If you’re at a comic convention and you feel like stirring up trouble, here’s what you do: find a booth with a vastly overpriced Hulk #181 (that shouldn’t be hard to find), and say, “That’s NOT the first appearance of Wolverine.” Step back and watch the fireworks. You’re welcome.
Last week, I kept you in the loop on the current market for The Incredible Hulk #181. (If you haven’t read that entry, here’s your link. I’ll wait for you here while you read. Take your time.) With Marvel resurrecting Wolverine in the Hunt for Wolverine storyline, it’s no wonder that his first appearance has been picking up lately. As I previously wrote, Hulk #181 is a comic that seemingly gains value daily. The real question is whether or not the renewed attention on Wolverine has given a boost to his first two cameo appearances.
This is a controversial issue. On the final panel of the final page, you’ll find a single portrait of the original Wolverine. Where do you weigh in on the longstanding debate? Should this be considered Wolverine’s true first appearance? Should it be held in equal esteem to Hulk #181? Should we drop the distinction between the cameo and the full appearance and consider Hulk #181 the second appearance of Wolverine? Personally, I lean toward keeping the separation between a first appearance in cameo and a first full appearance.
No matter which side of the debate you fall on, having the trifecta of Hulk #180-182 is a holy grail for many collectors. For hardcore Wolverine fans just looking for their piece of comic history, Hulk #180 is a viable option if you don’t have the funds for #181. However, the price is on the upswing, but it’s not in the unreachable level.
Following in the footsteps of #181, the first cameo appearance has been going up for the past year in virtually all grades. A graded 9.8 has jumped from $2,850 in 2016 to $6,749 in 2017. Of course, that grade is a rarity. For perspective, no more than five have been sold in a single year going back to 2003. The most popular grades are the 8.5 and the 7.5, which have sold 28 and 27 times, respectively, in the past 12 months.
Back in 2016, you could have gotten an 8.5 for $390. Over the past three months, it’s averaged $522. The last sale was on June 14 for $600. That 7.5? Its average has seen a three-digit boost in a year; the 2016 average was $285 while the 90-day average stands at $388. These days, every single graded Hulk #180 that has sold on eBay in the past year has been for over $100, even a lowly incomplete 0.5, which someone bought for $110 on January 30.
Finally, we come to the least-significant of the Wolverine trilogy, Hulk #182. While this is still a key issue, there is no debate here; it is the third overall and second cameo appearance of Logan. Because it’s not the major key as its two predecessors, Hulk #182 is much more affordable, though it has been seeing a price jump recently.
The real mover has been the 6.5, which has increased on average more than $30 over two years. That grade, which averaged $60 and only sold twice in 2016, has brought a median $96 over the last six sales in 12 months. What’s eye-catching is that the past two sales have been for $100 and $140 since April. That $140 is the most this grade has sold for in 16 years. It will be worth your time to watch the prices and invest in a copy or two.