From The Long Halloween to Zero Year, the true source of Matt Reeves’ Batman reboot remains a mystery. But, we already know enough to make some great spec investments NOW.
Shortly after the casting of Robert Pattinson was made public in 2019, reports that either The Long Halloween or Hush would serve as the basis for the forthcoming Matt Reeves movie, The Batman, led to a lot of speculative investing in virtually every character from Batman’s Rogues Gallery. While it is quite possible that neither of the aforementioned series will pan-out, GoCollect blogger Ariel Lazo did a great rundown of the first Gold and Silver Age appearances of the Penguin, the Riddler, Catwoman and Two-Face, which you can find here.
Most of those Blue Chip comics are already priced out of budget for the vast majority of collectors, with even Batman: The Long Halloween #1 surpassing the $400 benchmark in the highest grades. But the first appearance of Thomas Elliot in Batman #609 is only about $160 in CGC 9.8, while Batman #619, which first reveals that Tom Elliot is Hush, is even cheaper–with the Villains Variant and coveted 2nd Printing topping-out at $100 or so.
These are very important comics as part of the canon of Jim Lee’s early work for DC. That’s true whether or not Thomas Elliot appears in this first film or any subsequent film. Compared to the guide prices of Todd McFarlane’s DC comic work, Jim Lee is exceptionally undervalued. McFarlane’s covers are considered keys for his artwork alone, while Jim Lee’s Batman Black and White and the Hush series have consequential events beyond what many consider to be Lee’s best artwork. That positions Hush keys as a smart, long-term strategy.
What we Know
What we know for certain is that Reeves’ Batman is a story about Bruce Wayne’s first year under the cowl. That can only help increase values of Frank Miller & David Mazzuchellli’s Year One tale begun in Batman #404, and ended in Batman #407.
A 9.4 of that first issue is easily obtained for $60. A 9.8 has teetered widely (between $300-$450) for a few years now. Compare that to the FMV of Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns #1, which will cost you somewhere between $2K and 3K for a 9.8 and $200-$250 for a 9.4, and his equally-as-good Batman follow-up tale registers as a true bargain. This is an undisputed classic story that frequently tops All-time Best Of lists.
Since it was first collected as a trade paperback Batman: Year One has remained in print, ensuring that new generations of readers are constantly discovering and enjoying it which bodes well for long-term value.
Gotham’s Vilest Villains
We also know from the teaser trailers released thus far that the Penguin and the Riddler are integral to the plot of this movie. The casting of Oscar-Nominated Paul Dano as the Riddler and the complete divergence from the classic Riddler costume make it clear that this will be a Batman film like no other. It will also inarguably lead to a massive resurgence in interest in all the key back-issues featuring Riddler and Penguin.
Luckily, there is a rather affordable Copper Age classic pertinent to both.
That’s Secret Origins Special #1, which features a new framing story and Riddler origin by Neil Gaiman (with Bernie Mireault & Matt Wagner art), a new Penguin origin by Alan Grant (with art by Sam Keith), and a new Two-Face origin (with gorgeous Pat Broderick pencils). The cover features all three as drawn by multi-Eisner Award-winner, Brian Bolland. It still ranks as one of the all-time great Bat-Villain images. There are fewer than fifty copies in any condition on the census. Less than a dozen each in 9.8 or 9.6. Both hold a current FMV of about $50. Expect a market correction soon.
What we’ve seen so far of Colin Farrell in a mere handful of publicity photos and brief glimpses in two official teaser trailers seems to point to a more realistic adaptation of the Emperor Penguin version of Oswald Cobblepot. That rendition first appears in 2012’s Detective Comics #13, which sells for $50 or so in a CGC 9.8. That is ridiculously cheap. The Jason Fabok Sketch Cover Variant is listing an FMV at about the same price, but there hasn’t been a confirmed sale in almost two years with only twelve total copies on the census. There are likewise only seventeen copies of the standard cover on the census. This supports an inevitable market correction for both.
There have been much larger gains posted for some of the other characters reimagined via DC’s New 52. This includes minor characters that are yet to be confirmed in connection with any pending media adaptations. As we get more footage via new trailers, more promo images in magazines, and a soft indication of commitment to the character via toy solicitations, we can expect prices on this book to double. They’ll then continue to rise. If it becomes apparent that the Penguin will appear in multiple films in the new franchise, of course.
