Phoenix Down and Up

by Blaise Tassone

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What a strange situation is on display with the data from X-Men #101. This is a major key in the Bronze Age run of Marvel’s X-Men, not to mention a book having the fortuitous situation of a major motion picture based directly on its central character set to be released this summer (June 7, 2019).

All this and prices are trending….downwards. How is that possible? More importantly, how should we respond to this awkward situation of prices dipping before release of the next X-Men film?

X-Men #101 (October 1976) – First appearance of Phoenix; Phoenix origin concludes

First of all, how do we know that X-Men #101 is slowing down and reversing gains made over the last year? Our handy analyzer helps us out on this front.

Over the last 60 Days the roi (return on investment) on X-Men #101, in top grades, shows that 9.8 graded copies are down -15.9%. 9.6 grades show negative returns of -1.2% and 9.2 copies are negative at -3.2%. This has to be contrasted with the sixty day average on 9.4, 9.0 and 8.5 up a respective +9.6%, +0.9% and +21.9%, but when we dip below the 8.5 we find negative returns ranging from -9.4% (on 8.0 copies) all the way to -19.5% (on 7.5 graded copies).

Over the last month, 9.6 grades are up +6.8% and 9.4 has climbed from +9.6% to +16.3%, but excluding 8.5 and 6.0 grades all other grades are down with many showing negative returns in double digits.

Part of the reason for this downward trend is the complexity surrounding the Phoenix story (something I’ve blogged about before, see here and here), which makes for a great comic but a difficult plot to translate into other mediums (such as film).

Another problem is that word emerging from advanced screenings of the final product has led to rumors that the soon to be released FOX film ‘X-Men: Dark Phoenix’, is a pile of garbage. Since these claims are based on sheer rumor and opinion, I say we take them all with a salt shakers worth of salt.

Let’s assume that, at best, the ‘Dark Phoenix’ movie will be decent but will probably, indeed, be a bad film (for reasons I’ve explained before, that can be summarized here as simply: I’m skeptical any single film can do justice to this story arc). Nonetheless, this still does not mean that these X-Men keys are doomed to lapse in value for a very long time.

A bad FOX film may, on the contrary, be a blessing in disguise to those who want to own the Phoenix keys.

X-Men #101 has a total of 3, 613 copies on the CGC census, so you can definitely find a copy if you look, and since prices are trending down, now may even be an opportune time to try to snatch up a high grade copy (maybe even one of the 131 9.8 copies on the CGC census).

And although the last ComicLink auction of a certified 9.8 sold for $4, 606.00, XM #101 still has an average FMV of $5000.00 in 9.8 and it is a key. The thing to remember is that it’s not the only Phoenix key.

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X-Men #134 (June 1980) – Phoenix becomes Dark Phoenix

X-Men #134 is the first appearance of Dark Phoenix. By contrast to the first appearance of the Phoenix, this book has 1,718 copies on the CGC census. At these numbers it can’t exactly be called a scarce or rare book, but it’s still far from being over-represented or even as well represented as X-Men #101.

However, now consider that 193 of those X-Men #134s are 9.8’s.

X-Men #134, by the way, is trending up in price and at only $875.00 in certified 9.8 grade, it can still be had for one fifth the price of #101. Returns over the last 60 days on X-Men #134 look as follows: 9.8 up at +23.4%, 9.4 = up +8.1%, 9.2 = up +18.3%. Although this has to be accepted with the negative returns on many other grades over the last 60 days, therefore showing definite mixed numbers, the pattern here is the reverse of X-Men #101 and with only 9.6 copies down in higher grades, it signals that X-Men #134 is slowly catching up to its sister book.

The take away: We know that even if the FOX film turns out to actually be terrible, the X-Men will eventually be rebooted. Soon, Jean Grey, perhaps even as the Phoenix, will appear in the MCU. That said, keep your eyes on these books and if the FOX film leads to a downturn in prices use that moment to pick up some Phoenix keys. There’s no way these crowning pinnacles of the X-men run will stay down into the future.

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