Since it’s the time of year for me to bug the kids, the nieces, the nephews, and the spouse for a wish list for Christmas, I feel it’s only appropriate that I have a list ready for anyone who might ask me what I want (they won’t) or ask if they can pick something up for me when they are out shopping (they can’t).
Now that the list is ready, all I need to do is put it in front of them with a couple simple rules:
-Only 9.8s. I will accept a 9.6 if a higher grade is not available.
-There are no other rules.
May I present my 2019 holiday wish list, all occupying a spot for very different reasons.
Quite simply, this is my grail. I have had my eyes on this issue for quite some time as I am perpetually working on a Daredevil #1-191 run (through the end of Frank Miller). I currently own a number of early Man Without Fear grails – #2 (Elektro), #3 (The Owl), #5 (The Matador), #7 (New costume, Submariner), #16 (Spider-Man) – but a first appearance of Matt, Foggy, Karen, and the gang has proved to either be elusive or just out of reach.
I have no illusions of owning one in the 9-range. Even 9.0’s are consistently pulling in over $9,000 in auctions since only 5.7% of the census exists at this range or higher. In the mid-range, sales of a CGC 5.0 have been hovering right around the $2,000 mark. As Marvel news moves traction and interest toward other properties, I will be keeping a close eye to see whether these start dropping down to the $1,900 range, as they did over the spring/summer.
Tracking sales of 3.0 books, there have been a number of them that have just brushed up against the magical three-figure threshold in the past six months, but just don’t quite get there. Rest assured, if I ever come across a chance to own a 3.0 for less than a grand, it will end up in my possession.
With the last of the FOX X-Men movies being an abject disaster (the movie apparently lost $100 million), some of the luster of the Phoenix and Dark Phoenix storylines will be lost by the casual X-Men, superhero-movie fan. What long-time mutant and Marvel fans know, however, is that whenever the time comes that mutants invade the MCU, it would be a shock if a Jean Grey-Phoenix-Wolverine-Cyclops storyline is not put on film at some point in time.
The Phoenix story, beginning with issue 101 in 1976, spans the Dark Phoenix saga through issue 138 in 1980 and has served as a fulcrum for much of the X-Men characters and stories since and has been told, retold, and retconned ad nauseam since that time. Issue 133 stands out in the story for a couple reasons. It is the first time we see Wolverine’s regenerative abilities, and it is also his first solo cover on X-Men. Many believe this issue and the Hellfire Club battles are what unleash Wolverine into being the brooding, moody, gruff character we have all come to love.
Speaking of the Hellfire Club, that group is getting its 15 minutes of fame in current pop culture. We recently learned that the first episode of Stranger Things season 4 will be titled “The Hellfire Club,” continuing the creators’ strong influence from the 1980’s pop culture. It’s also the name of journalist Jake Tapper’s first novel released last year about American politics.
These intertwining stories (Wolverine first declares his affection for Jean in 101) are such an iconic part of the X-Men, that both issues are worth owning and are an affordable way (plenty of both in the 9’s for under $500) to own classic mutant issues.
This first appearance of Shang Chi predictably sky-rocketed once it was announced as part of the MCU plans early in the summer. But since that time, there has not been nearly the news coming from the development of this film as we have had from many of the Disney+ shows and movies like Eternals and Dr. Strange: Multiverse of Madness.
This, plus the fact that 55.2% of the CGC census lives in the 9.0-9.8 range, presents a buying opportunity as the market has turned around on this book. Over the summer, a 9.6 copy of this issue (203 on the census) was selling between $1,700 and $2,800. In the past month, however, 9.6 copies have sold for $1,000 and $1,300.
If you’re just looking for a good get-in price for this now strong key, prices of a 7.0 are plummeting towards sales below $300, where prices were consistently $425-$450 over the summer.
One of the books on the list needs to be there just because it has such a damn cool cover. As strong a Jim Steranko cover as there ever was, it actually had the potential to be even better. Steranko revealed recently that Marie Severin redrew Hulk’s face to look less fierce after Steranko drew a struggling hero with visible veins and sweat as he attempts to break free from the Inhumans’ captivity.
For a book that is more than 50 years old and probably not on many must-have key issue lists, there are a surprisingly healthy 82 universal copies available at 9.0 and above. This Hulk-smash of a cover is imminently affordable as well. Four of the last six copies at 9.6 have sold for under $1,000 and if you look hard enough, you might be able to find an 8.0 for around $200.
Sometimes you just need the books that are going to look great on display, and this one tops the list for me.
What’s on your holiday comic wish list? Let me know what you’re hoping to be gifted in the comments.
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