X-Men #109, Marvel Comics, February 1979
(Walt) – Mike Huddleston has a keen eye for undervalued comics. Case in point this gem he just sent in. Mike’s a great motivator too because now I have to try and top this next week! Over to Mike…
This week’s spotlight is on the All-New, All-Different X-Men of the mid to late seventies issues #94-143, and of course our Spotlight Issue X-Men #109.
This might be a bit of a hard sell given that most of those new early X-Men books today don’t even get the Overstreet guide price when at auction. I have watched many 9.4 graded books go for less than a 9.2 price, and lower grades attract even less attention. The title has been flat and beaten up price wise for some time now. All this from one of the most popular run of books in the Bronze age of comics.
There was a time when these books used to be white hot. I could describe it for you all day, instead we will travel back to 1981 and the 11th Overstreet Price guide, and review some of the prices of the day. Back then, Overstreet had only three price/grade points GD25, F65, and M94. For the purposes of this exercise we will list M94 only for all books.
WARNING! The prices listed below may cause dizziness, nausea, shock, disbelief, and occasional laughter/crying. Viewer discretion is advised.
Those are some mind-boggling prices. There were no Highest CGC graded, scarcity indexes, even Gerber Photo Journals back then to influence price. What you are looking at in the X-Men prices is an excellent example of pure collector demand. Where I think this demand came from I will explain in a bit.
First, I have read on this forum and others that early X-Men issues are as common as dirt. The market could still get flooded with countless high grade copies waiting to be CGC graded in fan’s collections. Is that really true?
When the new X-Men first appeared in issue #94 they were following up a long run of bi-monthly (4.5 years #67-93) of reprints. The new series continued to run bi-monthly – for three years! If you were a comic company starving for sales, would you run a smoking hot property bi-monthly for three years? I don’t think so. The X-Men didn’t go monthly until issue #112 when interest/sales in the book was sufficient to merit a monthly mag.
Second, Wolverine the forgotten. The face of the new X-Men was Cyclops, Storm, Nightcrawler, and Colossus. You only need to look at the early covers leading up to our Spotlight pick #109 to see that. Wolverine’s first appearance on X-Men was issue #96, a thumbnail size Wolverine on #98, a back of the line Wolverine on the issue #100 team face-off cover where he is matched up with Iceman. He get’s one good cover on issue #104 and that’s it. Would you treat your star character this way? I don’t think so.
Truth is the X-Men didn’t really take off as a title until John Byrne came on board in issue #108 and he clearly had a plan for Wolverine. The X-Men’s first Wolverine centered story begins in issue #108 when we meet James and Heather Hudson who have been told by the Canadian government that they want their “property” Weapon X returned to the fold. James Hudson then known as Weapon Alpha is sent to bring him back.
Our spotlight issue #109 features a terrific Weapon Alpha/Wolverine/X-Men cover. A battle royale that ends with Weapon Alpha leaving, but promising to return with Alpha Flight to continue their battle for Wolverine. This the beginning of many stories featuring Wolverine in a more prominent role with X-Men. Mariko, Alpha Flight, Hellfire Club, The Phoenix Sage, and Days of Future Past stories follow and Wolverine and the X-Men popularity goes off the charts.
I believe the demand for those early X-Men books is a result of the success of the John Byrne/Chris Claremont issues #108-143. What do we collectors do when we latch on to a new series. We usually go back and collect them all. I think that those early bi-monthly books were hard to come by and the over-heated demand drove the prices up to the extent we see it in the 11th Overstreet guide.
I do think the whole X-everything of the 80s and 90s overexposure has hurt the X-Men title. I am still a believer that the quality of X-Men # 94-143 run will come around again. That run stands up well today and it doesn’t need to bend a knee to any run from any age of comics. You only need to look at those Spider-Man prices to see even the most popular characters can have a lull in popularity, but bounce back.
Wolverine today remains very popular, and I believe his very early appearances in the X-Men will be in demand long term as well. X-Men #109 is one of the best and I highly recommend you pick it up now while it’s down and underappreciated and while you still can.
45th Overstreet Price breaks for X-Men #109 8.0/$46 9.0/$86 9.2/$125
Reasons to buy this comic.
- 1st Wolverine centered story in the New X-Men title
- Early Byrne/ Claremont story
- Prequel of sorts to Alpha Flight
- Terrific Wolverine/X-Men/Weapon Alpha cover
One could make the argument all these comics were overpriced for quite a while – now, reasonable.
