Friday, December 12, 2014

Market Spotlight: Secret War # 2 and Marvel Super Action # 1

I'm going to lead with Secret War # 2, and the catalyst for that situation is Tuesday's episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  I can't talk about it without driving straight through Spoiler Town, of course.  So if you don't want to know the Big Reveal that has folks stampeding over their grandmother to get hold of this thing, you need to stop reading here.  Everybody else is free to continue reading after the break!

So, now that everybody has been forewarned, I can safely tell you that Skye is actually not a Skye at all, but a Daisy.  As in Daisy Johnson, as in Quake.  None of this has been explained in plain English, but all the signs point there.  Skye was hit with the terrigen mists and pretty instantly started sending out shock waves.

In the comics continuity, her father is Mr. Hyde, AKA Dr. Calvin Zabo.  Skye's mystery father in the show is also named Calvin. Of course I still think of him as Paul Muad'Dib, or The Guy That Once Shared a Hot Tub With Elizabeth Berkley In That Really Bad Movie I Still Like.

Point is, all the dots connect Skye and Quake.  Now, Quake first appears in the second issue of that giant narrative turd known as Secret War.  Naturally there is a segment of the collecting/speculating sector that must now acquire Secret War # 2 at any absurd cost.

Before we get to crazy, though, I'm not even 100% sure that these characters are going to be the same or play out how we think it's going to play out.  Marvel is releasing an Agents of SHIELD comic soon with the Skye character....she certainly doesn't look or act like the Daisy Johnson from Hickman's Secret Warrior book.  Hard to imagine that those two are the same person.  So maybe they really aren't?  This might be much ado about nothing.

Also, if you're looking for the first appearance of the Skye character as personified by Chloe Wang, the one I think you really want isn't Secret War # 2 or Agents of SHIELD # 1.  I think you want the photo variant of Uncanny Avengers # 14.  Not too many of those floating around, but those that are can be usually be had for $5-$10.  You want my opinion, that's a better place to park your money.

And as regards Secret War # 2, I need everybody to be aware of a couple things regarding these "news spike frenzies".  The market still responds to these commands like a good Pavlovian hound, but they happen a LOT now.  Pop culture is now 73.6% driven by comics, so we get a "this character is now going to be in a show/movie" news bite every four minutes.

What that has done to the News Spike Effect is weaken it, and made it more wispy.  A good movie news item used to last for weeks or months.  Now you have 72 hours at most to get in good.  Honestly, you want to make your sale within 24 hours of the instant a news item hits the net.

Incidentally, not to belabor the obvious it never, ever, ever pays to buy into a news spike.  Sell, Mortimer, sell!  Wait three days and you'll be able to buy the exact same item for much less cash.  Wait for the trough, buy, then wait for the news and immediately dump.

Here's how it works:

News Item!  Warner Bros just announced that they're making a "Character X" movie!  (Sell, sell, sell)
Wait 2 weeks and then buy the issues up again for 30% of the frenzy price.
News Item!  They just cast Annoying But Famous Actor Y to play "Character X"!  (Sell, sell, sell)
Wait 2 weeks and then buy the issues up again for 40% of the frenzy price.
News Item!   Hey, here's the amazing trailer for "Character X" on national TV!  (sell, sell, sell)
Wait 2 weeks and then buy the issues up again for 50% of the frenzy price.

The closer you get to the actual Big Thing, the harder it is to find real bargains on a property.  But the formula definitely works.  You just have to understand that the market, she is fickle.  If you aren't in there with the product immediately, you're wasting your time.

Also, I have no idea why people don't understand how the cycle actually works.  I think people believe that they want to buy the comic so that when the movie/show hits they can capitalize on the infinite growth the comic will experience after that.  In reality, the opposite is true 99.993% of the time.  Once the movie or show hits....that's it.  Nobody cares any more.

Back on May 13, there I was selling my raw NM+ copy of Hellblazer # 1 a day after the NBC trailer hit national airwaves.  I got $182 for a nice raw book. Here's a NM+ copy of Hellblazer # 1 that just closed for a sliver over $100, and that's been certified and slabbed!  So how did those investors trying to capture all those fantastic post-show gains do?  Not very well.  Hint:  they really never do.  All the juicy stuff happens in anticipation of the The Thing, not with The Thing itself.  Once the ring is on...the magic is gone, baby!

