The New Keys

What the heck is happening out there? It seems big Marvel Keys are setting record prices every time they go up for sale. No, I’m not talking about the early 60s Marvel Keys, nor am I talking about the relaunch keys of 1968 nor the classic Bronze Age keys like ASM #129 and Hulk #181, I ain’t even talking about the Copper Age Keys like She-Hulk and ASM #238, nope, I’m talking about the post year 2000 Marvel Keys!

Ultimate Fallout #4, August 2011 – first Miles Morales, Edge of Spider-Verse #2, September 2014 – first Spider Gwen, NYX #3, February 2004 – First X-23 are three easy examples but there are others.

I’m feeling very very disconnected to these books, I’ve had scores of them over the past several years and I couldn’t wait to unload them thinking they’d be sinking in value within weeks. I could not have been more wrong.

All prices below are for CGC 9.8s.

Ultimate Fallout #4 featuring the first appearance of Miles Morales as Spider-Man could not be hotter, in 2018 there were 263 sales that averaged $262 per sale, the latest 90-day average is $868 over 151 sales, the last sale was $1,175.

Edge of Spider-Verse #2 featuring the first appearance of Spider-Gwen is another hot key, in 2018 there were 216 sales that averaged $336 per sale, of the last 20 copies that sold only 1 dipped below $800, the last sale was $929.

NYX #3 featuring the first appearance of X-23 has actually had its day a few years back, over the last 2 years it has been slowly losing ground until recently that is, the book looks like it is charging back with the last sale of $1000 putting it over its high $914 average over the year 2018.

So what gives? Is it all the COVID money needing to settle somewhere? I know what it’s not, it’s not older collectors like me or even guys 20 years younger than me buying these up, this has to be new fans rushing in to get what to them are the important Marvel Comics of the moment and perhaps of the future.

I remember buying long boxes full of books like Nova #1 and She-Hulk #1, dealers holding that stuff had zero feeling for the books and even less faith that they’d be worth something one day. I in turn was more than happy to peddle them at $10 to $20 each thinking I’m the smartest guy in the world, turns out I had no faith in them either. This is a cautionary tale repeated generation after generation and it seems I did not learn the lessons history was trying to teach me.

Can these books turn into the new Hulk #181s? The new Amazing Spider-Man #300s? Is there still time to grab them before they hit their peak?

We have to remember that relative scarcity is built into these books thanks to the era they were printed in. The NYX #3 had a print run of 40,000 copies, the Ultimate Fallout #4 print run was around 73,700 copies and the Edge of Spider-Verse #2’s print run was below 55,000 copies. As of this post on the CGC census in the Universal 9.8 grade, there are 1,758 copies of Ultimate Fallout #4, 1,752 copies of NYX #3 and 2,137 copies of Edge of Spider-Verse #2.

The census numbers above can be used to compare, A CGC 9.2 Amazing Spider-Man #129 puts it within the top 2,000 copies and it sells for around $2,000, a CGC 9.0 copy of Hulk #181 is one of the top 2,400 copies and it sells for over $5,000.

Have I got it wrong? Is this just another speculative spike or are these here forever? I think I’ll have to start respecting the keys the new generation of readers and collectors gravitate towards, I’ve ignored them so many countless times and now I see it was at great cost.

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Walter Durajlija
Walter Durajlija is an Overstreet Advisor and Shuster Award winner. He owns Big B Comics in Hamilton Ontario.
Articles: 1565

16 Comments

  1. We’re just old, Walter. You can never be on top of everything. You just need to find your niche and stick to it. You may not make tons of money all the time, but you’ll be happier. All this newer stuff will eventually settle, being replaced by the nect hot newbie.

  2. I’m constantly being surprised by what new books have value. It’s true that most of these are a “flash in the pan”, especially where variants are concerned, but considering how much dead stock there is from previous decades, I suspect that it’s all to scale, excluding the 60’s, which was a time when the Marvel and DC universe was being fleshed out. Another area that has flipped are 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th prints. Depending on the title, the heat around a particular issue and the production (art, quantity, etc)… many subsequent prints are also trading high or in many cases… in multiples. Crazy times.

  3. You are right Klaus but I’m still running a business and should up my game a bit by improving my perspective.

    I don’t get those 3rd and 4th prints Charlie, that’s some sort of default scarcity that they are clinging to I guess but it does seem to be a thing.

  4. Klaus, I totally agree. We ARE old. The problem is that we forget how old we actually are. I’m going to use two Spidey villains to prove a point here…

    Take Doc Ock… His first appearance was in Amazing Spider-Man #3 in 1963. 25 years later, in1988, we would have referred to him as a classic Spidey foe among the likes of Vulture, Green Goblin, and Mysterio. We would, at that time treasure trying to get all those key books for first appearancs.
    Also in 1988 Venom was introduced. So Venom came out 25 years after Doc Ock. Remember, in 1988 we were referring to Doc Ock as a classic Spidey character. However for some reason, almost 32 years later, we still view Venom as a new character! Venom is an older character now than what we were calling classic characters “back in the day”

    So for me it’s all about perspective. Miles Morales came out 8 years ago. If Venom had the kind of buzz that Morales has, in 1996 (8 years after his appearance), I’m sure Spidey 300 would have skyrocketed too. And now with eBay and internet sales in general, it’s so easy to buy anything.

