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The Value of a Comic


Thunderbolts #1 coverI was excited the other day, when I got that copy of Thunderbolts #1 for 25-cents. It would probably be worth cover price to me, maybe a dollar or so more–GENERALLY I’m finding that if I’ll pay $3.99ish for a new comic, that really puts perspective on the price of a “back issue” at $4 and under (unless I’ve seen its likes IN a 25-cent bin, then it’s just overpriced quarter-books).

I’m presently highly interested in acquiring a Magic: The Gathering comic. Specifically, Serra Angel (“A Fable of Dominaria” or “On the World of Magic: The Gathering” or whatever subtitle(s)).

This is a squarebound/”prestige-format” one-shot issue that was published in the 1990s by Armada, an imprint of Acclaim Comics. Originally it was priced at about $5.95 or so (let’s say “$6”) and came polybagged with an oversized (display, not playable) Magic: The Gathering card featuring variant art of the Serra Angel (the 4/4, flying, White, non-tapping creature that was rather powerful in the game at the time).

Serra Angel coverI believe the story was by Margaret Weis (I know her from the likes of Dragonlance, but also other fantasy works), the art by a Rebecca Guay. But since the issue came out at the end of the run of MTG comics, presumably when Acclaim was getting out of the comics game (or at least, the licensed comics), it must’ve had a rather small print run.

So: prestige-format, great writer, over-sized collectible card, small print run. Sure, fine–look at GI Joe #155 compared to #1.

So I can see where “rarity” and such can come into play. But frankly–the issue is “worth” no more than $20 to me, including any shipping/handling charges if I buy it online somewhere. And I’d prefer to keep it under $10–anything over $10 for just this one issue would be a new “record” for highest amount I’ve ever paid for any single issue of anything.

But it seems like there are plenty of copies out there–or at least, quite a number of ’em NOT SELLING. Today I found at least 7 active listings on eBay for this issue ranging from $50 to over $100 in asking price…but doing a search of completed auctions, NONE showed the issue as having SOLD–just listings that ran their course and never actually sold.

So you have over a half-dozen sellers “offering” this issue at $50+ thinking it’s gotta be “worth” $50+ and yet the thing’s not selling–for anyone. I submitted an offer for an “…or best offer” of the aforementioned $20 including s/h and was declined minutes later (So…the “potential” of $55 with s/h that probably won’t sell, vs. the actual offer of $20 with s/h and they’d’ve been paid this morning).

If there are this many copies out there and no one’s buying–the comic is NOT WORTH that much. It’s only “worth” what someone WILL ACTUALLY PAY.

Maybe I’m “whining” as someone who is interested in the issue but doesn’t have it–but I am quite sure I’d have less issue with the matter if I saw there were people out there actually paying $50+.

As-is, what I see seems to be a bunch of people clinging to a ’90s mentality, unwilling to consider that they’re just perpetuating a self-imposed myth. Like some sort of “urban legend” or such. “Well, all these other people are offering it for $50+ so I should be, too! If they’re putting it out there for that much I can’t possibly take such a huge loss as to sell/offer my copy for less!”

Superman #75 coverAnd perhaps someone actually HAS paid $150 to $300 for a single copy of this issue, at some point. Maybe it was actually “worth” that much to one person who absolutely haddahavitrightnow at some point. But most comics do not INCREASE in “value,” they drop. Superman #75 first print once sold for $5-10 (newsstand edition) and I’ve acquired at least 3 copies for 25 cents apiece in the last couple years. Pretty sure Thunderbolts #1 used to go for $20ish, and I got that copy for 25 cents the other day. Pre-Unity Solar apparently once sold for high-$ amounts, and I got an entire set of the first 25 issues minus one of the Unity chapters for less than $7 total in the last few years.

And the kicker of the thing is: I know nothing about the STORY inside the issue. Not sure what the art’s like. Because I don’t have a copy. And it doesn’t seem like Serra Angel is even something an average comic reader–Magic fan or otherwise–is going to ever get to read, at $50+!

Spell Thief coverI’ve complained before about IDW pricing their Magic comics at $4.99 just because of the shrink-wrapping to include a card with the comics (the cards should be a bonus, not something to cost a non-gaming fan an extra $1 to READ). But an even bigger complaint: why no MTG Classics volumes? I mean…surely they could put out some proper TPBs of the Armada stuff! If not TPBs, then 100-page specials…or just simply reprint the things on an issue-by-issue basis.

But it is what it is: if I ever find a copy of Serra Angel for that $20 or under range–I’ll probably buy it, and there’ll likely be a blog post about it. If I find a copy still bagged with the card–I’ll open the bag, remove the comic and card. If it’s already open–all the better, because everyone knows once you open the bag such a comic is “worthless” and thus I’d be doing someone a HUGE FAVOR by paying them cover price for it despite the missing bag/card.

If you own the comic, and you want $50+ for it, hey–that’s on you. Your comic, your right to choose what to sell it for, what price you’re willing to accept to part ways with it. Don’t get me wrong there.

But if you’re reading this, and you have the issue or can get one–please comment on this post to let me know, because I am serious–until I actually get a copy, My offer stands: I’m probably willing to pay $20 with shipping for a copy with the card, $15ish for just the issue itself.

More than $20, though, and someone other than me will have to validate the “worth” of the issue.

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3 Responses

  1. […] a quick look at Amazon shows at least one reseller offering the first issue for under $10–a far cry from the $50-$110+ everyone seems to think the Serra Angel issue is “worth.” Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first […]

  2. […] not too long ago, I complained about the pricing eBay folks are asking for a Magic: The Gathering comic I’ve been after. Amidst all of the ridiculously-priced […]

  3. […] X-Men 266 that I can read and have that won’t be re-sellable, or something on-par with that Thunderbolts #1 I got not too long […]

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