Undervalued Spotlight #442

X-Men #14, Marvel Comics, November 1965.

Some X-Men books are enjoying some nice value appreciation lately so I thought I’d scour the catalog and find us a sleeper.

I was never a big fan of the X-Men movies but there was one scene, in Days of Future Past, where the Sentinels come in and hunt down a group of X-Men. Yeah. An exhilarating scene thanks to the super cool Sentinels.

Today’s Undervalued Spotlight shines on the first appearance of those dreaded mutant hunters in X-Men #14.

X-Men #14 delivers on a few fronts, first off it introduces new characters that are and continue to be vital to the Mutant universe and second, as an added bonus, the Sentinels are featured front and centre on the cover. First appearances are great long term investments and first appearances that happen on the cover are even better long term investments.

In X-Men #14 the Sentinels proclaim themselves superior to humans and prepare to take over the world. Tell me that is not a premise right for today. Obviously a great concept. How great? As of this post the Sentinels have appeared in 2279 comics! I’d say they’re a hit and they’re here to stay.

X-Men #14 has never got a lot of love from the markets, as long as I can remember it’s been a slow mover especially relative to its sister book X-Men #12 (first Juggernaut) and similar in a way with its bright red colour.

The last CGC 9.4 sale of X-Men #14 fetched what seems like a too low $1912 while a recent CGC 9.2 sold for just over Guide at $975.

For some reason the Overstreet Guide still has #14 coupled with #15 (origin Beast) at $800 each. X-Men #14 should be separating and pulling away from #15 and it should be doing it soon.

The Sentinels are not going away and as cool as they were in that Days of Future Past movie I can only imagine that Marvel will take them to a whole new level.

If you’re on a budget look for a crisp smart looking CGC 7.5, the last one sold for a steal at $360. If you can afford it grab a clean, tight CGC 9.2 with healthy gloss and a good clean register for less than $1000.

The 48th Overstreet price breaks for this book are $230/$515/$800 in the 8.0/9.0/9.2 grade splits.

Strengths that make this comic a good long-term investment are:

  • First appearance the Sentinels
  • Anchored in one of the most collected titles in the hobby
  • Good long term prospects for X-Men and for Sentinels
Walter Durajlija
Walter Durajlija

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

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Chris Meli
5 years ago

For most of your picks I start skeptical, and then for about half of them I end up being convinced after consideration. This one is the opposite – my first inclination is to jump in with both feet. I have been close to this book a number of times, but I do my best to not overpay, and the stars have not aligned.

Your #12 call was the main driver in me jumping in later last year at what could have been seen as a historically aggressive price, but it was in line with the rest of the grades. #12 is strong in lower grades which I always like to see, but there is very little data in higher grades after my purchase, and the evidence is mixed. Combining GPA and ComicLink auction data that generally isn’t in GPA, there was one 9.4 sale in late September for 4.45k that was basically the same as March 2018, which was about 20% above the one 2017 sale. Not to my liking. There is a record of the Big Apple copy selling March 2019 for 1.75k, below its 2018 price and below the other late 2018 9.0 GPA sales. This is bad but I don’t know the data source – it doesn’t appear to be eBay, it is not ComicLink (no sales above 6.5 after September 2018), it is not ComicConnect nor Heritage, both of which are distinctive in GPA. On the other hand an 8.5 was sold by Heritage in March for $2k, and I am inclined to give more weight to verifiable sales, but this followed a number of uninspiring 8.5 sales earlier this year.

Overall the price action on #12 suggests that the market is following Undervalued Spotlight extremely closely, as there was a jump in the market right after the call, followed by stagnation. I am happy with my purchase overall because you can see that not many people are parting with these in higher grades and the price was roughly on-market, but I don’t think I have seen any significant appreciation in six months. The 9.4 would probably have been a better call if I had known about it and I had a dozen rather than two kidneys.

This digression bears very much on the #14 call. The first lesson might be: run, don’t walk! Walt has spoken and this is moving as we speak. I am getting to that stage but not there yet. I still must overthink the situation.

