Sinister Six, Thunderbolts… what’s next? Of the villainous Marvel team-ups, the pieces necessary for those teams appear to be coming together and almost inevitable. With that, their key comic books have been heavily speculated on ad infinitum. So here we’re going to look past them, and even past the other popular ones of Masters of Evil, Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, Hellfire Club, Dark Avengers… all the way down the list to the Lethal Legion. Why? Completely arbitrary, but I just examined Wonder Man’s book, and this one seemed to be a logical extension of that.
It Started with Eric Williams
It was Wonder Man’s brother, Eric Williams, (aka the Grim Reaper) who formed the Lethal Legion; a team comprised of: himself, Man-Ape, Power Man, Living Laser, and Swordsman. The team first appeared in the final pages of Avengers #78 (1970); having successfully used Monica Lynne as bait to capture the Black Panther.
Over the last decade, the overall sales volume for CGC slabs of Avengers #78 has been relatively low. Sales prices have barely budged until most recently in 2020, with a small bump to the current FMVs for CGC 9.8 and 9.6 of $775 and $240, respectively. Even with the book participating slightly with the 2020 bump, it’s difficult to ignore the decade-long flat trend that preceded. It’s possible that the book might’ve been more popular in the market had the cover showcased the entire Lethal Legion.
INDIVIDUAL 1ST APPEARANCES
Grim Reaper’s own first appearance occurred just a few years earlier in Avengers #52 (1968) in which he seeks revenge against the Avengers for Wonder Man’s death. Is the Grim Reaper too far of a speculation stretch for the MCU? There is the Vision connection. In Avengers #79, the Grim Reaper learns that Vision’s mind was created with his brother’s memories and brain patterns. This led to a series of who is the real brother interactions; even more confusion when Wonder Man was revived.
Back to the prospects of a live-action spec. With WandaVision exploring the whole Ship of Theseus and Vision’s mind thing… perhaps a reverse mind/body swap is possible. Instead of a Simon Williams mind in Vision body; it is a Vision mind in Simon Williams’ body. Sure, Simon Williams is still the central element, but the Grim Reaper would be an essential part of the reanimation. The counter-argument is that Wanda was reading the Darkhold, which hasn’t had too many interactions with the Grim Reaper; but there could always be a first.
In the market, the performance of Avengers #52 is just slightly better than that of the above Avengers #78. Over the majority of the last decade, sales prices trended ever so slightly positive until the 2020/2021 timeframe when it increased more in a single year than the preceding ten years. Fairly concerning; despite the striking yellow cover.
If the Lethal Legion were to ever show up in the MCU, it’s likely that Man-Ape’s spot on the team would be filled by another villain. Seeing as how he’s been more closely aligned with the good guys in all his film appearances. In the market, his first appearance book Avengers #62 (1969) was on a decline since 2018 until it also participated in the 2020/2021 spike, which sent sales prices soaring back to and above the 2018 peak.
When looking at the market for Power Man (aka Erik Josten’s) first appearance book of Avengers #21, the first thing that jumps out is that the sales volume is noticeably lower than the books mentioned so far. Interestingly, also different is that it has not participated in the 2020/2021 spike in sales prices.
The trend has been flat over the last decade, but the fact that it has not spiked like most other 1st appearance books, on top of it being from the Silver Age and having the Power Man on the cover, does pique the interest. We’re looking at Lethal Legion characters here, but Erik Josten does, at one point, take up the Atlas name and join the Thunderbolts, which is a popular spec topic as mentioned at the head of this article.
Overall, the flat trend is concerning; but on the very weird flip side, it was so flat that in light of being insulated from the 2020/2021 spike, this book could be one to keep an eye on.
Random side thought: The Living Laser once came into the possession of the Serpent Crown; which conjures up imaginations of what a showdown might’ve looked like with Dr. Evil’s laser sharks.
Back to the serious matter of his first appearance book, Avengers #34 (1966). The market for the book more closely resembles that of Power Man’s Avengers #21 than the earlier mentioned books. Its current sales prices are attractive if you’re looking for something that hasn’t experienced the 2020/2021 inflation. Keep in mind, however, that compared to Avengers #21, there is a difference in the outlook, being that Erik Josten has more story usage opportunities and potentially rewarding catalysts than the Living Laser.
The earliest book of all the ones mentioned here is the Swordsman’s first appearance in Avengers #19 (1965). Without sounding too repetitive; the market for this book saw a very slight upward trend for most of the last decade and a very large spike in the last year. Much of the speculation surrounding this book is tied to the prospects of the Swordsman showing up as an antagonist for Hawkeye, which at the moment has been the subject of some rumors for the upcoming Disney+ series. Just keep in mind the decade-long lackluster trend before fomo’ing into Avengers #19, should anything Swordsman get officially confirmed.
“The only thing any human can be to me is fast food.” – Grim Reaper