In the fast-paced Hollywood glamour machine that’s pumping out comic book hero film and television projects at a breakneck speed, it’s important for comic collectors to keep pace with which formerly moribund comic book is now suddenly hot.
By way of the fickle finger of fate, it could be a way of making a few bucks out of comics that were just recently taking up space. As with many things, however, what’s hot now, could cool off later.
It’s difficult to keep pace without some sort of list of the comic-related characters appearing in live-action films and shows. Many of these hot characters were once considered, at best, secondary in their printed lives.
First appearances of a character are usually the most important among comic collectors and speculators, but important events in story lines that alter or transform characters could raise an issue’s importance to becoming a key from being just an ordinary issue. Last issues of a series are tremendously underrated, as their print runs are more often than not smaller than the first issue.
Let’s take a look at a few characters and comic series.
Mantis, for example, was not a significant persona that carried the day in comic books. That changed with her appearance in the movie Guardians of the Galaxy 2, bumping the collectability and market prices of comics hosting the character, including her debut in Avengers 112.
The cable show Riverdale, a dark spin on Archie Andrews and company, focused attention on the whole comic franchise.
The Defenders on television are not The Defenders in the comic book, so it’s not expected to have much impact on the comic title, which is already fairly popular as a key book and is pricey. The TV show stars Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and Iron Fist, which could have impact on their individual comic runs. For example, the way Defenders ended (spoiler alert!) leads into the Born Again story arc in Daredevil issues 226 to 233 by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli.
Now that Martin Scorsese appears to be taking on the Joker for a movie, expect comics related to the Crown Prince of Crime to appreciate.
Other characters to keep an eye out on television and the silver screen include the Inhumans (first appearance in Fantastic Four 45), Black Panther (first appearance in FF 52 and subsequently in Jungle Action), Aquaman (who has a long history in comics), Justice League (which include Cyborg who first appeared in DC Comics 26), and The Tick (who debuted in New England Comics Newsletter 14). Wonder Woman is currently riding the wave of popularity and repeated appearances can do no harm to the collectability of her comic series, especially from the Golden and Silver Ages.
Judge Dredd, who first appeared in 1977 in British comic anthology book 2000 AD, is on the conveyor belt for a television show, as is The Gifted, a show about young mutant pre-X-Men.
Black Lightning, who first appeared in his self-named comic in 1977, is scheduled for show on CW Network.
Watch for the character Carol Danvers in movies. She first appeared as a U.S. Air Force officer in Marvel Super-Heroes 13 in 1967 and later became the first Ms. Marvel in her own 1977 series and the character made numerous appearances and transformations (particularly in X-Men Annual 10) throughout the Marvel line. That ’77 series also hosts between issues 16 and 18 the first appearances of Raven Darkholme who later becomes Mystique in comics and was portrayed by Jennifer Lawrence in the X-Men movies.
Ms. Marvel continues to garner interest among collectors and speculators as she is expected to become part of the Marvel movie universe, expected in 2019. It could push prices up for higher-grade condition books. I remember that 1977 series once being a staple of the 25-cent bargain bin at conventions. Not anymore, as the first issue now retails between $150 and $200 in Near Mint.
Another former staple of the bargain bin was the character Moon Knight. He first appeared in 1975 in Werewolf by Night 32. Moon Knight is arguably Marvel’s answer to Bat Man, but is obviously nowhere near as popular as the Dark Knight, and in some ways The Shadow. While WBN 32 always commanded interest, the Moon Knight series that followed didn’t.
That is, until now.
The market value of the already hot book is heating up as rumours of Moon Knight appearing as a live action character, either on the small or large screen. While WBN 32 is commanding multiples of price guide values in higher grades, Moon Knight was an interesting character, but irrelevant in the collectable market. Look out for his appearances in Spotlight 28 and 29, and a number of guest appearances before landing in a book in 1980 are garnering interest among collectors. Number 1 of his first series published in 1980 is picking up financial steam.
And that highlights the risk in speculation.
While it’s expected that interest and demand increases when a character is given prominence in film or television, it’s no guarantee there will be a windfall of riches as interest waxes and wanes. Some books are quick to rise and fall but others, like WBN 32 will always remain a key book.
Collecting and dealing comics to make a buck is a bit like dabbling in the stock market: there’s a batch that are solid investments similar to blue chips, while others are like wildly speculative penny stocks that are looking for an event to ride a wave, and the interest wanes when it passes, dampening interest and the book’s place in the collectable market.
Rob Lamberti is an action-packed comic collector who once was a crime reporter with the Toronto Sun.