It is theoretically possible to avoid this curse.  It is possible that Marvel positions Quake in such a way that she becomes an integral part of the comics and the movie narratives, and she becomes the Biggest Thing Ever.  That could happen.  But if you're banking on that, you're not using your head, you're scratching lottery tickets.  And if you're going to do that, you might as know...scratch actual lottery tickets.  The prize pool is bigger and the gains are much easier to collect.

If you want to be smart, you have to anticipate which characters are likely to appear in movies/TV before they are announced, and then you plop down a one-day auction on the first appearance the second the news actually hits.  That requires research, courage of one's convictions, an understanding that you're going to whiff a couple times trying to bang one over the wall, patience, eternal vigilance of the news wire, and patience.  It is possible to do that, of course.  (I'm doing it)  But I'm here to tell ya - pimpin' aint easy!

Let's move on and briefly discuss a magazine I'm in love with right now:

Marvel Super Action # 1

Stan Lee has spent most of his adult life desperately wishing he was "legit", whatever that means.  To you and me, Stan is not just legit, he's "The Man". But Stan....he always wanted to grow out of comics and pursue more cosmopolitan ventures.  The reason why we know him as Stan Lee and not Stanley Lieber is because he was saving his real given name to attach to the Great American Novel he planned to write someday.  See what I mean?

That's what you're looking at when you look at Marvel Super Action # 1.  This is one of Stan's many efforts to try and drag Marvel into a more adult position.  When this was released, the comics were still largely strangled by the Comics Code Authority.  It was a self-inflicted strangulation, but the ligature marks were still there.

But magazines?  No CCA to dance around there, my friend!  So you got a host of fantastic mags out of Marvel in the 1970s, most of them monster mags because the Code still technically forbade most horror elements.  There were other genres, though.  Savage Sword of Conan ran forever.

The common elements were these; the Marvel mags were all printed in black-and-white, and they all attempted to tell more adult stories.  I wasn't in the meeting room when Marvel Super Action was born, but I think the driving force behind it was:

"What can we pull out of the Marvel universe proper that we can tell adult stories with?  Because folks running around in their underwear just won't play."

And what they decided to do with Super Action is play around with crime, and espionage, and fantasy in one very weird stew.  The book leads off with an early appearance of Punisher.  This is not a goofy Punisher, though.  This one is not afraid to blast a call girl in the guts without thinking twice about it.  This is a good decade before Grant and Zeck really turned him loose in the regular books.  He was nasty.

You've got an early Bobbi Morse deciding if she really wants to deal with SHIELD or go freelance.  She's strong on action, fully in charge of her sexuality, and the theme of the story is taking control of her career and future.  She's "The Huntress", dammit!  It reads a little hokey in 2014, but it's LEAGUES ahead of the "Lady Liberator" crap Avengers # 83 was squatting out six years prior in terms of realistic feminism.

Howard Chaykin gets to do his Chaykin thing with Dominic Fortune, there's a quasi-literary review of the Mack Bolan novel series....and then there's the oddest of the odd ducks in this magazine - the debut of Weirdworld!

Weirdworld was a fantasy series born from the minds and talents of Doug Moench and Mike Ploog.  The older I get, the more I crave Ploog artwork.  Pure magic, pun lightly intended.  The series is like Tolkein and AD&D mixed with a Marvel sensibility, and maybe even a little Chronic Insomnia?  One of the dwarves in this thing is named Mud-Butt.  Just sayin'.

It is a corporation's job to protect copyrights and trademarks, "use it or lose it" is the motto.  This summer Marvel is dragging out every event it's ever published, and also dusting off Weirdworld.  I don't think it particularly likely that Weirdworld will take off, mainly because it never has in the past.  It really didn't help that Marvel published the Weirdworld adventures in so many different mags - after this the story continued in Epic Illustrated and then Marvel Premiere.  Tough to follow the story when they keep changing the channel on you.

Fantasy is often a tough sell as well.  But Image has laid some groundwork legitimizing genres outside of superheroes, though, so it's not unthinkable that a Marvel audience might be ready for this.

And that's part of why this magazine is one my Market Radar.  It has an awful lot going for it.  There's a historical angle as a crazy little sub-pocket of Marvel publishing, you've got an early Punisher appearance, you've got the ridiculously lovely Adriane Palicki spurring interest in Bobbi Morse, and this summer might just have folks interested in where all this weird Weirdworld stuff came from.

Answer: it came for a bizarre little ball intrigue called Marvel Super Action # 1!

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