While #12 seems to be a natural comp for #14, we need to consider the relative value of first Juggernaut/Professor X orgin versus first Sentinels. While I understand the ubiquity of the Sentinels, and I love the Sentinels (I bought a BAF Sentinel from eBay many years ago, and it is so well made that it survived some play time with my son), the key point is that they are “the Sentinels”. “First appearance” and “origin” seem to be almost entirely about relatable characters (although that “origin of the Batcave” Detective just went zooming). Cain Marko isn’t very relatable but at least a (meta) human. “First Sentinels” might be more like “first Hydra”, which is mixed up in “first S.H.I.E.L.D.” etc. so doesn’t make a good comp. I don’t have any answers but just something to keep in mind.

Quantitatively the first thing to recognize is that #12 is relatively scarcer in higher grades than #14, and given the price differential I think this scarcity is even greater than the census would indicate. I have to believe this is due to the coveted Professor X origin. So to compare apples to apples I looked at an 8.0 of #12 vs. an 8.5 of #14.

On a historical comp basis, #12 in 8.0 is around $1000 today versus about $550 at the recent low point of early 2017. So about 80% appreciation. For #14 in 8.5, the numbers are $770 vs. $350 for about 120% appreciation. So not undervalued on that measure.

On a straight comp basis it is the $1000 for #12 vs. the $770 for #14. While this pure supply and demand, I have to go back to the above, and say that I think that the hooks for #12 are stronger. In fact, if there were not a Sentinel on the cover of #14 I think “first Sentinels” would be a very weak draw indeed. So I think a premium of 30% for #12 is maybe even a bit too little.

So unfortunately this very long-winded analysis leads me to disagree with “undervalued”. I think the valuation is pretty healthy and the bargains are elsewhere. Maybe the best I can do is to say that if you like this one better than #12, there are a lot of arguments for putting your eggs here, or getting both. For now I have my bet in place.

Darren Graham
Darren Graham
5 years ago

I want to like this pick, but I’m leaning away. I think it’s a sleeper for some reasons.

I’ve noticed 1st appearances of “races” don’t surge in value as well as one specific character. For example, wouldn’t FF 2 be worth a whole lot more if Super Skrull was intro’d in it, along with the Skrulls?

Also, if my devalued copy of Avengers #55 is any indication, the robots thing doesn’t really work well in movies, it usually becomes “rock’em sock’em robots” type battles like Avengers 2 and Iron Man 2, lacking in emotion. Don’t get me wrong, I love the concept of the Sentinels, the stories in the comics are great (plus they still have that Jack Kirby look to them today). Will Disney/Marvel use the sentinels in their eventual X-movies? I think so, but I just don’t think you’ll get the same gravitas onscreen.

Tell me I’m wrong on this one, Walt! I have a VF copy that didn’t really move up in value leading up to the DoFP movie. Would love to sell it before another Sentinels movie comes out, haha.

5 years ago

Thanks Walt! I hope you have a magic touch on this one, as I recently acquired 8.0 at very good price (at least I think so). I was having the same moment Chris described above – overthinking and waffling – so I went on the recommendation of my ComicCon partner, my 14 year old son, who has final approval on all Con purchase decisions. He will be happy to know that he has some support for his decision.

Alex Sorensen
Alex Sorensen
5 years ago

Further to the information above:
X-Men 12: in 2018 this issue also had a 9.4 sale of $8,211 and a 9.6 at 11,053.75, down from the 9.6 sale of $16,202 in 2017. The 8.5s range between $870 and $2,350 in 2018!!! I agree with Chris regarding the 8.0 value, I currently have it pegged at $970.
X-Men 14: X-Men 14 had a 9.2 sale in 2018 for $3,433!!! It also had 9.4s going for $2,210.75 and 1,912. If you go back a couple years the 9.4s range dramatically. Ignoring the 9.2 crazy price, and using the 9.4 values I would peg the 9.2 value at about $1,100.
The first appearance of the Sentinels is huge in the X-Men universe. More so than, say, Shocker (ASM46- 9.2 $650) is to Spider-Man. X-Men 14 should have more interest and value.
Both the X-Men issues should go up about 30-40% from the 9.2 (48th Overstreet) values of 12 – $1,650 and 14 – $800.
However, there are lots of bargains out there judging from the price ranges. I suspect the bargains will soon disappear.