Undervalued Comics #33 – Modern Keys To Invest In Using PSM

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Here are the modern keys to invest in if you want to find the next Ultimate Fallout #4. I have refined the PSM tool introduced here to identify the next gems you should have in your portfolio.

The books discussed here are the regular versions. The analysis do not apply to variants, which by definition are all Gem books since they have low supply numbers.

Updating the PSM model

One of the biggest refinement is to use a ratio, rather than an absolute number for a proxy for a character’s popularity. In the original model, I used absolute comic appearances to identify which character is popular. In particular, he or she needs to appear 100 times in comics to be classified as popular.

In the refined model, I divide the comic appearances by the number of years since the character is introduced. This is to avoid the situation whereby an older character will have more appearances due to age, and not because he or she is heavily used.

So, if a character has a ratio of 12, it means she or he is appearing in at least 12 comics in a year. That is equivalent to him or her having his own series or part of a team which has its own series.

  • Super popular (18 and above): the character is appearing almost 2 times a month on average, meaning he or she is in more than 1 series
  • Popular (10 to 17): the character is making occasional appearances beyond his or her own series/team
  • Ok to not popular (Below 10): the character is not able to make regular monthly appearances

Another big change is the classification rules. Specifically, when a character becomes super popular, his or her first appearance is classified as a Gem even though the supply might have bigger than 40,000 copies. This is to accommodate characters who are so popular that the demand can overcome any supply surpluses (as long as it is not crazy like a million copies).

The new classification rules

Combining the two changes yield us the new classification rules as follows:

  • Gem: A comic book is classified as GEM if the character is popular and the comic has less than 30,000 copies. Alternatively, if a character is super popular, then his or her comic first appearance is a GEM, regardless of print run.
  • Slow Burner: A comic book is classified as Slow Burner if a character is popular but his or her first appearance comic has more than 40,000 copies.
  • Lottery: A comic book is classified as a Lottery if a character has ok popularity or is not popular but his or her first appearance comic has less than 40,000 copies.
  • Dog: A comic book is classified as a Dog if a character is not popular and his or her first appearance comic has more than 40,000 copies.

Who are the next Ultimate Fallout #4 candidates?

Using the above classification rules, I have listed the Gem books in the below table.

The table is first divided into 2 sections. Section A is for characters who have appeared on the big screen or confirmed to be. Section B is for characters who have not received any serious screen time.

Within each section, it is ranked according to the appearance ratio.

IssuesAppearance RatioSupplyPrice in NMPrice in 9.8
Section A
Captain Marvel Vol 7, #14 (Kamala Khan)5219,320$200$350
Ultimate Fallout #4 (Miles Morales)4873,764$400$1100
Nyx #3 (X-23)2940,040$350$900
Edge of Spiderverse #2 (Spider Gwen)2454,415$300$900
Batman Beyond #1 (Batman Beyond)1327,920$200$1000
Young Avengers #1* (Kate Bishop)1587,991$60$250
Section B
Teen Titans Vol 6, #12 (Batman Who Laughs)3857,000$125$400
Justice League Vol 2, #31 (Jessica Cruz)3475,803$15$200
Marvel Point One (Sam Alexander)30113,352$10$100
Batman #655 (Damian Wayne)28113,552$35$130
Invincible Iron Man Vol 3, #7 (Ironheart)2851,748$70$220
Amazing Spider-Man #654 (Agent Venom)2453,882$25$100
Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #1 (Moon Girl)2438,133$25$250
Batman #635 (Red Hood)2360,901$100$250
Vision #1 (Viv)2342,119$15$120
Amazing Fantasy Vol 2, #15 (Amadeus Cho)2013,957$60$400
Vengeance #1 (Ms America)1625,837$60$300
* YA #1 is not a Gem book but included for comparison
-Links above are to Ebay. If you buy something, I will get a commission from Ebay as part of its affiliate program. If you want to support my research, using my links to buy from Ebay will be the best way.

There is a lot of unpack from the above table. Lets break down the analysis.

#1: Big upside for super popular characters who have not gotten media hype

First, there is definitely a strong correlation between media appearance and prices. Comics in the section A gives us a sense of how high modern books with strong characters can go if given the proper media treatment.

