Wizard rewind May 2003

Welcome back for another edition of Wizard Rewind. Each month, I want to take a look back at a random issue of Wizard Magazine. So let’s review what was being talked about and what was Hot all those years ago. Specifically, the Wizard Top 10 to see how those books are doing today. To better understand the market, we should have some idea of our history.

So with that in mind, before I dive into the Top 10 from May 2003, let me set the stage and bring you back 16 years ago. So let’s all take a trip together back in the day…

Ok, so it’s May 2003. ITunes had just been released to the world a few days before the month began, George W. Bush was telling us that the Mission was Accomplished in Iraq from the deck of an aircraft carrier for some reason, the legendary Robert Stack passed away, and Angelina Jolie divorces Billy Bob. I’m sure she regretted that tattoo.

And what did they do with those vials of blood they wore as necklaces after the divorce?

The first week of May brought an end to 9 weeks atop the Billboard Charts for 50 Cent’s In Da Club. He was replaced for a couple weeks by the reggae gibberish of Sean Paul’s Get Busy. I still only have a vague idea of what he was saying. Fitty would eventually retake the top spot with his follow up, 21 Questions featuring Nate Dogg.

Over on television, America’s next Top Model debuts.And Season 2 of American Idol wraps up with Ruben Studdard beating Clay Aiken. What I find amusing is that these two had a Christmas special on Broadway, just last year. Sure Clay looks a bit like a retired Elf on the Shelf and I thought Ruben was Uncle Phil for a minute, but those are some sweet X-Mas suits.

Still on the small screen, CSI was still topping the charts, while the penultimate season of Friends wrapping up with Joey and Rachel kissing.

Yeah that one is still weird to me. I know a lot of people liked Joey and Rachel together, but it just seemed weird to me. While you were at home Whooping it up, all I could see was this…(after Jedi of course)

May 2003 was a big month at the box office. We had 3 huge hits. To start off the month we had X2 the X-men sequel that was probably the best of that 1st trilogy. It opened to over $85 million on its way to a $214 million finish. That Wolverine/Deathstrike fight was really cool. When she had him pinned to that grate and was just furiously stabbing him in the back. Awesome.

That was soon followed by the $91 million opening of the Matrix Reloaded. I am personally not a big fan of the Matrix Sequels. They seemed forced and a hodge-podge of ideas thrown together. Like we have to tell them something. Let’s just make it as bigger and bigger and we’ll work in some deep ideas and fortune cookie philosophy, yeah, and Superman stuff, oh yeah, and what were we talking about? But I did enjoy that highway fight with the Albino Twins. Especially that samurai bit with Morpheus.


And finally the month was closed out with a smaller $70 million opening from Finding Nemo. But big openings don’t always mean the biggest returns, as this kept plugging away until it wrapped at nearly $340 million. Making it the biggest animated movie of all time (at the time).

So does it feel like 2003 yet? No, okay how about one more little gem released that month? The Shape of Things.

The Shape of Things Poster.jpg

Most people won’t know this little flick from Neil LaBute. It was based on a play of the same name he’d written a couple of years before. This film adaptation doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. This came a few years and a few movies after he hit the film scene with In the Company of Men. That movie was pretty messed up, with its depiction of how 2 business executives treat of a woman they target for some misogynistic revenge. Pretty sure that film would not play very well in today’s climate. But The Shape of Things could be seen as that film’s opposing companion piece.

The always excellent Rachel Weisz was especially effective in her role. Her unapologetic indifference to what went down was downright chilling. And Paul Rudd’s heartbreaking turn as an everyday schlub in this film was some of his best work. This film is well worth a 96 min investment of your time, as it’s a great old school indie flick that will stick with you long after the credits roll.

Ok, even though it’s 2003 in your mind now, please un-pop that collar, I still can’t condone it. But feel free to rock your crooked fedora covering up your faux hawk, in your baggy khaki’s and Nike Dunk SB ’s and let’s crack open this month’s Wizard.

This issue was obviously not released in May as it was focused a lot around April Fool’s Day. There was an entire feature highlighting some glorious nonsense from the funny pages we read each month.

How can you not get excited by Nike Air Godzilla? I mean so much about this makes no sense. Sure the Wizard caption correctly asks, “Where’d Godzilla get those high-tops?” But what about the giant basketball and backboard? And who taught Godzilla to ball? And why Charles Barkley? Maybe Netflix will give us these answers adapting this as part of their Dark Horse 1st look deal.

Up next we had a panel from the Spawn/Batman crossover. I’m not gonna pretend that I’ve liked anything Frank Miller has written since Sin City. I just can’t. It just seems so stiff and unnatural. I mean, Wizard points out how many times Batman calls Spawn “punk”, but what about the fact that he used “finished” 3 times in the same panel. “You’re finished. Just look at you, you’re finished.” And “You’re the one who’s finished.” Guess what fellas, I’m the one who’s finished. Finished reading that silly crossover.

