The Comic De-SPEC-tive Issue 2
In my obnoxious early-20’s, I used to rock a t-shirt that read, “I listen to bands that don’t even exist yet.” While it was a dig at whatever they were calling hipsters back then, thinking about it now, it translates pretty cleanly to the mentality of comic speculators.
I’m sure that we all have our spec black holes- those books that we have invested countless dollars in- hoping against hope that our irrational love of a fringe property will eventually lead to a windfall when others ‘catch on’.
One of the reasons for this is that many speculators started out as collectors who have drifted in and out of comics throughout their lives- waxing and waning based on changing interests, access to disposable income, work commitments, expanding families or a combination thereof.
When the opportunity to combine nostalgia, passion and commerce presented itself, it seemed a no-brainer to invest in comics. Having been there, done that, and having crashed and burned as well as flown high over the past few years, there are couple of guidelines that can help you to avoid the black hole!
It’s easy to fall in love with a character (Kitty Pryde/1985) or a property (Legion of Super-Heroes/1991) or an artist (Mike del Mundo/2014) but it’s also crucial to be able to differentiate what you like vs. what others may like or want.
Eventually, perseverance may pay off (Uncanny X-Men 129) or not (basically every LosH issue except for the 23 AH! variant) but that’s why collectors-turned-speculators need to trust the long game. Not every book blows up; some books are slow burns that like fine wines appreciate with time.
Take the opportunity to buy up cheap copies of those books that featured that 1st appearance of a forgotten character who you noticed popping up in solicits 3 months down the line or that story-line rumor for the comic that just got optioned.
Remember also that you don’t have to love or even like a book- emotional detachment= easy to part with. That also leads to the next tip…
You can fall in love with a book but don’t fall in LOVE with a book. Greed is good, Gordon Gekko once said but he also knew when to sell. If you hold every hot book hoping that you will be able to pull the trigger at just the right selling point, you will end up either taking big losses or with a lot of dollar box fodder -a victim of relentless under-cutters.
Occasionally you are going to sell prematurely in hopes that you catch the wave and get the top market price. This is why you want to (a) buy multiples and (b) slab the best copies of those multiples.
When Thanos 13 came out, I was able to hop on board the 1:25 variant train at the $55 mark. It ended up being a NM+ copy that I in turn auctioned off six weeks later for $180.
Would the book have been 9.8?
I’m not sure but I also got worried about the long-term viability of the character. My listing came out right at the Frank Castle reveal. If I had held on, I could have perhaps doubled my money (raw) or maybe quadrupled it (slabbed).
What I did do was take the opportunity at that point to sink all of that money back into as many of the highest grade available raw copies of the regular cover that I could find. 9.8 issues of that cover are now going for $200 and up.
I ended up with 20 copies, the 10 best of which I have sent in to CGC. So, while I had a hot book with a great 1:25 cover ratio and a key character introduction that I could have held on to in hopes of a 9.8, I decided to roll the dice and leverage it into a lesser book, but many more copies of that lesser book.
But, with all respect to Peter David, I digress… time for a spec check. This week, the premiere of one of what will be a regular rotating feature:
Tales of the Unex-SPEC-ted
The Source Wall
***Possible spoilers for No Justice, Justice League 1, Justice League Odyssey 1 & Justice League Dark 1***
Topher S. mentioned the Source Wall on CBSI after the recent Metal finale. I’ve never been a huge New Gods fan, though like most others, I am enjoying the King/Gerards Mister Miracle series. I decided to dig deeper into the Kirby-esque (but not Kirby-created) Source Wall.
As with all things, I first had to go to The Source, which actually was a Kirby creation however. The Source is credited as the origin point of the Godwave that created all “New” Gods in the DCU and was also at least partially attributed to superheroes gaining their powers. (This concept, interestingly, of a ‘source’ of powers was explored in the recent Milk Wars Young Animals/JL/JLA crossover.)
The Source Wall however, first appeared in the superlative cross-company book, The Uncanny X-Men and New Teen Titans, an event that made sense at the time as both titles were operating at the top of their game.
This built off the concept of the Final Barrier which Metron described in New Gods 5, and which Chris Claremont and Walt Simonson expanded upon and named in the one-shot. It’s also in New Gods 5 where we get the description of the Promethian Galaxy- a place of giants.
Might this be where the four alien space gods whom the No Justice teams face hail from beyond the wall? We also did have that floating Galactus lookalike pop up in The Terrifics ; more foreshadowing?
