale stage on these 2nd prints, what’s the market for these at the end of the month? I’ll give you my prediction.
But that crazy book notwithstanding, look at how many 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and even 5th prints we’ve seen recently. Nearly every issue of Immortal Hulk has at least one subsequent printing. Marvel just fires these printings out like a machine gun.
And that’s just the later printings for the first 3 issues of the series so far. Like I said, Immortal Hulk has 2nd prints basically for every issue up through 14 or so. And so many Marvel titles follow suit. Venom, Guardians of the Galaxy, X-men, Spider-man, heck even Ziggy Pig-Silly Seal got a 2nd print this week.
But it’s not just Marvel. Image seems to be doling out the later printings pretty frequently now too. Die has been a beast. Issue #1 is getting a 5th printing and each following issue is getting multiples as well. Antarctic, Mad Cave, Boom, and even DC are getting into the act as well.
But just because books are selling well and the demand creates the need for these later printings, that rarely translates into aftermarket sales. Sure plenty of these 2nd prints are still worth grabbing f you can find them and some trade for over cover. Immortal Hulk #2, for instance, is a $25 book. And people also seem to like those first Immortal Hulk issues of Avengers as well, with Avengers 682 and 684 2nd printings selling pretty steady.
But the fact remains that in all of these instances, despite how well the 2nd prints have sold, they are still second fiddle to their 1st print counterparts. And it’s not even close. Immortal Hulk 2 is like a $100 book in the first print now. So a $25 2nd print is nice, but still not in the same ballpark.
But there are some exceptions. The rare confluence of events where the later printing commands either the same or in some cases; much, much more than even the first print. Like that Captain Marvel #17 above as a prime example. So let’s look at some of these exceptions and see what’s what.
So with that said…let’s get into it.
Despite me being an admitted Jim Lee fanboy, this book has earned its spot on this list. Just an iconic image on the first issue of an epic run. This Hush storyline has become a classic story in the Batman mythos. Personally I wonder if this were the cover to the first print, would the pricing be flip flopped as it is.
Is it just the cover that makes this book more than 3 times as valuable as the first print? Is it the lower print run? A bit of both? Honestly I couldn’t tell you. I mean, basically 99% of all 2nd prints have a lower print run then their originals, and in most cases it’s not even close. And 90% of 2nd prints are dollar bin fodder. So rarity alone can’t be it.
But is it just the cover art? One would think if that were also the case then Superman #204 would be more sought after than it is. It is basically a mirror image companion piece to this book. And the combined image is one of my favorite t-shirts.
Active Listings: Under a dozen listings up right now. Most of them are graded with the Top listing a CGC 9.8 for over $700. There is another 9.8 up but it’s an auction with a few days left that starts at about $450, so you can take your chances. Cheapest Buy It Now raw is about $230. You can take your chances at an auction and maybe end for less. You never know.
Market Analysis: Prices are pretty much up overall. A CGC 9.4 that sold back in Feb ended us sell at about $12 under the average. But other than that, recent sales as well as the recent averages are up on this one.
Lot of copies of this out there, with over 1200 graded alone. And it’s a pretty steady mover as well with over 100 sales over the last year in combined graded and raw sales. So this book moves, and right now it seems to be on the uptick. I still want one, but these prices are a bit steep just for a cover on a 2nd print. At least for me.
1st appearance of Tim Drake as Robin
This is a crazy one. I remember hearing stories about this book. I believe it was Shaun Leggit talking about this book on Unpressable Defects a while back that got me curious about this book. There was even an article on CBSI about the many versions of this book written by Inigo back in 2015. So this book has a bit of a reputation as a ghosty ghost.
I have never come across one of these. I check and re-check every time I see a Batman #457. There are a lot of copies of that book out there. I’ve probably had copies of all of the other versions with the errors and whatnot, but this little beauty has eluded me.
Once rumored to have as few as 4 known copies, that number has multiplied. With 28 now in the census, they seem to be emerging from collections. Perhaps the raised profile has more folks finding them. Either way, this book is still extremely hard to find. But I remain vigilant. Maybe one day I will find this white whale in the wild.
