About seven weeks ago (on June 6th to be precise), I took a look at the rise of some of the Aquaman key comics in anticipation of the upcoming film. At that time, I recommended Adventure Comics #260 and Aquaman issues #29 (first Ocean Master) and #35 (first Black Manta) as good comics to purchase in lieu of the upcoming Aquaman theatrical release (see here).
So, now that the ‘Aquaman’ movie has had its first full length trailer released and made available for viewing, after its screening at Comic-Con in San Diego, how are the books I picked out doing?
Not at all bad, I would say.
Let’s take a look especially at Aquaman #35 (September 1967), since this issue, more than the others, is on a roll at the moment.
When I suggested picking up this comic, back in June, the best returns were on 2.5 graded copies and, hard to find, 9.2 graded copies were selling for around $2,000.00.
What a difference just under two months makes. 9.2 copies now sell for $2, 150.00 fair market value, for an increase of 7.5% over the last seven weeks. And this is only the beginning, especially since it’s no easier finding high grade copies of this book now as it was when I originally touted it.
The increase of return on investment, however, is now spreading out over lower and higher graded copies. While 2.5 copies are still returning strong numbers (+34.4%), returns on 3.5 graded copies are up (at + 21.5%) and return on investment on 9.4 graded copies are in the stratosphere (at + 559.1%). Finally, some 9.8 copies have been sold and the returns on those are also up (at + 126.7%).
So what accounts for this growing interest in Aquaman #35? We can sum it up in two words: Black Manta. Appearing in the official trailer for the film (watch it here if you haven’t seen it yet), Black Manta is shaping up to be a real treat in the upcoming film. The trailer looks great and, more to the point, the portrayal of Black Manta looks great.
This isn’t a character that was destined to look cool. In the comics he wears awkward modified scuba gear that gives him the appearance of a human seal crossbred with a Roswell alien. But by Neptune if the CGI didn’t render the character both true to the comic page and very cool looking on screen.
In the unlikely event that Aquaman #35 continues to rise with even lower grade copies pricing themselves out of the hands of casual collectors/speculators, Black Manta’s second appearance is in Aquaman #42 (November 1968). I say unlikely because comics with the first appearances of villains tend to follow a pattern of being hot and sought after just before the release of the film that will feature them, only to subsequently cool down and no longer be as wanted after the film comes out. Occasionally, of course, the above trend gets repeated in the unlikely event that the same villain appears in a sequel, but generally speaking (for most villains), this is the case.
Of course there are exceptions to the above rule. Think: the Joker, Lex Luthor, Thanos. The big guns can always fetch good returns. Is Black Manta at that top tier level?
Well, he certainly holds the spot of one of, if not ‘the’, top Aquaman villains. If you don’t believe me just pick up and read the final big key regarding Black Manta and his progression and development as a character. This can be found in the story culminating in Adventure Comics #452 (July 1977).
The latter is also an Aquaman key since it makes up part of the ‘Death of a Prince’ story arc and it features (wait for it) the tragic death of Aquababy, basically at the hands of Black Manta.