(Note: Young Avengers #1 is not a Gem book but included for comparison purpose. All comments here do not apply to this book)

The interesting case is Batman Beyond #1. He has not received any featured film treatment but has been on the small screen for quite some time now.

In the end, I classified him in section A as having some kind of media exposure. However, it will be scary to think what could happen to his prices if Warner Bros announced a Batman Beyond featured film tomorrow.

The opportunity, however lies in the section B. On average, the potential upside returns ranges from 2x to 10x, if these characters get the same media treatment. Since they are so popular, it is a matter of when and not if.

It is important to note that some of the section B characters might have cartoon appearances on TV or DVD. However, unless it is for prolong periods like Batman Beyond, I still think of them as lacking proper media hype.

#2: The real Ultimate Fallout #4 contenders

While the books highlighted in the above table are Gem books, not all of them can compete with the likes of Ultimate Fallout #4. To give us the best chances of picking the real contenders, let first take out the ones with the least potential.

Off the bat, I would eliminate Batman #655 and Marvel Point One due to their high print run. While it is possible for demand to overcome these, the characters will need to be more popular than they are currently are.

Right now, Sam and Damian are popular within their own domain but they need to become more prominent in the whole comic universe. In other words, they need to start appearing everywhere like Miles to be able to generate that kind of demand needed to overcome their large print run.

Based on current popularity, they can be $50 or even $100 books with media news but to reach Ultimate Fallout #4 might be a stretch.

Another book that is eliminated is Vision #1 because Viv did not manage to carry her own series. It is hard to say some character is popular and yet has no series to call her own. Viv is a solid supporting character but not a serious contender to Ultimate Fallout #4.

For the rest of the characters, I took a random sampling of the sales for their own series as another way to gauge their popularity.

IssueSales numbers
Miles Morales: Spider Man #13 (2019)29,500
Spider-Gwen: Ghost Spider #10 (2019)25,794
Batman Who Laughs #7 (2019)88,012
Green Lanterns #54 (2018)23,821
Totally Awesome Hulk #17 (2017)23,020
Venom: Space Knight #8 (2016)17,370
Red Hood Outlaw #36 (2019)12,120
Ironheart #8 (2019)10,342
America #7 (2017)9,137
Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #29 (2018)6,717

Looking as sales of their own series reveals why the first appearance of Miles and Gwen are as demanded as they are. Combined with their appearance ratio, these 2 characters are successful with Marvel’s intentional of push.

On the other hand, characters like Moon Girl and even Ms America are having a harder time gaining popularity even though they are being pushed. Even Riri and Red Hood might be borderline cases.

That is not the say their books have zero chances of reaching higher prices. As long as they maintain their appearance ratio, they will gathered more fans over time that can help them sell well in the future.

The real contenders then appear to be Batman Who Laughs who have a staggering sales number, Jessica Cruz, Amadeus Cho and Agent Venom. These characters are popular enough to sell well and are also being pushed a lot by the publishing companies (from their appearance ratio).

Amazing Fantasy Vol 2 #15

This looks to be the killer book within the list. Not only is Amadeus Cho popular enough to sell well, he is also making appearances outside his book such as in Agents of Atlas, Champions etc al.

However, the supply of 14,000 books is what will pushed this book high if Amedus Cho is announced for the MCU.

In case you are unaware, the seeds of his appearance have already been laid. His mother has already appeared in Avengers #2 so his presence can’t be too far away.

 

Teen Titans Vol 6, #12

Batman Who Laughs was hot right out of the gate and he seems to be able to maintain that kind of popularity.

With Batman movies being the only certainty in the DC Universe, he might show up eventually.

His print run is slightly lower than Edge of Spiderverse #2 so that might make a good benchmark to compare to.

 

Justice League Vol 2, #31

If you want to talk about undervalued characters, Jessica Cruz would be most of the undervalued.

Jessica has been heavily pushed since introduction. She has costarred in her own series, as well as being in all sorts of teams like Justice League, Justice League Odyssey etc. This explained why she had such a strong appearance ratio.

Best thing is that fans seems to be liking her. Her own series sold well and is on par with Edge of Spiderverse.

Despite all these strong fundamentals, you can buy her first appear comics for $15 easily.

