Super-Powered Cinema

AS COMIC-BOOK CHARACTERS CONTINUE INVADING THEATERS, RELATED COLLECTIBLES SEE STRONG SURGE IN COLLECTOR INTEREST

By Hector Cantú

Superhero movies rank among the most successful films of the past 15 years. And by all indications, the comic-book invasion of the blockbuster list is just beginning.

Modern superhero movies subdued pop culture when director Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man hit theaters in 2002. Today, that movie’s worldwide box office stands at $821 million, placing it at No. 57 on Nash Information Services’ 100 All Time Worldwide Box Office list. Four sequels and re-boots have since taken total receipts for all Spider-Man movies to $4 billion, making the webbed wonder the most successful superhero film series. And that’s before this summer’s release of Spider-Man: Homecoming.

“Spider-Man has always been the most-collected title,” says Barry Sandoval, director of comic operations at Heritage Auctions, “but the movies are pushing demand for key issues to a new level.”

At the same time, comic-book circulation has hit a 20-year high. According to entertainment news website Vulture, comics distributor Diamond in August 2016 shipped 10.26 million comic books and graphic novels to comic-book shops. That’s the biggest distribution month since December 1996.

It’s no surprise, then, that recent auctions have seen record prices for key Spider-Man, Avengers, Batman and Iron Man books and original art.

“The box-office dominance of comic book-related movies is a large contributor to investor confidence,” explains Ed Jaster, senior vice president at Heritage Auctions. “Five of the top 20 highest-grossing movies worldwide are comic-book movies. And even more impressively, every single one of those five comic-book movies was released in 2012 or later. We don’t believe the market for vintage comic books and original comic art has reached its potential.”

Now, about the impact of all those Netflix shows …

Spider-Man

Vintage Spider-Man comics remain some of the hottest collectibles on the market, thanks in part to the five Spider-Man movies released since 2002. Together, the movies have generated box-office receipts of $3.94 billion – with the latest movie heading to theaters this summer.
Top movie on 100 list: Spider-Man 3 (2007)
Rank: 43
Upcoming release: Spider-Man: Homecoming (July 7)
Related comics: Amazing Spider-Man #2 (1963, Marvel) and Amazing Spider-Man #46 (1967, Marvel) feature the first appearances of the Vulture and the Shocker, respectively, who appear in Homecoming.


Amazing Fantasy #15
(Marvel, 1962)
First appearance of Spider-Man
CGC NM 9.4
Price realized: $454,100
February 2016

The Amazing Spider-Man #1
(Marvel, 1963)
Curator Pedigree CGC NM+ 9.6
Price realized: $262,900
November 2016

The Amazing Spider-Man #2
(Marvel, 1963)
First appearances of the Vulture
CGC NM+ 9.6
Price realized: $72,895
November 2015

Steve Ditko
Amazing Spider-Man #27
(Marvel, 1965)
Splash Page 1 Original Art
Price realized: $239,000
November 2016

  

Batman

Batman has remained a consistent force in pop culture since his debut in Detective Comics #27 nearly 80 years ago. Bill Finger and Bob Kane’s character, created in response to the success of Superman, drew inspiration from the pulp novels of the day, the Zorro character, and the 1926 silent film The Bat, which featured a caped killer. The character’s dark roots have been the focus of more recent comics and film adaptations.

Top movie on 100 list: The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Rank: 17
Recent release: The Lego Batman Movie (February 2017)
Upcoming release: Justice League (Nov. 17)
Related comics: DC Comics Presents #26 (DC, 1980) features the first appearances of Cyborg, and New Gods #7 (DC, 1972) features the debut of Steppenwolf, who both appear in Justice League.


Batman #1
(DC, 1940)
CGC FN- 5.5
Price realized: $239,000
November 2016

DC Comics Presents #26
(DC, 1980)
First appearance of Cyborg
CGC NM/MT 9.8
Price realized: $687.13
September 2016

Frank Miller
Batman: The Dark Knight Returns #2
(DC, 1986)
Cover Original Art
Price realized: $478,000
August 2013

  

Avengers

The Avengers movie remains Marvel Studios’ biggest blockbuster, with worldwide box office totaling $1.519 billion, making it No. 5 on the All Time Worldwide Box Office list – behind only Avatar, Titanic, Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens, and Jurassic World.

