BY MATT TUCK
For a change of pace, the MCU didn’t own this week’s #Trending10, but there’s no denying the hype for Hawkeye, No Way Home, and the anticipation for Kingpin to return to the MCU.
10. STRAY DOGS #1
Just when we thought we had seen the last of Stray Dogs, Tony Fleecs and Trish Forstner are bringing another round of cartoon canine horror to the masses. Following the events of the original Stray Dogs series, the new series, Stray Dogs: Dog Days, will be an anthology of short stories. All of your favorite critters from Stray Dogs are said to be featured in the series, and they will get their own feature stories in the process.
The excitement for Dog Days has sparked a new wave of interest for the original series, particularly those printings of Stray Dogs #1. Besides the stellar narrative combined with the ironically wholesome Disney-esque artwork, the many variants put this comic on the map. Dog Days is following that same marketing strategy, and once again there are numerous horror movie poster homages to choose from. Earlier this year, those tributes to classic horror movies made for quick profits for several of the Stray Dogs #1 variants. This week, all five printings have seen a resurgence, although they are not reaching those inflated prices from a few months ago.
If you have been looking for an opportunity to jump on the bandwagon, now is a good time. Practically every variant of every print run has been on the decline in recent months, which makes this an opportune time to buy. The Fleecs and the Forstner variants for the first printing have been earning the highest price tags, and they are averaging close to $200 each at the moment. However, the standard cover for the third print is up to $100, which is one of the few copies that has gained value this winter.
9. BATMAN #92 (1955)
On the topic of dogs, let’s not forget the classic Golden Age superhero pup, Ace. Created in the campy, child-friendly days of the Golden Age, Batman’s favorite dog has gained a cult following. Throughout the decades, Ace has appeared alongside the likes of , and he had some cameos in the tongue-in-cheek Batman: the Brave and the Bold cartoon series. Now, the Bat-Hound is ready to soar to new heights of stardom thanks to the DC League of Super-Pets.
We have known about the Super-Pets animated movie for several months, but DC/WarnerMedia recently unveiled the first trailer for the upcoming movie. Superman’s famous dog, Krpyto, voiced by Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson, is the film’s protagonist, and he will see the majority of the screen time as such. Ace, however, has the chance to follow in Donkey’s footsteps and steal the spotlight, as the latter did in the Shrek movies. Voiced by the mainstream media’s favorite comedian, Kevin Hart, we can be sure that Ace will get some of the best lines in the movie. Who knows? If Ace wins over audiences, he could get his own spinoff movie or series.
It all adds up to inflated prices for Ace’s first appearance in 1955’s Batman #92. Being a Golden Age key, even a minor one, you have to grade the sales on a different scale than those of modern comics. While eBay has just three sales in the past week, that is significant for this particular issue. If that doesn’t catch your eye, the price tag for a 4.5 surely will. On December 7, that 4.5 brought a record $1,750. Before this year, it had never sold for more than $995.
8. ANIMAL CASTLE #1
Ablaze Publishing’s Animal Castle is the hot new series that is gaining traction each week. Billed as an animal uprising tale with a twist, the comic, as the title suggests, is a take on George Orwell’s high school English teacher favorite, Animal Farm, and it’s receiving critical praise.
As Ablaze describes it, “Nestled in the heart of a farm forgotten by men, the Animal Castle is ruled with an iron hoof by President Silvio. The bull and its dog militia savor their power, while the other animals are exhausted by work, until the arrival of the mysterious Azelard, a traveling rat who will teach them the secrets of civil disobedience.”
The first issue was released last month, and its reputation is rising quickly. For the past week, both the standard and the virgin variant for Cover A were the biggest sellers. If you want a copy to call your own, the trade dress version is already earning in the $20 range. One of the more popular covers has been the 1:10 ratio variant, and it is selling between $30-$40 for raw copies.
7. ASTONISHING TALES #25
In the past week, we’ve all heard the heartbreaking news: George Perez has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. As collectors, we cling to our comfort items to help us deal with the impending death of the comic legend. Naturally, buyers took to eBay to stock up on his most popular creations, and any of those with the CGC Signature Series yellow label are especially valued at the moment.
Perez’s first published work is his most popular at the moment. Sales have spiked over the past week for the first appearance of Deathlok. Clearly, this is due to all the attention on Perez and his mark on the industry.
Before we all get too judgmental, this may be a sign of grieving for some collectors. Of course, there will always be the opportunistic flippers looking to turn a quick profit in the face of the tragic announcement. To thwart those efforts, the best thing is to either abstain from buying in the coming weeks or at least refuse to pay the inflated prices. On that note, I feel it best not to list the current prices for Astonishing Tales #25. Still, it's good to see Perez's work getting the respect it deserves.
6. BATMAN #118
The presales for Batman #118 must be putting a smile on the faces of DC’s sales department. The upcoming issue promises a new villain for the Bat-Family, Abyss, and time has proven that first appearances are the catalyst for high sales of new issues. Being a Batman adversary, Abyss has a strong upside. After all, the Dark Knight has become the clear face of DC Comics, and anyone attached to him is sure to get plenty of exposure. The only question is how far will he go in the grand scheme? If he is a flash in the pan, then this issue won’t be terribly valuable. On the other hand, if he is catapulted to the elite villain status, that could spell profits for collectors getting on the bandwagon early.
This will be an ongoing mystery in the Bat-books. Authorities are looking for members of the international Batman, Inc. pertaining to the murder of a terrorist known only as “Abyss.” The story should eventually reveal the character’s face and origin, and that is risky for buyers. Depending on how the big moment is received, it could inflate or deflate those values.
