Who Really Gets the Shield?
There are two types of speculators: those who lead and those who follow. By the time news hits, cheap copies of relevant keys are gone and sometimes all that are left are overpriced, often lower grade scraps. It’s the individuals who actually read and research comics who ultimately profit by making insightful, sometimes far-out, connections that puts them far ahead of the market.
Marvel Studios announced they will introduce John Walker, more commonly known as U.S. Agent, in the upcoming Disney+ streaming series Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Wyatt Russell will portray the character.
Multiple outlets have reported that Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) will don the stars, stripes and shield in the series. (Prices of the regular and variant covers of Captain America #25 rose dramatically as a result.) However, according to those same sources, the U.S. Government won’t approve of Falcon becoming “Captain America.” This plot point mirrors the classic run of Captain America #323 – #354, where Steve Rogers abandons his costume and identity and John Walker becomes Captain America and eventually U.S. Agent. It’s possible that the show might incorporate a version of this storyline.
John Walker first appears in Captain America #323 (1986) as the super-villain the Super Patriot. Following five issues of Walker battling Steve Rogers, he is given the opportunity to redeem himself as the new, government-sponsored Captain America. When Steve Rogers retakes his identity, US Agent is born. Since the news broke of Walker’s casting, raw copies of both of these formerly dollar bin books have sky rocketed to $24-$40. Investment opportunity remains in graded copies. According to the CGC census, 70 graded copies exist of Captain America #323, 21 of which are 9.8s; the last of these sold in April 2019 for $120. However, there are only 15 graded copies of Captain America #354 (6 9.8s) in the census. With the largely black cover, finding a copy of this 1989 comic in the highest grade will present a challenge. The last sale of a 9.8 of this book was back in April 2018.
Besides graded copies of Walker's debut, what’s left to spec on? Prior to Avengers Endgame, speculators were debating which character might take up Steve Rogers' mantle. The discussion was quelled when Falcon receives the shield, with Bucky’s blessing, from an elderly Steve Rogers. Consider that following the D23 announcement, Makie revealed that he does not become Captain America, despite donning the shield and a version of the costume. Furthermore, Winter Soldier actor Sebastian Stan recently commented “I think it's time for Bucky to go out there and have an identity outside of the circumstances that we've met him through.” It’s therefore possible that the series will ultimately transition James “Bucky” Barnes to theCaptain America identity as he did in Captain America #34 (2008) following Roger’s death. While “Bucky Cap” was portrayed as more violent, even packing a firearm, it would be an appropriate on-screen redemption arc for the character.
There are two regular covers of the book, one by Alex and another by Steve Epting, which appear to have been grouped together by CGC and are not even delineated on the label. The majority of these 1016 copies (598 9.8s) appear to be the Ross cover. Comichron reports that there 127,524 copies sold of the book. The book to pursue is the lower printed Dynamic Forces Alex Ross cover, which has a reported print run of 4,000 copies. (There is also a signed version of the book, which was said to be limited to 2,500 copies.) The census reports that there are 354 graded copies of this book (258 9.8s).
With Chris Evans out as the Marvel Cinematic Universe Captain America, does Marvel Studios really want to retire the name? While in the comics, Steve Rogers does return as Cap and Bucky resumes his role as the Winter Soldier, it’ll be interesting to see where the MCU takes the character.