Before I get too Wiki-ish, long story short, the Source Wall (both in and out of canon) has been breached by the likes of Superman, Barry Allen, and Lucifer Morningstar. It also is connected to the Bleed, which was first detailed in the Authority as a method for interdimensional travel.
The Monitors warned that too much interdimensional travel could cause a breakdown of the Source Wall. What is of most interest to us is who is trapped on the Source Wall.
Scott Snyder was kind enough to reveal the following at Fan Expo Dallas; I’ll paraphrase the relevant parts:
After the Green Lantern Corps investigate the Source Wall, things at the edge (on) the wall are freed. Justice League Odyssey is formed to combat the return of Darkseid’s father hence Darkseid’s involvement on the team. The falling of the Wall in No Justice also causes a ripple that disrupts magic prompting the (re-)formation of Justice League Dark. Finally, whatever is released from the Wall speeds toward the Earth and is seen by Justice League Million, the Monitor and Kamandi. It is moving at a speed so fast that it phases time. The Justice League takes it upon themselves to deal with this threat.
(Author aside: Based on my love of the Legion which I wrote about above, I’m salivating about this setting up a return of LoSH as we have seen signs about this team and the JSA re-emerging throughout Doomsday Clock and Rebirth!)
Anyway, the main suspects who could become major players soon in the DCU:
- The aforementioned Darkseid’s father, Yuga Khan. While he first appeared in New Gods, vol. 3, his reappearance in Infinity Man and the Forever People 5 set the stage for his imprisonment in the Source Wall. Zonuz, an Old God, took the name Yuga Khan (1st appearance, Prime Earth continuity) and battled against the Wizard for the power of SHAZAM! He was eventually imprisoned by the God of Gods! (Shazam became the God of Gods in Justice League, vol. 2, 45.) Zonuz was essentially trapped in eternity as a ‘magical conduit’.
Fun fact: In Young Justice 29, the Infinity Man (described as an abstract for the Source) gets mashed up with Impulse resulting in an Infinity Man with super-speed. Even Snyder can’t be going for that deep a cut?
- The severed head of Gog (1st appearance, Action Comics, 815) is imprisoned in the Wall by the Kingdom Come Superman and Starman in Justice Society of America.
- Black Hand A history with Green Lanterns, the first ones to approach the wall, Black Hand was trapped by Hal Jordan and previous Source Wall inhabitant, Relic. Black Hand first appeared in Green Lantern (v2, 29) though the character’s origin was updated in Green Lantern: Secret Origin.
- Superboy-Prime Conner Kent and Supergirl trap him in the wall in Teen Titans. It seems like his 1st appearance in DC Comics Presents 87 is always on the verge of breaking out; maybe Superboy-Whine escaping the wall this will push it over the top. (Author note: The effects of Convergence which resulted in Earth-Prime from ever being destroyed may have resulted in Superboy Prime never becoming a villain but this has not yet been clearly established.)
Fun fact: DC has mentioned that the Legion of Doom will be returning. Superboy formed his own Legion of Doom to fight the Teen Titans!
The destruction of the Source Wall will obviously have ramifications in the DCU for years to come and besides the JL family of titles, many of the New Age of Heroes books will either be connected directly or peripherally to the fallout.
The Multiverse becomes an open playing field so continue to be on the lookout for those high ratio variant Grant Morrison Multiversity issues as well. They continue to be sorely undervalued considering the number of potential characters that could be coming into play in the not so distant future.
Just a couple this week due to an extended second feature:
- Don’t look now but all of the cover price Isola ‘B’ variants have disappeared off the eBay. This was a super accessible first issue that clearly established the main characters, setting and the premise and featured beautiful art by Karl Kerschl. He and writer Brendan Fletcher have collaborated often together so this book should come out consistently. If the second issue lives up to the level of the first, these could be a nice stash. As I was made aware of on CBSI, the prologue to the series was a backup feature in Motor Crush 1 through 8.
- I always live by the credo ‘Buy what you like’, and this Hack cover has been on my radar for awhile. Outside his normal vintage motif but still identifiable as being from this very underrated artist, I bought multiples of this one because I’m also a big believer in the creative team who previously worked on the Dregs and just started on the new Cable arc. While it is a miniseries that might actually work for it as unlike most Aftershock titles, we will know why it stops arriving after issue 5!
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