BY MATT TUCK
FB@ The Comic Blog
The return of Miracleman has lit up the New Year’s market, but it pales in comparison to Ghost Rider’s first appearance thanks to the latest rumblings. Welcome to the #Trending10, the only top-10 list with up-to-the-minute data to help you navigate the market’s winding maze.
10. X-MEN #95
It’s been 47 years since we’ve seen Thunderbird alive and well in the comics. For decades, he was one of the few characters who actually stayed dead. Not anymore because John Proudstar is returning to the fold in 2022 with AEW wrestler Nyla Rose co-writing the script with Steve Orlando.
Up to this point, Thunderbird has been famous for two things: being part of the Giant-Size X-Men #1 reimagined crew and dying two issues later. Not only was he dead soon after being introduced into the X-Men comics, but he was taken out in a lame death at that. When you’re a superhero, being killed in a plane crash at the hands of a second-rate villain like Count Nefaria is a bit weak. After all, these guys survive all sorts of violent deaths, so a plane crash should be no sweat.
Longtime X-fans know that in the 1980s, Thunderbird’s costume was passed down to James Proudstar. Although he initially took up the Thunderbird mantle, James would drop the codename in favor of Warpath, and he rose to heights far exceeding his predecessor. Instead of John returning to the classic suit, he will don a new costume in Giant-Size X-Men: Thunderbird #1.
On January 2, a graded 8.5 sold for $255. A day later, a 9.6 brought $900, which was down from the $1,046 average it earned last year, so this may be a good time to invest while values are deflated.
9. AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #252
The mid-credits scene for No Way Home was bittersweet for Venom fans. On one hand, it would seem the worlds of Sony’s Venom and the MCU’s Spider-Man will not be crossing over anytime soon. When Doctor Strange broke his spell and sent the Sony-verse characters back to their universes, Eddie Brock was sent away along with them. On the other hand, Venom left behind a piece of the symbiote, which is lending itself to plenty of speculation.
For those that missed it, after Eddie shimmered back into the Sony-verse, audiences caught a glimpse of a moving black piece of tar that is no doubt from Venom. Whether or not this is a spawn of Venom or will make for an MCU version of the classic alien symbiote is anyone’s guess at this point. No matter the outcome, it is propelling collectors to grab those early symbiote keys, including one of three early appearances of Spider-Man’s black suit on Earth-616.
Thanks to the NWH tease, prices are inflating less than a week into the new year. A 9.8 sold for $1,800 on January 2, which is over $100 above the 2021 fair market value. On January 1, a 9.6 brought $579, and that happened to exceed last year’s $535 average sale price.
8. THOR #134
The hype for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 has officially begun. Since James Gunn confirmed that Will Poulter has been cast as Adam Warlock, the internet has been buzzing about the return of the GOTG crew. What role Warlock will play in the movie remains to be seen, but his casting was speculated for years prior. Now that he is officially in the upcoming movie, fans have shifted their attention to another oft-rumored GOTG3 character, the High Evolutionary.
High Evolutionary has been the subject of speculation for as long as Adam Warlock. The mad scientist of the cosmic realm, he has been closely linked to the Celestials in the comics. With their full arrival in The Eternals, it lends itself to the idea that next on the agenda is High Evolutionary. The bigger question is whether or not he will set the stage for mutants and the X-Men, but that is a theory for another blog.
With so many rumors surrounding the High Evolutionary, it is no wonder that Thor #134 is breaking records. Monday saw a 9.8 earn a record $4,560. Then there is the 7.5, which tied its record after an $800 sale the same day.
7. NOCTERRA SPECIAL #1
Scott Snyder’s post-apocalyptic tale has been in the spotlight since news spread that Nocterra’s live-action treatment has received the green light.
If you haven’t read the series, Nocterra is set in a world plunged in constant darkness. To make matters worse, the darkness transforms people into monsters. The trick is to stay in the light, which can be tougher than it sounds or else there would be no story. The protagonist, Valentina “Val” Riggs drives a tractor trailer decked out like a Christmas tree to haul cargo, and that includes people.
