Conan the Barbarian, Adam Warlock, and Kraven captivated collectors this week, and the three made quite the impact in the Hottest Comics.
What are the Hottest Comics? These are the 1,001 top-selling issues for the past week, ranked by sales volume. This has nothing to do with fair market value, so a hot comic here does not necessarily mean it is an expensive comic. Think of it as a snapshot into what collectors were buying and which comics suddenly bolted up the ladder.
Just when it looked like the Conan surge was over, Robert E. Howard’s classic Cimmerian comes charging back. After a down week, things are now looking way up for Conan. After narrowly remaining inside the top 1,000, collectors were gunning for his first appearance in Marvel Comics.
What could have given Conan #1 such a surge in popularity? My best guess is that it stems from the live-action news from the sword and sorcery front. We have known for several months that Conan would be getting another live-action treatment, this time in his own series on Netflix, and Red Sonja is getting a movie reboot of her own. More recently, the lead role for Red Sonja has been announced, and that could be what has gotten Sonja and Conan back in the limelight.
No matter the barbarian, it all starts and ends with Conan. He is continuing to have more adventures in the main 616 Marvel Universe timeline, which makes me curious as to where the end of that path will take him. All of it amounts to big sales for that first Marvel issue of Conan.
With all this popularity comes massive price inflation. The highest grade to trade hands this year has been the 9.6, which approached the record high after selling for $3,499 in the past week. The 9.4 broke its previous record by over $200 when one sold for $2k on May 25. There was even a 3.0 that sold for $255 on May 16 when it was a $177 comic a year prior.
It is no secret that Adam Warlock is coming to the MCU. For that matter, he’s already in the MCU following the name drop along with seeing his cocoon at the end of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Going on four years now, the question has been when will he finally arrive? Marvel Studios has been mum on the subject, and that has fueled countless theories about Warlock. That makes all of his key issues prime speculation targets.
While he made his first cameo appearance in Fantastic Four #67, Warlock’s first full appearance saw him square off with Thor. At this point, Warlock was known simply as HIM, and Marvel’s editors pitted him against the thunder god to showcase HIM’s strength. Since Thor: Love and Thunder has finished filming, it begs to reason that Warlock could get a cameo or an Easter Egg in the movie as a callback to his appearances in that classic Thor tale.
By and large, 2020 was a slump for Thor #165. With no news or any fresh rumors about Warlock/HIM, the FMVs for practically every grade took a downward turn. The past three months, however, have seen a stark increase. The 9.4, which averaged $3,468 in 2019 without any sales in 2020, jumped to $6k in May. Even the lowest grade sold this year, the 3.5, has shown a mighty increase, inflating from $206 on average in 2020 to $300 on May 25.
All you eBayers out there had good taste this week. Here we have one of the many classic Mike Zeck 1980s covers that spawned from one of the best and most dramatic Marvel storylines ever printed, “Kraven’s Last Hunt.” Obviously, this boost in sales was brought on by Sony’s announcement that Aaron Taylor-Johnson would portray the Spider-Man villain in his very own solo movie. That will put a premium on all things Kraven.
Fans have been ravenous for Kraven to make his live-action debut. There have been rumors of him coming to movie screens since word spread that he was considered for a fourth Sam Raimi Spider-Man film. More recently, there were theories and speculation that he would be the primary antagonist for Black Panther 2 before transitioning into the Sinister Six for another MCU Spider-Man movie.
Considering there is not a huge selection of classic Kraven keys, it leaves the choices limited on what to buy. His premiere in ASM #15, which happened to rank #1 in this week’s Hottest Comics, and his other Silver Age appearances are also coming at the cost of an arm and a leg. That has left fans turning their attention to “Kraven’s Last Hunt.”
This week has seen the 9.8 prices for Web of Spiderman #31 make a gradual increase. On May 22, one brought a mediocre $168. Just days later, another 9.8 sold for $179. Then on May 26, a high grade earned an eyebrow-raising $225. That gives it a 90-day average of $183, which is $72 above 2020’s FMV.
We know that Deadpool is returning to movie screens as Marvel chief Kevin Feige confirmed that, indeed, an R-rated Deadpool 3 is in the works. Considering that the last movie featured a tongue-in-cheek version of Rob Liefeld’s X-team, it is logical to assume that X-Force will resurface in the franchise’s third installment.
The other reason this issue was suddenly bursting at the seams with enthusiastic collectors is the return of the classic “Old Man Cable.” In the comics, the younger “Kid Cable” made his debut in grand fashion by seemingly murdering the original Cable. After years on the shelf, Old Man Cable will make his triumphant (though not at all surprising) return from the dead, and that has injected new life into Cable version 1.0.
Looking for an X-Force #1 to call your very own? It shouldn’t be too hard to find one, considering there were a ton of copies published to commemorate the first issue. That should help keep prices relatively low. Starting at the top, the 9.8 standard edition last sold for $95 in May. Willing to squelch on the grade? A 9.6 traded hands earlier this week for the low price of $49.
As far as story and mythos, there is nothing overly special about X-Men #2. Sure, it has the first appearance of the Vanisher, but I doubt there were enough Vanisher fans to warrant it moving ahead by 933 spots on the Hottest Comics index. If not that, then what could have this issue setting a fiery trail in the rankings?
So far in 2021, the X-Men are the hottest team in all of comics, bar none. With rampant speculation and theories about their inevitable arrival in the MCU, it has put a premium on all their key issues. While the Silver Age did not produce the most popular X-Men stories, having the second appearance of the original team is well worth having. Since prices for X-Men #1 have past the point of no return as it launches into orbit, the next best option would be X-Men #2. However, don’t expect to get this one for pennies on the dollar.
The highest grade sold this year has been the 7.5. Last month, that particular copy earned an impressive $4,800, surpassing 2020’s record-high sale by $3k. The real eye-catching purchase was on May 18 when a 7.0 went even higher, hauling in a $4,975 price tag. Even at the bottom of the heap, the 1.5 had a May shower of its own, earning $493. Meanwhile, a 2.5 brought home $900.