The Owl & The Pussycat
Official press releases have also confirmed the presence of Jim Gordon, Alfred Pennyworth, and Catwoman in The Batman. Aside from their introductions in the Golden Age, it’s hard to pinpoint key issues for Gordon or Alfred. Catwoman had been rebooted and retconned significantly over the years. This presents quite a few opportunities for sound investment. Selina Kyle has been an important facet of both Bruce Wayne and Batman’s ongoing story arc since Batman #1 back in 1940. Still, it took thirty-one years for Catwoman to feature in a solo story. It was a back-up feature in 1981’s Batman #332, which has a great Catwoman inset on the cover. These days a near-perfect 9.8 will probably run you about $200.
It would be another eights years until Catwoman got her own monthly comic.
There are only 133 copies of 1989’s Catwoman #1 on the census. Only two 9.8s have been sold this year. In addition, there were only two confirmed sales last year, so FMV is hard to calculate. If you can get one for less than the last documented sale of $180, there’s definitely room to grow.
How Many Villains?
This past week an interview with director Matt Reeves revealed that (at one point) he had plans to feature as many as six villains, which has bolstered support for prior rumors about The Long Halloween providing the main story elements. It is more likely, however, a hint about cameos that will help set up the sequel.
Some people have speculated that the relatively recent enemy, The Court of Owls, would provide some exciting mid or post-credit intrigue. Their first full-team appearance in New 52’s Batman #6 runs about $250 in 9.8 while the a 1-in-25 Sketch Variant is likely to set you back $800. Without a confirmation, there’s not a lot of short-term growth potential here, but there’s not much chance it will go down in price, either. It’s a pivotal part of Scott Snyder’s incredible run on the title, and both of the cover designs (multiple versions of the Greg Capullo art pictured here and Gary Frank’s Talon-focused Incentive Variant) present beautifully in a slab.
A Cold Future?
Also leaked this week is a report that the coda of the new film will feature the flooding of Gotham at the hands of the Riddler. This would perfectly set-up Mr. Freeze from the Zero Year plot begun in Batman #21 for the first sequel.
IMDB lists actress Janine Haruni in the role of “Carla”. Possibly, this indicates the presence of geo-engineer Carla Tannhauser, mother of Caitlin Snow (aka Frost). This seemingly reinforces a potential connection to Mr. Freeze. While the full story may not be adapted verbatim, the Zero Year look established by Capullo and Snyder has already been mirrored in the urban guerrilla gear we’ve seen on Robert Pattinson in the trailers.
Significantly, this issue is not only the new origin of Batman. It’s also the first appearances of Philip Kane and Duke Thomas. The latter of which (as The Signal) lends accelerated growth potential on its own merits. Considering that there are a number of different 1st printings for between $50-150, the SDCC Variant seems to be the bargain at the lowest end of the spectrum, and the Mikel Janin Incentive Cover is a worthwhile indulgence at the top of that scale.
The same unnamed source for the Zero Year plot news has shared that this new Batman franchise will be getting its own Deathstroke. New Teen Titans #2 has always been a good investment, and this provides even more incentive, since the continuing Titans television series keeps the character relevant and pricing on that Copper Age Key has yet to break $1k. In fact, you can still get an 8.0 (maybe even an 8.5) for less than $200.
Deathstroke’s second full appearance in New Teen Titans #10 (following a cameo in New Teen Titan’s #9) is also the retelling of Beast Boy’s origin, making this a peculiar double key. The popularity of Ryan Potter’s portrayal of Gar Logan aka Beast Boy aka Changeling on both Titans and Doom Patrol hasn’t yet manifested in a tipping point for his character’s key issues. That exposes an additional investment opportunity with comics that are quite affordable.
But the true underdog among the many Deathstroke key issues is the first issue of his first solo series in Deathstroke, The Terminator #1. The stated FMV for a 9.8 is $75, but there are none online presently for less than $160. That still seems cheap.
After we extrapolate from the data available for Marvel characters like Moon Knight, Namor, The Punisher, and Wolverine? Premiere issues of first solo series at DC offer a potentially better return on investment at a significantly lower buy-in.
What do you think about Reeves’ Batman? Will you be hunting any books?