What to make of the two similar concepts – the adventures of extraordinary youngsters going to a special school – that are both enjoying attention today from comic investors? Those looking for a stable value will want to snap up a copy of New Mutants #1 and let the froth of Strange Academy #1 settle. Sure, Strange Academy is a better story with better art, but does that make it the better investment?
A branch of the X-tree.
Published in 1983, The New Mutants launched a whole new X-adventure. Chris Claremont wrote a straightforward copy of the original X-Men story. Young mutants were brought together at a school in order to be a team and explore their powers. Unlike the original X-Men, The New Mutants shows a ton of diversity. Claremont introduces the characters and promptly throws them into the Danger Room and into teen drama. Remember that this comes following the meteoric rise of the Uncanny X-Men and the classic Claremont Days of Future Past storyline. The world wanted more mutants and Stan Lee gave us these five kids.
How very Strange.
New Orleans is a wonderful backdrop for a school of sorcerers. Dr. Strange plays the equivalent Professor X role. The semi-present schoolmaster and the instructors are a wide host of the MCU’s favorite magicians. The characters bring diversity to a whole new level, bringing together the mystical and magical off-spring from everywhere imaginable. Perhaps the best distinguishing feature is the crisp artwork by Humberto Ramos compared to the muted work of Bob McLeod in New Mutants. Time will tell if the storylines in Strange Academy play better than the New Mutant story arc. We can only hope that some of these magical youth grow into more permanent roles within the MCU. The New Mutant characters all but disappeared for much of the intervening thirty years, but that is ancient history.
Fantasy / Horror genre?
The popularity and value of comic books are often tied to the rest of the media world today, such as movies, tv shows, and video games. It is possible that the value in New Mutants #1 had something to do with the recent movie. Released in 2020, the most challenging and transformative time for the movie industry ever, this film was not exactly a blockbuster. 20th Century Fox wrapped up its time as caretakers of the X-Men franchise with an amazing cast of young actors, but an odd choice of story. Who knew that Fantasy / Horror was even a thing? The result of the film is baked into the New Mutant values by this time. It is clear Hollywood and the world at large find The New Mutants worthy of significant investment, we just have to hope the Disney/Marvel Studios will do even better in the future.
Volume, volume, volume.
My anecdotal research from watching New Mutants #1 pricing for over 30 years is that Marvel must have printed a Hulk-sized stadium of these books. In the 1980s, everyone had one (or five). Today, GoCollect has identified almost 2,700 New Mutants #1 graded 9.6 or 9.8. That’s more than any of the other key early 1980s X-Men books. Thirty-five years will take a toll on inventory. Note that this is far fewer than the almost 4,000 Strange Academy #1 books (when you combine variants and second and third run printings) listed of the same grades. With Strange Academy out less than a year, you have to imagine there are significantly more of these books waiting to be graded.
I find it hard to chase the valuations of any of the Strange Academy #1 variants (of which there are at least 12). It is not hard to argue that almost every variant cover for Strange Academy is more interesting than the New Mutant cover art. However, almost every variant is already trading at more than the New Mutant book. It feels like the excitement around a popular initial stock offering. Everyone wants to own it now, but the real winners bought it earlier and at much lower prices.
Skip the froth.
While both books are excellent parts of any collection, The New Mutants #1 finally appears to be a valued part of the X-Men canon. It is easy to imagine this book holding its value and a future event pushing interest in it even higher. If you don’t already own either book, wait for a time to pick up Strange Academy. Then buy The New Mutants. Which will you own? Let us know in the comments!