The “Hot” book… Avengers #55

What’s this!? Avengers #55 – Undervalued Spotlight #142 Revisited? Huddleston trampling all over one of Walter’s best Undervalued pics of all time in the Overvalued Overstreet?

In today’s Overvalued Overstreet we will look at some of those “hot” must have books that pop up whenever a new movie gets announced or even hinted at, and challenges these books present for Overstreet and collectors who use the guide.

I chose Avengers #55 because this book gives us a full look at the before and after effects of such a book. Avengers #55 features the first-full appearance Ultron the big-bad villain in the second Avengers movie – The age of Ultron. The fervor over movie #2 has now given way to the next two movies in the franchise featuring Thanos and the Infinity War. The Avengers franchise is as popular now has it has ever been.

On December 4, 2012 Walt chose Avengers #55 as his #142 Undervalued Spotlight pick. The 42nd Overstreet price guide values at the time were 8.0 $48/9.0$79/9.2$110. Walt focused on a nice 9.4 grade as a good long-term buy for the book, and at the time 9.4’s was getting about 1.5x guide. The movie was slated to come out in the spring of 2013 so speculation would have been well under way.

Here are the Overstreet guide values for the 46th and 47th price guides.

8.0 9.0 9.2
46th $189 $420 $650
47th $131 $291 $450

Walt made some smart folks real money with this pick. I take two creams in my coffee Walt😊.

All apologies for not having guides 43 thru 45 to view the whole picture. I keep giving them away once they are a couple years old. You see the beginning and the decline here, but I would have liked to show when and how high the price spiked. Current market for a 9.2 of this book is about $350, give or take, so still in decline. It will be interesting to see if the book continues to decline in the 48th price guide. There are other books in the same boat now: Batman Adventures #12, Marvel Super-Heroes #18, Iron Man #56, and Fantastic Four #45 and #46 come to mind. I am glad to see Overstreet reacting in a downward direction on books that are in obvious steep decline. It also highlights an inevitable problem.

In publishing once per year Overstreet has to make an educated guess on where a “hot book” rising or falling will be at during the course of the year. One guess only. Overstreet does have 160 advisors to help make the guess, which helps, but you only have one guess. A small example of downside risk is the current price of Avengers #55 a 9.2 at $450 in Overstreet. The market is paying about $350 or a little less. An unsuspecting buyer may see a book list for $425 somewhere and think they are getting a bargain when compared to the stated Overstreet guide price. They buy it and find out its not bargain later. I think this happens quite a bit. This is a lag time problem that is used by sellers of books of all stripes. Overstreet can’t react to a lower price for another few months. It is Overvalued Overstreet that they could help avoid.

As previously stated, Overstreet only publishes there guide once per year. On 98% of the books they provide pricing for this is not a problem. It’s just that the 2% is where most of the action is in rapidly rising or declining books. Overstreet is usually the last place that you look for advice here. Auction results, eBay sales, Census, GPAnalysis, are all tools that help provide up to the minute data you may need to help you make a quick and informed decision on a “hot” comic book. My question is why doesn’t Overstreet get in to the most exciting part of the pricing game? All of the tools that I mentioned above are available to them as well, plus they have all of those advisors. An Overstreet online price guide for the small number of volatile books that are rapidly changing up or down would be a boon to the whole comic collecting industry and plug that 2% (my guess😊) gap that Overstreet is missing out on. Overstreet is considered the leader in comic book pricing information, they will need to up their game in the “hot” book market if they want to remain in the leader’s circle.

Mike Huddleston
Mike Huddleston

Mike was born and raised in Cambridge, Ontario. He has read and collected comics for over 40 years. A Marvel Zombie specializing in the Silver, bronze and early copper age of comics.

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Chris Meli
6 years ago

Mike, this was a good post with a lot to chew over.

I take a more negative view towards Overstreet than you do. I think the guide has problems with more than 98% of books – I would say the great majority of books. I think there are a variety of reasons for this, but my main conclusion is that Overstreet aims its valuations for worthless/near-worthless books at collectors, and its valuations of valuable books at dealers. The former are to make collectors feel like they own something of value. The latter are mostly under the current price levels, so the dealers can feel comfortable offering a high “percentage of guide” to sellers. (You managed to find a situation where the market moved and actually pushed Overstreet in the other direction.) I think it has been like this for decades, and as long as Overstreet was the only real source, the user just had to adjust his expectations accordingly. But now with easy access to the sources you note, you can bypass the guide and go right to actual transaction levels. I dispute that “Overstreet is considered the leader in comic book pricing information” – I would rather say “the _volume_ leader”, which means that you can find anything in Overstreet – you just don’t know if it’s reliable.

(And while I understand the examples you note follow the “Overvalued Overstreet” theme, I think that the “Undervalued Overstreet” problem is much bigger for valuable books at this point. It doesn’t make sense to me that the guide continues to show under-market prices for years, if its purpose is to reflect actual prices.)

I don’t think some kind of adjustment or timeliness of Overstreet is even on the table – I don’t think its goal is to provide accurate information, so incorporating timely adjustments would mostly work against what I perceive to be its actual goals. This answers your “why not” question. There are other issues as well, even under the assumption that Overstreet aims to provide accurate market levels. I think the main issue is competition with GPA and where Overstreet would get its verifiable data. There is also the cost – keeping up with valuations on a consensus basis would entail a lot more investment than goes into to annual updating of an existing document. The hobby is not big enough to support this level of investment.

I still buy the guide, as I suspect do many others, not for the price data but rather for all of the other information. I find the commentary interesting and useful, and while I rarely look at the prices, an index of all recognized comic issues including some information (artists, variants, etc.) is useful. In fact I would probably prefer if you could buy the book without the prices, as this would cut down the heft dramatically.

Finally, I think your “obvious steep decline” examples are questionable in some cases. Batman Adventures came off early last year in 9.8 from about $2k to $1.5k, but has shown strength this year. (I don’t own one but I keep thinking that I should – on a census basis this book in 9.8 is comparable to ASM #129 in 9.6/9.4, but is a third or more cheaper – given popularity my money would be on Harley Quinn.) Marvel Super-Heroes #18 is a field of green arrows (not Green Arrows) in GPA. Prices in most grades have been stable since 2014 and I think the recent 9.8 sale at $40k+ means something. These days I think it is hard to find books in “obvious steep decline”. I’ll pick New Gods #7…

Walter Durajlija
6 years ago

Great post Mike and a good cautionary tale.

The Overstreet Guide was the glue that bound the whole collecting community and it did a fantastic job helping create this massive back issue market that we enjoy today. Alas the format for the main purpose of the book is antiquated but I do think Overstreet could become more viable by tracking sales online. Why should there only be one price tracking site? I think Overstreet’s pedigree could get it there.