Friday, March 31, 2017

Fantastic Four #44

1st GorgonMarvel - Nov. 1965

Key Issue Notes
First appearance of Gorgon
Second appearance of Dragon Man

Up next in part 2 of this Inhumans key issue list is Fantastic Four #44, and the first appearance of Gorgon.  Eme Ikwuakor has been cast to play this role in the upcoming Inhumans T.V. show, airing on ABC later this year. It would seem that Marvel plans to play the first two episodes in IMAX theaters on Sept. 1 of this year. I have no idea if the first two episodes are going to be filmed in the 70mm IMAX format, or the regular 35mm format that most movies are filmed in. I'm hoping for the former, but it will most likely be the latter.

Ok, let's talk a little about this key issue. This is an important Inhumans key because it has the first appearance of Gorgon, who just happens to be the cousin of Black Bolt and is also a member of the Royal Family. He was sent by Maximus the Mad to search for Medusa and bring her back to the Inhuman city of Attilan. We don't learn any of this in this issue, only that he is there to bring her back to "where she belongs". If you're wondering who Maximus and Black Bolt are, and where Attilan is at, don't worry, I'll be talking more about them in the next couple of posts, so stay tuned for those.

The picture says it all
Besides having the Inhuman powers of enhanced strength and durability, Gorgon also has the ability create intense shock waves that could level a city, simply by stomping his hooves on the ground. Yes, he has hooves. Did I forget to mention that? I really must say, he is a very interesting looking character, to say the least.

This issue also holds the second appearance of Dragon Man, the android creation of Professor Gregson Gilbert. Dragon Man doesn't do a whole lot in this issue except create havoc and a lot of problems for the Fantastic Four, oh, and fly away with a car that just happens to have Medusa in it, helping her escape being captured by Gorgon. Both Dragon Man and Professor Gilbert make their first appearance in the pages of Fantastic Four #35.

U.S. (top) and UK (bottom) versions
Where FF #36 didn't have a UK pence copy that I could find, this issue most certainly does. Both of these covers are almost identical, with the only exception being the price on the cover. Where the U.S version has the 12¢ in the upper left hand corner, the UK version has 10d, as you can see in the picture that I've provided. If the picture is too small, simply click the image to enlarge it.

These UK variants had a very small print run when compared to the U.S. copies. Some sources say that they only make up around 5% or less of the total print run. That can make these variants much harder to find, but, usually the UK copies don't demand as high of a price as their U.S. counterparts, even with the lower print run. They have, in recent years, started to see a rise in value as more and more people are starting to gun for lower print run comics, both new and old.

There may be other foreign editions of this comic out there, however, if there are, I couldn't find any information on them.

All together, CGC has 741 copies of FF #44 listed in their census. In this case, two of those 741 copies are UK variants. That leaves 739 for the U.S. edition. That low number can give you a good idea of how rare the UK edition is. Both of the UK edition copies are graded a mid-grade 6.5 F+.

Looking at the 739 copies of the U.S. edition, surprisingly, most of them are a nice high grade between 8.5VF+ (84) all the way up to 9.8 NM/M (10). There are quite a few 9.4 NM (107) copies out there though. However, there are quite a few of them that have a Restored label, 30 in total.

So, the census isn't too bad, not too high and not too low, for this issue, unless we're talking about the UK version, then it's microscopic.

Value of Fantastic Four #44
on GoCollect
For this section, I couldn't find any information on the UK edition to compare sales to the U.S. version. The sites that I use for research may just mix both of these editions together and not differentiate between the two. Or, the sales for the UK edition might be so scarce, that there really isn't any information on them. After all, there are only two of them listed in the CGC census. So, I'm writing this up assuming that all of these copies are the U.S. version.

The first appearance of Gorgon definitely doesn't demand the same amount of coin as the first appearance of Medusa does. In Sept. of 2016, a 9.6 NM+ copy sold on eBay for $686.36. Compare that to a 9.6 NM+ copy of FF #36 that sold in April 2015 for a staggering $7,499. This could have a lot to do with the fact that there are a lot more high grade copies of FF #44 than there are of FF #36. Either way, that a huge price gap.

Anyway, getting back to this issue, high grade 9.0 VF/NM copies are hovering around the $200 range, which is only up about $100 from where it was five years ago. Even 9.4 NM copies are barely braking the $400 mark, and usually selling quite a bit below it. The 9.4 NM copies have remained pretty consistent value wise over the last few years, with the exception of when the movie hype was everywhere. At that time, there was a nice little boost in value, topping out at around the $800 mark, but have obviously come down a lot since then.

Even though this is a more "affordable" book than FF #36, there still may not be a significant increase in value for this comic. Like I said before, there are a lot more high grade copies floating around out there. However, if you're able to find a rare UK copy somewhere, it may be worth picking up, if the price is right of course.