Top movie on 100 list: The Avengers (2012)
Rank: 5
Upcoming release: The Avengers: Infinity War (May 4, 2018)
Related comics: Iron Man #55 (Marvel, 1973) features the first appearance of Thanos, and X-Men #4 (Marvel, 1964) marks the first appearance of the Scarlet Witch. They both appear in Infinity War.


The Avengers #1
(Marvel, 1963)
Pacific Coast Pedigree CGC NM+ 9.6
Price realized: $274,850
July 2012

Iron Man #55
(Marvel, 1973)
First appearance of Thanos
CGC NM+ 9.6
Price realized: $2,390
February 2015

Sal Buscema & Sam Grainger
Avengers #72
(Marvel, 1970)
Cover Original Art
Price realized: $89,625
August 2014

  

Captain America

The creation of cartoonists Joe Simon and Jack Kirby came only two years after Batman, and quickly found success as a patriotic superhero fighting the Axis powers of World War II. By 1944, Captain America serials were playing in theaters, but it was 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger that launched Steve Rogers’ rise to international fame.

Top movie on 100 list: Captain America: Civil War (2016)
Rank: 12


Captain America Comics #2
(Timely, 1941)
Billy Wright Pedigree CGC NM 9.4
Price realized: $113,525
February 2012

Jack Kirby & Syd Shores
Captain America #101
(Marvel, 1968)
Splash Page 1 Original Art
Price realized: $56,762.50
February 2014

  

Iron Man

Several comic legends are behind the creation of Iron Man. Stan Lee is credited with the concept, which was developed by scripter Larry Lieber, followed by character designs by artists Don Heck and Jack Kirby. The billionaire playboy/industrial magnate/ingenious engineer, played brilliantly on film by Robert Downey Jr., made his first appearance in 1963.
Top movie on 100 list: Iron Man 3 (2013)
Rank: 10


Tales of Suspense #39
(Marvel, 1963)
First appearance and origin of Iron Man
CGC NM+ 9.6
Price realized: $262,900
November 2013

George Tuska & Frank Giacoia
Iron Man #8
(Marvel, 1968)
Cover Original Art
Price realized: $38,240
August 2015

  

 X-Men

Marvel’s team of mutants surprisingly place only one movie on the list of 100 All Time Worldwide Box Office champs. Combined, however, the nine X-Men films – including 2016’s spinoff Deadpool – have grossed more than $4.3 billion worldwide.
Top movie on 100 list: Deadpool (2016)
Rank: 67
Recent release: Logan (March 2017)
Related comic: NYX #3 (Marvel, 2004) features the first appearance of X-23, the clone-daughter of Wolverine.


X-Men #1
(Marvel, 1963)
Pacific Coast Pedigree CGC NM/MT 9.8
Price realized: $492,937.50
July 2012

NYX #3
(Marvel, 2004)
First appearance of X-23
CGC NM/MT 9.8
Price realized: $430.20
November 2015

  

Guardians of the Galaxy

Marvel’s original space heroes bear little resemblance to the lineup in the 2014 movie. The 1969 version of the team included astronaut Vance Astro (later known as Major Victory), the crystalline being Martinex T’Naga, Captain Charlie-27 (a soldier from Jupiter), and the blue-skinned Yondu Udonta. While the comic was never the hit Marvel expected, the movie adaptation has been a worldwide hit, with this spring’s sequel expected to quickly reach blockbuster status.
Movie on 100 list: Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
Rank: 69
Upcoming release: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (May 2017)
Related comic: Avengers #112 (Marvel, 1973) features the first appearance of Mantis, who joins the spacefaring superhero team onscreen.


