Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The New Teen Titans #2

D.C. Comics - Dec. 1980

Key Issue Notes
First appearance of Deathstroke the Terminator (Slade Wilson)
First appearance and death of Ravager (Grant Wilson)
First appearance of W.R.  Wintergreen
First appearance of H.I.V.E.

This comic heated up a couple of years ago, probably due to speculation, and after a recent tweet by Ben Afflek, you can expect to see it heat up even more.

It was just yesterday morning that Afflek posted a short video of Deathstroke. It looks like it could be a costume and lighting test, so it seems highly probable that we'll be seeing him on the big screen sometime in the future. It's being speculated that he will be the main villain in the solo Batman film which will be directed by Afflek himself, and he will be playing the titular character as well.

I'm not going to get into a lot of detail or rumors of this news, there are plenty of sites out there that are already doing that. I'd much rather talk about the comic that has the first appearance of Deathstroke.

Deathstroke's real name is Slade Wilson, and he is gun for hire assassin. He's of no relation to Wade Wilson (Deadpool), but Wade was given that name as an inside joke because of the similarities between the two characters. Anyway, if you want to learn a little more about Wade Wilson, check out my post on New Mutants #98.

Ok, let's get back to this issue. In the first few pages of The New Teen Titans #2, Deathstroke was summoned by H.I.V.E. to take out the newly formed Teen Titans team. However, they don't come to terms on a deal and Deathstroke declines. While he was there, H.I.V.E. uses a bunch of sciency gizmos to take readings of good ol' Slade. H.I.V.E. uses the information they gathered to make another version of Deathstroke the Terminator. 

What H.I.V.E. did was take Grant Wilson, and give him the same powers that Deathstroke has, but more powerful versions of them. Now that Grant has these extraordinary powers, he takes up the handle of Ravager and takes the place of Slade Wilson to seek out and destroy the Teen Titans. There is a down side to these new powers. The more he uses them, the more life energy is sucked from him, and during the battle with the Titans, he uses too much and ends up dying.

If you're wondering if Slade and Grant Wilson are related because they also have the same last name, then the answer is yes. Grant is Slade Wilson's son, but he's unaware of it.

It's not really discussed what the group known as H.I.V.E. is in this issue. H.I.V.E is an acronym for Hierarchy of International Vengeance and Extermination and what they want is simple. They want to eliminate superheroes and take over the world.

Just to cover the key issue notes, the character of W.R. Wintergreen is Slade Wilson's manservant, kinda like Alfred is to Batman, and because of his military background, was a mentor to Slade Wilson.

Click to enlarge
The late Bronze Age saw a lot of comics being printed if rather large numbers, so there are plenty of copies of this comic to be found wherever you look, and chances are you'll be able to find a high grade copy. The CGC census numbers show that most of the copies already graded by them are high grade. Of the 2,289 copies listed, over 1,600 are graded 9.0 VF/NM or better. There is one lone copy that has been graded a exceptional 9.9 Mint. There aren't any sales records for that copy, so let's check out the sales for 9.8 NM/M.
Values for The New Teen Titans #2 on GoCollect

I mentioned earlier that this comic heated up a couple of years ago. In 2011, you could snag a 9.8 NM/M copy of this comic for a little more that $150. In early 2013, that number more than doubled and we started to see prices reach the low $300 mark and even passed $400 once. Since then, there have been sales up over the $600 mark here and there but has now settled a little more than the $500 range. If you look at the line graph in the chart to the left, you can see that big surge in value and it's kinda sustained. If you can't afford a 9.8 NM/M copy, then perhaps a 9.6 MN+ would be better. You may still be able to pick up a copy for less than $200, and a 9.4 NM for even cheaper, if you're lucky.

I have no idea what will happen to the values after the movie comes out, but I do expect to see another boost in value as time goes on and the role is finally cast. If you're looking for a speculation book to get and try to flip it in a few months, this could be a nice pick-up for you. Or, if you're holding on to that 9.9 M copy, you might want to throw that on the market and laugh all the way to the bank.

