THE MARVEL 616 EFFECT
Remember Brute Force? Neither do I, and I bought virtually everything Marvel Comics published in the 1990s. Judging by the sheer obscurity of the title, most comic fans missed this over-the-top comic. Yet, it has made its way into the mainstream thanks to an episode of Marvel 616 on Disney+.
The show is basically a behind-the-scenes documentary series from the minds behind Marvel’s classic stories. In this particular episode, writer Paul Scheer says that he wants to revitalize Brute Force and bring the team to the modern age with new comics, toys, and cartoons. Whether or not that is actually on the Marvel radar, we don’t know, but it has been enough to light a fire under the team’s debut issue.
THE NEXT TRANSFORMERS? NOT SO MUCH
We can safely assume that Marvel was looking for the Transformers effect in regards to Brute Force.
When Hasbro famously brought Transformers into the United States, the toy company tapped Marvel to help market the new action figures. The idea was that Marvel would bring the toys to life with backstories for the characters and a comic line to reach the target audience. The formula worked wonders and launched a worldwide phenomenon.
In 1990, Marvel tried the same approach of creating a comic that was specifically meant to sell toys. True to the ‘90s comic explosion, the idea was excessive and irreverent. Project Brute Force, as the team is known in the comics, is the result of experiments to cybernetically enhanced soldiers by combining them with animals. That gives birth to characters like Dr. Ecko, a gun-toting dolphin. It sounds like a James Gunn fantasy.
Not surprisingly, the idea did not get the traction Marvel had hoped for. The idea was scrapped at the end of its four-issue limited series. Since then, Brute Force has been virtually forgotten save for a few cameo appearances as a wink and nod toward some of the company’s more ridiculous concepts.
THAT PRICE INFLATION
According to CGC’s census data, there are only six total graded copies on file. That is not necessarily because this book had a minuscule print run; this was the ‘90s, and almost every comic from Marvel and DC had ample copies on the market. This is more a testament to how unpopular Brute Force #1 has been. There aren’t many graded copies because only six people wanted to bother having it slabbed.
In light of Scheer’s love letter to Brute Force in Marvel 616, this issue has suddenly become popular just in case it gets a relaunch. Where this issue at one point was $10 or less for raw copies, the fair market value is on the way up. In July, the first graded 9.8 Brute Force #1 to ever sell brought $85. A month earlier, a 9.6 sold for $64 and a 9.4 earned $75.
On eBay, the sold listings reveal that prices have begun to inflate, but they are not out of hand just yet. For the most part, raw copies are selling for $20, give or take. As of the time of this writing, there are active listings as high as $52.
If you are looking to collect Brute Force, you will want to add 2014’s Deadpool Bi-Annual #1 to your wish list. Here you will find Brute Force’s return fittingly in Marvel’s favorite comedy title, Deadpool.
Like those original Brute Force issues, you can get this comic for next to nothing. The only graded sale was for an 8.0 in 2017, and it only brought $8. If you are looking for a raw copy, there are eBay sold listings for as much as $10 and as little as $1.
MARVEL 616: THE NEW SPECULATIVE LAUNCHING PAD?
In the comic community, we are accustomed to MCU news causing mass hysteria across the market. For Marvel 616 to cause a rush for issues of Brute Force #1, that could signal a new avenue for comic speculation. Will each episode cause ripples in the speculative market? It is too soon to say for sure, but it will be interesting to see where this leads.