There have been many versions of the Lethal Legion over the years. The original members were the Grim Reaper, Living Laser, Man-Ape, Power Man and The Swordsman. This team of tasteless bad guys first appeared in The Avengers #78 in July 1970. The first appearance was created by Roy Thomas (writer) and John Buscema (artist). After a lengthy villain attack, Vision comes to the rescue of The Avengers and helps defeat Lethal Legion with his shapeshifting abilities. Vision is not the only alteration aspect of the Lethal Legion story; several years later a price variant was created that altered the collectibility of this groups early appearances for the better.
Marvel Comics created price variants on purpose in the ’70s, apparently, it was part of a Marvel price market testing experiment. Do you have price variants in your collection? How can you determine a variant? Let’s review the particulars and nuance of some price variants to see if you can find any hidden value. “During 1977 between the month of June and October. It has been speculated that Marvel test-Marketed 30-cent comics at the new price of $.35-cent as they had done testing $.25-cent comics at the $.30-cent price point the year before. This totaled 184 titles. There were far fewer of the 35-cent variants printed as compared to the regular 30-cent versions.” (Source: Sellmycomicbks) These were probably test marketed in only six areas. This time they left the box all squares and rectangles and did not use the flash, circle or large square when pushing this new price.
The primary difference is only in the price itself as mentioned earlier there are no circle or flash styles to highlight the price change. Please check the image to the left of this blurb for details on the difference between the normal price and the price variant. This price box for one of the more famous price variants Star Wars #1 is indicative of what to look for namely “July” and a price in the box of $.35-cent, a clear variant from the $.30-cent regular price for this comic book.
The second version of the Lethal Legion was formed by Count Nefaria, made up of the Living Laser, Whirlwind, and Power Man. The Count magnifies their power but this was only a ruse to really steal their “magnified powers” (Source: Wiki). He fails in the attempt to destroy the Avengers and the unpowered villains get sent to the “Big House.” This occurred in The Avengers #164 (35 cent variant) created by Jim Shooter and John Byrne. This price variant is so rare that even the picture in the GoCollect image catalog is pretty beat up. Not a common comic to find and hence the price is exceptionally higher than the regular comic.
The standard comic Avengers #164 at the regular $.30-cent price last sold in July 2018 for $109.81 in grade (9.8) on eBay. The overall return for the regular copy has dropped to negative -8.2% over the last 19 years. By way of comparison, The Avengers #164 (35 cent variant) has had only three sales over that same time frame and grade (9.0) sold in June 2018 for $245 on ComicConnect. That is just a (9.0), not even mint. There are so few sales that GoCollect does not have an average to calculate which speaks to this comic books rarity. By my own calculation, there is roughly a +150% price increase vs. the regular $.30 cent copy. You don’t need “magnified powers” to find this copy in your collection, or during your comic book treasure hunts. There is nothing nefarious about hunting for price variants only the joy of the obvious profit potential.