With new casting announcements drawing the focus of most collectors and fueling big price spikes, isn’t it a better investment strategy to take a fresh look at what we already know?
It’s not spec if it’s verified.
If you follow the Hot 10 every week, you’ll notice that most of the comics achieving record-breaking prices are rising on spec alone. Some of that spec has a high likelihood of paying off, but some of it is quite risky. Smart investors minimize their risk by avoiding guesswork and reassessing what they already know. A lot of fan predictions about WandaVision and Falcon and the Winter Soldier went unfulfilled, so when bad theories pushed prices up on books that were revealed to be ultimately inconsequential, investors overpaid. The sure-thing keys are already quite expensive and while they are sure to continue to increase, not everyone can pluck down $1000 for an X-Men #4 in CGC 1.0.
But fear not! There are characters already in the MCU who have been completely overlooked by collectors even though they are confirmed to return. This presents opportunities to scoop up neglected key issues while the competition focuses on hype.
On April 16th when Julia Louis-Dreyfus showed up in the fifth episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier as Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine, there were two CGC 9.2 sales for her 1st appearance in Strange Tales #159. One for $565 and another for $1200. The next day there was a sale for $1600, but the next sale after that (on May 3rd –eleven days past the series finale) dropped all the way back down to $1145. Granted, that’s still a LOT more than the first sale of 2021 back in February for $288, so anyone who had Valentina on their fantasy team at the start of the season reaped a big reward.
But if you bought in the May dip you may be happy to hear that the one CGC 9.2 currently on eBay is priced $3200 against a posted FMV of $1350. That’s because the character reappeared in the post-credit sequence of Black Widow, which opened in theaters this past week. Strange Tales #159 is not just Valentina’s first appearance, it’s also the 1st cameo of Jacob Fury, Nick’s younger brother who later becomes Scorpio then Kraken, but most of her key issues are multi-keys.
The 1st appearance of Madame Hydra (later revealed to be Ms. Allegra de Fontaine) in Captain America #110 is also known for its classic Steranko cover and as Rick Jones’ debut in the Bucky suit. The only 9.2 of that issue to sell this year was on May 2nd and it went for $575 (or basically double the average from the previous year). It now has a stated FMV of $800 and while there are no 9.2s on eBay, there is a 9.0 for $750.
It was evident from her debut on Disney+ that this character is going to be an important, ongoing part of the expanding MCU, but short attention spans forgot her until she showed up again in Black Widow. The lesson here is that there are a lot of forgotten characters confirmed to return, a great many of whom are connected to the Guardians of the Galaxy.
Choose Your Pronouns Wisely
Adam Warlock was first set up in the MCU as an Easter Egg when sharp-eyed fans spotted his cocoon among the Collector’s possessions in the mid-credits sequence of Thor: The Dark World. When that cocoon was actually given context in the mid-credits sequence of Guardians of the Galaxy 2 by Sovereign high priestess Ayesha, all Him/Adam Warlock keys began their ascent. And I should mention that there are a lot of Adam Warlock keys because of his connection to the Infinity Stones.
The three biggest keys are Fantastic Four #67, which features a cameo with the cocoon on the cover; Thor #165, which is the first full appearance and first cover of HIM, and Marvel Premiere #1, where he is given the name Warlock by the High Evolutionary and appears on the cover with a new costume and an emerald later revealed to be the Soul Stone. If you have all of the aforementioned in CGC 9.8 condition you could trade them for a brand new Tesla Model S. And that’s without HIM actually appearing yet on screen.
Contrarily, HER/Ayesha/Kismet/Paragon keys have barely moved.
Introduced in 1977 as Paragon in Incredible Hulk Annual #6, then transforming into HER/Kismet in Marvel Two-in-One #61 before ultimately taking on the name Ayesha in 1998’s Fantastic Four Vol. 3 #11, the genetic twin of Adam Warlock from the comics has been ret-conned in the MCU as his creator –even dropping the name “Adam” before the mid-credits fade-out on the golden cocoon in GotG2.
It’s fairly evident from her confirmed credit on IMDb that she will be the main antagonist of Guardians of the Galaxy 3, where we expect she will make good on her threat to use Adam Warlock as a weapon against Star-Lord and the gang. Whatever happens, we know that Ayesha is in a forthcoming Marvel film and that she is indelibly tied to the origin of Adam Warlock. Also cool: her first two keys referenced above actually have the cocoon on the cover.
In the comics, she has close connections to Binary (aka Carol Danvers aka Captain Marvel), Hercules (who will be debuting in Thor: Love & Thunder), Wonder Man (portrayed by Nathan Fillion on a movie poster in a scene cut from Guardians of the Galaxy 2), Starfox (whose first appearance is in Iron Man #55 with Drax & Thanos), as well as Starhawk (whose first full appearance in Defenders #28 ties him to Valkyrie, Dr. Strange, and the Hulk) and Quasar (who is a likely candidate to appear in the next Captain America and the Winter Soldier movie).