Obviously, the best issue to own is Nocterra #1 since it’s the series’ premiere. What makes Nocterra Special #1, well, special is the first appearance of Blacktop Bill. This could be the villain who terrorizes Val throughout the course of the Netflix show. That just might position him to be the next Negan. In that case, Blacktop’s debut could follow Negan’s first appearance with impressively inflated values.
Nocterra Special #1 is due to hit local comic shops this week, and already preorders are earning up to $30 depending on the variant you choose. If you decide to order the standard cover online, expect to pay about $5.
6. STAR WARS: TALES OF THE JEDI #1
Last spring, there were reports that Knights of the Old Republic was finally coming to the world of live action. The word on the internet was that Darth Revan would star in a Disney+ adaptation of KOTOR, expanding on the Dark Horse comics and the original XBox video game. And the people, they did rejoice.
Since that report, nothing has been made official about a KOTOR streaming show, but a remake of the classic game is in the development for Sony’s Playstation 5 console. Could a show announcement be in the Star Wars future? The speculation is mounting, and it is leading collectors on a hunt for those KOTOR key issues. At the top of that list is Star Wars: Tales of the Jedi #1.
This 1993 limited series first introduced readers to the Old Republic era. The story takes place 4,000 years before the original Star Wars trilogy, and it gave fans a wider variety of Jedi than they had seen before. In all, four different Jedi debuted in the issue, including Arca Jeth, Cay Qel-Droma, Ulic Qel-Droma, and a Twi’Lek, Tott Doneeta. Eventually, KOTOR will make it into the Disney+ line up, and one or all four of those characters could make an impact.
Raw copies are selling for around $20-$30 at the moment. On the other side of collecting, a graded 9.8 recently sold for $300 on January 4.
5. DOCTOR STRANGE #81
First teased in the upcoming Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness line of Marvel Legends figures, the first trailer has confirmed that, indeed, the giant green space minotaur is in the new movie. I refer to none other than Rintrah, Strange’s oddest magical apprentice.
Outside of the hardcore Strange readers, most fans were heading to Google when they saw a minotaur in the trailer. To save you a search, he’s an alien from the planet R’Vaal. Since Rintrah had magical abilities, he first came under the tutelage of the wizard Enitharmon the Weaver before Doctor Strange took Rintrah under his wing. The two worked together as teacher and student until Rintrah went full Harry Potter and nearly killed himself trying to destroy an evil artifact. Since then, the green space minotaur has been inside a pocket dimension while Doctor Strange searched for a cure, but apparently he forgot about Rintrah because the alien hasn’t made it back to a comic in many years.
Now that Rintrah is coming to live action, the R’Vaal native may finally get that cure he’s been waiting on and return to the comics. Between that possibility and his inclusion in Multiverse of Madness, it has made Doctor Strange #81 more collectible than ever. Raw copies are selling for upwards of $75, and a graded 9.4 sold for $275 on Monday. Bear in mind that a 9.8 was only a $65 comic last year. Now, that same near-mint slab has earned as much as $655 on Christmas Day.
4. GHOST RIDER #1 1990
There is growing speculation that Danny Ketch is coming to the MCU. It’s not like that is a new rumor; in fact, it’s been swirling for years. Then came The Walking Dead’s Norman Reedus, who ignited the beacons.
The gossip sites are reporting that Reedus has signed with Marvel Studios to bring Ghost Rider back to life. At the same time, Agents of SHIELD’s Ghost Rider, Gabriel Luna, made waves on social media last month as well, which sparked further interest in the return of Robbie Reyes to the MCU. Thanks to No Way Home, it is possible we could see both actors portraying different Ghost Riders in the near future, though nothing has been confirmed as of yet.
Since NWH, anything is possible within the MCU, and that means the gossip sites have added credibility. While Marvel Studios has been mum on Ghost Rider, Reedus may have signed with the company, and many collectors are leaning toward him portraying Ketch rather than Johnny Blaze.