But again, rarity alone won’t drive prices. The book needs to have something else of interest for it to hit heights like this. So what’s actually inside this book? Why it’s the first Tim Drake in the new Robin Costume. Firsts are important in this business.
Active Listings: Only 3 listings right now. But considering how difficult this book is to find that is actually way more than I thought. Big Dog on the block is a CGC SS 9.4 that has a Neil Adams sketch for $5k. That’s pretty cool and all, but I still am really not a fan of getting a creator sig or sketch on an issue that they were not involved in.
That said, the other 2 copies available are a CGC 8.0 up for $3500 or a CGC 9.0 for $2250. I know you buy the book and not the grade, but personally sight unseen I take a shot on a full grade higher that’s also $1250 cheaper. But hey, that’s just me.
Market Analysis: Not a lot of copies so there aren’t very many sales. No raw sales that I could find. Even graded sales, there have only been 5 in the last year that I found. With so few, you can really set your own market. I joked about the 9.0 and 8.0, but once the 9.0 is gone the 8.0 will own the market and it is what it is. Sellers have the control on this one. You’re either in or you’re out.
All things Hulk are insane right now. Immortal Hulk is just charging on with each issue generating more buzz and somehow still selling out. By now you would’ve thought shops would have upped their orders sufficiently to meet the demand. Perhaps issue 16 and all of this 2nd print nonsense will be enough to slay the beast.
But aside from spec related to Immortal Hulk, this little gem has been rising on its own. Fueled by spec that Professor Hulk may appear in some fashion in the MCU, this issue has been seeing price increases in the 1st and 2nd printings as well.
This was an important issue in Peter David’s run. With a merged Hulk/Banner we got a smart Hulk like we’ve never seen before. And Dale Keown’s art on this run was simply top notch. He’s probably my favorite Hulk artist. But like I said, bringing the shards of the different personalities together was an interesting storyline.
Creepy ending to be sure. At this point we don’t know what type of Hulk we were getting. I mean that grin and the look in his eyes. Menacing.
But little did we know we would get a “Smart” Hulk. But while this Professor Hulk may be smart, but fashion was not his strong suit. Brown Leisure suit? Really? And that deep V can’t get any deeper or we’d be seeing Hulk stem.
Active Listings: About 17 copies up for what is probably the most well know 3rd print out there. Top listing is a CGC SS 9.6 for $1500. Following that, unsigned 9.6’s seem to be about $1100. And while there is one raw up for $1200, most raws and lower grade slabs are in the $500 to $700 range. Cheapest option is a raw for $350.
Market Analysis: Decent amount of sales on this one. And by nearly all accounts, prices are up across the board on this one. This is most likely tied to the recent success of Immortal Hulk as well as that spec on Professor Hulk. Professor Hulk was a popular spec play all year for End Game. In 2 weeks we’ll know one way or another of that pays off or not.
Eddie Brock becomes Anti-Venom
Now this book has had some heat on it for some time. New Symbiotes can be hit and miss, but when they involve Eddie Brock, the community took notice. The 1st Anti-Venom is a minor key, but this 2nd Print featuring him on the cover puts this first up there with Carnage.
And this book has multiple regular covers. In fact I just covered the Granov variant just a few weeks back in Usual Suspects #38. But where could we see this character appear in future? Gotta imagine it would be a ways off for the film universe. I mean they won’t be tossing Eddie aside just yet, for him to pick up another suit. But you never know.
But realistically we may see him appear in something Donny Cates has cooking up. Perhaps maybe even in the upcoming Absolute Carnage storyline. I would expect a smorgasbord of symbiotes to show up in this event.
Active Listings: Looks like over 2 dozens listings right now. Top ask on a Blue Label right now is $750 for a CGC 9.6. Or you can grab one of 5 CGC 98’s for $510 to $640. Most copies are in that $400 to $500 range. Cheapest buy it now is a $250 raw.
