Comic Book Schools-New Mutants #1 or Strange Academy #1?

by Alan Harper

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School is in, and it is New Mutants.

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.

strange-academy-1-198x300 Comic Book Schools-New Mutants #1 or Strange Academy #1?

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.

strange-academy-variant-195x300 Comic Book Schools-New Mutants #1 or Strange Academy #1?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!

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Mike Steele February 8, 2021 - 11:11 pm

One big difference is that New Mutants #1 isn’t the first appearance of most of those characters, that was the New Mutants Marvel Graphic Novel #4, which has sold recently in the $700-$800 range.

JayPele February 9, 2021 - 12:34 pm

What are your thoughts regarding the original New Mutants graphic novel?

Alan Harper February 12, 2021 - 12:03 am

Jay, I loved that graphic novel when it came out, but after years of trying to figure out how to store it and New Mutants never taking off, I just gave that thing away! I think acquiring the graphic novel would be a great way to invest in these characters. I am encouraged to see them getting written in across the Marvel Universe, such as finding Dani Moonstar fighting King in Black dragons in KinB Return of the Valkyries #2.

Josh Muskat February 9, 2021 - 1:45 pm

The key problem with NM #1 is that it doesn’t have any first appearances – the team’s 1st app was in MGN #4, which also had multiple printings. That book sells for much more of a premium.

dave stevens February 9, 2021 - 5:50 pm

This is the key point here. Why compare apples to oranges? A first appearance vs. a first ongoing series issue? Marvel Graphic Novel 4 sells for more than the regular cover of Strange Academy 1, disregarding variants as they are often made to be “collectible” in small numbers designed for collectability. Is MGN 4 undervalued? The release of the New Mutants movie during the pandemic killed any hype (in addition to the word that the movie was not good) so for the time being, invest in SA 1 and see what happens.

octoberland February 9, 2021 - 6:29 pm

I opted for both, but I’ve had NM books for years which made it easier 🙂

Not for nothing, but if you are looking at NM as a place to invest, shouldn’t you look for their marvel graphic novel as their true first? That’s what @JoshMuskat mentions above. I understand if you are not into those and just focus on first comic book appearance, but figured I’d ask. I agree with the above in that the MGN really contains the firsts and thus caps the comic issue #1.

Thank you for your post!

– Craig Coffman

Alan Harper February 11, 2021 - 11:58 pm

Craig, I also love owning both. The posts here bringing up the MGN appearance are spot. I opted to just compare comics to comics but should have given it the note it warrants for sure. I think I may be scarred from basically giving that graphic novel away because it didn’t fit in a long box and didn’t have a cover on it on one of the many moves over the years. I’m sure most of us have a similar story.

octoberland February 12, 2021 - 12:27 am

I hear you on that. I had to run my magazines side to side in comic boxes without lids before I found magazine boxes. Not sure why it took me so long!


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