It’s the age-old argument among comic collectors: should the cameo first appearance be equally as important as the first full appearance?
Comics publishers have long enjoyed the mystery and build up when introducing a new character. Since the silver age, most significant characters are teased with a cameo or two before being given a larger role in an upcoming story. DC Comics did this just last year with the debut of the Batman Who Laughs, giving readers a glimpse of him in Dark Nights: Metal #2 before showing off the full deal in Teen Titans: Rebirth #12.
The question, then, is which one should be considered the true first appearance? Comic grading companies CGC and CBCS label them both first appearances, but they differentiate by designating the full and cameo debuts separately. However, that doesn’t answer the prior question. And in the end, the answer comes down to individual preference.
While the initial cameo might not get its due respect as being the first appearance (you can look at the gaping differences in prices for evidence), it does present an opportunity for fans of legendary characters to get their pieces of history. Simply put, the cameo is a much cheaper option.
Incredible Hulk #181 is a Holy Grail among collectors, and it has a price tag to account for it. With the original Wolverine returning to the pages of Marvel comics, and fans eagerly awaiting news of when he and the rest of the X-Men will debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the price is only getting higher. In the past year alone, every single grade of Hulk #181 has risen in value, and that will not change for a while.
If you’re like me, shelling out $1,000 or more for a mid-grade copy is not realistic. However, there is Incredible Hulk #180. Wolverine only appears in the final panel, but it is still his first appearance in a comic, and it is a much cheaper option – you can get a mid-grade copy for closer to $200.
Like Hulk #181, Amazing Spider-Man #300 is an immensely popular comic that isn’t showing signs of slowing. In the past 90 days, ASM #300 graded a 9.0 has been averaging over $300 whereas that same comic would have been in the $200 range only a year ago. This is the case for virtually all grades.
A Venom fan looking for a piece of the character’s history need only look one issue prior. As comics publishers often do, Venom is teased in the final two pages of Amazing Spider-Man #299. That same near-mint grade will cost you less than $100 on average, saving you quite a bit if you are feeling the post-Christmas budget crunch this time of year.
The closer we get to the May release date for Deadpool 2, the more popular New Mutants #87 is going to be. Over the past 90 days, a CGC 9.0 is edging closer to the $200 mark. As a fan of the character, you can pick up a copy of New Mutants #86 with Cable’s last-page cameo for pennies on the dollar compared to the full appearance. In fact, a CGC 9.0 averaged just $15 in 2017.