Lucky for you, copies of Batman #118 are basically selling for cover price, at least for the standard editions. Depending on which of the plethora of variants you choose, you could be looking at heftier price tags.
5. FUTURE STATE: GOTHAM #8
Speaking of Batman villains, Jace Fox is getting his very own Joker. As part of the Next Batman comics that take place in the future Gotham City, a mystery character is picking up the Joker mantle. This has a Batman Beyond feel to it, a cartoon that had its own Joker as well.
The Joker is such an endearing character to generations of Bat-fans that introducing a new piece to the mythos is bound to cause excitement. How readers will react to the future Joker is another question altogether.
At the moment, pre-orders are staying in the normal price range. For the most part, these are selling for $4-$5, though the variants are always a different story.
4. AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #129
The Netflix speculation never actually died out, but it did get quiet for a brief period last year. Then came the Daredevil/No Way Home rumors, and it ignited a whole new round of speculation for those beloved Netflix characters making a return to the MCU.
As tempting as it all sounded, most fans and collectors were not too confident that any of the Netflix-verse shows would be extended on Disney+ despite the rampant speculation. Then came the recent news that Charlie Cox will be the MCU’s Daredevil. That has led to plenty of theories about both his character and Kingpin. By extension, it has also spawned a wave of Punisher rumors.
Granted, Frank Castle’s name has been tossed around the gossip sites for years now. The more recent scuttlebutt has it that he will appear in either Armor Wars or Blade, possibly both. As far-fetched as those ideas once sounded, the return of Cox to the DD role could mean that those rumors are not as far off the mark as we once believed.
Inevitably, that has led collectors on a path to ASM #129. While this issue didn't lose its popularity among collectors, its momentum did take an ice bath for a couple of years. Then the rumors started. Now that things are looking more positive for the Netflix actors, it should inspire inflated sales prices. Yesterday, a 9.2 sold for over $5k.
3. DESTROYER DUCK #1
Howard the Duck is about to get some company, at least as far as key issues are concerned. Then again, Destroyer Duck #1 has been a coveted find among collectors for some time now. Not only did it feature Jack Kirby/Stever Gerber’s satire of his own creation, Howard the Duck (which kind of makes that a satire of a satire) and a middle finger toward Marvel. At the time, Gerber was involved in a lawsuit with Marvel over the rights and ownership of Howard.
While the headlining act may have been Gerber’s defiance of Marvel, what makes this issue most famous is the debut of Groo the Wanderer. An obvious Conan spoof, Groo has become a cult favorite among collectors. Now he is in line to star in his own movie, and that could rocket him to mainstream stardom. With movie news comes higher prices, and Groo is no exception. While mid-grade raw copies typically sell for $50-$100, a graded 9.8 sold for over $1k yesterday.
2. DAREDEVIL #1
The first appearance of “the Man Without Fear” hasn’t been this hot since the first season of Daredevil six years ago. Kevin Feige announced that Charlie Cox will remain in the role of DD/Matt Murdock, though he didn’t say what the future holds for the character. All we know is that, at some point, Daredevil is returning to the MCU, but that newsbyte holds a significant amount of promise.
The running gossip has been that the principal Daredevil cast will have a reunion in the first season of Echo. That leads to the speculation that Cox will make his MCU return in Hawkeye to set up the premiere of Echo. Undoubtedly, that will be enough to secure a massive audience for the first episode whenever it reaches Disney+.
The other rumor has been long standing. For the past year, the speculation has been that Cox will portray Matt Murdock as he comes to Peter Parker’s defense in No Way Home. Virtually all year, Cox has shot down any notions of his involvement in NWH. However, fans have learned to be distrustful of Marvel Studios’ actors and showrunners, so many people are expecting Daredevil in the new movie.
It all adds up to an uptick in sales for DD #1. Naturally, prices were already high for this Silver Age gem. After all, it is the first appearance of Daredevil. Between the Charlie Cox news and the numerous gossip and rumors, it has created a perfect storm for escalated prices. On December 5, a lowly 1.5 neared a record after selling for $2,500. More recently, a buyer spent $6,500 on a 5.5 on December 11.
1. AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #50
The cast and crew of Hawkeye have teased something big for this week’s episode. This isn’t the first time the makers of a Disney+ show have talked up their episodes. WandaVision famously delivered the biggest letdown in all of the MCU with its X-Men tease that was used for a cheap “Bohner” joke. Hopefully, Marvel Studios has learned its lesson, and this won’t be another joke played on the audience.
The obvious choice for the major moment is the introduction of Kingpin. The clues are clearly meant to align toward Wilson Fisk. There was the mystery cameo and the Fat Man Auto Repair in Episode Three, so the showrunners want the audience to assume Kingpin is coming. Besides that, there is the comic connection between Fisk and Echo, which could lead into the premiere of her solo show.
No surprise, the market has flexed its muscle for ASM #50. As the countdown begins for Echo’s mysterious “Uncle” to arrive in Hawkeye, the prices are inflating by the minute. On Sunday, a 5.5 sold for $1,600. In the past week, an 8.0 brought $4,195. A low-grade 3.5 brought $875 on December 7 followed by $735 on December 9.
All the pieces almost seem to fit together too easily. While I would love to see Vincent D’Onofrio return to the MCU as Kingpin, I am half expecting a swerve by the time the fifth episode rolls around.
Matt Tuck is the author of the novel, Lost Bones of the Dead. He is a professional writer, avid comic collector, former teacher, and the Blogger Supreme. You can follow him on his Facebook page, The Comic Blog, or on Instagram at matt.tuck.writer.