Welcome to this week’s edition of Blogger Dome! Here, bloggers will argue different topics involving the comic book market and industry. This will be a combination of the Big Bang Theory meets the WWE. Bloggers going at each other to amuse and educate our readers. And we want to hear what YOU have to say about it. Our topic today is two classic mini-series. Joseph will be representing team Wolverine: Mini-Series, while Norman will be representing team Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.
Now Entering the GoCollect Dome… Joseph and Norman!!!!!!!
JOSEPH: Today, I am facing a great opponent in Norman.
Norman studies numbers and other variables that many writers miss. Let Norman come at me with his numbers. I will give him a tutorial on how to find relevant data. After that, I will then stab him repeatedly with precision, using other factors to prove to him that Wolverine: Mini-Series is more important to investors and collectors than Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.
I am a DC Comics fan and even I must admit Wolverine: Mini-Series is the better choice of the two. In the Justice League film when Barry Allen asked what Bruce Wayne’s superpower was, he simply replied “I’m rich.” That is the character you are basing your whole argument around? Norman you are facing me now talking about Wolverine. I want to let you know Norman, “…I’m the best there is at what I do. But what I do best isn’t very nice.” Norman, be prepared to lose this battle.
At the time, computers, ATMs, Blockbuster Video, and home video games felt like the information age had begun… There were even radio stations with “Modern Rock” in their titles, which seems quaint now, looking back. Additionally, comic books were still pretty simple affairs. The stories were being written as they had been for decades; a protagonist, an antagonist, and reluctant bystanders.
Then came the Dark Knight Returns saga. It literally rewrote the rules for Batman and showed us what everyone wanted to see back in the day. We all loved anti-heroes. That is why Wolverine and Punisher were so popular in the Bronze Age.
Several years after the BA, the comic book scene had not changed. That is, until Frank Miller did the script, pencils, and inks for Batman: Dark Knight Returns #1 in December of 1985. The end result was a masterpiece of the comic form and a seachange for DC Comics and comic books everywhere.
How does this Batman: The Dark Knight Returns #1 compare to earlier keys at the end of the Bronze Age? Let’s compare and contrast to Wolverine #1. This was Wolverine’s first stand-alone comic book title. Funny thing, Frank Miller did the art in both! What are the differences in trend returns, CGC Census, and pricing for these two anti-heroes? Finally, which stands the test of time and is still considered a game-changing classic and a must-own collectible?
Round #1…. First Blood
He is the master of the numbers. He will manipulate the numbers to support any argument he wants to make. I will not stoop that low in this fight. I want the readers to look at ALL THE NUMBERS. If you are new to GoCollect you can hit the DIG DEEPER button to analyze the numbers. I do not want to manipulate the numbers, so I have taken off all the restrictions. I set the maximum number of sales to be analyzed to 10,000 and the date to go all the way back to 1/1/2001, the farthest I can go back.
Those two moves will let me analyze EVERY sale in the database rather than cherry-picking the data I want and excluding the data I do not want.
Here is a side by side comparison of trends of the two first issues:
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns #1
I will not pummel Norman anymore with these numbers because they are so bad for him. You can only compare sales from grades 9.8 to 7.0 because Wolverine #1 was the only one of the two that had books graded above 9.8 and below 7.0 that had more than one sale that GoCollect could use to formulate the data. The only grade of Wolverine #1 that had trended below 100% was the 7.0 grade, which had a small trend value of 50.5%. EVERY GRADE below 9.2 for Batman: DKR had trend data below that mark with a -23.1% trend for that grade. Those should be numbers that scare you.
But wait, there’s more!
Next, I want to dig into the hot comics this month. If you use the GoCollect data and review the Bronze Age Comics you will get a more recent picture of how the market sees these books. The numbers next to the title are where that issue ranked on GoCollect’s Hot Bronze Age comics list on May 5, 2021.
The whole series is still on the radar of comic book investors and collectors. The numbers do not lie. Fans love the man with the claw! I tried to find the whole series of Norman’s choice on the hot Modern Age list and could only find Batman: The Dark Knight Returns #4 on that list at #84. Low status on a Hot List and sagging trend numbers are not good signs for Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.
Norman: Dark Knight Returns Legacy
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns #1 is the first issue of the saga of the Dark Knight Returns. It tells the story of an older, wiser, and generally weaker Batman. It hints at him being out of place and time.
