As I mentioned in my last article, Star Wars collectors are noticing a significant drop in the prices for key issues concurrent with the overall downturn in the comic book market. Whether or not some of these previously scorching hot comics will return to previous lofty valuations is a question that I receive regularly from my YouTube channel subscribers.
Let’s take a closer look at the recent sales prices for three high-grade modern first appearance Star Wars books in order to decide whether the comic is “down and out” or if now is instead a great opportunity to “buy the dip”. I also provide some cheaper alternatives to each book in a CGC 9.8 in the event that current prices for these gems remain out of the reader’s budget!
Darth Vader #3 (March 2015) – Doctor Chelli Aphra
Darth Vader #3 (March 2015) marks the first appearance of the infamous archaeologist with questionable morals, Doctor Chelli Aphra, as well as her two droids, BT-1 and Triple Zero. Equal parts Han Solo and Indiana Jones, Doctor Aphra enjoys a relatively strong following with Star Wars fans. Aphra’s quick wit and ability to get out of an impossible situation unscathed remind many readers of Harrison Ford’s two aforementioned heroes. Her adventures are almost tailor-made for episodic Disney Plus content, and I am dumbfounded that Doctor Aphra hasn’t made the leap to either the small or big screen yet.
After Black Krrsantan made his first live-action appearance in The Book of Boba Fett, Darth Vader #3 saw a surge in price as speculators were convinced that Dr. Aphra would soon follow in that Wookie mercenary’s footsteps since the two characters are intertwined in her solo comic series. Unfortunately, Aphra and her lovable droids were nowhere to be found when Boba Fett’s Disney Plus series wrapped up, and her first appearance comic subsequently dropped like a rock.
This book is relatively easy to find in a high grade with no fewer than four different printings as well as the (still very pricey) 1:25 Larroca ratio variant to choose from. GoCollect’s sales data shows that the standard cover first print in a CGC 9.8 has dropped from the Krrsantan-fueled high of approximately $535 in January all the way to a current FMV of $311.
Verdict: Buy the Dip
Doctor Aphra will undoubtedly show up in a cameo (or possibly in her own Disney Plus series) at some point – her popularity with readers almost demands this to happen. Lucasfilm and Disney are certainly taking their sweet time delivering what the fans want, though. If the live-action rendition does even a sliver of justice to her comic book persona, casual Star Wars fans will seek out Darth Vader #3 in droves.
Also consider: Doctor Aphra #1 (December 2016)
If Darth Vader #3 in a high grade remains out of reach at current prices, I would look at Doctor Aphra #1 (December 2016). This book marks her first solo-titled series and is also the first cameo appearance of her father, Korin Aphra.
With only 136 copies in a 9.8 grade on the CGC census, this book should see a nice price bump whenever Doctor Aphra takes the next step into live-action content. GoCollect lists the current 90-day moving average for Doctor Aphra #1 in a CGC 9.8 at $164, so the book is more affordable than Darth Vader #3 in the same grade.
Darth Vader #6 (October 2017) – The Grand Inquisitor
When Disney revealed the first extended trailer for the Obi-Wan Kenobi mini-series, fans were treated to the first live-action depiction of The Grand Inquisitor and his revolving lightsaber. His first full appearance comic, Darth Vader #6 (October 2017) consequently went nuclear, with prices for a CGC 9.8 hitting a peak in February of approximately $580.
Unfortunately, Rupert Friend’s uneven portrayal in the Obi-Wan series left much to be desired. The Grand Inquisitor simply didn’t have enough screen time to resonate long-term with viewers, and many people (myself included) wondered why Jason Isaacs, the original actor who so perfectly voiced The Grand Inquisitor in the Star Wars Rebels cartoon series, wasn’t handed the role.
Darth Vader #6’s prices have crumbled, with some July eBay sales hitting a low of $182 for a CGC 9.8. The cover for this book is amazing, and I added Darth Vader #6 to my CGC collection in 2020 simply because I loved the Rebels Season One depiction so much. But is this book a good investment now?
Verdict: Down and Out
Unless Disney and Lucasfilm decide to flesh out the Inquisitorius in more detail with yet another spin-off (which I think is unlikely), Darth Vader #6 has probably flatlined for the foreseeable future. The Grand Inquisitor’s lukewarm reception in the Obi-Wan series leads me to believe that he is relegated to the back burner of most collectors’ want lists.
Also consider: Kanan #12 (March 2016)
I actually think that Kanan #12 (March 2016) has slightly better intermediate-term price appreciation prospects than Darth Vader #6. Kanan #12 features The Grand Inquisitor’s first cameo appearance, but this comic also marks the first appearance of Admiral Rae Sloane, a fairly important supporting character within Timothy Zahn’s excellent recent series of Thrawn novels.
This comic is also the last issue in the Kanan series, and with the Rebels team almost guaranteed to have a major role in the new Ahsoka Disney Plus show, Kanan #12 may see an uptick in demand. Recent eBay sales prices for a CGC 9.8 have dropped to as low as $100 and it is worthy of picking up anywhere near that price point.
Darth Maul #2 – Cade Bane
The infamous bounty hunter Cad Bane made his first comic book appearance in Darth Maul #2 (March 2017). Cad Bane’s live-action debut in The Book of Boba Fett in February led to an internet meltdown, and prices rocketed to new highs of over $650 in February.
People who “panic-bought” this book learned the unfortunate dangers of comic market FOMO after the bounty hunter was just as quickly “killed” in the series finale. Prices have been dropping ever since then, with the 30-day moving average currently sitting around $230. This book features a great Rafael Albuquerque cover, but the question remains: Is Cad Bane truly dead?
Eagle-eyed viewers noticed a beeping noise coming from Cad Bane’s chest after meeting his untimely demise at the business end of Boba Fett’s Gaffi stick. Could the noise be a heart monitor or possibly a transponder for Cad Bane’s ship? Only time will tell in future Star Wars content.
Verdict: Buy the Dip
Maybe I am too biased to render a fair judgment since I think Cad Bane was one of the few redeeming qualities of The Book of Boba Fett, but I just cannot see Dave Filoni and Lucasfilm letting this character die in such a rushed fashion. Fans’ enthusiastic reception to Cad Bane’s cartoon depictions in The Clone Wars and The Bad Batch, combined with the scenery-chewing live-action portrayal, leads me to believe this bounty hunter isn’t quite dead yet.
Also Consider: Darth Maul #3 (April 2017)
Darth Maul #3 is Cad Bane’s first comic book cover appearance and second appearance overall. After peaking at a mind-boggling $362 in February according to GoCollect sales data, recent eBay sales prices of $85 to $100 are much more attractive and an easy purchase decision if you are a fan of the character like me.
With just about every key issue comic book seeing price deflation from the heady days of mid-2021, collectors need to put their hard-earned money to work wisely. Hopefully, readers will steer clear of choices that may never fully recover and instead grab some modern first-appearance Star Wars books with solid long-term potential.
About the Author: John Rula runs the “Action Figure Grader” YouTube channel, which covers vintage and modern Star Wars action figures and comic books. With a background in investment banking and real estate investing, John likes to cover Star Wars collectibles investing with an eye toward the broader economic outlook.
Check him out on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/actionfiguregrader!
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*Any perceived investment advice is that of the freelance blogger and does not represent advice on behalf of GoCollect.