Cameos vs 1st Appearances: Mr. Sinister and Gambit

by Don

Cameo-vs-first-300x157 Cameos vs 1st Appearances: Mr. Sinister and GambitI’ve written several times about potential inconsistencies in how investors view cameos vs 1st appearances. In some situations, the difference between a cameo and a first full appearance is quite clear. For example, consider the difference between The Incredible Hulk #180 and The Incredible Hulk #181. The cameo of Wolverine occurs in the final panel of Hulk #180, and then his first full appearances occurs in the next issue where he also appears on its cover.

But sometimes the line between a cameo and first full appearance is blurry. This rule is critical for investors since, as we all know, first full appearances are much more valuable than cameo appearances. Let’s discuss cameos vs. first appearances as they apply to two other characters in the X-Men universe: Mr. Sinister and Gambit.

Is Mr. Sinister’s Appearance in UXM #221 a Cameo?

Many have speculated that Mr. Sinister will serve as the primary antagonist for the MCU’s upcoming X-Men films. Feige likely won’t treat Mr. Sinister like a Malekith or even an Ultron and have him appear in only one movie; rather, he will likely tease Mr. Sinister’s appearance a few times (just as he did with Thanos) over several films before he directly confronts the X-Men in a Phase-ending finale like Avengers: Endgame.

Screen-Shot-2021-01-25-at-10.52.08-PM-195x300 Cameos vs 1st Appearances: Mr. Sinister and GambitWe can foresee this because that’s exactly how Chris Claremont (one of Marvel’s greatest writers) teased Mr. Sinister’s existence for several issues. In The Uncanny X-Men #212, Sabretooth mentions Mr. Sinister by name for the first time. In The Uncanny X-Men #213, we see a shadowy image of Mr. Sinister when Psylocke probes Sabretooth’s mind. And then in The Uncanny X-Men #221, we see Mr. Sinister on the first three pages, although we only see his face clearly on three panels. After that, he disappears completely from the story. UXM #221 is hot. During the last three years, 294 CGC 9.6 copies have exchanged hands and the value of that book has risen nearly 58% during that period of time. Finally, he also doesn’t appear on UXM #221’s cover, which is something you often expect from first full appearances.

In contrast, Mr. Sinister appears throughout The Uncanny X-Men #239, appears on a cover for the first time, and yet this issue is considered his second full appearance.

Is Gambit’s Appearance in UXM Annual #14 a First Full Appearance?

Screen-Shot-2021-02-13-at-11.17.43-PM-192x300 Cameos vs 1st Appearances: Mr. Sinister and GambitI can accept that UXM #221 may contain Mr. Sinister’s first full appearance. After all, we do see his face clearly on three panels (and not just on one panel like Wolverine in Hulk #180). However, if that’s the case, then why is Gambit’s appearance in X-Men Annual #14 considered a cameo and not his first full appearance? Gambit appears in FIFTEEN panels throughout XM Annual #14 and has a substantial amount of dialogue on a few pages. In other words, he has much more of a presence in XM Annual #14 than Mr. Sinister does in UXM #221. He may not appear on XM Annual #14’s cover, but Mr. Sinister doesn’t appear on UXM #221’s cover either.

To me, if UXM #221 is Mr. Sinister’s first full appearance, then, to be consistent, investors should consider XM Annual #14’s first full appearance (and not The Uncanny X-Men #266).

Closing Thoughts

In my opinion, it’s important for collectors to closely review potential purchases before investing and not blindly accept what the “experts” say about cameos vs 1st appearances. While some may say the market makes such decisions, as we know from the stock market, the market is sometimes wrong and corrections occur.

Will a correction occur with UXM #221 or XM Annual #14? Only time will tell!

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KatComics March 9, 2021 - 8:36 am

I’ll grant you that corrections could occur….but we are 30 years+ in on the the cameo/first appearance for these characters….the ship has sailed and market forces/collectors have decided which book is the one to own. Heck! Batman Who Laughs own creative team and publisher say the Casting is the first appearance…..raw it’s almost a dollar bin book!!! This is a much more recent comic and even that isn’t going to change. We collectively decide with our $$ which is the book to own…no idea how the grading companies decide what to put on the lable…which then drives the $$ even more to 1 book over another!

Mike Steele March 9, 2021 - 9:13 am

I completely agree that X-Men Annual #14 should be the full first appearance and not a cameo. I hope it’s corrected at some point.