If you are looking for a raw copy, those have stayed in the $20-$40 range since the weekend, which is not bad for a first appearance with so much potential. For the slabbed variety, the highest grade sold in the early days of January has been a 9.6, which brought $135 on Monday. The last time a 9.8 traded hands online was on December 15 when one copy was purchased for $135.
3. MIRACLEMAN #1
Marvel has reintroduced an overlooked hero from a bygone era: Miracleman.
First introduced in the Golden Age, Miracleman has been written by such legendary names as Alan Moore and Neil Gaiman. Still, you would have been hard pressed to find collectors who put his key issues on their want lists. That was before recent weeks when Marvel announced that the Miracleman Omnibus was on its way. Now fans are awaiting his full arrival in the Earth-616 Universe and possibly the MCU. That has put a premium on those classic Miracleman keys.
Of course, he was originally known as Marvelman in his first appearance in 1954’s Marvelman #25. Anything from the Golden Age, especially a suddenly hot character debut, is going to be quite pricey. That is why collectors are turning their attention toward the revamped edition of the British character in 1985 with Eclipse’s Miracleman #1 after the company changed his name to avoid copyright issues with Marvel Comics.
This hot issue is bringing increasingly higher prices. Just today, a raw copy earned $90. Since Monday, the 9.8 has been shattering its old records. First, there was a $300 sale, which was a record of its own, but that was broken when another 9.8 sold for $400 today.
2. TIMELESS #1 HUMBERTO RAMOS VARIANT
This has been one of the biggest sellers on the market in recent weeks. As part of the Timeless one-shot, Marvel will resurrect Miracleman for the Marvel-616 Universe, and it would appear the publisher has big plans for the forgotten superhero. That has helped elevate the Timeless variants to their current positions. Of course, all the firsts don’t hurt either, like the first appearance of the new Iron Fist, the debut of the Punisher’s new logo and a new Young Avengers lineup, the first appearance of Anatoly Petrov, and the first time readers will see Mary Jane sport the Spider-Man costume in the Marvel-616.
At the head of the class for Timeless #1 has been the Miss Minutes variant. Fans of Loki will remember her as the helpful virtual assistant inside the Time Variance Authority. Although she played a rather small part of the show’s plot, the talking clock with the sweet southern accent won over the Loki audience and became a fan favorite character. She returns here for this variant cover of Timeless #1 from artist Humberto Ramos, and it is making serious waves on the market.
Fortunately, being popular has not meant ridiculous prices quite yet although they are escalating quickly. Since the weekend, most copies are selling for close to $40-$50.
1. MARVEL SPOTLIGHT #5
There’s no surpassing the original characters. At least in Ghost Rider’s case, the original motorcycle-riding Ghost Rider (not to be confused with the Phantom Rider). Again, it all comes back to those Norman Reedus rumors. After his portrayal of Daryl Dixon and his love of choppers, it is only natural that fans speculate that he could be on board to play Ghost Rider.
While collectors are grabbing up Danny Ketch’s first appearance, the premiere of the leather-clad Spirit of Vengeance is the key you need.
Sorry, Robbie Reyes, but comic fans desperately want to see a Ghost Rider that roars into the MCU riding a hellish Harley. It explains why Marvel Spotlight #5 is one of the most popular key issues in all of collecting, especially for those Bronze Age firsts. With so much gossip and rumors surrounding the Spirit of Vengeance, it would seem that something is coming in the not-too-distant future. Has Reedus officially signed a Marvel contract? If so, will he play Johnny Blaze or Danny Ketch? Will Ghost Rider join Blade and Doctor Strange to form the Midnight Sons? Those are the burning questions, which may or may not get answered in the next year.
In the past couple of days, raw copies of Marvel Spotlight #5 are earning as much as $1,600. Meanwhile, a graded 8.5 was sold for $6,175 on Sunday while a 9.0 set a new record after earning $11,100 on January 3. To think that two years ago, the record stood at $3,800. There’s nothing like a live-action reboot to get the pendulum swinging.
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.