Find a copy here
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Monday, March 27, 2017

Fantastic Four #36

1st MedusaMarvel - March 1965

Key Issue Notes
First appearance of the Frightful Four
First appearance of Medusa

Marvel has announced the cast for their new, ever expanding list of T.V. shows, The Inhumans. The show was originally planned as a movie, but for reasons unknown to me, those plans fell apart. The Inhumans have already been introduced in Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D, and now they are getting there own 8 episode series.

In these next few posts, I'll be going over the first appearances of the Inhuman Royal Family that has already been cast. They are going to be mostly volume one of Fantastic Four, which, surprisingly, I have yet to even mention. So, without further ado, let's get to it.

Since I'll be going chronologically, the first issue to get mentioned is Fantastic Four #36. It is currently being sought out because of the first appearance of Medusa. She is going to be played by Serinda Swan in the upcoming T.V. series. But that's not all of the key issue goodness that this comic has to offer. It also has the first appearance of The Frightful Four.

With this issue, it'll probably be best if I start at the beginning. When we first open up this comic, we see Reed Richards and Sue Storm being hounded by the paparazzi over their wedding engagement. It isn't until we hit page three that the baddies show up, and that's where the key issue stuff starts to happen.

On an lonely, empty wharf stands Paste Pot Pete, waiting for Sandman and The Wizard to discuss how they would be able to defeat the Fantastic Four. They all decide that it would be best to form a team themselves, an exact "opposite" of the Fantastic Four if you will. There was one thing missing from this new team of super villains, and that is a female member. It's a good thing that the Wizard knows exactly where to find this villainess, whom he claims is more powerful that the Invisible Woman herself.

Madam Medusa
The Wizard had heard rumors of an all powerful woman on a small island in the Mediterranean. This woman turns out to be none other that Madam Medusa. She doesn't have snakes protruding from her head like the mythological version, but she does have control and can manipulate her hair at will, as well as other abilities. Not the coolest of powers, but hey, who am I to say anything. I've never created any superheroes or villains. Anyway, Medusa joins the trio of evil men and the Frightful Four is assembled. Having formed their new team, they go off and try to execute their plan to bring down the FF. She is also the wife of the silent leader of the Inhumans, Black Bolt, but we won't learn about this until a later issue.

Spidey wants some cake too
I should also note that the X-Men and the Avengers make a cameo appearance in this issue. They are all gathered together, at what I can only assume is the Baxter Building, for an engagement party. And if you look closely, there is also a very very brief appearance of Spider-Man's arm. Spidey's gotta crash a party and snag himself some cake.

This is a fairly new section where I try to look for available variant covers for comics, but unfortunately for this comic, there are none, or at least none that I could find. Some of the Silver Age books that came out around this time have UK pence copies, but not for this issue. There will be some pence copies for a couple of the next issues that I will be talking about though.

To date, there have been 709 copies listed in the CGC census. There's pretty even mix of high grade 9.4 NM copies all the way down to a low grade 3.0 G/VG. There are a few higher graded copies with only one copy topping out at a Universal 9.8 NM/M. I can only assume that a lot of these copies have been submitted over the last couple of years because before there was any hype about a movie or T.V. show, this wasn't a very sought out comic. You'll be able to see what I mean in the Value section coming up next.

Value of Fantastic Four #36
On GoCollect
When you look at the value of this comic over the last few years, you can see that this was once a bargain bin comic. Yes, I am using that term loosely. It wasn't exactly in the dollar bin, but it wasn't even close to demanding the prices that they are today. For this, I'm going to use 7.5 VF- graded copies as an example, only because it has the most sales over the last few years.

During the Inhumans movie rumor mill period back in 2011-2012, 7.5 VF- copies were only selling in the $115-$145 range. Once it was confirmed in 2014 that there was a movie coming out, values very quickly shot up over the $500-$600 almost overnight, with one sale almost reaching the $1,000 mark. Values hovered around the $500 range for quite a few months after the beginning of 2015, that was until it was confirmed that there would not be an Inhumans movie after all. After that, values started to plummet down below the $300 mark. But, with the news that there will be an eight episode T.V. show coming out, prices may be on the rebound. Only time will tell.

Now why do I think that most of the copies in the CGC census were submitted over the last couple of years? Because of that huge boost in value. Once people saw that this comic was now worth something, a lot of people sent in their copies to be graded. That may have also had an effect on the values too. There were more copies in the market. It's all about supply and demand after all.

Now that prices have come down, it may be a good time to snag a copy of FF #36. Whether values will jump back up to where they were in the near future remains to be seen. I definitely have my doubts, but I've been wrong in the past, and I'm sure I will be wrong many more times in the future. Happy hunting my fellow collectors and investors.

