The Curious Case of ASM #101 & Morbius

by Ryan Kirksey

021221A_ASMMorbius-300x157 The Curious Case of ASM #101 & MorbiusIt’s not often that a movie that has completed all filming and editing and then is delayed four separate times, but that’s what these pandemic times have presented us with Sony’s Morbius. The Jared Leto-led project was originally slated for July 2020 but now is not projected to hit theaters until January 2022 – two years after the trailer first dropped.

Maddening.

Considering we first heard about the movie’s production almost three years ago, those of us in the comic collecting and speculating game expected to be comforted by a steady rise for Morbius’ first appearance in Amazing Spider-Man #101.  The journey has been anything but a consistent climb, however. In fact, ASM #101 has seen fewer spikes than you can stick in a vampire.

Why the rocky road for such a popular, in-demand book? Let’s dive into the last three years of this book and see if the trends tell us whether it’s time to buy or sell right now.

Morbius Rumors: The First Spike

We first heard word of the new Sony project and that Jared Leo might be attached in June 2018. Over the next three morbius-poster-300x169 The Curious Case of ASM #101 & Morbiusmonths, you can predict what happened.

According to GoCollect’s sales database, all grades save two (including 9.2 which only saw a 0.8% dip) saw a huge spike in the value of the book over a 90-day span. Grade didn’t seem to matter too much to investors as CGC 3.0 copies jumped up 83%, 5.5’s went up 76%, and 8.5’s shot up 51%.  There were record highs in sales set all over the place and GoCollect tracked over 90 sales of the CGC-labeled book in just that three-month span.

The First Fall

From September 2018 to April 2019, we didn’t hear much about the movie. It was an extremely quiet period for Sony news and ASM #101 prices began to reflect the silence.

From September 1, 2018 to April 1, 2019 ten of the 17 grades between 3.0 and 9.8 saw a dip in value, including 3.0 dropping 17%, 8.5’s dropping 8% and 9.2’s falling 14%.

In many ways, this is not surprising as it’s sellers who missed the peak and are selling on the downswing.  For an early Bronze Age mega-key, drops this size are somewhat surprising, though.

A Leto Tweet: The Second Spike?

But right in the middle of filming – April 4, 2019, to be exact – Jared Leto tweeted out a gif of him in action as Dr. Michael Morbius. Normally, these types of first looks send people scrambling for details about the movie, which piques interest in the movie. Then, prices of the relevant issues rise.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.jsmorbius The Curious Case of ASM #101 & Morbius

Not this time for some reason. In the 16 CGC grades between 9.6 and 3.0, eight of them saw noticeable dips in value over the next five months, some as high as 19%. Why is this? Was Leto not believable as the character? Most likely, this just wasn’t one of those needle-mover events. We have plenty of evidence of trailers and movie announcements sending books through the roof. My best guess is that a gif from an actor in the movie just didn’t resonate. The book continued on a slow spiral down from the movie announcement in summer 2018.

Late 2019: No News = Large Dip

From late summer 2019 until the trailer for the movie dropped in mid-January 2020 we heard next to nothing about the film. In what was surely the time for post-production, editing, and planning for the movie to roll out, it was an extremely quiet fall. As often happens, book values dropped precipitously during this silent phase.

Looking at data on the 14 CGC grades between 9.6 and 4.0, nine of them dropped in overall fair market value, including a massive 36% dip in grade 5.0. By the end of 2019, you could have owned this book in a grade 5.0 for less than $300.

At the high end, a CGC 9.4 that sold for almost $2,300 in early September that year could have been purchased for just $1,700 in mid-November. The value of the book was cratering.

morbius-trailer-300x225 The Curious Case of ASM #101 & MorbiusAs news began to leak out that a trailer was about to be released, however, investors and collectors began to see visions of dollar signs dancing in their heads around Christmas 2019. That’s always what happens with these Marvel movies, right?

Except this time, it didn’t.

