AS COMIC-BOOK HEROES INVADE THEATERS, HERE’S A LOOK AT RELATED COLLECTIBLES AND THE PRICES THEY’VE FETCHED
By The Intelligent Collector staff
Last year was a spectacular year for comics in the collectibles market. Heritage Auctions reported record sales of $58.54 million in its comic and comic art category – a 32 percent increase over the department’s previous record in 2017.
Among the notable sales last year were the $1.79 million paid for Frank Frazetta’s oil painting Death Dealer 6, published as the cover to Death Dealer #2 (Verotik, 1996). John Romita Sr. and Frank Giacoia’s original 1971 cover art for The Amazing Spider-Man #100 brought $478,000, a record for Marvel artwork from the classic 1960s-70s era.
Helping drive the numbers, reports Forbes, is today’s luxury economy, where big prices are attracting the interest of outside speculators and investors looking for new asset classes that deliver high rates of return. “New money brings more competition, which means higher prices and higher commissions,” the magazine reports.
It doesn’t hurt that Hollywood is popularizing comic-book heroes like never before. Between now and October, nine movies based on comic books will be playing in theaters. At least nine more comic-book movies are set for release in 2020, on top of superhero TV series such as Supergirl, The Flash, Arrow, Black Lightning, The Punisher, Legion, and Jessica Jones.
The ubiquity of comic-book content is a primary reason Heritage Auctions reports that sell-through rates in 2018 exceeded 99 percent by value and by number of lots. Heritage’s weekly Sunday and evening sales, which previously attracted less attention than the firm’s “Signature” events, are booming. “The days of Heritage Auctions’ weekly auctions offering lower-value lots exclusively are over,” says Heritage Auctions Co-Founder Jim Halperin. “We average about 800 lots per week, and it no longer is a rarity for some lots to crack the five-figure plateau.”
As Forbes points out, the growth of disposable income plus the continued success of comic-themed content make it “hard to see this market going anywhere but up.”
Up and away.
Spider-Man: Far From Home
Opening: July 5, 2019
Mysterio, created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, first appeared in The Amazing Spider-Man #13 (Marvel, 1964). The mind-bending illusionist would become one of Spidey’s classic foes. In this summer’s movie, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) goes on a school trip to Europe, where he is recruited by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) to team up with Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal) to battle the Elementals (first full appearance in Supernatural Thrillers #8), who possess power over water, earth, air and fire.
Opening: March 8, 2019
There have been several incarnations of Captain Marvel. Marvel’s first Captain Marvel appeared in Marvel Super-Heroes #12 (December 1967). It focused on the alien military officer Captain Mar-Vell. The movie released this year focuses on Carol Danvers, whose first superhero identity was Ms. Marvel before she became Captain Marvel. The movie, starring Brie Larson (Kong: Skull Island) as Danvers, is Marvel Studios’ first female-led superhero film.
Opening: April 5, 2019
Fawcett Comics’ Captain Marvel first appeared in Whiz Comics #2 (February 1940) as the story of Billy Batson, a boy who gains superhuman powers by speaking the magic word “Shazam.” DC comics began publishing Captain Marvel, created by C.C. Beck and Bill Parker, in 1972 and later officially renamed the character “Shazam.” The movie stars Zachary Levi, who played Fandral the Dashing in Thor: The Dark World and Thor: Ragnarok.
Opening: April 26, 2019
Thanos, created by Jim Starlin, first appeared in The Invincible Iron Man #55 (February 1973), with comic-book stories over the years expanding the character’s fascination with nihilism and death. In Avengers: Endgame, Josh Brolin (The Goonies, Deadpool 2) is back as one of the most powerful villains in the Marvel Universe.
Opening: April 12, 2019
Hellboy was created by Mike Mignola in 1993, appearing in San Diego Comic-Con Comics #2. A movie based on the comic and directed by Guillermo del Toro (The Shape of Water) was released in 2004; a sequel, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, was released four years later. This year’s movie, directed by Neil Marshall (Game of Thrones) is a reboot, starring David Harbour (Stranger Things) as the powerful demon who works for the government.
Opening: June 7, 2019
Jean Grey, created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, first appeared as Marvel Girl in The X-Men #1 (September 1963). Shortly after the title was revamped as Uncanny X-Men #94 (August 1975), Grey rejoined under the name Phoenix. The character once again was transformed in the classic “Dark Phoenix Saga,” which spanned 10 issues beginning with #129. The movie, in which Grey loses control of her abilities and unleashes the Phoenix, stars Sophie Turner (Game of Thrones).
The New Mutants
Opening: Aug. 2, 2019
The group of teenage mutant superheroes, created by Chris Claremont and Bob McLeod, first appeared in Marvel Graphic Novel #4 The New Mutants (September 1982), before getting their own series a year later. The movie adds a horror element to its superhero tale, bringing along the characters Magik, Wolfsbane, Cannonball, Sunspot and Mirage. Antonio Banderas reportedly is cast as an undisclosed villain who appears in a post-credits scene.
Opening: Oct. 4, 2019
The Joker, created by Bill Finger, Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson, is perhaps the most famous supervillain – first appearing in Batman #1 (Spring 1940) and subsequently becoming Batman’s top archenemy. In the movie, Joaquin Phoenix (Gladiator, Walk the Line) plays Arthur Fleck, a failed stand-up comedian who is driven insane and turns to a life of crime and chaos.
Movies scheduled for release in 2020:
►Birds of Prey (February): Harley Quinn, Huntress and Black Canary battle crime kingpin Black Mask.
►Bloodshot (February): Vin Diesel stars as a former soldier with powers of regeneration.
►Wonder Woman 1984 (June): Gal Gadot returns to battle the Cheetah.
►Green Lantern Corps (July): The interstellar police force goes on a mission to protect the universe.
Live-action TV shows ordered or in development:
►New Warriors: Young adult superteam that first appeared in The Mighty Thor #411 (December 1989).
►Loki: Adopted brother of Thor, whose modern-day incarnation debuted in Journey into Mystery #85 (October 1962).
►Vision and Scarlet Witch: Two longtime members of the Avengers, who first appeared, respectively, in The Avengers #57 (October 1968) and The X-Men #4 (March 1964).
►Swamp Thing: The latest adaptation of the elemental creature that first appeared in House of Secrets #92 (July 1971).
►Watchmen: The classic 1986-87 DC Comics limited series gets the small-screen treatment.
►Batwoman: First introduced as Batman’s love interest in Detective Comics #233 (DC, 1956).
This article appears in the Spring/Summer 2019 edition of The Intelligent Collector magazine. Click here to subscribe to the print edition.