And finally, I don’t know what else to say about this next excerpt, except that it reminds me of Airplane!

Anyway, it’s about time we dive right into that Top 10.


Wizard Guide Value: $5.00
Recent Sales Data: CGC 9.8 – $31.53 on 5/18/19
Raw – $5.25 on 5/11/19Kind of held its value, but really this is a Dollar Bin book all day. No one really cares about the distinction between the 1st Venom and 1st Ultimate Venom, especially since the film version stuck closer to the original alien origin as opposed to this science experiment went wrong angle.But the Bendis/Bagley run is still worth a read so go ahead and pick this up for a buck; but I honestly wouldn’t pay more than that. I actually did pick this up today for a buck. I didn’t really want to but there it was in the long box. So I threw it in the pile.

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Wizard Guide Value: $4500.00
Recent Sales Data: CGC 9.8 – $3,800.00 on 3/7/19 or
CGC 9.8 – $4,999.99 on 2/22/19
Raw Average – $3,500.00 per Covrprice.comA rumored print run of only 200 copies of this book. This one is a monster. This was hot right out of the gate. They were amazed by the $450 sales back then. Look at it now. This is one of the top most desired variants out there.Yes there was a recent Foil edition reprint, but that’s one step above a LaMole reprint. It’s just not the same.

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Wizard Guide Value: $13.00
Recent Sales Data: CGC SS 9.8 – $199.99 on 4/27/19
Raw – $27.07 on 5/22/19

Heat has returned to this book with news of a series coming to FX. Over the years the price has see-sawed from lows in the $50 range for a CGC 9.8 up to the new highs it is getting currently. And this is only issue #2.

I know the series to a step back when the showrunners tweeted out that FX wasn’t moving forward with the show in its current form. But here’s to hoping we still get this in some form soon.

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Wizard Guide Value: $7.50
Recent Sales Data: CGC 9.8 – $51.00 on 1/25/19
Raw – $9.94 on 5/13/19

This is a fun little homage to Action #252 the 1st appearance of Supergirl. This issue features the return of Kara Zor-El, the Pre-Crisis Supergirl.

This book doesn’t really demand much these days on the aftermarket and can be found in Dollar Bins if you look hard enough.

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Wizard Guide Value: $1,075.00
Recent Sales Data: CGC 9.8 – $29,000.00 on 3/13/19
Raw – $820.00 on 5/27/19 without MVS
Raw – $3,001.00 on 5/26/19 with MVS intact

This book is a beast. It’s amazing the heights it’s reached these last couple of years. But this was always a sought after book as everyone wants this iconic book.

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Wizard Guide Value: $4.00
Recent Sales Data: CGC 9.8 – $29.99 on 7/14/18
Raw – $0.50 on 5/25/19

Ultimate Universe crossover, does anyone really care? But isn’t that true of most crossovers? Apart from the select few iconic storylines, does anyone really care about Convergence, or Siege, or Fear Itself, or Identity Crisis, or Infinite Crisis, or can really explain the difference between the two to me. Apart from one had Dr. Light be all rapey in the worst kind of pointless shock value stunt.

Straight up Dollar Bin fodder.

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Wizard Guide Value: $50.00
Recent Sales Data: CGC 9.8 – $674.98 on 8/8/18
Raw – $90.00 on 5/17/19

Surprised to see this book has held that value. In fact it increased over the last 16 years. Does happen too often with these look backs. I figured after that excellent Josh Hartnett film adaptation back in 2007 that this would have faded into obscurity. But instead it’s held its value.

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Wizard Guide Value: $9.00
Recent Sales Data: CGC 9.8 – $29.99 on 11/30/17
Raw – $34.97 on 4/12/19

Inconsistent pricing on this one. But that isn’t too surprising. Since the series ended, there isn’t much driving prices on this book. I mean with trades, anyone who wants to read this now isn’t hunting these single issues.

I still need these early issues myself. And now could be a good time to get it done. It seems to just be a matter of timing as a Maleev variant #1 and #2 lot sold at auction for only $16.72 on 5/19/19

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Wizard Guide Value: $3.99 cover price
Recent Sales Data: CGC 9.8 – $19.99 on 1/19/14
Raw – $1.14 on 3/5/19

Guess at the height of its TV popularity, the show’s heat extended to comics as well. But that has not sustained. At all. I mean who is looking for this outside of the biggest William Peterson fans?