The young people had passed him by to worship thugs and criminals and join the Mutants. They were a cyber-punk-type group of disgruntled teens who thrill on terrorizing the old and infirmed.
Modern Day Iliad?
This story is not like Homer’s Odyssey; instead, it is like his war-torn epic the Iliad. A timeless story of bloodshed and sacrifice to win a seemingly pyrrhic victory. Without the extreme killing but with extreme violence and bloodshed. Yep, of all the Batman stories over the last 35 years, this saga was permanently imprinted on future writers. The funny thing is they might not even have realized it!
To review this entire saga would take too much time, but let’s touch on some highlights to defend Batman: The Dark Knight Returns #1 as a classic and game-changer for decades to come.
Dark Knight Returns #1 is the catalyst for:
- Batman allows Joker to kill himself, especially after Joker slaughters an entire audience. (Death of a major villain)
- Bruce Wayne is old and fat and out of shape… (Weakness as an element in superhero stories)
- Not at all finished, Frank Miller picks another Robin, a female! (Groundbreaking)
- He has Batman take on Superman in a knock-down-drag-out! (30 Years ahead of the movie!)
- He rides in on horseback to save the day during a power outage. (Timeless Goodguy entrance)
- Batman defeats the Mutant leader with skill, artistry, technique, and a strong boot to the back of the head. ( Skill over Power) This entire saga reverberates over thirty years in one form or another in comics.
Round #2… Second Swing
So I will help him out. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns is an important comic book story. It tells the tale of an aging crime-fighter who must muster himself to fight another heroic battle. I am a DC Comics fan and love this book. The problem is that it is but one in many classic Batman story arcs that tell memorable Batman tales. Norman will mention all the subtle plot nuances that he is known to put in his write-ups, but that will never overcome the fact that there are many memorable Batman stories.
Wolverine: Mini-Series was a transcendent story for the main character. He was always the most popular X-Men, but he was only a part of a team. This was the first time that he really was in a story where he was featured. This was a risky venture. The story is told from a samurai perspective that was unique for comic books at that time. We got to know the man and the hero because all his decisions were based on his own interests, rather than those of the team.
This mini-series was the tale that launched Wolverine as a featured main character rather than merely a supporting character. This story took a Canadian hero told with Japanese story elements to create the perfect tale that appealed to an American audience. Marvel Comics has tried to tell solo tales with other characters from the early X-Men team with little critical or financial success. This book started it all for Wolverine. Can the same be argued with The Dark Knight Returns?
Norman: The Flawed Superhero
The version of Wolvie that Chris Claremont brought us during his Japanese period was awesome storytelling, to be sure. Wolverine #1 was created in the Bronze Age in 1982. The script was by Claremont and Frank Miller did the pencils. The story follows Wolverine’s life in Japan for a brief time. It is also the first solo comic book series. It proved Wolverine could stand as his own character and did not need the X-Men.
I will give this book one advantage over Dark Knight Returns. Wolverine #1 fleshed out and created the character of Wolverine that we know and love today. Dark Knight merely modified a character that was already idolized.
However, Wolverine is a flawed anti-hero that kills people. Barely even a hero, his raging on opponents leaves human limbs, blood, and gore in his wake. Not to mention, dead bodies of his enemies. It is the primitive nature of this flawed hero that cements him to the Bronze Age. He is not timeless. He is barely a hero. Further, his story ceases to be interesting after the group’s defeat at the hands of the Shiar and of course his limited series, which was good.
This series and book were not groundbreaking. It did not change writers’ direction significantly during the preceding years. Finally, it is a good book, but simply not a great one.
Round #3… Third Strike
I guess I must continue to put you out of your misery. I actually feel bad using this point, but it must be addressed. Wolverine has yet to make his appearance in the MCU. I know the story featured in Wolverine: Mini-Series has been done in THE WOLVERINE, but Batman: The Dark Knight Returns was also done in film. Each series received a bump when the movies came out. The problem is that Wolverine has not been featured in the Marvel Cinematic Universe yet. Even minor characters that have appeared on this platform have received a substantial bump in their keys.