Find a copy here
eBay - ComicLink - MyComicShop - ComicConnect

Monday, August 22, 2016

White Mountain Collection

This collection hits close to home for me, quite literally. You see, I was born and raised in the same state that these comics were discovered and spent many days of my youth hiking, camping and generally having a good time in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

This large collection of around 5,000 comics was discovered in 1984. The titles span from the year 1948, all the way into the 70's. It was one of the first collections that included Silver Age comics to be recognized by the industry as a pedigree. Before this collection, pedigrees were only given to collections with nothing but Golden Age or earlier comics.

Fantastic Four #1
When it was discovered, it was considered one of the nicest Silver Age collections to date. Keeping these comics in such good condition must have been difficult to do in the hot humid summers in New England. I read that they were kept in metal boxes, and that's why the covers are so vibrant, and the pages white, but they must have also been stored in a basement which also kept them nice and cool.

The original owner must have loved science fiction. There are many complete runs of titles from publishers like EC Comics and also has many nice runs of Silver Age comics for titles like Fantastic Four and Amazing Spider-Man.

Amazing Fantasy #15
A couple of the highlights from this collection are the Amazing Fantasy #15 and Fantastic Four #1. The FF #1 is CGC graded a Universal 9.2 NM-. There are a handful of copies that are graded the same or higher than that. This copy was on the market back in 2012, and sold for an impressive $203,150 at Heritage Auctions.

The Amazing Fantasy #15, which is a CGC graded Universal 9.4 NM, was also sold at Heritage back in 2005. That copy ended up selling for $126,500. This copy would end up being put back on the market only two years later at Comic Link, and this time it sold for $227,000. 

Journey Into
Unknown Worlds #11
Looking at the sales for these two comics, it would seem like the White Mountain Collection is a solid investment, if you're able to afford copies. There are other comics from this collection that are far more affordable and still in high grade. For example, there was an CGC 8.5 VF+ copy of Journey Into Unknown Worlds #11 that sold last year for $956, and there are some auctions on eBay that range from a few hundred dollars all the way down to under $100. So, you don't have to be a millionaire to be able to afford a book from this collection, all you have to do is click on the links below and look through the search results.

Find White Mountain copies here

eBay - ComicLink - ComicConnect - Heritage

Friday, August 19, 2016

Marvel Spotlight #5

Marvel - Aug. 1972

Key Issue Notes
First appearance and Origin of Ghost Rider (Johnny Blaze)
First appearance of Crash Simpson
First appearance of Mona Simpson
First appearance of Roxanne Simpson
First appearance of Zarathos

By now, we've all heard about Ghost Rider appearaning in the next season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, but it's not the version that appears in this comic. If you'd like to read more about the version that will be on the show, you can read about him here.

Imagine, if you will, that you're a comic artist in the early 70's, and you've been given the task of creating a new character. Where else are you going to draw your inspiration from besides real life. As you sit down to watch T.V. or read the newspaper, you hear about this daredevil on a motorcycle named Evel Knievel, and you get the beginnings of the character you're going to create. Now, that's probably not how it happened, but it seem plausible enough.

Actually, Ghost Rider is based off of the character Stunt Master that was created by Roy Thomas. The villain know as Stunt Master is a motorcycle stuntman that went up against Daredevil. He made his first appearance in Daredevil #58, which was published in 1969.

Sometime later, Gary Friedrich approached Thomas to talk with him about creating another motorcycle riding villain. So both of the writers, along with artist Mike Ploog, came up with the idea of Ghost Rider.

Johnny Blaze as Ghost Rider
There have been many incarnations of Ghost Rider, but the original is known as Johnny Blaze. In this issue of Marvel Spotlight, we learn how Johnny became the iconic character with the flaming skull. His origin would be expanded on in later issues, but let's start out with what happened in this issue.

After the death of his father, Barton Blaze, due a motorcycle stunt gone wrong, Johnny was taken in by Crash and Mona Simpson, and they raised him as their own son. The Simpsons (Crash and Mona, not Homer and Marge) were also a family of motorcycle daredevils.

Many years later, Crash Simpson develops cancer. Now, Johnny is devastated by this news and he will do anything to try and save his foster father. After doing a little research, he turns to the only thing that he can think of that could help him, Satan. So, Johnny makes a deal with the Devil to save Crash from the cancer in exchange for his eternal soul, but when you make a deal with the Prince of Darkness, there's always a catch. 

