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Recent Cool Acquisitions

I recently acquired several cool comics that I’ve had my eye on for awhile. With Valiant being back, and a bit of sticker shock at the price on early issues of the original 1990s series, I made use of Amazon to order the other two hardcovers I missed back in 2007/2008. I got the Archer and Armstrong volume when it came out (pre-ordered through DCBS) but never got around to tracking these others down.

The Harbinger volume came from a Half-Price Books online seller through Amazon; X-O came new from Amazon. Shipped, I paid about $12 under cover price total for the two books. And though marked as “used,” the Harbinger volume is in just as good (if not slightly better) condition than the X-O one…just that I didn’t have to peel the shrink-wrap off of it.

And 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 auctions, I did come across one with a reasonable opening bid. With a gift balance on my account, all told I wound up getting the Serra Angel issue for just under $10 (shipped).

Not a bad purchase, if a bit much in a way. Yet, something like this would easily be an $8+ product from Marvel or DC these days, if not $10 in and of itself. As-is, it’s got a $6 cover price from the 1990s, and will probably take at least as long to read as 2 1/2 issues of most $3.99 contemporary comics.

This came as-is; already opened–so no giant Serra Angel card. BUT given I specifically want to read the thing, and I’m sure the lack of original/sealed bag and card helped to keep the price “low” I have no problem whatsoever with what I got. Actually makes it easier as I don’t wind up tempted with the thought of leaving it in the bag or trying to re-offer it or such myself.

Magic: The Gathering “Classics”

I’m honestly fairly surprised in a way that IDW has not published (that I am aware of) any Magic: The Gathering Classics volumes. They’ve got a Classics line for several other licensed properties, so why not MTG? Granted, the property doesn’t have quite the same quantity of “classic” material as the others, but surely they could get at least a few good volumes out of what’s there.

Given I’ve seen nothing whatsoever regarding any actual volumes, here are the six volumes I’d propose for a series of MTG Classics volumes.

Vol. 1 – The Shadow Mage
Collecting The Shadow Mage 1-4 and Wayfarer 1-5.

This would make for a nice-size 9-issue volume…a bit thicker than your average 6-issue book but not so hefty as a 12-issue collection. This would be–I believe–the complete run of issues featuring Jared Carthalion, and be all the issues that did not focus on a pre-existing MTG card or story.

I put these in the first volume as The Shadow Mage was the first series from Armada, and I’ve just always associated it as starting everything off. I believe Wayfarer picked up the month after, so this is essentially a 9-issue story anyway, which would make for a solid single-volume I think.

Vol. 2 – Ice Age
Collecting Fallen Empires 1-2, Ice Age 1-4, and Nightmare 1.

I’d put Ice Age and Fallen Empires together as they tied together a bit. To go chronologically I’d probably put the FE issues first in the volume–with the origin of a major character that appeared in IA.

I place these here as they were the next series to come out from Armada

I’ve got the Nightmare one-shot here mostly for lack of good placement elsewhere. This issue was a bit on the early side of the Armada run, and would seem to me out of place to be grouped with the various Legends issues.

Additionally, it being extra-sized helps fill out the pagecount for the volume as it’s otherwise almost two issues smaller than the first.

Vol. 3 – The Brothers’ War
Collecting Antiquities War 1-4 and Urza/Mishra War 1-2.

While it would have been great to have the full intended “trilogy” of series that would have been the “entirety” of the story of the Brothers’ War, it just makes sense to me to put these two minis together. While technically only six issues, the Urza-Mishra War issues were extra-sized, filling this out to approximately an 8-issue size.

Even if this wouldn’t quite reach 8 issues, it’d be very similar in size to the previous volume, and could always be filled out a bit with a selection from the The Brothers’ War prose novel.

There’s also (as with previous volumes) the Seer Analysis and such “backmatter” that would fill things out a bit.

Vol. 4 – Legends I
Collecting Arabian Nights 1-2, Shandalar 1-2, Homelands, and Fallen Angel plus material from Convocations.

This volume and the next are sort of catch-alls for the rest of the Armada stuff.

Arabian Nights and Homelands fit together as they’re short stories based at least in part on actual MTG expansion sets. Though Shandalar was based on a story from a computer game, in its own way that could be seen as another expansion.

Since that would still leave the volume a bit short, I’d go ahead and put Fallen Angel here, to begin the series of Legends-focused issues. The volume could be rounded out with a few pages from the Convocations “gallery” issue.

Vol. 5 – Legends II
Collecting Elder Dragons 1-2, Dakkon Blackblade, Jedit Ojanen 1-2, and Serra Angel plus material from Convocations.

This volume would finish out the run of Armada MTG issues with the rest of the Legends-based specials. Considering the prestige-format issues to be roughly double-sized, this would be about 8 issues, and the Convocations pages not included in vol. 4 would up the pagecount a bit for the volume.

Just as I associate Shadow Mage as kicking off the Armada line, I associate these with the end of the line–as of this typing I actually don’t even yet own the Jedit Ojanen issues, just acquired Serra Angel and only found the Elder Dragons issues a couple years ago–at least a decade after the issues first saw print.

Vol. 6 – Gerrard’s Quest
Collecting the Dark Horse mini-series 1-4.

This would obviously be the smallest of the volumes with only 4 issues–moving from the Armada comics to the 4-issue mini produced by Dark Horse Comics. This would basically be a reprint of the Gerrard’s Quest TPB with a new cover.

I know Wizards of the Coast has produced plenty of their own MTG material, and there are at least a couple graphic novels out from them. I don’t know that any of that would fit well here, and as those are relatively recent, they wouldn’t really fall into the realm of “classics” the way all these others do.

I’d expect these volumes to be at least $19.99 cover price…though that could feel a bit rough as Shadow Mage and Ice Age in particular seem to be pretty common bargain-bin issues. It’s the later issues that had smaller print runs and grew quite rare. As such, it would seem a bit on the expensive side for the content; but then in turn, the prestige-format issues were $6 or so apiece, and I don’t think I’ve seen any of those in bargain bins, so it would all balance out.

The sixth volume would seem to me ripe to be priced at $14.99 or so if not bargain-price it to $9.99, as with only four issues it’d be about half the size of the previous volumes.

So there you have it–the contents and collections I’d imagine as ideal for production by IDW, assuming they thought the sales warranted (of course, they probably don’t). Heck, these could even be shrink-wrapped with reprints of key cards from the time of the comics, with the old art. Whether playable or not, I don’t know.

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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