It would not be out of line to expect one or more of them to round out the supporting cast. That’s of any forthcoming Adam Warlock project –if not actually in GotG3. While those connections are tenuous at present, there is no doubt that Ayesha is absolutely integral to at least one forthcoming MCU film. Her first and second appearances are readily available in CGC 9.6 for $300 and $60 respectively.
Let’s talk about Starhawk for a minute, because we’ve already seen him in the MCU, too. Played by Sylvester Stallone, Stakar Ogord appears in only two brief sequences in Guardians of the Galaxy 2. His wife, Aleta Ogord, played by Michelle Yeoh, appears as well. Together they could provide a solid anchor for a Disney+ plus Ravagers show. Cconsidering Stallone’s continued working relationship with director James Gunn (as King Shark in The Suicide Squad), I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Starhawk.
A 9.8 copy of Defenders #28 (first full appearance and first cover) runs $2300, but a 9.6 is only about $400. A CGC 9.6 of his first appearance cameo in the previous issue (Defenders #27) will only set you back $250. Defenders #29 ($170 FMV in 9.8) is the 2nd full appearance of Starhawk and the 1st cameo appearance of Aleta, who joins the Guardians of the Galaxy in her first full appearance in Marvel Presents #4 ($140 or less in 9.6), which also features the first appearances of fellow Guardian, Nikki, and metaphysical void, Karanada.
Another post-credit sequence tease was Howard the Duck, who (voiced by Seth Green) appears in the Collector’s ramshackle museum at the end of the first Guardians of the Galaxy film. Howard also appears (for little more than a single second) in the final battle against Thanos in Avengers: Endgame, and most recently in the extended trailer for the forthcoming Disney+ animated series, What If?
Back in April 2019, Hulu announced a package of forthcoming animated Marvel properties that included Howard the Duck among Hit-Monkey, Tigra & Dazzler, and the Offenders, but thus far we’ve only seen M.O.D.O.K. air on the streaming service, which has received mixed reviews. While voiced by popular fellow collector, Patton Oswalt, M.O.D.O.K. is no Howard the Duck.
Steve Gerber’s curmudgeonly man-duck has been a popular character since his introduction in Adventure into Fear #19, then appearing in Man-Thing #1 and my favorite double-entendre title of all time, Giant-Size Man-Thing #4 (1st Howard the Duck solo story and 1st appearance of Garko the Man-Frog) until getting his own monthly title with Howard the Duck #1. If Guardians of the Galaxy 3 relates in any way to Rocket Raccoon’s origin, there would seem to be an opening for Howard the Duck as well.
Howard of the Galaxy?
Though not a half-worlder like Rocket, Howard has a long association with the Guardians of the Galaxy as well as with anthropomorphic clones. Events set-up in Loki on Disney+ recently, which will cross over into Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness then Spider-Man: No Way Home might even show an alternative timeline where Howard the Duck is President. The wraparound cover of FOOM #15 is a wonderful example of Marvel’s subversive 1970s bullpen, but inside its pages are the first-ever published illustrations of Captain Britain and Carol Danvers as Ms. Marvel.
Regardless of what we see or don’t, it’s bound to be better than the George Lucas produced mess from 1986. Seth Green confirmed that he’s been contracted to voice Howard the Duck in upcoming projects. We should be seeing higher prices on these Bronze Age keys that are notoriously hard to find in high grade. Instead, a 9.6 of Howard the Duck #1 which sold for $327 & $345 in April & May is selling now for around $250. This is the dip.
A Tree For Climbing
While Rocket Racoon’s keys were pretty stable for the last couple of years at or near $300 for a 9.6, they achieved a peak in May of $750 and then slid back down to just under $500. This showcases an otherwise reliable trajectory. If you can get one at the FMV of $350 consider yourself lucky and expect it to climb up and above prior peaks as soon as the Guardians Holiday Special trailer drops. Groot, on the other hand, hasn’t benefited from the same upward mobility. Of course, Groot’s first appearance is in the pre-superhero Tales to Astonish #13, which makes it something of a Holy Grail. As such, even a CGC 0.5 is likely to cost $1500.
The Bronze Age reprint, Where Monsters Dwell #6 (which has a new Kirby cover), is ludicrously affordable at $240 for 9.6. It’s the second ever appearance of Groot and it predates the next appearance in Incredible Hulk Annual #5 by six years. The other key to keep an eye on is Groot #5, which is the first full appearance of Baby Groot –confirmed to be starring in a series of forthcoming Disney+ shorts. With a current FMV of $80 for a 9.8 (but none available for sale), it’s probably a good idea to snatch these up ASAP.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments! As always, find what you enjoy collecting, do your research, and have fun!