Finding undervalued comic issues and reselling them is the key to making money with comic book investing. The key is the term undervalued. Is the comic undervalued compared to:
- the Overstreet price guide or
- its future value or
- its peers?
Differentiating the above is important to understanding how to spot undervalued comics. For the purpose of this article, I disregard point 1 above. To me, any misalignment to the Overstreet Price Guide is mostly likely due to the guide not being able to catch with the real time price changes occurring at Ebay. I also disregard point 3 as this requires an objective assessment of a character’s importance relative to his or her peers: an impossible task given that all characters have their own supporters/haters. Hence, the focus on this article is point 2.
Undervalued relative to its future prices
When a comic is undervalued relative to its own future, one must ask what event will trigger its rise. The most important event always lies in one answer: movies or TV shows. In this age of comic investing, there is no denying the Hollywood effect. Not only does Hollywood drive short term price appreciation faster than any other event, it is also possible to redefine a character’s importance such that it becomes a new key issue for many years to come. Iron Man is a great example.
To find undervalue silver age comic books relative to their future prices, we must then ask what characters will most likely see a movie or TV appearance in the next 2 to 3 years. So far, rumors have been circulating around these characters:
- Justice League
- Doctor Strange
- Black Panther
If you looked at the first appearances of these 3 characters/teams, they have already experience quite a big increase in price. The question then is to ask, who else is next?
3 techniques to predicting future comic movie
After observing how the marvel movie news was made for the past movies, I have observed 3 patterns that we can apply to future movie appearances:
Technique 1: Using marvel comics to predict marvel movies
On paper, there should be no editorial influence of marvel studio on marvel comics. Reality is far from it. Let’s see some concrete examples.
- The old Thor series was written to suit the Thor 1 movie
- A new Guardians of the Galaxy series was launched to support the GOTR movie
- A new Avengers AI, whose main character is Antman, was launched to support the Antman movie.
There is nothing inherently wrong of this as it makes perfect sense for Marvel to leverage its comic arm to drive interest to the movies. If you agree with this, then it makes sense to look at what Marvel comics is doing, as it might be launching new titles to support a possible new Marvel movie.
Technique 2: Supporting characters of movies announced
A movie typically has a round of supporting cast to its main hero. When a new movie is announced, there is usually no information on this supporting cast including allies and villains. However, it can be inferred by researching on the character’s history and storyline. For example, when Captain America 2 was announced, there was no news of Falcon. Now, it is known that Falcon will appear in the movie and his first appearance will experience significant price increase. So, even if we cannot predict which movie will come, at least we can do some research on already announced movies to guess who will appear as supporting cast.
Technique 3: Analyze the history of a title
Due to the nature of comic book fans, comic book movies cannot completely stray off from comic themselves. They can change some stuff but not 100%. This means if we know that a movie will have sequels, we can look at the history of the series to see which storyline or characters might be adopted next. Avengers is the classic case here. The first movie uses Loki (who is the first villain in the comic book) and most of the founding avengers members. The second movie drafts in Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, who appear in the second version of the Avengers team during the silver age. Hence, if there is Avengers 3, which other Avenger might be introduced? I have prepared the answer and will release my prediction in this post: which avengers will appear in avengers 3 movie.
Top 5 undervalued silver age comic books
So, using the above 3 techniques, I forecast the following 5 silver age comic books to be undervalued relative to their future prices if and when the characters make a movie appearance. In no order, these 5 titles are:
#1: Fantastic four 45
The Inhumans have been put under the spotlight in recent Marvel comic events. Infinity will start it off but expect a bigger event called Inhumanity later in the year, as well as a new ongoing Inhumans ongoing series. So much effort to push a non crowd favorite seems strange, unless an Inhuman movie is coming down the line and Marvel comics is preparing the crowd for it.
If that is true, then the first appearance of Inhumans in Fantastic Four 45 is a must get. Currently, you can get a VG condition of this book for less than USD50, and a Fine condition at around $75 to $100. If a movie appearance is made, expect the VG to expect above $200 and the Fine to be above $500.
Updated 4th Sept 2014: After the news broke that there is a finalised Inhumans script, prices have increased. VG is now $120+ while Fine is now $250+. I expect them to further increase. If you want to benefit, get the best copy you can find, grade them and wait towards the release of the trailer to realise the profits.
#2: Fantastic four 46
Wait a minute, what is the difference between this and the above book? The answer: Black Bolt. Every team needs a leader and Black Bolt is the fulfilling this role for the Inhumans. His first appearance in 45 is only on the last page (see below). The full appearance is actually on 46, which also happens to featured him on the cover. This is like the Incredible Hulk 180/181 debate, where Wolverine appears on the last panel of 180 but 181 became the runaway success in terms of price appreciation.
Compared to Fantastic Four #45, #46 is very undervalued no excuses for not buying them now.
#3: Thor 165
Using the supporting case technique, I am guessing that Adam Warlock will make eventually make an appearance in the Guardians of the Galaxy movie. Warlock has also been an important part of the cosmic scene in Marvel and there is a high likelihood that he will appear in either GOTG 1 or 2. Thor 165 contains Adam Warlock’s full appearance. He has an earlier appearance in Fantastic Four 67’s last page (see below) but Thor 165 is where he is involved in the whole story. It also happens that Thor 165 contains Warlock on the cover while FF 67 only has a cocoon. How lame is that!
Doctor strange has been rumored to have a movie for quite a long time. This is why his first appearance in Strange Tales 110 has skyrocketed. The price for a 3.0 is close to 1k now, which is unbelievable given how cheap they can be found just one year ago.
So,if strange 110 is out of your budget, what else can we buy? How about his first sole series, Doctor Strange 169. The parallel to this is Iron man 1, which also sells for a handsome sum of money when he got hot. The reason why the numbering starts from 169, rather than 1, is because Marvel continued Doctor Strange from Strange Tale 168. Nevertheless, at less than $70 for a VF+ copy, it is a small investment to be made for a strong potential upside.
#5: Fantastic four 52
This is the least undervalued comic as Black Panther has been rumored to have his own movie for so long. However, nothing formal has been confirmed and I am guessing that he will appear in one of the Avengers movie, rather than his own show. My guess, using technique 3, is that Black Panther will become part of the Avengers team, rather than his own, as he was part of Avengers during the silver age so it is not completely off tangent.
Currently, VG copies can be found around $60-$80. I would buy them now before even these become out of reach when the movie announcement is made.
Do you agree with these picks or do you have something even better? I will love to hear from you if you think there are better undervalued silver age comic books out there.