Finding Value in Marvel Second Appearances

by Douglas Ohlandt

051721A-300x157 Finding Value in Marvel Second AppearancesWith the current skyrocketing prices of first appearances of Marvel characters, it’s become almost a truism that collectors should start considering second appearances.  If that’s the case, though, where should we look for value in second appearances?  To answer this question, I conducted a little experiment…

hulk2 Finding Value in Marvel Second AppearancesI decided to take a look at the FMV for both 9.2 graded and 6.0 graded first appearances and second appearances for 32 different characters that have appeared and/or will appear in an MCU film or Disney+ show.  After tabulating all of this and coming up with an average value of second appearances as a percentage of value of first appearances, I then compared those 32 characters within the study to the average and began comparing other characters for whom there is currently some degree of buzz regarding inclusion in upcoming MCU projects.  The results were surprising in some instances and about what you would expect in others.

The Second Appearance Ratios

vision Finding Value in Marvel Second AppearancesBefore I get to the ratios, a few caveats.  First, this isn’t high-level math.  I didn’t look to create algorithms or anything like that.  I like simple math that’s easily understood by most people.

Second, I didn’t include characters such as Wolverine where there’s some muddiness regarding first and second appearances.  I like my data clean for purposes such as this and felt that this experiment wasn’t going to help anyone solve the first cameo/first full appearance dilemma.

Third, regarding the grades, I chose 9.2 as the high-end grade because the values for 9.8 graded books are in some instances (see Fantastic Four #1, Incredible Hulk #1, Journey Into Mystery #83) theoretical as no known 9.8 copies exist.  I chose 6.0 as an acceptable yet far more affordable grade for most collectors.

As one example of this experiment, here are the values and subsequent ratios for the first and second appearances of the Vision:

Character 1st App 2nd App  1st 9.2 1st 6.0 2nd 9.2 2nd 6.0 9.2 ratio 6.0 ratio
Vision Avengers 57 Avengers 58  $1,900.00  $650.00  $300.00  $100.00 0.1579 0.1538

What we come up with is a result that shows us that Avengers #58 is worth 15.8% of the value of Avengers #57 in a 9.2 grade and is worth 15.4% in a 6.0 grade.

Here are the averages across those 32 character first and second appearances:

Character 1st App 2nd App  1st 9.2 1st 6.0 2nd 9.2 2nd 6.0 9.2 ratio 6.0 ratio
Total      $3,293,705.00  $270,950.00  $396,340.00  $41,385.00 0.1203 0.1527

So our final ratios are roughly 12% for a 9.2 grade and 15.3% for a 6.0 grade.  How can we use these ratios?  We look for second appearances that have a value that is less than those percentages when compared to first appearances.  That’s where we find the second appearances that are potentially good investment picks.  As you can see from the Vision example above, he doesn’t quite pass the test.

Silver Age Second Appearances

One of the things that was eye-opening for me in this experiment is the value to be found in second appearances that occurred in the Silver Age.  Here are ratios for some of these first and second appearances:

Character 1st App 2nd App  1st 9.2 1st 6.0 2nd 9.2 2nd 6.0 9.2 ratio 6.0 ratio
Hulk Incredible Hulk 1 Incredible Hulk 2  $480,000.00  $35,000.00  $22,000.00  $3,000.00 0.0458 0.0857
Black Widow Tales of Suspense 52 Tales of Suspense 53  $19,000.00  $1,750.00  $1,700.00  $260.00 0.0895 0.1486
Hawkeye Tales of Suspense 57 Tales of Suspense 60  $11,000.00  $950.00  $750.00  $130.00 0.0682 0.1368
Fantastic Four Fantastic Four 1 Fantastic Four 2  $950,000.00  $41,000.00  $29,000.00  $3,300.00 0.0305 0.0805
Dr. Doom Fantastic Four 5 Fantastic Four 6  $180,000.00  $26,000.00  $16,500.00  $2,050.00 0.0917 0.0788
X-Men X-Men 1 X-Men 2  $370,000.00  $41,000.00  $14,000.00  $1,800.00 0.0378 0.0439

However, there was an instance where only the 9.2 grade passed the test:

Character 1st App 2nd App  1st 9.2 1st 6.0 2nd 9.2 2nd 6.0 9.2 ratio 6.0 ratio
Ant-Man Tales to Astonish 27 Tales to Astonish 35  $240,000.00  $6,250.00  $26,000.00  $1,550.00 0.1083 0.2480

And instances where only the 6.0 grades passed the test:

Character 1st App 2nd App  1st 9.2 1st 6.0 2nd 9.2 2nd 6.0 9.2 ratio 6.0 ratio
Capt. America Avengers 4 Fantastic Four 25  $15,500.00  $3,900.00  $3,500.00  $450.00 0.2258 0.1154
Thor Journey Into Mystery 83 Journey Into Mystery 84  $115,000.00  $10,000.00  $56,000.00  $1,350.00 0.4870 0.1350

jim84 Finding Value in Marvel Second AppearancesWhat conclusions can be drawn from this?  In general, the higher the value of a first appearance, the greater the likelihood of the second appearance being able to come in below our threshold ratios of 12% for a 9.2 grade and 15.3% for a 6.0 grade.  However, there are some things to consider.

Sometimes a second appearance isn’t just a second appearance.  Take Journey Into Mystery #84 as an example.  It’s the second appearance of Thor but it’s the first appearance of Jane Foster.  Investors focused on high-grade books have clearly been spending on this issue but this hasn’t yet trickled down to the lower grades.  Now could be a good time to consider a mid-grade buy for a first and second appearance.

Another example is Tales to Astonish #35, the first appearance of Ant-Man in costume.  This has been a high-value Silver Age book for decades, long enough that investors who consider a high grade out of reach have driven up the mid-grade price accordingly.

There were a number of characters that didn’t pass the test at all.  Some, in the case of the Vision, above, or Silver Surfer and Galactus in Fantastic Four #48 and Fantastic Four #49, could be content-related.  One possibility is that many collectors have considered those to be multi-part stories and they want all the issues in that story.  Fantastic Four #6 is an interesting case.  It passes the test as the second appearance of Dr. Doom but not as the second Silver Age appearance of Sub-Mariner.  This could be an instance of a really unique book as it marks the second appearance of both those characters and the first Marvel villain team-up.

What About the Bronze Age?

There are fewer Bronze Age second appearances that pass the test in either a 9.2 grade and/or a 6.0 grade:

Character 1st App 2nd App  1st 9.2 1st 6.0 2nd 9.2 2nd 6.0 9.2 ratio 6.0 ratio
Shang Chi Special Marvel Edition 15 Special Marvel Edition 16  $2,300.00  $650.00  $150.00  $38.00 0.0652 0.0585
Scott Lang/Ant-Man Marvel Premiere 47 Marvel Premiere 48  $200.00  $100.00  $65.00  $12.00 0.3250 0.1200
Man-Thing Savage Tales 1 Astonishing Tales 12  $1,300.00  $500.00  $475.00  $36.00 0.3654 0.0720
Brother Voodoo Strange Tales 169 Strange Tales 170  $1,150.00  $325.00  $130.00  $20.00 0.1130 0.0615

shangchi Finding Value in Marvel Second AppearancesRelative affordability and higher numbers of high-grade copies are likely factors when it comes to Bronze Age second appearances not passing the test.  Bronze Age first appearances are easier to attain in a high grade than those from the Silver Age, likely keeping the prices low when compared to second appearances.

An interesting test will be to see what happens with first appearances of Bronze Age characters such as She-Hulk and Moon Knight when they make their MCU debuts.  If they shoot up quickly as passive investors become active and focus only on those first appearances, second appearances could become more attainable to those who have been in the market for a while.  As I was conducting this experiment, this happened over the course of one week with the second appearance of Shang Chi.  Special Marvel Edition #15 is skyrocketing right now while Special Marvel Edition #16 has barely budged, making the second appearance a far more relatively affordable option.

Further Exploration

Werewolf-By-Night-32-33-First-Appearance-300x225 Finding Value in Marvel Second Appearances32 characters is a small sample size.  I would definitely like to revisit this in the future with a sample size of 100 or more characters to see how that could change things.  There is likely some skewing of the results from the higher value of the Silver Age books that could be balanced out by including more characters in the study.

For now, I consider it a worthwhile thought experiment and would love to hear what all of you out there think – good or bad.  Another thing to consider is how to use an experiment like this to determine value for other second appearances, be they DC or independents.  I’m particularly interested in any thoughts anyone may have regarding how to adjust for the tremendous skews that would result from key Golden Age books like Action Comics #1 and #2 and Detective Comics #27 and #28.

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Redskydigger May 20, 2021 - 11:22 pm

Very well written and great research! Please continue to provide these insights.

Douglas Ohlandt May 25, 2021 - 6:28 pm

Thanks, Redskydigger. Definitely looking to do a follow-up to this piece and continuing to find new ways to look at our collections and investments.


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