ms marvel 18Ms. Marvel #18, Marvel Comics (June 1978)

I’m really enjoying the recent submissions from Undervalued Spotlight readers. Spotlight readers are obviously a savvy group because their picks are strong and true.

Honestly I’ve been getting enough submissions lately to consider running 2 Spotlights a week, one by me and one by you.

Hmmmmmm? 

This week’s Undervalued Spotlight was submitted by Peter from B.C. I actually had this lined up for a couple of weeks out but on last week’s Spotlight a commenter called for this book!

Best to satisfy demand asap I say. My pick (oh and it’s a good one) can wait til next week.

Peter’s book is a late Bronze beauty. I’ve always thought the late Bronze Age to be laden with undervalued gems. This week’s pick is one of these gems.

Let’s hand things over to Peter.    

The comic book collecting world has often undervalued the comic books of major female characters.  This theme continues in the case of Mystique, who is featured in today’s “Undervalued Spotlight”.  Mystique’s development in comics happens sequentially, as if Chris Claremont wasn’t sure what to make of her: she first appeared in Ms. Marvel #16 but she is called Raven Darkhölme, and then she is named Mystique in Ms. Marvel #17.  Today, I will focus on Ms. Marvel #18, which features Mystique’s first full appearance in comics.

As a comic book reader, I always felt that the comic book medium didn’t fully express Mystique’s deadly skills.  I remember seeing the first movie depiction of Mystique in the original X-Men movie.  Mystique was kicking Wolverine’s butt beneath the Statue of Liberty and she more than held her own against our favorite clawed mutant.  Seeing Mystique’s deadly fighting skills and deceptiveness in the movie really made it clear to me why she is such a powerful supervillainess.  

Since Bryan Singer’s original X-Men movie, Mystique has appeared in virtually every subsequent ensemble X-Men movie, and this fact alone should make this comic book worth more than $75 (current guide value) for a near mint minus copy.  She is set for another movie appearance, in next year’s X-Men: Days of Future Past, and she will probably play a prominent role in the plot, just as she did in the original comic book version of Days of Future Past (Uncanny X-Men #141 and 142).

In the comic book realm, Mystique is a bit of a trail-blazing character because she is one of the few female leaders of a supervillain team.  In Uncanny X-Men #141 and 142, she leads the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants in a plot to assassinate Senator Robert Kelly.  As an aside, I always wondered why Mystique, being such a self-confident female supervillain, never objected to leading a team that’s called the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.  She could’ve renamed the team to something more gender-inclusive, but that’s another discussion for another time…  Besides leading the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants on numerous occasions, Mystique is also the mother of the teleporting X-Man Nightcrawler, and this has also been an important and recurring X-Men storyline. 

With all these accomplishments and movie appearances, Mystique’s most valuable first appearance comic (Ms. Marvel #18) is only worth $75 in the current Overstreet price guide, for a near mint minus copy.  This issue is worth less than one-quarter the value of Sabretooth’s first appearance (Iron Fist #14), which happened a few months earlier.  If we compare Ms. Marvel #18 to the first appearance issues of major Spiderman supervillains, it is still ridiculously underpriced.  For example, Amazing Spiderman #300 features the first full appearance of Venom, and it came out a decade later, but Ms. Marvel #18 is worth less than half the value of this Venom issue.  

My only explanation about why Mystique’s comics are undervalued is that comic collectors will gravitate towards characters they can identify with.  There is greater demand for Sabretooth’s first issue because Sabretooth is like an evil version of Wolverine.  Venom’s first full appearance issue is more sought-after than Mystique’s because Venom is an evil version of Spiderman, and the Todd McFarlane artwork is also pretty cool.  There is an inherent “cool factor” in the characters of Sabretooth and Venom.  In the final analysis, Mystique can’t really be pinned down, and she just has too much “mystique” for collectors to identify with.

The 43rd edition of the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide shows $31/$53/$75 as the 8.0/9.0/9.2 price splits.

Despite this lack of demand from comic book collectors, I believe that Ms. Marvel #18 will increase in value in the years to come.  Besides being the first full appearance of Mystique, this comic will increase in value because:

  • It is a bronze age comic, and comics published between 1970 to 1980 are starting to increase in value
  • It features Ms. Marvel, another under-appreciated character, and over time, she will also become more recognized
  • This comic has an appearance of the Avengers, another good selling point

Disclaimer: This article is not meant to be investment advice, merely for information and entertainment.  Peter does not own any of the comics mentioned in this article.