X-Men 120 vs 121: Cameo Worth More than 1st Appearance?

by Don

Screen-Shot-2021-01-17-at-9.53.48-AM-199x300 X-Men 120 vs 121: Cameo Worth More than 1st Appearance?I’ve written a few times about the difference between cameo first appearances and first full appearances. As you know, this distinction is important because first full appearances are much more valuable than cameo appearances. In previous blogs, I’ve argued that the market got The Incredible Hulk #181 and The Amazing Spider-Man #300 right, but got Ms. Marvel #1 and The Amazing Spider-Man #51 wrong. In this blog, I write about a odd situation where the first full appearance of Alpha Flight is worth less than their cameo appearance. 

Because of MCU rumors, UXM #120 and 121 are spiking in prices

As our friends at CBR said about six months ago, Alpha Flight is the latest team rumored to make an MCU appearance. As a result of these rumors, Alpha Flight keys have spiked in price, especially UXM #120 and #121. Two months ago, a CGC 9.8 copy of UXM #120 sold for nearly $3,000; a year earlier, investors purchased the same book sold for about half of that amount. Roughly a year earlier, copies of the same book were selling for about 33% less. As for UXM #121, in late December, a CGC 9.8 copy of UXM #121 sold for nearly $1,200. A year earlier, investors purchased the same book sold for about half of that amount. A CGC 9.8 copy of UXM #120 is considerably rarer than a CGC 9.8 copy of UXM #121; however, even mid-to-high-grade copies of UXM #120 often sell for twice as much as similar copies of UXM #121.

Because UXM #120 is a much more valuable comic book, this strongly implies that investors view UXM #120 as Alpha Flight’s first full appearance (even though GoCollect describes UXM #120 — in my opinion, correctly so — as the “[f]irst cameo appearance of Alpha Flight).”

UXM #120 teases Alpha Flight’s appearance

Screen-Shot-2021-01-17-at-9.53.27-AM-196x300 X-Men 120 vs 121: Cameo Worth More than 1st Appearance?As a reminder, the Hulk #181 rule is a commonly held belief that a character’s first appearance generally occurs when that character is: (1) a major part of the comic’s story; and (2) featured prominently on the comic’s cover. Hulk #181 establishes this rule. Let’s talk about this rule as it relates to UXM #120 and #121.

Even though UXM #120 is much more expensive than #121, UXM #120 should, in my opinion, be considered Alpha Flight’s first cameo appearance. Although Vindicator appears throughout the story, this isn’t his first full appearance; the Uncanny X-Men #109 is. The other members of Alpha Flight, however, clearly make cameo appearances. We never see any of them fully in costume, though. Rather, we see most team members clearly in just one panel in their civilian clothes. Otherwise, they are obscured by shadows, and/or we only see them in a silhouette.

The covers also suggest UXM #120 is Alpha Flight’s first cameo appearance. Just like in the story itself, we see a few members of Alpha Flight on its cover; however, we only see them from the back and in silhouette. Clearly, the cover merely teases their full appearances in the next issue. In contrast, UXM #121’s cover prominently features Alpha Flight fighting the X-Men.

Closing thoughts

There are indications that other collectors may agree. As of January 17th, Ultimate X-Men #121 was 53 on GoCollect’s Most Popular Bronze Age Comics whereas UXM #120 had fallen 93 spots to 134 on the same list. Also, as discussed above, UXM #121’s value is rising faster than UXM #120.  These indicators suggest that investors may have initially got this one wrong, but are currently making a course correction. Check out GoCollect’s Analyzer and decide for yourselves!

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Mike Steele February 8, 2021 - 11:24 pm

TMNT 95 and 96 surprised me also, in that I had thought #96 would be more popular as the first full appearance of Jennika as a Turtle, but #95 is the key issue and #96 isn’t considered a key at all.

Ruben February 9, 2021 - 6:33 pm

Disclaimer: I own both UXM 120 (raw NM-) & 121 (9.8) which I bought some 5 or more years ago. So, based on Don’s article, I would be happy if 121 began to be far more valuable than 120. But that’s not how I roll.

I have never commented on any of the thousands of video and written blogs here, YouTube, etc. I am an historian (which qualifies me only in saying that I’m very good at research and having to evaluate primary sources and interpretive claims). I’m also a comic book aficionado (aren’t we all). And I have to say that I’m concerned with attempts to define what should and should not be considered the better investment: cameos (which vary greatly in exposure and role in a given issue, as well as subsequent popularity and more) or so-called “first full appearances” (which may or or may not be as good as the previous issue, etc.)

I believe you need to expand your criteria for why in this case the “cameo” of Alpha Flight 120 is garnering more $ than the so-called first full app in 121. You hint at this wider view when you said that 120 is “considerably rarer” than 121 (with so much of the cover being black, surprise, surprise). But then you basically brush that critical fact off. Yet at other times I hear bloggers argue that supply and demand is THE factor why one comic deserves to be more valued and valuable.

The truth is, like the stock market, you cannot always quantify why one stock (that has not made a penny in profit) is going to moon and some company stalwart just toddles along.

With comics, there are other factors besides cameo vs. so-called first full. The print count (objective); the cover as a magnet for color breaks and other imperfections (objective); and thus far fewer higher graded specimens (objective). How about which cover is artistically more hot (subjective)? Also, a “tease” can be “better” than a later full reveal. This too is subjective. But I remember when FF48 came out and the Silver Surfer came to earth (and Galactus appeared only on the page, albeit in a full giant splash). This was Lee and Kirby at the height of the powers. The cover of 48 with the FF and Watcher looking in the heavens at something truly awesome and frightening is just, well, fantastic. By the time FF49 has Galactus and SS on the cover (which is no doubt cool), it was 48 that was the genius tease of the FF meeting god. Yet, I hear some saying that 49 should be worth more than 48. Sure, but at that point there’s a lot of subjectivity flying around.

I just wonder how these conversations about which comic is the “best” if there was no investment or money riding on any of this? So you can see my concern with arguments passing as objective when there may be subjective tastes and other factors, to say nothing of conflict of interest.

In short, I’ve heard thousands of arguments that make me suspicious if the author is cool on a comic they don’t have or haven’t really cared about, and pumping one they do care about and have — just like stocks are pumped by someone who has already bought a give stock, pumps it up publicly, then sells while the saps are buying.

I really like Go-Collect as well as many other comic book-related written and video blogs and shows. But sometimes I wonder about subjectivity — or its absence to be more to the point, or if I’m seeing a pumping of things an author favors, and either owns or buys before posting how great and undervalued it is. I’ve been into the stock market a long time, and I’m seeing similar patterns here. A lot of this is creating value not following it.

Thank you for listening

dave stevens February 9, 2021 - 5:55 pm

X-Men 120 is the first appearance of Alpha Flight. That’s why it is worth more money. 121 is valued as a more complete appearance, but cameos, as you refer them, are no less the first appearance. Smart investors will clean up by investing in cameos that have been overlooked for years.


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