 Gene Colan & Mike Esposito
Marvel Super-Heroes #18
(Marvel, 1969)
First page, first appearance Guardians of the Galaxy
Splash Page 1 Original Art
Price realized: $14,340
August 2014

Marvel Super-Heroes #18
(Marvel, 1969)
First appearance Guardians of the Galaxy
Don/Maggie Thompson Collection Pedigree CGC NM+ 9.6
Price realized: $10,157.50
August 2014

The Avengers #112
(Marvel, 1973)
First appearance of Mantis
CGC NM+ 9.6
Price realized: $597.50
June 2015

 

Suicide Squad

Various versions of the Suicide Squad have appeared in DC comics since 1959, with the latest ensemble being a “strike team” of supervillains working for the United States government in exchange for shorter prison sentences. A sequel to last year’s movie already is in the works.
Movie on 100 list: Suicide Squad (2016)
Rank: 77
Upcoming release: Suicide Squad sequel (no date)
Related comic: Batman Adventures #12 (DC, 1993) features the first appearance of Harley Quinn, one of the film’s breakout characters.


Suicide Squad #1
(DC, 1987)
First issue of modern Suicide Squad
CGC NM/MT 9.8
Price realized: $501.90
June 2015

 

Doctor Strange

Benedict Cumberbatch brought Steve Ditko and Stan Lee’s Master of the Mystic Arts to life in Marvel Studios’ big-screen adaptation, which ranks among the studio’s best-reviewed films. It was a blockbuster hit after the less-than-spectacular 1978 TV movie and the 2007 direct-to-DVD animated film Doctor Strange: The Sorcerer Supreme.
Movie on 100 list: Doctor Strange (2016)
Rank: 95
Upcoming appearance: Thor: Ragnarok (Nov. 3)
Related comics: Avengers #69 (Marvel, 1969) features the debut of Grandmaster, and Journey Into Mystery #103 (Marvel, 1964) is the first appearance of the Executioner. Both appear in the new Thor movie.


 Doctor Strange #169
(Marvel, 1968)
First appearance of Doctor Strange in his own title
CGC NM/MT 9.8
Price realized: $8,365
November 2016

  

The Joker

OK, the Joker does not have his own movie, but the grinning lunatic deserves an honorable mention. He’s appeared in two Top 100 movies: The Dark Knight (No. 28) and Suicide Squad (No. 77), with combined box office of $1.74 billion. Of course, the supervillain was first popularized by Cesar Romero in the 1960s Batman television series and by Jack Nicholson in Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman.


Batman #23
(DC, 1944)
CGC NM+ 9.6
Price realized: $43,020
May 2015

  

STILL POUNDING THE COMPETITION

The 2013 movie Man of Steel is the only standalone Superman movie that makes the list of the 100 top-grossing movies, ranked at No. 96 with $668 million in box-office receipts. That doesn’t mean Superman has fallen out of favor with collectors. Two recent sales set auction-house records at Heritage.

Action Comics #1
(DC, 1938)
CGC FN- 5.5
Price realized: $956,000
August 2016

Superman #1
(DC, 1939)
CGC VG+ 4.5
Price realized: $358,500
November 2016

 

MORE UPCOMING MOVIE RELEASES

2017

►Wonder Woman

2018

►Black Panther
►Deadpool 2
►The Flash
►Ant-Man and the Wasp
►Aquaman

2019

►Captain Marvel
►Shazam
►Untitled Avengers movie
►Spider-Man: Homecoming 2

2020

►Cyborg
►Green Lantern Corps

 

IN DEVELOPMENT/PRE-PRODUCTION

Justice League sequel, Batman sequel, Flash, Gambit, Harley Quinn, X-Men: New Mutants, X-Force, X-Men: Supernova, Superman sequel, Gotham City Sirens, Sandman, Black Adam, Sinister Six, Venom

More Fun Comics #73
(DC, 1941)
Origin and first appearance of Aquaman
CGC VF 8.0
Price realized: $104,562.50
November 2016

Fantastic Four #52
(Marvel, 1966)
First appearance of Black Panther
CGC NM/MT 9.8
Price realized: $83,650
February 2016

All Star Comics #8
(DC, 1942)
Origin and first appearance of Wonder Woman
CGC VF 8.0
Price realized: $56,762.50
July 2012

The New Mutants #98 Signature Series
(Marvel, 1991)
First appearances of Deadpool
CGC NM/MT 9.8
Price realized: $1,493.75
February 2015

 

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