Find a copy here
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Monday, March 13, 2017

Uncanny X-Men #317

1st BlinkMarvel  - Oct. 1994

Key Issue Notes
First full appearance of Blink (Clarice Ferguson)
First full appearance of Skin (Angelo Espinosa)

The new X-Men: Gifted T.V. show has been green lit by Fox and casting is now underway. One of the characters that has already been cast is that of Blink. She will be played by Jamie Chung. The T.V. version of Blink is going to go by the name of Clarice Fong instead of Ferguson like it says in the key issue notes. I'm not sure why writers or producers felt like they need the name change, but it is what it is.

This isn't Chung's first time being affiliated with an X-Men project. In 2011, she voiced the character of Aimi Yoshida for the X-Men Destiny video game.

This also isn't the first time we'll see a live action version of Blink. We got to see her and her cool mutant abilities in the 2014 movie X-Men: Days of Future Past, which, in my opinion, was one of the better X-Men movies to come out.

Like I already mentioned, Blink's real name is Clarice Ferguson. She has the ability to teleport large masses and groups of people. If she's feeling especially gruesome, she can teleport only a portion of her enemies. like an arm, a leg, or maybe just the head. That would make for a pretty nasty scene. She can also create portals that can divert an oncoming attack from an enemy. These portals are accompanied by a "blink" sound, which is where she probably gets her nickname from.

The next mutie to make his first appearance in this issue is Angelo Espinosa, also known as Skin. Espinosa's nickname is very fitting, because he has roughly six feet of extra skin that he can manipulate at will. He isn't like Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four though. Espinosa only has control of manipulating his skin, his skeletal structure stays the same as any other non mutant.

When we first meet these two, they are being held captive by the Phalanx, a cybernetic race that joins with human hosts and become part of a collective. They remind me of the Borg from Star Trek. The Phalanx have captured these two, and a few other mutants, to experiment on them because, for some reason, the Phalanx can't assimilate mutants into their collective like they can with non mutants.

At the end of the story, all of the captured mutants are able to escape confinement and join together to form the team Generation X, although they aren't named as such in this issue. There are multiple websites that state that this issue has the first appearance of the team, but there are others that claim that Uncanny X-Men #318 is the first appearance. I'm not sure which is correct, but they all leave their captivity together and continue on with the same purpose, so it kinda seems like they unofficially formed a team to me.

From X-Men Vol. 2 #36
However, over at Comic Vine, they state that the first appearance of Generation X is in the pages of Marvel Annual Report #4. Now, if you're not familiar with these books, they are what the title says. Marvel took their usually boring market reports that they give to investors, and turned it into a comic, just to make it a little more interesting to read. It's mostly accounting numbers and sales mumbo jumbo, but there are copies out there in the secondary market and do sell for a decent amount of money, not because it holds the first appearance of Generation X, but more likely because they weren't overly printed and can be harder to find.

If you notice, in the key notes list, I put "the first full appearance" of the two characters. In the Vol. 2 series of X-Men #36, there is a panel that clearly shows them. I'm not sure if that would be considered a cameo or not, but they definitely make an appearance in that issue. X-Men Vol. 2 #36 was published in Sept. of 1994, a month earlier that this issue of Uncanny X-Men.


Direct "Foil Edition" and Newsstand
If you are a variant hunter, or a completionist, there are two versions of this comic for you to hunt for. One is recognized as the Foil Edition by CGC. This variant is the Direct Market version. There is also a version that has a red stripe which replaces the foil. This version is the Standard Newsstand Edition.

Unfortunately I don't have any print run information for either one of these variants, but both of these versions are not hard to come by. There are far more Foil Editions available than there are of the Newsstand Edition, but that was how the market was focused back in the 90's. If you're unfamiliar with the difference between the Direct and Newsstand editions, there is a great article explaining it here.


Since CGC is the only company with a census, I will be using their numbers for this section. CGC does differentiate between the two variant editions that I talked about above, and there are far more of the Foil Editions registered than there are Newsstand. To date, there have been 308 copies of the Foil Edition graded as opposed to only 43 of the Newsstand copies. Most of both versions are very high 9.8 NM/M copies, a little over 270 of em.

These numbers are low, at least for now anyway. I'm not sure how many people know about the first appearance of these two characters, of if people are just doing the "wait and see" thing to see if it's going to be worth submitting this comic.

Value of X-Men #317 on GoCollect

This key issue is still a very affordable comic, even in high grades. There haven't been a ton of them, but recent sales for 9.8 NM/M copies have only been in the $30 - $50 range. It has come down significantly since the X-Men Days of Future Past hype back in 2014. Copies at that same grade were dropping at the $100 and over range back then. It is possible that this comic could see another boost in demand, especially if the T.V. show turns out to be any good. The latest auctions on eBay for 9.8 copies have been listed at just under the $100 mark, so if collectors start jumping on those copies, we'll definitely see this books value start to rise again.

It seems to me that this comic is still under the radar as far as key issues go, especially for a fan favorite character like Blink. It could be that there are just so many other key issues that people are gunning for, this comic is getting overlooked, but who knows how long that is going to last.

Find a copy here
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