BY MATT TUCK
HBO Max continues to go all-in with DC Comics, and now the streaming platform will bring John Constantine and Justice League Dark to live-action.
It looks like Keanu Reeves will not be returning to the world of John Constantine after all. For that matter, neither will fan-favorite Matt Ryan.
This week, the news broke that J.J. Abrams’ production studio, Bad Robot, would be heading up a Constantine reboot. Instead of Reeves or Ryan reprising their roles as the chain-smoking dabbler in the dark arts, Abrams will be looking to cast a younger version of the character.
That is not all on the Constantine front. Along with getting his own show, John Constantine will also be a co-star of another Abrams HBO Max series, the long-awaited Justice League Dark. While it may not be the Guillermo Del Toro big-budget fantasy epic we were promised for years, it is still reason to be excited about the direction of HBO Max’s DC projects.
Of course, the JL Dark key issues, including Constantine and Zatanna’s early appearances, have been en vogue for years thanks to the ample rumors on the subjects. Now that we have a confirmation, things will pick up in a hurry. Here are four to get you started, but I will follow up with a few more in the coming days.
SWAMP THING #37
If you are going to collect the JL Dark keys, you might as well start at the top with Constantine’s first appearance. After he made a cameo in Swamp Thing #25, twelve issues later saw John in all his British punk-rock glory.
The higher grades have been bulging at the seams for years now. Back in 2019, a 9.8 had risen to $608 on average. That figure has nearly tripled this year. The 90-day average stands at $1,761, but the last sale was for a whopping $1,980 the same day the JL Dark news broke.
At this point, the cheapest copy you will find is the mid-grade 5.0, which is the highest grade you can find for less than $100, and that won’t last long.
Although no characters have been announced for the Justice League Dark series, it feels like a given that Zatanna will have a starring role as this is the perfect vehicle to showcase her talents to a mainstream audience.
Even if she does not appear in JLD, Zatanna will find her way into her own movie or live-action series of her own. Odds are, she will lead the Justice League Dark. Her first appearance was back in 1964’s Hawkman #4. This has been a hot key for years, so it is no wonder that the prices are high.
Five grades have sold this month, the highest of which was a 6.5 that brought $845 on February 13. On the lower end, a 2.5 swapped owners for $337 this month as well. That gives you a wide range of prices to choose from, though none of them are cheap.
JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK #1
This issue will only get more expensive as the JL Dark series gets closer to a release date. Here we have the official debut of the supernatural team, and they happen to be on the cover, which only adds to the issue's collectibility.
Compared to those Constantine and Zatanna keys, JL Dark #1 is much more affordable. The only grade that has sold in February has been the 9.0, and it brought $49 on February 4. As for the 9.8, it will inevitably balloon as the HBO Max news spreads. The last one to sell brought $345 on January 21, but I expect we will see $400+ sales very soon.
SWAMP THING #50
This issue is credited as the unofficial first appearance of the Justice League Dark before they were given a proper name. While it does not hold the same appeal as JL Dark #1, this is a great addition to the Dark collection.
Between the official and unofficial first appearances of JLD, Swamp Thing #50 is holding its own. Two years ago, the 9.8 was a $116 comic on average. On February 17, a copy brought a year-high of $300.
If you want to save a few dollars, drop back to the 9.6. For nearly the same grade, you can spend about a third of the price. The last copy sold was for $108 on February 3, and it has a 90-day average of $82.
MORE TO COME
The four issues I spotlighted today have proven the most popular, and that explains the inflated values. The good part with the JL Dark is you have plenty of keys to choose from with something to fit most budgets. In the near future, I will give you a few more to consider.
Matt Tuck is the author of the novel, Lost Bones of the Dead. He is also a teacher, freelance writer, comic collector, and an international man of mystery. You can follow him on his Facebook page, The Comic Blog.