Coldest Comics: A Bronze Age Grail Feels the Icy Chill

by Matt Tuck

111022D-1024x536 Coldest Comics: A Bronze Age Grail Feels the Icy ChillWhat’s this? Hulk #181 is on the Coldest Comics list? Say it’s not true (but it is…at least for one week). Such is the doubled-edged sword of being a pricey holy grail.

Not even Wolverine’s impending MCU arrival could keep his first appearance off the bad list, but that’s the way things go on the Hottest Comics. While an issue like that will keep its high prices, it’s a good example of how these rankings work. Instead of basing the index on fair market values, the Hottest Comics lists the best-selling, top-100 comics according to eBay sales. No matter how much or how little a comic is earning, it’s the sales volume that’s in this discussion.

While Hulk #181 wasn’t the belle of the ball, at least it didn’t get the dubious Coldest Comic distinction. That belongs to Todd McFarlane.

87. AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #298 (-47)

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Not quite an official “Usual Suspect” but getting close, ASM #298 once again found its way onto the Hottest/Coldest blog. This being the latter of the two, the ever-popular key issue took a tumble through the ranks, but I have no doubt it will rebound in short order. If this keeps happening, I will have to offer it a membership card to the club. That’s not a bad thing because it comes with a free tire rotation at participating mechanic shops.

This comic has long been a favorite for both Venom fans and Todd McFarlane collectors. The most famous reason for owning ASM #298 is for the Toddfather’s first artwork on Spider-Man’s flagship series. What makes it that much more appealing is the symbiote tease. While we don’t get a full view, there is a brief moment in which the alien suit crawls over Eddie Brock’s hand. Since Venom isn’t seen in all his glory, that makes it a lower-tier symbiote key, but it’s still a top-tier McFarlane addition, and that is what keeps it in the running.

ASM #298 will rebound in short order. Sure, it lost 47 positions this time around, but prices are going up likely from the recent Venom 3 news. Honestly, I’m not sure how anyone could be terribly excited about anything from the Sony-verse, but who am I to judge? At any rate, the graded 9.8 has averaged $900 for the past 30 days. Meanwhile, the 9.6 is a much more affordable $183.


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There’s only so high a comic can soar. In this case, the deluxe edition of Wolverine #88 was on the fast track to success, and its sales volume and fair market values grew by leaps and bounds. It scaled the ladder of the Hottest Comics, nearly taking over the top spot at times. Only days ago, it was firmly nestled in the second spot with a chance to claim the lead. Then the worm turned. In the blink of an eye, Wolverine #88 tumbled by 36 places. Now it’s just barely clinging inside the top 40. What gives?

As usual, this is a case of news moving at the speed of light in the comics community. Only weeks ago, the biggest story in the world of superheroes was Hugh Jackman making a return to the screen. When the Deadpool 3 teaser announcement dropped online, Ryan Reynolds sent fans into a frenzy when he brought Jackman into the frame. They casually confirmed that, after years of gossip, the Aussie icon would sport the mutton chops one more time to team with Deadpool. The bigger picture was that instead of a younger actor, the once-super-retired Jackman would introduce Wolverine to the MCU. 

Naturally, that caused a wave of speculation for all things Wolverine, but many of those keys are too pricey for collectors on a budget. The next best option was the first meeting between the two characters in Wolverine #88. It inflated prices overnight, sending the FMV from last year’s $297 to over $500 in recent weeks. As things have begun to calm down, those prices have deflated to the $450 range, but they’re sure to pick up when the first trailer is revealed.

75 SPAWN #9 (-33)

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Here is another comic that finds its way onto one list or another in regular fashion. It’s not frequent enough to get a membership to the “Usual Suspects,” but we should be used to seeing it consistently make the blog. It was only a few weeks ago that buyers were clamoring for this one only to see them turn away in short order. 

The appeal for Spawn #9 is front and center on the cover art—Angela, Heaven’s chosen assassin. Famously, after Neil Gaiman and McFarlane settled their legal dispute over character ownership, she would debut in the Marvel-616 continuity. There, she became one of Odin’s many children and Thor’s half-sister. That makes her a prime candidate for the MCU, which is what caused the FMV boost earlier this year. After she was left out of Thor: Love and Thunder—possibly for the best, depending on how much you enjoyed the movie—and that caused interest in Spawn #9 to wane. Then it suddenly started to show signs of life again, taking small steps up the Hottest Comics ladder. 

It fell flat with buyers this week, and Angela’s first appearance lost 33 spots in total. Although this may not have been Spawn #9’s greatest sales moment, the prices have been on the move lately. Three months ago, the graded 9.8 was averaging $140. Over the past 30 days, that FMV has risen to $185.

61. AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #363 (-33)

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After two near misses, ASM #363 arrives on the scene to flash its badge as a verified “Usual Suspect.” Along with the aforementioned free tire rotation, it also comes with the knowledge that this issue will do its best yo-yo impression and roll right back up the ladder. No doubt, this will not be the last time we see it on one list or the other.

What keeps ASM #363 in the rankings week after week is Carnage. In this issue, you’ll find his second full appearance. More importantly to Venom fans, the 1992 comic also gives us the first team-up between Spider-Man and his most bitter rival, Eddie Brock and his sinister symbiote. With the teases that Venom will one day meet Tom Holland’s Spider-Man on the big screen in some fashion keeps this issue on the watch lists. Until there’s something new to report on the matter, it will likely bounce its way across the index for the foreseeable future.

At the moment, the graded 9.8’s 30-day average stands at $90. However, the most recent sale could be a sign of things to come. On November 6, one sold for $117 after the last two were in the $60 range. 

62. INCREDIBLE HULK #181 (-26)

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How could Wolverine’s first appearance be on the Coldest Comics blog? It’s long been established as among the holiest of Bronze Age grails that never loses buyer interest. How is it that Hulk #181 is in the running for the coldest comic?

This is a great example of what the Hottest Comics index is all about, Charlie Brown. Certainly Hulk #181 is a supreme market force. Being Wolverine’s first appearance is enough to give it holy grail status. Add in the Deadpool 3 and Hugh Jackman return news, and buyers are falling over themselves to land a copy. The problem is that it’s just so expensive. Even with the overall market being down this year, that’s still a pricey issue. When the 9.8’s $90,000 is actually a bargain compared to the two previous sales, it speaks volumes about this comic. The lowest grade sold so far this month has been the 3.5, and that one brought nearly $3k. In September, an incomplete 0.5 sold for $1,500. What else do you need to know?

When you put it all together, it’s actually a testament to Hulk #181’s popularity just by remaining in the top 100 eBay best sellers practically every week. At those prices, especially in today’s economy, it’s a much smaller percentage of potential buyers compared to a couple years ago. No, it won’t ever reach the top five or even the top 10 due to those hefty price tags, but it’s always going to attract a number of suitors, too.

Upgrade2_Footer Coldest Comics: A Bronze Age Grail Feels the Icy Chill*Any perceived investment advice is that of the freelance blogger and does not represent advice on behalf of GoCollect.

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1 comment

Sean November 12, 2022 - 4:51 pm

I laugh at the outrageously high prices people are willing to pay for Wolverine’s second appearance. Yes, Hulk #181 is the SECOND apoearanve of Wolverine! No one can say it’s the first appearance without qualifying it aa being a first “FULL” appearance. CGC and Overstrwet are FULL of it! Hulk #180 will always be the very first appearance of Wolverine in a comic book. PERIOD! At best, Hulk #181 should be worth the same price as #180. Hulk #180 will always be the very first appearance of Wolverine in a Marvel comic book story. And unlike #181, that issue needs no qualifying label attached to it.


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