When it comes to key issues, the MCU has pushed the debut issues for box office sensations to new heights. But have the movies changed the market so drastically that only first appearances have become worth your investment dollars?
It doesn’t take much to get the market blazing. As I’ve written before in “Are Publishers Flooding the Market with First Appearances?,” the formula is simple: introduce a new character, and the comics basically sell themselves. As collectors, we rush for the first appearances, and we try to get a 9.8 at cover price.
Once upon a time, it was easier to keep up with the latest hot comic. The big publishers would massively market a debut character or key issue, and they weren’t too often. Before the MCU made every first appearance turn to gold, collectors didn’t jump on just any firsts. There were those that generated plenty of fanfare, but simply being a first appearance of a new character wasn’t enough to drive values through the roof as soon as the comic hit store shelves.
Case in point: Deadpool. When he debuted in New Mutants #98, he was featured on a classic cover with two other characters – Gideon and Domino (who turned out to be Copycat). While it was immediately a collectible issue, it’s nothing compared to the astronomical rise it would have if he had premiered in a modern comic. It’s a different mindset than what we see with today’s issues where any first appearance is seen as investment potential. Back then, unless a character happened to ascend into superstardom, such as Venom, the debut wasn’t likely to dramatically rise in value. Then came Marvel Studios, and the comic game changed.
Ever since the MCU took control of the box office dollars, key issues have ballooned exponentially. More specifically, first appearances have ballooned. It’s not to say that other key appearances don’t have worth, but when a new character is set to debut in the MCU, it’s the first appearances that get the attention and get the biggest boosts. Basically, there are many investors looking for the MCU to turn a comic into the next Incredible Hulk #181. That’s not to say it’s a bad strategy; who wouldn’t want to see their comics pole vault into holy grail territory? But they can’t all be Hulk #181, and this is why first appearance prices have become so inflated. The values skyrocket virtually overnight, and you can be left out before you even realize Kevin Feige has made a new announcement. It becomes a mad rush to get the first appearance ahead of the impending boom.
That’s also why we see Marvel and DC churning out new characters left and right. Collectors/investors hear about a new character, and they don’t want to regret missing an opportunity to get in the game on the ground level. It’s created a feeding frenzy for virtually any comic that teases a first appearance. Look at House of X #2. Raw copies are already selling for between $20-$30 on eBay because it’s the debut of longtime X-Men character Moira MacTaggert but as a mutant with larger implications.
Back to my question: has the MCU made first appearances the only comics with real investment potential? In a sense, yes.
There’s no arguing that the first appearances boom when there’s an MCU announcement. However, this is where investing and collecting reach a fork in the path. From an investment side, character debuts are the keys to have, certainly, but as a collector and fan, the game is more about getting all the key appearances, both the major and minor ones, for a character. It’s that the market is climbing to a point where first appearances aren’t affordable, but that’s a topic for another day.
For a fun game, read this post again and take a drink every time I use the term “first appearance.” You’ll be staggering in no time.