Roxanne and Crash Simpson
Satan kept his word and cured Simpson's cancer, but Crash crashes and is killed in his next motorcycle stunt show. And there you have it, that's how Johnny Blaze becomes the Ghost Rider. On a side note, Satan is revealed to be Mephisto in disguise in a later comic. Mephisto makes his first appearance is in Silver Surfer #3.

Now let's finish up the key issue notes. We'll start with Roxanne Simpson. She is the daughter of Crash and Nora Simpson and the love interest of Johnny Blaze. You could have probably guessed that she was related to Crash and Nora, since they share the same last name.

Finally, there is the demon Zarathos. He is a servant of Mephisto's and is forced to bond with Johnny Blaze after the deal to save Crash Simpson from cancer was made. He is the reason that Johnny turns into the Ghost Rider at night.
Values for Marvel Spotlight #5 on GoCollect

I was looking to snag a copy of this comic a few years ago but I missed out on it. Sales prices were fairly reasonable about three years ago, but in late 2014 and in early 2015, prices seemed to shoot through the roof. In June 2013, a CGC 9.4 NM copy sold on eBay for $1145. Now fast forward to the latest sale in April of this year for $2050. Other grades have seen similar value rises as well. 7.5 VF- copies have shot from $212.50 in April 2013, all the way up to $585 on Aug. 11th. This latest sale is after the confirmation that Ghost Rider would be appearing on T.V.. The sale previous to that was in May before the announcement and it dropped for $399.

I'm sure now that values for this comic are an the rise, more and more people are sending in copies to be graded. At the time of this writing there are 1762 copies listed on the CGC census, but you can expect that to change fairly quickly. Most of these copies are between 7.0 F/VF to 9.0 VF/NM. There are three copies that are graded a highest 9.8 NM/M. There was a copy at this grade that sold on Heritage Auctions for a staggering $13,145 back in Aug. 2013, just about a year before a lot of other grades started to see significant increases in values.

If you have a copy of Marvel Spotlight #5, you may want to either get it graded, or throw it on the market, or both. We are seeing sales prices continue to rise and you could make a healthy sum of cash if you do. If you're looking to buy, you may want wait and see if prices start to come down after the hype. But it the prices continue to rise, you may be kicking yourself in the ass for not jumping on it when you had the chance, like I am.

Find a copy here
eBay - ComicLink - MyComicShop - ComicConnect

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Amazing Spider-Man #50 - CBCS 7.0

Marvel - July 1967

Key Issue Notes
First appearance of Kingpin (Wilson Fisk)

I'd like to share another comic from my personal collection with you. I don't only write these posts up to show you what I have, but I also do it to give you an idea of the process that I go through when I decide to buy these comics.

There are a few reasons that I decided on this comic. The first is that I am a big fan of Spider-Man. I've stated that on here before. Ever since I bought that first Spidey comic when I was a kid, I've been hooked on the character. 

The second reason I bought this comic is because of the cover. I really like this cover that was done by the legendary artist John Romita Sr. It's probably not the best cover that he's done, but something about it really catches my eye. John Romita Sr. is very well known for the art that he did on his run on Amazing Spider-Man.

The final reason is that this is a good investment comic. A lot of the earlier ASM comics from the Silver Age introduced new characters that are still quite popular and relevant today. You can't really go wrong if you're looking for one of these to add to your collection.

This comic had been on my radar for a long time, but there are always other comics to be had so I put this one on the back burner for a while. It seems like I do that a lot. It wasn't until news came out that Kingpin was going to be the big baddie in the Netflix Daredevil series that I had to get serious about adding this to my collection.

I did my searches on eBay, like usual, and one day I came across an nice looking raw copy. I don't remember what grade that the seller had it listed at, if he had one listed at all. I don't usually pay attention to what sellers have listed anyway, because there are a lot of sellers that over grade their comics to try to make the most money from the suckers that don't know how to grade a book. I used to be like that, but have since gotten better at determining a grade.

There were a lot of nice high resolution pictures for me to look at, and I thought this copy looked pretty nice. It was a "buy it now" with a "best offer" option. So, I went on over to GoCollect to see what copies in the range of grades that I thought the comic might be in. For example, I thought the comic was probably between the grades of 6.0 F to a 7.0 F/VF. I usually look at the lowest grade and make an offer off of those sale prices.

So I made the seller an offer based off of the recent sales of a 6.0 F. Already graded copies at that grade were selling for the $250 to $300 at that time, so I decided to offer the seller $225. Luckily for me, he accepted my offer.