    So the bottom line is.. we are old.

  5. I agree Chris! When I first read this installment I thought I must be too old… I haven’t even seen any of those books!

  6. I can’t wrap my head around these types of books. I’m on the younger side (<30 years old), but I don't collect much of anything that came out post-1980–the only exception is BA 12, which I haven't even pulled the trigger on yet. These characters don't mean anything to me, so I won't pay up for them. The question for me is if people will ever pay any substantial money for a copy below 9.8–even a 9.0 or so, like they do for the other mentioned keys.

  7. Good chime in Ben, we could use a below 30 voice here. I think scarcity still rules here so for these moderns a 9.8 puts the same number of books out there and available as say a 9.0 Hulk #181 that I used as an example. CGC 9.6 and 9.4 still get decent money and may end up being the “buys” long term.

  8. Age, of course, is a generalization. You don’t have to be young to be hip, and you don’t have to be old to be square. While there is a natural order to the aging process, somethings you can still choose.

  9. ComicLink’s July session started yesterday and my 2nd 9.8 copy of Ultimate Fallout #4 is already at $504! Out of the 60 books I sent in, it appears to have the most interest. My previous copy ended at $650 on May 28. Of course, none of this means anything but the fact that UF#4 has shot up right out of the gates says that this book is on peoples radar.

  10. Time to get rid of some of these books considering what we paid for them (especially that 5th print of Edge of Spider-Verse # 2 that has been kicking around here for a few years). Too good of a return on investment with the potential for a sag in the market with the recession not yet catching up to people’s pocket books. I have not been particularly interested in Marvel books for the past decade due to the manufactured scarcity around variants that reminds me of the 1990s and the general lack of interesting storylines. I think the only Marvel series that I have been entertained by from start to finish over the past five years was Tom King’s twelve issue Vision series. That said, the Into the Spider-Verse film was so good that I think it helps to explain why Miles Morales and Spider-Gwen are so popular right now and also suggests that these characters (at least) have serious staying power.

    The new Marvel keys that I think are the biggest surprise for me in terms of rapidly appreciating value are the Riri Williams cameo and first full appearance (Invincible Iron Man # 7 & 9). We were selling these comics for $20 two years ago. The other big surprise is that the Kamala Khan 1st appearance has not seen the same growth as these other books over the past few months. Eventually, Captain Marvel # 14 could be the biggest book of all of the new keys, despite being a cameo. The first true full appearance of the new Ms. Marvel is in All New Marvel Now! Point One # 1, which is still affordable for investors.

    Other affordable new keys are Luna Lafayette’s first appearance in Moon Girl & Devil Dinosaur # 1 (but it is starting to creep up there), All New Ghost Rider # 1 (Robbie Reyes) and Vision # 1 (Viv). The many first appearances in the Grant Morrison 2002 New X-Men run are also still cheap (even the first appearance of Fantomex). Since many of these characters are likely significant components of Marvel’s future in comics, films, television and other media, increasing values are likely if the target audience gets into collecting comics and continue to be interested in first appearances.

  11. We all have our preference and that’s okay. I’ve sold many copies of Ultimate Fallout #4 and Edge of Spiderverse #2 thinking that their value wont hold, but every time I sell one, the price keeps going higher, and my current book is no exception. There’s 20 days left in the auction and it has already surpassed my previous sale of $650 from less than 2 months ago… Currently at $654:

    https://www.comiclink.com/Auctions/item.asp?back=%2FComicTrack%2FAuctions%2Fauctions%5Ffirst%2Easp&id=1411790

    Even 2nd prints are north of $100… in the RAW. Personally, I think this is exciting see. I would think this is a good thing for collectors as it shows that there is growth in the market. Fuddy-duddies may continue to sulk and short these books, but I’m happy to have been proven wrong.

  12. Here’s this week top 10… and those Spider keys have made the list several weeks in a row now. Can we now declare NM#98 as being no longer the peg for modern books? But having said that, much like Tesla and other EV hopefuls, I’m all for the enthusiasm behind growth stocks and books… but I wouldn’t just plop money down out of FOMO, especially on variants. I think we have to recognize the coordinated effort by social media influencers, all in good faith I’m sure, and the effect they are having. In fact, this may be a good time to trade in you moderns for some nice SA keys… because when everyone is headed in one direction, you wanna look the other way. For the same reason I loaded up on Ultimate Fallout #4 when no one cared about this book, I think it may be time to look at where the pack will be headed next:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QeBHcoYZ_88

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