BY MATT TUCK
Values for your Predator keys may get the rub from the hype surrounding the upcoming movie.
Tentatively titled Skull, the newest movie is making headlines with plenty of teases about the film’s plot and even claiming the fifth Predator installment will outdo the 1987 original.
THE SAD HISTORY OF THE PREDATOR MOVIES
The Predator could use a hit. The franchise hasn’t been the same since, well, ‘87. It was only three years ago that arguably the worst entry put the Predator on its deathbed. Naturally, when the newest movie was announced, it spurred trepidation among fans. Little is known about the newest addition to the Predator family, but it is creating buzz, and it could make or break the movie franchise.
After repeated flops, the Predator cannot withstand another disaster. He may live on through the comics for decades longer, but his film legacy has been stretched to the limit. The fact that we are still talking about the Predator after so many miscues is a testament to the character’s enduring popularity, which almost entirely rests on the shoulders of the original film.
Let’s be honest; Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Predator is the only truly good movie in the franchise’s 36-year history. From Predator 2 to Predators, and back to The Predator, they have tried to unsuccessfully recreate the first movie. Predator 2 was the best of the bunch. It is not exactly classic cinema, though it is not without its charm.
Then there are the Aliens Versus Predator movies that are simply abominations that are forever scarred into my psyche like repressed trauma. Here you have the first big crossover between legendary sci-fi franchises that fans have demanded since Danny Glover discovered a Xenomporph skull on an alien ship in 1990. It should have been a slam dunk if there ever had been one, and somehow Fox managed to completely drop the ball and face plant onto the court. Rotten Tomatoes scored 2004’s AVP a lowly 20%. Three years later, Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem managed to lower the bar to an abysmal 12%. That’s approaching Jaws: the Revenge-level bad.
SKULL’S PLOT DETAILS EMERGE
Suffice to say, the bar is set pretty low for Skull. So far, the film’s creative team has said the plot will feature a Comanche woman who defies the gender stereotypes of her time. In recent days, one of the movie’s producers, John Davis and John Fox revealed that it will take place in the past and Skull will delve into Predator’s mythology, giving fans a look at the first Yautja to set foot on Earth. The producers also proclaim this is the best Predator movie since 1987, possibly even better, but I will believe that when I see it. At this point, it only has to measure up to Predators to be considered an improvement.
What has kept the Predator franchise alive after so many disasters is Dark Horse Comics. In the late 1980s and 1990s, the publisher thrived on sci-fi movie properties and created mythologies around those established characters. At that time, collectors didn’t put much stock into comics with movie-based characters. While the bigger publishers passed on the likes of Aliens and Predator, Dark Horse built a reputation on those movies.
When Disney scooped up Fox, they inherited the rights to both Predator and Aliens. Since then, the publishing rights have naturally shifted in-house to Marvel, beginning with Alien #1 earlier this year. There is a Predator comic reboot on the way from Marvel. The publisher’s Alien comic reboot has proven successful, and the company recently introduced the Alpha Xenomorph. It is safe to assume that at least the first couple of issues from Marvel’s Predator will sell out from fan curiosity, but Dark Horse has shown that there is an entire universe of stories surrounding the Yautja. It all could spell profits for those Predator keys in your long boxes.
PREDATOR #1 (1989)
When it comes to Predator, there is only one that collectors want: 1989’s Predator #1.
Debuting before the sequel, this issue was a rough adaptation of Predator 2, which would premiere a year after the comic was published. With Marvel’s Alien comics working up the hype train, Predator #1s benefited from the attention. Between May 27-29, three 9.8s sold for $1k or better, with one reaching the unheard of record for a Predator #1, $1,025. Since then, prices have gradually come back to reality, and the most recent sale was for $835 on July 30. Of course, that’s still more than $100 past last year’s high sale of $726.
When Predator #1 was initially released, sales were strong enough to warrant a second printing. Like so many subsequent printings for key comics these days, this issue graded at a 9.8 is worth your attention. In March, one sold for $550 while a month later saw another reach the insane price tag of $854. Buyers have come to their senses since then, and the last copy to sell was for a respectable $285 in June.
DARK HORSE PRESENTS #36
No doubt Marvel will bring their Predator and Alien comics together for a massive crossover in the future. When that happens, expect prices for their original meeting in DHP #36 to enjoy a boost in FMV.
Sales for the 9.8 have consistently been in the $300-$400 range in recent months. While it has yet to reach last year’s record of $570, one did sell for as much as $467 in May. Don’t forget there is also a variant cover on the market, and that one last sold for a record $400 in June, so it is beginning to catch up to the standard edition.
ALIENS VERSUS PREDATOR #1 (1990)
Although AVP #1 does not compete with the likes of Predator #1 or DHP #36 in terms of market value, it has been a hot comic this year. The cover art is more impressive on this particular issue, and that will make slabbing and displaying it more appealing. The plus side is that if you do not have the budget for a $400 DHP #36 or $800 for Predator #1, then you can opt to spend $80 for a 9.8 AVP #1.
BIG SHOES TO FILL
Between the hype for the new movie and the anticipation for Marvel’s comic reboot, the Predator franchise has as much momentum as it’s had in decades. Whether or not it can live up to the lofty expectations remains to be seen, but it could help the comics reach new highs over the next year.
Matt Tuck is the author of the novel, Lost Bones of the Dead. He is a professional writer, avid comic collector, former teacher, and an international man of mystery. You can follow him on his Facebook page, The Comic Blog.