When I got it in the mail, it thought it looked about as good, if not slightly better than in the photos, and soon after I got it, I sent it in to CBCS with a bunch of other books. I think we can all see the end result. I was honestly expecting it to come back a 6.0 F or, more likely, a 6.5 F+, so I was very happy to see that 7.0 F/VF on the label. I was also lucky enough to snag a copy before it got out of my price range.

Find a copy here
eBay - ComicLink - MyComicShop - ComicConnect

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Batman #181

DC Comics - June 1966

Key Issue Notes
First appearance of Poison Ivy
First appearance of Dragonfly
First appearance of Silken Spider
First appearance of Tiger Moth

By now, most people have heard of the Batman related show Gotham that airs on Fox. Even though they don't follow the comics, other than the character names, I still kind of like it. I've seen worse shows.

For the first two seasons, the character of Poison Ivy was played by a young, 14 year old actress by the name of Clare Foley. Unfortunately for her, the higher ups for the show decided that they needed an older, more mature actress to play the part and recast the role. The actress chosen to fill in the role is Maggie Geha, who is twice the age as Foley. I can assume that they need an older actress to play the role of the sexy character that they wouldn't be able to do with an actress that was only 14.

There are some big differences in the shows version of the character as compared to the comics, one being Poison Ivy's real name. On Gotham, her name is Ivy Pepper and in the comics her name, depending on which comic you're reading, is either Dr Lillian Rose (Pre-Crisis) or Pamela Isley (Post-Crisis). Enough about the damn T.V. show, let's get more into the character as she pertains to the comics.

Bruce Wayne and Poison Ivy
In this issue, back when Bruce Wayne was only a millionaire, he and Dick Grayson are at a museum that is, for some strange reason, honoring the three most wanted female criminals in the world. While Bruce and Dick are distracted by how beautiful the ladies of crime are, Poison Ivy storms her way in to crash the party. She says that her crimes were so perfect, nobody has ever heard of her before now, and she deserves to be the #1 female criminal in the world, and she is out to prove it.

I'm going to leave the summary of this issue there. I don't want to spoil anything for anyone if they plan on reading it, and, truth be told, it's not really that interesting of a story. You can tell that this comic was written in a different era. If this story were to be published today, you'd probably have feminist groups coming at you from every direction. If you do wind up reading it, you'll see what I mean.

Poison Ivy is the result of some dangerous experimental tests that she ended up being a guinea pig for. She is immune to all types of poisons and bacteria as a result. She can also emit a pheromone that can seduce men to do her bidding.

Silken Spider, Tiger Moth and Dragonfly
The last three characters on the list are the public enemies #1 -#3 that I mentioned a little earlier. They aren't important or popular characters in the DC Universe. In fact there are only a few known appearances in comics for them.

The only real information on them is the order that they appear on the most wanted list. Number one on the list is Dragonfly, followed by Silken Spider at #2, and Tiger Moth is obviously #3. There really isn't any more information than that on these characters since they were so seldom used. There's no backstory for them nor do they have a real name, just  their aliases. They didn't make another appearance in comics until The Resurrection of Ra's al Ghul story line in late 2007 and early 2008.

This comic is well known and in no way a sleeper of undervalued. Poison Ivy has been a popular character for a long time. There are not a lot of copies that have already been graded. So far there are only 719 listed on the CGC census. There isn't any one grade that has significantly more copies than another, but there are two copies graded at 9.8 NM/M, the highest for this book. One of the standouts that caught my eye though, there are 25 copies graded at a lowest of the low .5 Poor, and one of them is a Restored copy. I don't think I'll be snagging one of those any time soon. Given that Poison Ivy is such a popular female character and this is a pretty big key issue, I'm surprised to see how many raw copies there still are in the market. I thought for sure that more of them would have been slabbed by now.
Values of Batman #181 on GoCollect

Key issue comics like these usually have a good track record when it comes to sales. There is always a nice steady incline on the sales chart. Yeah, there might be a spike here and there or someone gets a great deal once in a while, but mostly it's just smooth and steady. In this market, things might be moving little faster that normal though. Looking at some sales for mid grade 7.0 F/VF copies, there has been that steady rise. In the last five years, values have gone from around the $350 mark, and gotten up to $625. There was a copy that sold for $700 back in Dec. of last year, but other than that, it's been pretty steady. Sales for most other grades have seen that same increase over time. As you can see, Some of the lower grades have seen a decline, but higher grades are looking good.