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Wizard Guide Value: $4.00
Recent Sales Data: CGC 9.8 – N/A
Raw – $1.70 on 12/30/18

Once again, more dollar bin fodder. But a hot list from 16 years ago having 4-5 books now in dollar bins shouldn’t be that surprising. I’m more surprised that there were 3 great investment picks in this list with 2 other solid gainers.

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Before we wrap up this month’s look back, let’s dive into some more features from this issue. Apart from the Top 10 list, Wizard also offered a lot of other features. But as noted before, a lot of the content was April Fool’s day joke related stuff.

But one small column that caught my eye when flipping through the pages of 2003 was Wizard’s casting speculation on who would be the new Superman. This was at a time when Josh Hartnett was the go-to name of the day and he had opted out of contention. So Wizard tossed out a half dozen picks of their own:

Seriously, Paul Walker? Victor Webster? Half of their picks were soap opera alums. And Joe Millionaire isn’t even a real person. Brendan Fraser? Meh. Not wowed. I like Matt Bomer but not seeing Supes. And Jude Law is more of a Lex than a Clark. But at least we didn’t get a long haired Nicholas Cage in the cape.

I’m more amused by the New Kid on the Ock headline for Alfred Molina being cast as the Spider-Man 2 villain. I really liked Molina in that role, but to me he’ll always be the guy who tried to screw Indy over.

So anyway, moving on. One of my favorite things to do these days is my own version of the Casting Call feature. Unfortunately, they didn’t do casting Calls forever and this issue didn’t have one. But what it did have was a fake mock-up movie poster for a G.I. Joe movie. So I decided to go off of this.

So I’ll have to guess based on the painting and the credits on this poster that their roster would have been:

  • Viggo Mortensen as Duke
  • Jennifer Garner as Scarlett
  • Michael Clarke Duncan as Roadblock
  • Famke Janssen as Baroness
  • Bill Paxton as General Hawk
  • Ray Park as Snake Eyes
  • And Gary Oldman as Cobra Commander
  • Directed by Ridley Scott

Not bad. Especially for the time. But I think we can do better. And I know we can do better than the Channing Tatum/Marlon Wayans nonsense. I mean seriously, Joseph Gordon Levitt as Cobra Commander?

So once again, just for fun, let me give try and see what I can come up with to cast this movie today. So with that, this is my pitch to cast a G.I. Joe movie today without any regard to logic, budget, or star power.


Ok, I realize I got a bit carried away with this Casting Call, but I love this cast and I love G.I. Joe. I would absolutely pay to see this movie. The previous incarnations didn’t set the bar that high after all.

But I would have this Directed by the Russo Brothers. Yes, I know it’s MCU heavy, but they did it right as far as I’m concerned. They’ve shown they can handle a large cast and give individual moments to each character. And yes my cast is quite large.

One more feature I want to take a deeper look at is a newer feature that appeared in later issues of Wizard, and that was Making the Grade. Here they featured graded books and even had a quick one page Price guide for slabs.

It was obviously just a cursory glance at the graded market, but they did have an interesting sub-feature called Best Buys where they pointed out what they thought were undervalued books. So 16 years later, let’s see how right they were.

Justice League of America #79

CGC 9.6

The Wizard write up mentioned something about Earth Day, but I don’t really see the importance of this issue. That said the price held pretty well all things considered. But it’s still at a loss after 16 years so I’m calling it. Thumbs down.

Wizard Guide Value: $261.00
Recent Sales Data:
CGC 9.6 – $224.99 on 7/11/18
CGC 9.8 – $448.13 on 10/2/11

Wolverine #145 (Nabisco Reprint)

CGC 9.4

So this is a tough to find book and not cheap. How many people actually cut out the bar codes and mailed away for this book? That said, this was a big win and makes up for any misses. That’s a sweet thumbs up.

Wizard Guide Value: $178.00
Recent Sales Data:
CGC 9.4 – $325.00 on 2/14/19
CGC 9.8 – $1,250.00 on 8/25/17

Ultimate War #1

CGC 10.0

This book again. Just can’t escape it. Oh wow a 10.0… I really don’t care. It’s still dollar bin fodder. Two big thumbs down.

Wizard Guide Value: $260.00
Recent Sales Data:
CGC 10.0 – N/A
CGC 9.8 – $29.99 on 7/14/18

Daredevil #168

CGC 9.6

This must have been at the height of Affleck/Daredevil and the Elektra solo movie. It’s come down quite a bit. Still a great book. So this is a reluctant Thumbs down, but it may not hit those highs again any time soon.

Wizard Guide Value: $700.00
Recent Sales Data:
CGC 9.6 – $390.00 on 5/15/19
CGC 9.8 – $1,217.85 on 5/6/19

One point I’d like you all to take from this is that not everything appreciates with time. Look at how 16 years has affected some of these books. It’s not always for the better, so keep that in mind. Not everything is a safe bet.

