Undervalued Spotlight #326

Runaways #1, Marvel Comics, July 2003

The dominant back issue market segment for more recent comics has to be the variant issue market. It’s a tough market and one to enter into with lots of knowledge and a little caution. On the other hand the market for regular, non-variant issues of comics published since the year 2000 is thin at best, a very active and successful example would be Walking Dead #1.

This all makes little sense since publishing numbers have been at historic lows during this period. Though the storytelling formats of these comics lends towards the eventual release of their Graphic Novels and that seems to be the way modern comic book readers like things.

Still, a great new concept is a great new concept and great new characters are great new characters. Surely there must be plenty of comics from this era that can slot nicely into the traditional collecting of back issue comics that introduce new concepts and characters.

A few short months before Walking Dead #1 came out writer Brian K. Vaughan launched the 1st issue of this week’s Undervalued Spotlight, Runaways #1.

Someone recommended the book to me and I remembered being floored by it, it had a fantastic premise, strong characters and it was a great read. Soon it became one of my shop’s bestselling graphic novels, one we’d recommend enthusiastically.

The story revolves around six kids who got to know each other through their parents’ yearly meeting. One year, when they were teenagers, they get curious and decide to spy on their parents’ charity event meeting. All were shocked to learn that their parents were actually a group of villains, criminals, aliens! Soon the kids learn that they too possess the powers of their parents. Now they have to band together and for a team to defeat their parents, enter the Runaways.

As I mentioned above, the print runs on books from this era was low, the Comichron site has circulation for Runaways #1 at 25,905.

Unlike Walking Dead, Runaways never went on to enjoy a long and successful run. Since its launch 66 issues have come out over 4 different volumes, the latest being a 4 part series in 2015.

So what went wrong with Runaways? Some sites I read point to the ever changing creative teams and the lack of consistency and direction. My view is that this is one heck of a property and Marvel knows this. I feel that there is a lot of potential here and the potential is based on sound principles like quality, past success, a known fan base etc. and not on gimmicks.

The market agrees with me as of this posting, the book has moved forward in value over the past year. I think opportunities abound though in finding raw issues. These are sitting in closets in collections amassed since 2000 and the books will also be found at comic shops and at convention booths where owners and dealers discount en masse comics from this time period.

Go out and get yourself a nice tight raw copy, I recommend you read it.

The 46th Overstreet price break for this book is $4 in the 9.2 grade split.

Reasons to buy this comic book as an investment.

  • Intro the Runaways
  • Low print run
  • Hi quality property just waiting for its turn

Walter Durajlija
Walter Durajlija

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

Articles: 1690


  1. It’s interesting that you mention variants as the dominant back-issue market trend in recent comics. One of our local comic shops put out a call for Batman New 52 back issues recently, but stipulated that they didn’t want any variants because nobody’s buying them. Now that struck me as rather odd, because I was buying them, and the limited supply each month in the store seemed to disappear pretty quickly as they came out. And, when you look at sales of Batman #s 47 and 50, with three variants each, those bagged books flew off the shelf when they came out, and now the same people who sold them are telling me nobody buys them. I have to get these guys reading Comic Book Daily more often. Thanks for the tip!

    cheers, mel

  2. Hi Walter. The price of this particular comic is exploding on the back issue market/ebay because it recently got picked up as a tv series on Hulu. Near mint copies are selling for about $200 USD currently on eBay. I think most collectors are onto this book now. There is very little chance that I can nab this book at a show in Vancouver in the $1 bins, or even for $20. Are you sure it’s still undervalued?

  3. Hey Peter thanks for the insight. I did not spot that when writing this up, I guess my old standby sites for info are lagging behind a bit but it would explain the green arrows on the GPA.

    The news is great and it will definitely make hunting one down on the cheap a lot harder but I think there are still reasonably priced ones to be found, the focus now has to be around traditional comic shops that don’t specialize in recent back issues.

    Now this is a generalization but I’ve found a pattern of older dealers letting go these new hot books cheaper than you could get them at places like eBay etc. This first time around represents found money to many of these dealers and getting what to them is good quid for a book that they thought was worth way less usually favors haggling. I’ve had success with this approach buying and I’ve also sold cheap several times because of this philosophy. I remember being ecstatic about getting $200 when Batman Adventures #12 started heating up.

  4. I think the reason they don’t buy the books back is because of price volatility in this market. Someone once told me variants are like bread, keep them a few days too long and they go stale.

    Can’t blame the shops either. The market for variants the week of release is very real and if a shop keep lets it go for cover the buyer usually throws it up on eBay and cashes in. The shop keep is basically trying to sell it for market value that Wednesday which is his or her right.

    What we need is the buyers to learn that a majority of these book plummet in value shortly after release. As long as people are buying at these prices shops will be selling at these prices.

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