Market Analysis: Prices seem to be holding pretty steady. Not really rising, but for whatever reason the prices on CGC 9.6’s are down by a decent clip. Considering the current active listings, my best guess here is undercutters. Not a lot of sales, so the occasional undercutter comes to market because they need a quick sale, and someone jumps on the deal.
1st Flash Thompson as Venom
Another Symbiote related book? People love their symbiotes, and the harder to find the better because Marvel really pumps out the books when they have something Venom/Carnage related. They have since the 90’s. Maximum Carnage anyone?
But symbiote love aside, some heat on this may also be the result of that talk about a potential Agent Venom series in some form. This issue was the first time Flash Thompson bonded with the Venom symbiote. This issue sparked a solid run of books. Flash carried the Venom mantle for a couple years and 42 issues.
This material is ripe to be adapted, possibly in animated form. Or in live action to connect Venom to the MCU. I’m not quite sure how that would work, or why you’d move on or at least sideline Tom Hardy following the success of the first movie. And to run them concurrently may not so much confuse audiences, but it may strain the market.
Two options leads to choice. Inevitably people will choose their favorite. Thus you are creating a situation where you are dividing your audiences. It could work. But I’m not sure that is a smart move, especially this early in your planned connected Sony-Spideyless-Spiderverse.
Active Listings: Less than ten copies available right now. Top CGC Blue label is a 9.6 up for $377. If you want to save a few bucks you can also have a CBCS 9.6 for only $325. Cheapest buy it now raw copy is $125. Or you can take a flier on an auction with days left that’s currently only at $11.50. But watch out for snipers.
Market Analysis: This one is up across the board both recently and over the last year. Could be tied to the success of the Venom movie, or possibly the more recent talk of an Agent Venom series. Either way, this has become a $1k CGC 9.8 or raws have been over $150. So that $125 on the market right now could be a bargain if you like the condition.
Ok that’s it for this week. Another small batch of books to consider, but I have a few more to share before I let you go. They may not be Usual Suspects, but they are at least Persons of Interest.
Remember when The Walking Dead could do no wrong? Sure the TV Governor story played out much differently than the comics but it didn’t matter. Books were hit and the show was hot.
These days both are a bit cooler but still chugging along. This book is still very hard to find and still commands quite a premium. Michonne vs. The Governor. Title fight.
Typical Sales Data:
CGC Census 9.8 – 260
Leading up to Negan’s appearance on the show, these books were scorching hot. But these days, not so much.
People still seem to like Negan’s character, so I’m not sure what it is by the shine is definitely off The Walking Dead. I heard that this past season was good, but honestly my DVR collected them and I didn’t even realize it ended before I got to watch any. Eh, I’ll get to them. But these connecting covers are still worth a few bucks.
Typical Sales Data:
CGC Census 9.8 #97 – 111
This is the best cover of all of the #1’s IMO. The Sabrina Face is the same from the regular #1, but inside the skull is much more of an interesting image than through the window.
I think a lot of people agree as this version is more sought after than any of the other editions apart from maybe the JSC Midtown variant. But for my money I still take this Robert Hack.
Typical Sales Data:
CGC Census 9.8 – 0
Lots of copies of these Doomsday issues. Slow build and lots of hype. Given that this is a classic storyline, this is still a set that people want to own.
And it’s in the collector’s nature to have something unique. So it’s much tougher to collect the later print versions of any of these Death of Superman tie in books. This 1st Doomsday 5th printing however seems to be the class of this group.
Typical Sales Data:
CGC Census 9.8 – 31
Like the Batman #457 before it, when folks get a new Robin they apparently want 2nd print newsstands. I still find it hard to believe it took this long for the boy wonder to get his own title. But given this was a heavily printed book, once again the collector nature searches out the rarest version. And with that, this book is not an easy find. It doesn’t have the “II” on the cover to quickly identify it as a 2nd print; but this one shows “The Adventure Begins” whereas the 1st has a blurb about an inserted poster. Easiest way to tell the difference at a glance.
Typical Sales Data:
CGC Census 9.8 – 1
…Given that we are looking at reprints, how about a reused sign-off….