Jessica is on 2 important trends: diversity and strong women. With Green Lanterns movie and shows being developed, her media hype is almost guaranteed.

 

Amazing Spider-Man #654

I have said more than enough for this book on this blog: read here and here.

Statistic wise, this book is almost on part with Edge of Spiderverse #2. It is well balanced with a strong appearance ratio score as well as moderate supply.

Another addition point is its current price. It is the second lowest in the list and so represents the biggest potential gains.

Agent Venom is too cool a concept not to be used. Either Eddie will evolved and take on this role or Sony might get another character to do it after the Eddie franchisee is done.

 

#3: KK undervalued relative to peers

Within section A, I would say Kamala Khan might get a second wind. Currently, her book has the lowest value among those in section A.

Although confirmed for a Disney+ show, we have not heard any casting information or any trailer. In contrast, the other 3 characters have already gotten the full media treatment.

Once that happens for Kamala, we might see another uptick in prices. She is so popular that she is averaging 52 comic appearances a year! This means, besides her own series, she is also part of 2 other series as well as in all major events.

Also, her first appearance has the smallest supply in section A. If any of the current frenzy starts to feed on Kamala’s books, the price hike might be even crazier.

The only thing holding her book down is the god damm awful cover and the worst kind of appearances. This is why I think there is a small chance that Kamala Khan first appearance as Ms Marvel in All New Marvel Point One might have a chance of becoming hot as well.

#3: Slow burners will be slow

Section A also included Young Avengers #1 to illustrate why it is a Slow Burner and how you can use that to identify other Slow Burners.

Kate Bishop is not a bad character. She is popular enough to have her own series and being regularly used. However, she is still someway off from that super popular status where she starts appearing everywhere within Marvel Comics.

As a result, Kate lacks that power to overcome the large supply that Young Avengers #1 have. Hence, as an investor in this book, you need to have patience.

The key point is even though a character might be announced for a movie, if he or she belongs to the Slow Burner group, the comic will still not see a meteoric rise in prices.

A lot of characters fall into this category such as Statue, Gabby, All New Ghost Rider, Sentry, Shuri, Silk etc. These characters are making regular appearances, but not as much as those in the Gem list.

In addition, they usually have print runs in the range of 40,000 to 80,000. These are not low numbers and so will need time and more demand to overcome.

Conclusion

The PSM model is by no means an all encompassing model. At best, it should give you different lens to view your investment so as to maximize your probabilities of picking winners.

That being said, the market can be irrational. Some books can suddenly become hot with nothing but spec talk, fundamentals not withstanding.

An important refinement I will be working on is to incorporate something like the sales data to differentiate the 2 cases:

  • heavily pushed and successfully
  • heavily pushed but not as successfully

The appearance ratio is a good high level proxy for popularity. After all, a popular character should be making lots of appearances.

However, when we want to make comparisons between different levels of popularity, incorporating other factors like sales might be needed.

6 thoughts on “Undervalued Comics #33 – Modern Keys To Invest In Using PSM

  1. I’m new to the site and your articles and I live both so far. I’m a huge Modern Newsstand Collector, Post 2000. I try and stick with firsts and other key issues but it’s hard to say no to a good deal. What are your thoughts on any newsstands versions of these books? I do have an Amazing Fantasy 15- Amadeus Cho in Newsstand. I’ve only ever seen the one and paid around $50 for it. Anyway keep up the good work.

  2. Also for Jessica Cruz you might want to look into Green Lantern 20, I know its a cameo just like batman 655 is a cameo for damian. Also green lantern 20 has a sketch variant that is high on demand for jessica cruz

  3. Aaron, hi, great work. love your articles. Question. Where would you fit the Inhumans 5 v2 and Black Widow 1 variant with Yelena on it in the PSM? Also, how do you add an element of “flagging” hot books without manual human input i.e. if you dont analyze the title you may miss it. The Black Widow prices seem to be driven by the direct “handoff” annointing Yelena as the next Black Widow. I think a tip that this was a good spec was the hiring of a hot young actor who probably wasnt going to be a one and done. I guess my head is at how do you put that human element into the tool? Not sure I am making sense. Thanks.

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