The Trailer Drop

The Morbius trailer dropped on January 13, 2020, and all of us comic nerds were instantly transfixed. We re-watched it, paused it for clues, and lost our collective minds when we saw Michael Keaton’s Adrian Toomes show up, assuring there was a connection between this movie and the MCU.

If ever there was a moment that would cause the book to spike, this was it. But what happened was 12 of 16 CGC grades dropped in value or stayed flat over the next two months. I have been studying these trends for a long time and I simply have no explanation for it.

That same CGC 5.0 copy that could be bought for $300 in late 2019 was still at $310 in early March of 2020. The trailer did essentially nothing to the value. The best guess I can muster is that we are looking at extremely limited sampleMorbius-Movie-Michael-Keaton-Cameo-Vulture-300x158 The Curious Case of ASM #101 & Morbius sizes on GoCollect sales – between 6 and 16 sales in each grade between 9.0 and 5.0 – and that doesn’t accurately reflect the off-book market.

I remember seeing an ASM #101 for sale in just about every other Instagram post in late January.  Perhaps people were just finding places other than eBay, Heritage, and Comiclink to avoid the markups.

COVID Impacts

Since March 2020, we all know what has happened. The movie has seen three more delays and will now be released in January 2022 instead of its original summer 2020. I’m sure it has been quite a frustrating chain of events for Marvel and Sony as they scramble to fix timelines and continuity disruptions.

How this will impact ASM #101 is hard to state. We now have another year before the movie (and hopefully that’s all), which means more trailers, more hype, and more speculation of MCU interconnectivity since we will have presumably seen another MCU Spider-Man film by then.

How to React

In the final analysis, we have an odd situation on our hands. Even without a movie or a connection to a cultural zeitgeist like the MCU, we would expect an early Bronze Age key to see strong upward movement over a two and a half year span. A major motion picture should accelerate based on patterns of previous issues, especially with Spider-Man.

But the data show that most grades have seen only 5%-15% inflation in value over that time. Looking back at our CGC 5.0 example, two copies that sold in late 2020/early 2021 went for $302 and $380. I would have expected a lot more over two years’ time.  This tells us we have two possible paths for this book.

Either this is just an anomaly (meaning Morbius really isn’t that in-demand) and it is going to remain stagnant or we will see some massive growth at some point over the next year. I’m betting on the latter.

My personal preference is to get this book now before anything causes it to spike. Even in late January, news began to drip out that Jared Leto liked the idea of a Morbius vs. Blade battle at some point in the MCU. If that gains traction, hold on to your seats.

I’m buying right now. What are you doing with ASM #101? Let me know in the comments!

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1 comment

popsequentialism February 19, 2021 - 5:28 pm

Very well presented, Ryan. Here are a few other things to consider:

All Spider-Man comics have been on a steady rise – not just key issues, so in that sense ASM 101 is generally a good investment, but I wouldn’t expect an inordinate rise for a few reasons that are all connected to the casting of Jared Leto:

Comic fans don’t seem to like Jared Leto. His Joker in Suicide Squad is the most reviled performance of a comic book book character perhaps ever.

He has no ostensible box-office draw as evidenced by the lack of roles and absence of real box-office successes in his seven-year box office history since winning an Oscar in 2015–an honor that met censure from the trans community. And Bladerunner 2049 is one of my favorite films of this millennium.

Over the past 15+ years, Leto has been the subject of numerous reports and accusations of inappropriate behavior (google “jared leto” “#metoo”), but never really suffered for it –yet.

Sony isn’t Disney. Venom was a big box office success globally, but it really wasn’t very good and the tagline, “in association with Marvel Studios” couldn’t make it more clear that this is NOT an MCU sanctioned film.

That said, Amazing Spider-Man #101 is a good investment now that post-trailer Hype has died down a bit. And Bronze age horror is also doing generally well since modern horror comics like Ice Cream Man and the small screen success of Sabrina (and the pending Archie Afterlife tie-ins) have created a nostalgia for 50s and 70s horror comics. So in that respect, Fear #20 (the first Morbius solo story) is also a rather undervalued investment title.

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