Ok so that’s another month in the books. Hopefully, you enjoy reading these as much as I enjoy looking back to the past. Again I apologize for getting carried away with the G.I. Joe casting. Thanks for your time for those that made it this far, and once again, I leave you with these familiar words of wisdom.

“If you do not know where you come from, then you don't know where you are, and if you don't know where you are, then you don't know where you're going. And if you don't know where you're going, you're probably going wrong.” ― Terry Pratchett 

**Graded sale data courtesy of Gocollect.com and Raw sale averages provided by Covrprice.com**

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  • Lillington

    That GI Joe casting is spot on! Gal Gadot as Baroness gimme gimmie!

    • Peter Renna

      Thanks. I had at least another dozen characters I was debating on casting but I seemed to have covered enough. We’ll save Beachhead, Lifeline, Tomax and Xamot for the sequel. 🤘

  • Avatar

    love the casting!

  • Avatar

    Awesome read!! I thoroughly enjoyed it.

    – I didn’t like Joey and Rachel together …
    – Godzilla playing basketball – awesome!
    – Top 10 is … interesting. I don’t own any of those books, but would like to pick-up SUPERGIRL #75 and Y-THE LAST MAN #2. Oh, and I guess I would mind having INCREDIBLE HULK #181 – seems like a decent book 😉
    – I’ve read most of the Fables Tpb and I love them. I always thought it would make a great show.
    – Out of all the actors listed on who would be the new Superman, I guess I would go with Brendan Fraser at the time (but that would suck). You’re right on Jude Law, definitely more Lex than Supes.
    – Great casting on the GI Joe movie. Gal Gadot as Baroness, YES PLEASE 🙂
    – Since you did such a great job on the casting, can you get in touch with whomever, selected Robert Pattinson and tell them NO!


    • Peter Renna

      🙏 Sincerely thanks for taking the time to read and comment. A lot to unpack here, but I love it. That was a weird Top 10. I’ve come to notice a lot of their Top 10’s are in art pumping new releases. I personally own 4 or 5 of them. I just grabbed another Ultimate Spidey 33 from a dollar bin yesterday, Got the Supergirl and I have that darn Ultimate War, pretty sure I have that Spider Clan too. And my Hulk 181 is one of my prized books. 😉

      Been trying to find those Y the last mans and early Fables for cheap for a while now. Fables seem to be cheap, but the Y’s have some heat with the FX show still in limbo. Fables may be a tough show to sell. Might need to wait a few more years to distance itself from that Once Upon a Time show that was on ABC.

      Agreed that a Brendan Fraser Supes would have been the best of the bunch but would have been about as exciting as watching Bedazzled. Not awful, but not particularly good either. At least Elizabeth Hurley was nice to look at.

      But my final comment is to give Cedric Diggery a chance. I had that reaction initially too. But then after some reflection and some feedback from people I trust, I’m willing to keep an open mind. He’s more than Edward Cullen.

  • A. J. Diesel

    Best article. Can’t say it enough

  • Avatar

    Dude…gal gadot as the baroness??!?!?! Be still my beating heart!!!!

    • Peter Renna

      Right? I’m pretty sure we can all agree that right now that would be about as perfect casting as when Patrick Stewart was cast as Prof X back in 2000.

  • Avatar

    Awesome write up! I love seeing these and am in line with everyone else. Gal Gaddot as the baroness would be a dream come true. Keep up the great work

  • Avatar

    Rachel Weisz would be a better Baroness, that’s who!

    JLG was a fine pick for CC.

    Great article, this is such a fun a column.

    • Peter Renna

      Oh Rachel Weisz would’ve been a good one when they did that crappy power ranger version GI Joe movie with Channing Tatum. Big fan of hers. Not to get too geeky but I also thought she would’ve been a better Bellatrix LeStrange in Harry Potter as well.

      And JGL is not a good Cobra Commander but he would’ve made a good Life Line. Remember the medic Joe.

  • natethegreat80

    Its always fun to see what these older Wizard Hot 10 books are doing. If there currently dollar bins, have held value or have gone up in value since then. Nice job on the Joe casting. Love it!

    • Peter Renna

      Thanks. I really love that aspect too with the Top 10’s. So many end up in Dollar Bins or are just bullet proof books like Hulk 181. That’s why I like seeing books like 30 Days of Night that surprise me still.

  • Easy_Nator_Comics

    So glad I joined the 181 club before the prices got too crazy on it 🙂

  • Avatar

    I liked the previous two write ups, but this one was a bit meh. I know you’re clearly just doing this to do your own casting calls, but try to hold back on the back-patting quite so much. making fun of Ultimate War being dollar fodder doesn’t make you Wizard.

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