Sorry Mike, i will continue to access the whole range and depth of our comic book choices and try to remain objective as possible in order to allow collectors and investors to understand first a solid history of comic books! I’m not going to accept this propaganistic attempt to hi jack, to continue to distort , revise the marketplace with Marvelitis! I want to see our passion for this field grow, expand .!
Yes you could make that argument. It sure felt that way back then. I was trying to explain some of the over-heated demand. I didn’t buy the early books back then because of price. I do like the books from the Claremont/Byrne era. Where would Wolverine be today without them?
I did add a little Golden Age in this post just to show how overheated the X market was back in the early 80’s. Suspense #3 was your baby and Suspense #8 was mine. Titles like Suspense, Horrific, and other horror titles owe a great deal of credit to the Gerber Photo Journals for their overheated demand in the 90’s.
This X-Men run is an interesting and an important part of the history of comics, in particular the Bronze age. The impact of the run is still being felt today.
Good article, Mike. I probably would have went with all the grades available, but can understand the space concerns/overwhelming data dump that could result in.
Isn’t #109 also the first appearance of Vindicator/Weapon Alpha and the first we hear of Alpha Flight (I don’t have a copy of 108 to confirm Alpha Flight isn’t mentioned there), as well as the first time Wolverine is referenced as “Weapon X”?
To me, all are equally as important as the 4 reasons you listed, if not more so. This issue is a treasure trove of tertiary key moments. I agree that it has and continues to be an undervalued key issue.
You are correct it is in fact the first mention of Alpha Flight. In his last panel Weapon Alpha says” and next time to equalize the odds, I’ll bring Alpha Flight with me.”. I edited a whole paragraph out of the post when I thought I was getting too euphoric and the post too long.
I was going to list all prices but didn’t for the reasons you mentioned. The price structure was different back then. Prices today are weighted much higher to the high grade. I will list an example using X-Men #109
1981 – X-Men 109 GD25 $3 F65 $6 NM94 $9
2015 – X-Men 109 2,0 $7 6.0 $21 9.2 $125
I can’t remember exactly when this change took place. It had a huge negative impact on low to mid-grade collections and comic book dealer inventory. Maybe Walt can pin a date on it. High grade collectors were happy.
Mike, you bring up so many interesting points here… each one worthy of a separate write up. Some CGC board members seem to believe that it’s always been about 1st appearances but having collected through this era… I have to disagree. Byrne was part of that elite group of creators who were admired and whose book commanded a premium simply for being good. There is actually still a huge following for the “Byrne” run. Every time I list a set on eBay, they generate just as much interest as my Spidey’s and are easy to sell. Individually, it’s a different story as you point out. Along with Millers DD run, these X-books are the only books I’ll take to the grave with me.
I also feel that X-MEN run and Millers are true stepping stones guys.. But those are such a miniscule example! I have repeatedly on this site given my words of wisdom . The discovery of the Mile High Collection was the spark that ignited this insane chase of Highest Grade, damn practically all other criteria in estimating a comic books value! That E restored Detective 33 , a 9..8 !!! —Oh please g i v e m e a break!!! Peace all.
I do remember that shift Mike though I can’t put my finger on when, I think it was a gradual process over a few years. For the longest time in the 1980s I remember the 1/3/7 splits for G/F/NM then came that VF insert column – (mid 90s?). I remember I went around buying a lot of VFs that old timers still called F because to them the books were not Mint. I’m sure the pricing shifts are not done. Ever notice a 4.5 gets the same money as a 5.5 lately. That’s because they fill the same utility tier, that of it not being a dog, not being perfect but just a solid copy. Same thing for 1.5/1.8 or 2.0, all 3 fill the same need so their prices are getting undifferentiable..
Sorry guys, that grade above should read “……a 9.4 !!!…’ Not a 9.8.
Well done Mike and most interesting.. Funny how Neal Adams issues in all comic series were once so valued, but similarly slumped like heck !! Thanks for the nice read..
Yes, most Adams books have cooled from their peak, but then again his style is so dissimilar from what’s in vogue these days….I walked a shop last week and looked across a wide display of all new Marvel titles and thought Mike Allred had drawn all of them!
That said, have you tried to buy a Batman #232 lately? This book is easily over guide in all grades. But short of Batman, much of Adams’ great work is very much on sale.
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