Adam Hughes once said, “A great comic-book cover occurs when it gets a potential reader to pick the book up and start thumbing through it.” It appears that a great cover not only garners more readers but also has the added benefit of commanding higher prices in the market. A quick look at the variant market will more often than not show Adam Hughes covers near the top. He has certainly mastered the art of a great comic book cover. However, despite the higher market values, do the Adam Hughes variants offer good long-term investments?
Outside of signature series, one of the highest-valued Adam Hughes variant covers on the market is none other than Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #23. The 1:10 variant features Supergirl atop an asteroid as it plummets toward a planet. This falling asteroid imagery, unfortunately, captures the state of the book’s current market outlook.
What is concerning in the market for this book is that sales prices for 9.8 have been in a decline for the last year, while 9.6 has gone sideways. Decline is a bit of an understatement, as the sales prices of the 9.8 copies are nearing that of 9.6s. You can see the sales data history in the chart below, which includes the two grades. Notice the peak and sudden reversal in late 2018; the divergence from 2015 to 2018 and the sudden convergence from 2018 to present. This is quite the change from the previous five years of very aggressive growth.
From here, either the falling 9.8 takes the 9.6 down with it, or it slows down as the prices converge. If you were in the market for a 9.6, waiting a bit might yield 9.8s at similar prices. Or if you wait even longer, prices across the board could continue to fall even further. For the foreseeable future, it would appear the market for Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #23 has been hit with kryptonite.
Next up on the Adam Hughes variant popularity list is Harley Quinn #1, which features a cover of Harley tied up in a straightjacket. For more detailed information about this 1:25 variant and to avoid redundancy, see the recent article that featured multiple Harley Quinn books. In case you want a quick summary of this book in particular; the trend is negative.
Without spoiling the rest of the books in this article, Spider-Gwen appears to have the most optimistic market outlook. This 1:100 variant features Gwen Stacy either showing off her boots or picking up some loose change, who knows?
While it is tempting to attribute the positive trend to the success of the 2018 movie Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Spider-Gwen’s upward trend long existed since late 2015. But it wasn’t always sunshine and roses for the book; when graded copies of the book first entered the market, sales prices plummeted from the initial highs. It took only a few months for the bottom to be found, and prices to reverse in an almost Nike-like swoosh.
Most recently, it appears the book reached a short-term peak in early 2019. There’s not enough sales history for a recommendation of sell or buy. With respect to a low-risk long-term investment strategy, these high prices could be an opportune time to take some money off the table and reinvest into a book with more historical significance.
With all the DC focus shifted to Harley Quinn, it’s not surprising that Catwoman #51, the highest-valued Adam Hughes Catwoman cover, isn’t performing so well in the market. After the book reached all-time highs of low $300s, sales prices have been on a decline for the last year and a half. Interestingly, the start of the book’s negative trend coincides with the timing of Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes #23’s reversal.
Where does the book go from here? It appears the book (9.8) is likely to fall until it reaches the levels seen in 2014 to early 2016; just under the $150 level. It’s difficult to say if it’ll stop there as even in that prior timeframe, the book trended slightly negative. There is however one sliver of hope in that Catwoman is slated to appear in the next Batman movie (2021). With that in mind, the further the prices on this book fall, the more it could be a bargain movie lottery ticket. The “lottery”-ness is applicable, as there’s nothing stopping another Adam Hughes Catwoman variant from picking up the market’s preference.
“I’m still awaiting the idea of drawing comics for a living being a reality. I feel like I’ve been dodging work for 20 years and at some point, I’ll have to get a real job.” – Adam Hughes
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