While film adaptations remain the biggest catalyst of pricing spikes and long-term value, the short-lived reign of villains in comic book movies seems to showcase that bad guys are a bad investment –or does it?

One and Done

We see it in this hobby a few times a year now. First, we get a rumor, then we get a kind of confirmation, then we get a trailer, then we get a movie. If you are a villain in the MCU, that tends to be your entire life cycle. With the exception of Thanos and Kang the Conqueror, the only repeat performances tend to be flashbacks –and those don't generate the kind of buzz that the first screen appearances do. And without buzz, the prices tend to fall. Some spec villains never materialize at all: how many of you bought into the Mephisto hype and overpaid for Silver Surfer #3?

Of course, not all villains are created equal, and so we must address a caveat: If a villain transitions into an Anti-Hero (like Loki or Venom) they transcend the bad guy curse, and the values of their key issues can continue to rise and fall in a more homogenous manner. While ASM #300 has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride, it remains an important Copper Age key. Despite a post-sequel dip, it is, nonetheless, an evergreen, blue-chip book. We know there will be another Venom film, and with prices at a 16-month low, this might be the time to buy again.

This may also prove to be true for the first appearances of Abomination, John Walker (U.S. Agent), and even Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine –all of whom are connected to an upcoming Thunderbolts project.  Even that aforementioned Silver Surfer #3 is mostly rising in value even though there is a very slim chance that Disney is going to bring The Devil into their wholesome family-friendly franchise.

Life After Death

If you read my column regularly, you are used to me discussing "timing" and I stand by the standard of buying on the rumor and selling on the hype. But if you wait until the inevitable dumping of villain key issues that tends to happen in the 2nd and 3rd week of theatrical release, you may end up paying more than you would have if you had purchased before the first on-set photos circulated, but you are still likely to see values climb back up.

A great example is Ronan the Accuser. His first appearance in Fantastic Four #65 started its ascent back in 2012 when it was first rumored that he would be the villain in the forthcoming Guardians of the Galaxy film. Even though his journey (spoiler alert) ends there, that issue has continued to maintain momentum, from a July 2012 sale for $1100 (for a 9.8) to a current FMV of about $4000.

There hasn't been a registered sale since November 2015, when a 9.8 sold for $5000, so by the time Ronan reappeared in 2019's Captain Marvel movie, the downward price fluctuation was moot. And when we look at 6.0 thru 7.5, that book is performing above the 1-year average. But higher condition copies are seeing a slight backslide, with only 8.5 and 9.0 seeing significant price drops.

This follows a trend of 12¢ and 15¢ comics maintaining their value overall –but most especially in mid-grades. This is why the first appearance of the original Yellowjacket in Avengers #59 continues to rise in price –long after that character was seemingly eliminated from the MCU in 2015's Ant-Man film, while the version of Yellowjacket that appears in the movie (Darren Cross, the 3rd incarnation of the character, who debuted a year later in Astonishing Ant-Man #12)  carries an FMV in 9.6 of only $34. With only 23 copies on the census among all conditions, that still might not be a bad long-term investment.

The mixed reviews for Thor: Love and Thunder saw copies of Thor God of Thunder #2 plummet into full free-fall in the days after the film first opened, with 9.8s dropping about 50% in value. But if we compare the 30-day average to the 1-year average and the current FMV, we see a similar story to that of FF #65.

The 30-day average of a CGC 9.4 has been outperforming the perceived FMV and the 1-year average, while the FMV for an 8.0 is higher than both the 1-year and 90-day average –yet all other conditions have a lower FMV than the peak pricing we saw over the last year.

Gorr the God Butcher is almost assuredly not coming back for a sequel, but the Necrosword is rumored to appear in the second season of What If...? on Disney+ and could very well re-enter the MCU via any Symbiote-centric plot lines. The fact that the omnibus of Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic's Gorr the God Butcher Saga remains incredibly popular probably doesn't hurt, either.

Roots, Bloody Roots

The first unrepentant, Big-Bad of the MCU was, of course, Thanos, and following his death in Avengers Endgame, the prices on his first appearance in Iron Man #55 took a dip. But that issue is also the first appearance of Drax the Destroyer (due in the next Guardians of the Galaxy film) and Starfox (played by Harry Styles in the post-credit sequence of Eternals), as well as yet-to-be-assigned characters Kronos and Mentor, making it a major Bronze Age key. So even though we are not likely to see more of Thanos, the MCU films that feature him are much beloved.

As new generations continue to discover the Phase One and Phase Two MCU films, the relative scarcity of NM/Mint copies keeps this book valuable while VF and lesser condition books have dipped ever so slightly from where they were at the top of the market a year ago. So again, we see different conditions telling a different story, but the staying power of villain keys seems to buck common wisdom that out of sight equals out of mind. Especially if you bought this book before Thanos made his entry into the MCU.

A 9.8 sold in April 2012 for a little more than $1000. A week later, after Thanos appeared in the mid-credit sequence of the first Avengers movie, a 9.8 sold for $2450. The last sale, in June 2022 was for $19,200. That charts an increase of 20x the original price in less than ten years.

Use the Tools

All of the information here can be tracked using GoCollect. Subscribers get to dig into past sales and even build tracking models that can help predict trends by constantly updating sales and auction data. The examples herein are all Marvel, but you can track DCU keys like Forever People #1 (the first full Darkseid) or The New Teen Titans #2 (the first Deathstroke) to see if the model holds up for your favorite super-villain.

Want more MCU spec?

This blog is written by freelance blogger Matt Kennedy: Matt Kennedy is owner of Gallery 30 South and author of Pop Sequentialism: The Art of Comics. The first comic he bought on the newsstand was Werewolf by Night #32 which he somehow managed to keep in good enough condition to get it graded 9.0 forty years later. Please follow him @popsequentialism on Instagram & Twitter and visit his website: www.popsequentialism.com

Bronze Age Horror*Any perceived investment advice is that of the freelance blogger and does not reflect advice on behalf of GoCollect