Here is an article which gives some background on why it’s currently considered a cameo:

Don Y March 9, 2021 - 5:36 pm

Thanks for sending this CBR article — I can’t believe I had never read it before!

DoDaFoo March 9, 2021 - 11:58 am

I own a lovely copy of X-Men Annual #14 and I wish it was worth more. That said, I think the reason it’s always been considered a cameo is story line related. It was released a month before Uncanny #266, but clearly takes place after the events of that issue (and after 267 I believe). I think the cover helps 266 as well.

octoberland March 9, 2021 - 1:57 pm

I’m with @katcomics here largely. I think that XM221 is already ringing the bell. FWIW I’m not about some of these books being the ‘right’ case for a first, but I do concede they are what they are in the public opinion. I’ve many copies of books I _think_ should be the first, but what I’ve learned is it doesn’t really matter. Most people will just do what they’re told. With 30+ y/o books that story has been told IMHO. You have to go where the $$$ is and that’s market driven.

The market wants what it wants. IE: I will never accept Hulk180 isn’t Wolverine’s first (full panel / costume / interacting with story and character) but people want 181 (through the book and awesome cover) as his first. I get the value / cost of 181 being higher, but 180 should be his first IMHO. Point is, whatever is “right” doesn’t make something more or less valuable. It’s what the collector/fan market wants to spend for.

Could people switch? Possibly. I like the 239 waaaaay better than the 212/213 some folks are touting. In 239 you have the cover / interior PLUS one of my most favorite XM stories. I like that book far more than 221 as a book for Sinister, but personally IDNK it takes the crown from 221. If nothing else, he is well enough in 221 to make that argument tougher to accept.

All that said, I do like these types of discussions. Thank you for bringing it up! The bigger takeaway is that you can buy most of these contender books cheaply. The XM Annual is a little more costly, but in general the ‘potential’ other firsts are cheap. If I can, or care enough about the character, I buy them up because why not? At their worst they are early apps for popular characters. We’ve seen money move to those once the ‘grails’ are out of pocket.

To end on a contrary stance to what I typed above, I’m with you on XMA14. I’ve always thought that should have the title 😉

– Craig Coffman

Don Y March 9, 2021 - 6:39 pm

Thank you for this very thoughtful response, Craig! I enjoy these conversations too.

Steven Moore March 9, 2021 - 4:22 pm

X-Men Annual #14 will correct. It is clearly Gambit’s first appearance.

Ruben March 9, 2021 - 5:18 pm

Hey Don, I think your post is rooted in sound logic. I bought an X-Men 266 (Aug 1990) CGC 9.8 some years ago for around $200 and nobody, I mean nobody, until now had a clue that Gambit had a huge full appearance, as you rightly argue, in X-Men Annual 14 (also 1990, but no month given on CGC labels). I recently bought an X-Men Annual 14 CGC 9.8 for $220 because while XM266 has long been the favored, markets do change. Anyone who has invested in the stock market knows this. What was once the favored get replaced by something else. After all, Hulk 181 was and is the Wolverine grail since forever, but Hulk 180, which used be cheap, is cheap no longer. Not as expensive as 181, but proving to be a very nice investment in its own right. I think it’s only a matter of time until people wake up to XM Annual 14, so at $375 obo currently the cheapest on EBay, it’s not a bad investment at all. Thanks for the blog. All the best.

Phil T. March 10, 2021 - 11:11 pm

Hi. I agree with the cameo and first Full appearance war being driven by the market. Cover appearances usually always take the cake when it comes to value. An example of a Cameo (based on the cover) vs CGC’s pronounced 1st full appearance is Uncanny X-men 282 and 283. I recently purchased a copy of UXM #283 cgc 9.8 (First full appearance). I got a nice deal on it and feel it may take a decent incline in price when and if Bishop is more prevalent in the MCU. But #282 holds a much higher value for a cameo based on the cover appearance. Will the values flip flop at some point? Maybe, maybe not. But #283 is still a decent investment at it’s current price if Bishop ends up holding as much standing as Cable in the future.

Trent March 17, 2021 - 9:58 pm

I don’t think this is an apples to apples comparison. I will let the 221 arguement be what it is. 266 however has been recognized as the 1st appearance since, well, pretty much the day it hit the stands. Did Annual 14 hit the stands first? Yes. But by accident. Its 100% clear that 266 was intended as the 1st appearance and that fact that a printing/distribution (whichever it was) issue caused it to be delayed HAS to be taken into account.


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