I expect this comic to continue to do what is has been doing, even with the character change on Gotham. I don't think there will be a huge boost in demand because of it. There could be a quick boost in value if it ends up being that Poison Ivy appears in the all girl Harley Quinn spin-off movie that I've heard rumors about, but that's a long way off. However, in the comic investing game, there's no such thing as getting in too early.

Find a copy here
eBay - ComicLink - MyComicShop - ComicConnect

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Thor #132

Marvel - Sept. 1966

Key Issue Notes
First cameo appearance of Ego - The Living Planet
First appearance of The Black Galaxy
First appearance of Recorder 211
First appearance of Sir Porga
First appearance of Grand Commissioner
First appearance of the Stallion of Doom

In my first post, when I started this blog all the way back in March, I told you how and why I bought a copy of Thor #132. If you haven't read that one yet and would like to, then click on this link right here.

Now I'd like to get a little more in depth with this issue and also use it as an example of what can happen if you are able to snag a comic early, before any hype starts driving up the values, especially in the market that we're in today. But first let's work our way through the key issue notes.

The biggest reason that this comic is getting any attention at all know is because it holds the first appearance of Ego The Living Planet. While at SDCC, James Gunn let us all know that Ego would be appearing in the new Guardians of the Galaxy movie as Peter Quill's father. The character will be played by Kurt Russell, and not by Al Pacino like the rumors stated a few months ago.

Ego The Living Planet
Ego didn't start out as a sentient world. He was created much like many other planets are created. He was later given consciousness by the Stranger. Because of his age, and because he is one of the oldest living beings, he was inducted into the group known as the Elders of the UniverseEgo comes from a living bio-verse known as The Black Galaxy, which also makes it's first appearance in the pages of this issue.

The rest of the first appearances in this comic are less known and don't really have very many appearances in the Marvel Universe. However, they are key note worthy, so on with the list we go.

Thor and Recorder 211
The Grand Commissioner is the leader of a space colonizing race known as the Rigellians. The Rigellians are a scientifically and technologically advanced alien race devoted towards amassing an empire via colonization.

On Thor's journey to the Black Galaxy, the Grand Commissioner sent a humanoid robot named Recorder 211 with him to make and record his observations of the Black Galaxy.

Up next on the list is an evolved pig named Sir Porga. Yup, you heard me right, an evolved pig. Sir Porga was created by the High Evolutionary as one of his first Knights of Wundagore. In this issue, we briefly see him on a plane taking a keen interest in the lovely Jane Foster.

Jane Foster and Sir Porga
In the short back-up story, a drum is played to summon the Stallion of Doom. The stallion appears when a warrior who is worthy of entering Asgard is about to die. As far as I know, there are only two appearances of the Stallion of Doom in comics.

I believe that covers all of the key issue notes, so let's take a look and see how many CGC graded copies are out there. There are only 573 copies currently on the CGC census, but I'd expect to see that number start to climb soon. It's surprising to see that most of the graded copies are high grade between 9.4 NM and 9.8 NM/M, with 9.6 NM+ having the highest amount with 177. There are a lot of raw copies out there and they're being scooped up pretty quickly, so expect these numbers to change pretty quickly.
Values of Thor #132 on GoCollect

Since the confirmation at SDCC, sales for this comic have jumped up to some pretty high numbers almost overnight. Back in January, you could have snagged a 9.6 NM+ copy for around $250, and now they are selling close to the $700 range. Sales for 9.8 NM/M copies are seeing the same jump. There were a handful of copies that sold on July 24th ranging between $525 to $703. The latest sale on eBay for a CGC 9.8 dropped for $1,327 on July 31st. That's about double the average of the previous sales from only a week before.

So, if  you have a copy of Thor #132 lying around somewhere, you might want to think about throwing it on the market. There are going to be a lot more copies thrown out there, so now might be the time to make the most profit. That's the dilemma that I'm going through right now. Should I sell it now and try to make a nice little chunk of change, or should I hold on to a nice high grade copy just to have in my collection? Decisions, decisions.....

Find a copy here