In many ways, Image Comics exemplified the excess of the 90s, but even those comics have jumped in value. For example, even though CGC has graded an astounding 17,328 copies of Spawn #1, the value of a CGC 9.8 has risen by nearly 100% over the past three years. Will other Image Comics from the 90s also see a similar increase?
Most comic collectors love to hate on the 1990s. Fueled by a speculator boom and huge print runs, the 1990s saw the inflation of the biggest comic market bubble that we had ever seen. Soon, investors realized their comics had little value because everyone owned five copies of the same issues (see, e.g., X-Men #1) and had kept them in pristine condition. The bubble popped in dramatic fashion crushing the comic book market for a decade.
In spite of those huge print runs, it appears as though market demand for these 1990s may have returned. For example, as of April 20, six of the top ten comics on GoCollect’s Most Popular Comic Books are from the early 1990s (Uncanny X-Men #266, Venom: Lethal Protector #1, New Mutants #87, Amazing Spider-Man #361, X-Men #4, and Spawn #1).
Although Spawn, WildC.A.T.S., and Youngblood received most of the attention, I personally thought Wetworks was the best of the early Image books. Although Portacio plagiarizes a bit with the use of the golden symbiotes that bond to the characters’ bodies, I loved the artwork, their battles with the armies of the undead, and the clever, if grim, title.
CGC has graded only 100 copies of Wetworks #1, so it’s relatively rare in comparison to other early Image comic books. Furthermore, it’s cheap; you can purchase raw, high-grade copies on eBay for cover price or less. Interestingly, on April 4, a CGC 9.8 sold for $120. So, this could be a good book to buy raw, submit to CGC, and hope for a 9.8. You might see a 400% return on your investment.
With early issues selling more than a million copies each, and even the production of an animated TV show, Jim Lee’s WildC.A.T.S. was one of the most successful early Image comic books. While the artwork was exceptional, Lee’s story (written with Brandon Choi) about a war between two alien races, the Kherubim and Daemonites, was forgettable. As a result, you could find this book in dollar bins for many years.
Still, thirty years later, there are some indicators of renewed interest in this comic. For instance, over the past three years, across 136 sales, the value of CGC 9.8 copies of this book has risen by 18.3%. While that’s not explosive growth, that’s still a decent return and Spawn #1 could be an indicator of future growth for WildC.A.T.S. #1. Furthermore, it’s still cheap; you can purchase raw, high-grade copies on eBay for around $7 or less. Because CGC 9.8s are selling for around $80 this could also be a good book to buy raw, submit to CGC, and hope for a 9.8.
Of the well-known Image comics discussed in this blog, this might be the one to avoid. Although the value of Youngblood #1 has increased in value in most grades, unlike WildC.A.T.S. #1 and Wetworks #1, this issue doesn’t contain the first appearance of the Youngblood team. The team first appeared in RAMM #1 and then in Megaton Explosion #1 before finally appearing in Image Comics. Since first appearances are generally the most important factor for comic book investors, that’s one reason to invest your money elsewhere. Nonetheless, this issue is highly affordable and a low-risk investment. You can purchase raw, high-grade copies on eBay for $7 or less.
Would you invest in these Image comics? Please tell us your opinion in the comments section below!