The MCU is the driving force in comics right now. I must admit that fact even as a DC Comics fan. Rogue appeared in the Fox films and yet her first appearance was still undervalued. It was only after rumors started that she might appear in the next Captain Marvel sequel did that book finally took off. As crazy as it sounds, all the books in the Wolverine mini-series should be considered undervalued. They should be added to your collection and investment portfolio.
Norman, I hope you are ready because I am now ready to give you my death blow.
Norman: Utter Wolverine Annihilation, a.k.a. Data
|Title||Grade||Last Sale||CGC Census||Return (2-Years)|
|Batman: The Dark Knight Returns #1||9.8||$2375||812/4395||+228.8%|
Final Round… Death Blow!!!
This Blogger dome is a first for me. It was a logical development from my first point to get to my death blow. First, I talked about the long-term financial success of the book. Next, I talked about how iconic this series was in the character development of the character. I then mentioned the future impact for this series after Wolverine appears in the MCU. Finally, I am now ready for my death blow point. Norman, I am sorry, but I must now put you out of your misery with this final point. The point is that these undervalued books are so important that they will all see an increase in value.
Investors have always sought out Hulk #181 as a key Wolverine book to purchase. That book’s meteoric rise caused issues #180 and #182 to also increase in value. Fans who could not purchase Hulk #181 migrated to Giant-Size X-Men #1 as the next go-to book. What books, then, are left that could see an increase in their FMV? Wolverine: Mini-Series books have not increased in value of their true FMV, in my opinion. Each book appears on the hot list, but the FMVs of these books are grossly undervalued. The reason these books are so important now is because of the MCU.
Black Panther’s first appearance was a long-time key book. This book was priced out of most collectors’ and investors’ price ranges. When he appeared in the MCU, fans purchased his next key issues, his self-titled books. The same increase in self-titled books’ FMVs has been observed with Dr. Strange and Captain Marvel titles. Investors and collectors need to know that this is the next book that will see these price jumps. If you can not get the Hulk trilogy nor the Giant-Size X-Men #1, what other Wolverine keys should you purchase? The choice is obvious.
Batman has many keys that investors and collectors can choose from in his history. The future investment potential of Wolverine: Mini-Series makes this book the better choice. When it comes to cultural investment potential and pure artistic input, there is no way that Batman: The Dark Knight Returns could ever touch the legacy of Wolverine: Mini-Series.
Norman: It’s Simple
The Dark Knight Returns #1 simply outclasses Wolverine #1 and his Bronze Age brutality. As far as the data goes, it is a slam dunk on Wolvie. His near-mint to mint 9.8 grade is not worth as much as Batman: The Dark Knight Returns #1. Further, (Wolverine #1) has horrible CGC Census numbers.
The Dark Knight Returns still has room to grow and is already the more expensive book. The return trends from a data-driven argument are the “cue de grace!” The Dark Knight Returns #1 has increased in value positive +228.8%! By comparison, Wolverine #1 is only half of that.
Post-Fight Cool Down
Joseph: I want to say it was a privilege to battle Norman. If you have not already done so, read his columns. He is one of the greats at putting together data to back up his opinions. It was sad that I had to do battle with him arguing for a Marvel character against a story I do appreciate. I love the plot and artwork of The Dark Knight Returns. It had a lasting impact on me when I read it in high school. It was a great Batman story that made comics more than just for kids.
The problem for me was that the Wolverine: Mini-Series is a pivotal point in the character of Wolverine. He was long-viewed as a successful team player, but it was that series that made him into the character we now know today. Wolverine: Mini-Series was another arc that made people realize comic books were more than just funny stories geared to children. More importantly, but for that series, we may never have had the X-Men Fox Films, nor the creation of the MCU. Wolverine: Mini-Series is the cornerstone of the Marvel Empire that we know today. Finally, if you are seeing these books out there, buy them now! The prices will only shoot up to the moon when he finally appears in the MCU.
Norman: Batman was redefined for a generation by Frank Miller. Furthermore, his dark stylistic world is the world of DC Comics today! In comics or movies, this shift toward a darker and more realistic tone has kept Batman one of the most popular superheroes at DC Comics and possibly one of the top five heroes of all time.
I don’t need a Delorean with “Flux Capacitor” to take me back to 1985. I remember the impact Batman: The Dark Knight Returns #1 had on my entire generation, the originality back then was a masterpiece. Now, later generations still follow the Dark Knight and his perpetual return.