DC Key Issues are Steady Performers; Are Marvel’s Boom or Bust?

by Don

010323F-1024x536 DC Key Issues are Steady Performers; Are Marvel's Boom or Bust?Now that the infamous “comic boom” of 2020-21 has receded into history, we have more historical data to examine its effects. As I analyzed recent sales data for my “Buyer’s Market” blog series, I noticed that the comic boom was mostly a phenomenon associated with Marvel comics. Since an S&P 500 for DC key issues doesn’t exist, it takes time to identify aggregate trends. But on a book-by-book basis, it doesn’t appear that the boom affected DC key issues in a significant way.

Brave & the Bold #28 CGC 3.0

eyJidWNrZXQiOiJnb2NvbGxlY3QuaW1hZ2VzLnB1YiIsImtleSI6IjU5NjM0YzBmLTg3MzYtNGQyOC1iNmFmLWYwNDUwYWM1ZTdmMC5qcGciLCJlZGl0cyI6W119-200x300 DC Key Issues are Steady Performers; Are Marvel's Boom or Bust?

This issue contains the first appearance of the Justice League. Even though it doesn’t have the greatest cover (Batman and Superman don’t appear, this team-up inspired Stan Lee to create the Avengers a couple of years later.

Interestingly, the comic boom had almost no impact on a CGC 3.0 copy of this issue (the most common grade on the Census). Specifically, in late 2019, just prior to comic boom, this book sold for around $2,000 and trended downwards likely due to the poor reception that the Justice League film received.

Screen-Shot-2022-12-26-at-6.40.23-PM DC Key Issues are Steady Performers; Are Marvel's Boom or Bust?

In March of 2021, at the height of the boom, this same book sold for around $2400, but that bump in value coincided with the release of Zack Snyder’s Justice League that same month on HBOMax. And, unlike most Marvel Silver Age keys that plummeted in value during 2022, this issue has actually been drifting sideways.

Batman #171 CGC 4.0

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This major key contains the first appearance of the Riddler in the Silver Age. Like the Brave & the Bold #28, we don’t observe the boom or bust pattern that we see with most Marvel key issues.

We see a spike in early 2022 caused by the Riddler’s appearance in The Batman. If you look past that spike, you see a steady rise in value over time and little evidence that the comic boom of 2020-21 affected this comic.

Screen-Shot-2022-12-26-at-6.43.36-PM DC Key Issues are Steady Performers; Are Marvel's Boom or Bust?

This pattern also extends to major DC key issues from the Bronze Age. You’ll see similar patterns for a CGC 7.0 copy of House of Secrets (first appearance of Swamp-Thing), a CGC 8.0 copy of Green Lantern #76 (first issue of the Bronze Age), CGC 7.5 copy of Batman #227 (iconic Neal Adams cover), and a CGC 9.0 copy of Joker #1.

Are DC key issues steadier performers than Marvel’s?

Although my analysis is limited, it may be worth speculating why the comic boom didn’t appear to affect the values of DC key issues. Drawn by the massive popularity of the MCU, did first-time speculators drive up the value of Marvel’s key issues? And did this speculation lead to a massive bubble that burst in 2022? Those first-time speculators, flush with cash from several COVID-related stimulus bills, didn’t invest in the same way in DC.

Perhaps more seasoned investors continued to invest in DC key issues leading to their steadier performance. In contrast, Marvel key issues performed like growth stocks. They got hot, boomed, and then went bust.

As you can see in my “Buyer’s Market” blog series, which focuses on Marvel key issues, I think many of those Marvel keys may have not hit bottom. You may want to be careful about not catching any of those falling knives.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments!

000080221A_Posters_2-Footer DC Key Issues are Steady Performers; Are Marvel's Boom or Bust?*Any perceived investment advice is that of the freelance blogger and does not represent advice on behalf of GoCollect.

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Corbitt January 5, 2023 - 4:53 pm

– Much lower supply than Marvel, especially in High Grade.
– Much lower demand than Marvel
– Core Collectors that are less likely to Flip than Marvel Investors thus lowering High Grade supply even more.
– Many DC Super-Hero books from as recently as the early 1970’s have CCG Census pops of 2 or less in 9.8 and 8 or less in 9.6.

Given above, Silver and Pre 1980 Bronze DC are less likely to jump in value, but more stable in a bear market. Most collectors are aware if they see an issue they desire in High Grade they may not see another for year and years if ever. Whereas with Marvel short of outliers, it’s just a matter of few mouse clicks to purchase a copy in a variety of high grades.

Once you get to 1980 and more recent where supplies are plentiful, speculating on DC then becomes a fools game. My personal thumb is a DC book with 9.8 pop of 500 is equal to a Marvel having 5000. This means significant and sustained interest is required for the book to maintain it’s value.and except for outliers that demand has never been there for late Bronze, Copper and Modern DC.

Those who speculate on post 1980 DC will almost always get burned, if you are not a collector as whole you will lose on those books.

arco330032 January 6, 2023 - 12:55 pm

Very good insights here, thanks!

I do have to make the same comment I make to every article poster who refers to the 2021-22 boom as a direct result of people being “flush with cash from several COVID-related stimulus bills”:

Can we PLEASE stop with the false (and kinda silly) narrative that around 40% of Americans getting an extra $60 a week over the course of 12 months somehow drove the largest boom in online collectables, crypto, stocks, etc spending in US history?

1) The average person only collected a total of between $2,000-$3,000 in covid relief payments, via 3 payments spread over 12 months. That’s $60 a week.
2) During that time, unemployment rose to over 13% (over 10 MILLION new unemployed people) andsStudies show that more than 60% of wage earners in the US saw a significant decrease in income in 2020 – 2022, even after the covid payments.

So for the majority of Americans, those payments were not “Stimulus checks”!
They were vital bridge money to help get them through a long, unexpected, decline in income.

For the minority, those who didn’t see a decline in income & received those payments, yes it was an extra $60 a week in free money. But that was barely a drop in the bucket in new disposable income for those people. Suddenly there was no money being spent on travel, movie theaters, concerts, sporting events, nascar, performing arts, restaurants, clubs, bars, shopping trips, etc. etc. etc. Everyone’s daily, weekly, and monthly discretionary spending dollars were burning a hole in their pocket. For people even slightly upper middle class, that’s as much as $20-$30k a year, easy.

End rant. Thanks for listening.

twolittlebears January 6, 2023 - 1:27 pm

I read your article, very astute. I did go hunting for DC keys from 2012 onward as the MCU crazed newcomers bought and drove Marvel comic prices thru the roof. Now to be fair, there are many Marvel comics that deserve the price tag, that said, I backed up the truck and hunted for and bought the DC major keys (Atomic/Silver/Bronze) in the -NM~NM range, as many as I could. Happy I did. I can’t touch many now or afford to buy back my own books when they finally leave my collection. I can only imagine what they’ll look like if James Gunn gets DC’s act together. If they are rising now without the movie hype or attention, I’m in for a great retirement party. As a side note, I believe if James Gunn is going to touch on diversity with a broader audience and seeing how Sony handled Miles Morales in his huge hit debut especially amongst noncomic reading audiences, DC’s Milestone characters like Icon & Rocket, Static Shock and Hardware on the big screen will push DC front and center into the spotlight. Disney knows this too; There is a reason Black Panther is embraced even without Russian and Chinese box-office sales this year; It’s relatable characters in the franchise. The US is a little less than 5% of the world’s population. The future $$ is outside our boarders and those companies know it.


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