Comicbookresources.com recently conducted a poll that attempts to rank Marvel and DC characters by popularity. I think that is very good data to let us have a sense of which character is worth a look for potential investment. What I did was to match the character with the print run of their first appearances as well as their current prices to see if there are any undervalued books to pick up. If you always wanted to invest in the long term, then buying popular character’s first appearances that are undervalued should be what you are looking for.
Since the CBR feature will run in 5 parts, I will do likewise and create 5 articles that matches each week’s released list. On a side note, the first 10 will always be boring because these will be characters we know well and their books should have been correctly priced.
DC Popular characters
I will start with the DC list.
- #50: Superboy (Adventures of Superman #500) – A massively printed book. We are talking about high hundreds of thousands here. If you want to have a go, buy the Platinum versions, although they are not cheap either. My sense is there is no undervaluation here given the demand and the supply. (Ebay listings)
- #49: John Stewart (Green Lantern #87) – This would have a good choice for investment last year. Unfortunately, this year has saw plenty of jumps for this book so it is no longer an undervalued pick. If you want to invest in Green Lantern books, go for Guy Gardener. I have stated why you should pay attention in this article on undervalued Green Lantern books. (Ebay listings)
- #48: Animal Man (Strange Adventures #180) – I think this book has potential. I will talk more about it later but Animal Man might be one of the key cornerstone in the Vertigo film universe that DC is trying to build. The book itself is not easy to find due to the reason that I have already explained for all DC comics in this era. Overall, this is a good book to invest it before it blows up. (Ebay listings)
- #47: Alfred Pennyworth (Batman #16) – Out of reach for most so… NEXT!
- #46: Stephanie Brown (Detective Comics #647/648) – For the popularity that Stephanie is commanding, her first appearance is vastly undervalued, which is common with all other Bat Family members. If the next Batman movie trilogy is going to include some of the Bat Family members, then we might see a strong interest in these first appearances. A solid buy. (Ebay listings)
- #45: Lois Lane (Action Comics #1) – AC #1. Nuff Said. NEXT!
- #44:The Spectre (Showcase #60) – For characters that first appeared in the golden age, I will focus on their silver age appearances because of budget and supply issues. In this case, the Spectre’s SA appearance in Showcase #60 is currently still affordable. There was a spike when Jim Corrigan appeared in the Constantine TV show but the heat has reduced since then. Potential wise, it will depend on whaether DC is serious in getting its Dark Universe off the ground. If not then this will not see much interest. A 50:50 for me (Ebay listings)
- #43: Batwoman – Katherine Kane (52 Week 11) – Katherine first cameo in 52 Week #9 but her full appearance is in #11 with that gorgeous cover. The only thing holding back this book is the supply, which has a print run of 122k. That is a huge number by today’s standard and with no variant, it is going to be a difficult investment to make even though the character is solid. If you want to buy, go only for 9.8s. In other grades, the book will be too common to command any serious price premium. (Ebay listings)
- #42: Starman – Jack Knight (Zero Hour #1) – Starman was hot during the 90s due to the excellent stories. However, I have not seen any signs of him coming back in any form. In fact, Stargirl is currently the character who is continuing the legacy so I see this as a weak buy, especially when you consider the print run of 350k (Ebay listings)
- #41: Dr. Fate – Kent Nelson (JSA #21) – Similar to the Spectre, the golden age appearance of Dr Fate is way up there. The SA appearance, on the other hand, is still affordable although prices have been going up. It is not a bad issue to buy as there are other Silver Age appearances of various Golden age characters. However, if you decide to invest in this, be patient and don’t over pay. $100 for a VG is not worth it. (Ebay listings)
Marvel Popular characters
Now, let’s get to the Marvel list.
- #50: Galactus (Fantastic Four #48) – A classic buy no matter what. Although it is pricey now but if SS ever returns to Marvel studios, this book will heat up in an instant. Strong buy. (Ebay listings)
- #49: Wasp (Tales to Astonish #44) – A nice book to have but already at peak prices. The time to buy was 2 years ago. If you have missed it, it is better to seek another book to put your money in. (Ebay listings)
- #48: Spider-Man – Miles Morales (Ultimate Fallout #4) – This was a cheap book to buy until this year where rumors of Miles appearing in the Spider Man movie spiked the prices. Being a heavily printed book (74k), I don’t think there is much room left for growth if you buy now. (Ebay listings)
- #47: Squirrel Girl (Marvel Super Heroes Vol 2 #8) – I had to rub my eyes a few times when I saw Squirrel Girl appearing ahead of characters such as Miles and Wasp. However, that only speaks to the fact that the readership is changing. Characters like Squirrel Girl represents a more lighted read that appeals better to the new audiences. Investment wise, this book has peaked in IMHO. To go from a book that nobody cares to its current pricing is amazing given that she will never be featured in the MCU. (Ebay listings)
- #46: Colossus (Giant Sized X-men #1) : Nuff Said. NEXT!
- #45: Vision (Avengers #57): Any book that has gone through the hype cycle is probably not going to be a great investment. This is the case for Avengers #57. You should have bought and sold them earlier in the year.
- #44: Kate Bishop (Young Avengers #1): This will be my top pick if I have published this article 2 weeks ago. Unfortunately, after publishing the cheap comics article on Young Avengers Wizard Con edition, prices have jumped from $5 to around $70-$100. Does it have any room for growth? Yes, if Kate joins the MCU. If not, then it is a risky buy right now at current prices. (Ebay listings)
- #43: Sub-Mariner (Fantastic Four #4): An already expensive book to invest in. Also, with the movie rights not residing with Marvel Studios at the moment, this is going to a long waiting game. I will pass. (Ebay listings)
- #42: Magik (New Mutants #14): Now we are talking. Magik has been gaining popularity in recent years. She is the Psylocke equivalent for New Mutants and I see her being the breakout star if the New Mutants movie has her in it. The only problem is that her first appearance is confusing. She appeared as a child in Giant Sized X Men #1 but that is not what we are interested in. She became an adult in X Men #160 but gains the name Magik in New Mutants #14. Looking at history, it seems collectors placed more emphasis on “first appearance of XX character as XX”, rather than an important event. Hence, I would go with New Mutants #14. Also, Magik did appeared on the cover as well so that is a big plus. (Ebay listings)
- #41: Hank Pym (Tales to Astonish #27): Hmmm. NEXT!
Overall, the CBR list gave me some food for thought. It assures me for example that my Young Avengers #1 is not as silly as it sounds from the fan base that Kate Bishop is building. Among the list, my top picks will be Detective Comics #647/648 and New Mutants #14 for having strong female characters that have a good media potential.