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
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.
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
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.
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.