COMMENTARY: Comics to Keep an Eye On (and Buy Now Before They Eat Your Wallet Later)

You’ve got to “speculate” to “accumulate,” or so the saying goes. This applies to comic book collecting, too. Here are the Monk’s picks for five comic books to watch in the next 24 months.

I didn’t think anything about Apocalypse when X-Factor first came on the scene in the 1980s. In the beginning, he appeared to be a second-rate villain who associated with thugs like Frenzy, Tower and the (chuckle) Alliance of Evil. As I have jumped headfirst back into collecting over the last year or two, I couldn’t believe that the first appearance of Apocalypse (X-Factor #6) is now selling for $18-20 in ungraded condition and as much as $150-200 in higher (9.6+) grades. It’s amazing what a movie and the Age of Apocalypse storyline can do for a single character.

As I familiarize myself with the industry once again and the nuances in collecting habits, here are my top five predictions for “Comics to Watch” in the next 24 months. Many of them, of course, reflect upcoming movie appearances or their expected debut on television. Some of them are already increasing in value based on pure speculation.

Don’t take my word for it, but I think some persuasive arguments are made for these particular issues. Here are 40 years of comic book collecting and speculation made available to all of my friends and readers here on Comic-Watch!

(Apologies, as all of these are Marvel Comics. It’s true, I read mostly Marvel Comics, so I am sure many of you can come up with your own “Top 5” lists from other publishers.

Let’s start at the top of the list, shall we?

5. Conan The Barbarian #1 (Marvel Comics, 1971)


How can a legitimate list begin with a comic that’s already worth well over what most people can afford in fair condition? I began collecting in a day when Mile High Comics ran an advertisement in most Marvel issues. Even in the late 70s, Conan #1 was $100 in NM condition (and you could acquire an Uncanny X-Men #94 for $50 and a Giant-Size X-Men #1 for $40 at that time, in Near Mint condition also.)

It’s a solid comic book that features legendary Conan scribe Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor-Smith (then referred to as just “Barry Smith.”)

With the resurrection of Conan by Marvel next year, it’s not the high grade (9.4 or higher) copies I think will see a price spike – they’re already expensive. It’s the CGC-graded low and mid-grade issues where I believe the increase in value will occur. Facebook and social media have seen an uptick in the number of pages devoted to “Low Grade” collections. If Marvel’s new spin on Conan takes off, and if they capitalize on their history with the book, low and mid-grade copies of this book might be a solid investment.

4. Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man #64 (1982)


This issue is already on the rise because of the upcoming Cloak and Dagger Netflix series. Peter Parker was my favorite Spidey series in the 1980s. And issue #1 is still affordable -normally less than $10 online – if you look hard enough.

What separates #64 is that it’s a story that includes the first appearance of Tyrone Johnson and Tandy Bowen – the teenagers better known as Cloak & Dagger.

Not only are they to be featured as an upcoming film series, but the comic explores the social justice and equality themes featured prominently in many comic books on the shelves today. Tandy is suburban born and an Anglo; Tyrone is African-American and comes from an urban background. Their involvement in drugs (and how those drugs affected their mutation!) is what brings the duo together and their super-powers keep them together. Vigilantes with superpowers taking out drug lords? Sounds like justice to me!

The issue – and the characters in particular – are a seldom-felt fresh breeze from the past and a sneak peek into the progressive and growing nature of today’s society. Tyrone and Tandy, in my opinion, are one of writer Bill Mantlo’s biggest contributions to Marvel. Cloak and Dagger has always been one of my favorite – and critically underrated – books.

For themes that were ahead of their time, solid enduring characters and a push for equality and justice (and not to mention a NetFlix series), the first appearance of Cloak and Dagger is one to watch.

Currently, a copy can be had on eBay ungraded for between $30-$75. A few buy-it-nows between $12-19 were spotted, but are few and far between. Higher CGC grades (9.2+) sell for well over $100. The price on this book, if the series takes off, I predict will skyrocket even further. (Note: I recently picked up my own copy online –   which I’ll be sending off to CGC – for about $35.)

3. The New Mutants #1 (1982)


Ok, it’s not a first appearance, but it can still be bought on the cheap – ungraded copies advertised in NM- sold recently online for less than $9.99. Graded copies sold for obviously more, but most still in the affordable range of $30-50. Higher graded copies (9.2+) still sell under $100 unless they’ve got signatures.

Back in the 1980s, Uncanny X-Men #94 and Giant-Size X-Men #1 were (and remain) highly sought after. But X-Men #94 was more in demand at that time; at some point since I paused my collecting and resumed, Giant-Size X-Men #1 has taken the top spot, commanding massive prices even in low-grade conditions.

New Mutants #1 is affordable now – but with the release of the movie, and if the series becomes more mainstream like the X-Men, its value can only increase. Like it’s predecessor with Professor Xavier’s senior team, Uncanny X-Men #94, New Mutants #1 is the second appearance of the team and could likely creep in value because of it’s “#1” status and its launch of a new series.

2. Uncanny X-Men #160 (1982)


Great art. Great story by a great author (Chris Claremont). What else does Uncanny X-Men #160 have going for it? The first appearance of the teenage Magik, aka Illyana Rasputin. It’s also the issue that ties in directly to the Magik: Storm & Illyana limited series, which details how a 7-year old girl became the mutant sorceress and mistress of the dark dimension of Limbo.

Collectors are all about 1st appearances. I debated for a moment whether to include this comic here or New Mutants #14 (1984) which features Illyana’s first team appearance as Magik. As this particular issue is her “real” first appearance, and because Claremont’s run on Uncanny X-Men is so popular, “Chutes and Ladders,” Uncanny X-Men #160, takes the #2 spot on this list.

I am certain Magik will be a fan favorite when the New Mutants film is released so I would recommend picking this issue up before the hype begins to build even more. (Note: I just won one of these on eBay in CGC 9.6 for a $60 best offer. I’m taking a shot on some of these books myself.)

Finally, we reach the 1st book in the “Comics to Watch” installment, and it’s not really a comic book – it’s a graphic novel.

1. Marvel Graphic Novel #4 – The New Mutants


First Printings already cost a fortune. And it’s the Giant-Size X-Men #1 for a “new” generation of mutants. After the release of the upcoming New Mutants film, I wouldn’t be surprised if even later printings didn’t top 3 figures in resale value. It won’t be the thousands of dollars some older comics rake in, but I think this will be the best investment of the bunch.

What comics from Marvel do you think could be added to this list?

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