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Comics Auction Watch – 1st Appearance of Bane Rises as ‘Dark Knight’ Finale Nears

by Matt Baum (06/20/12).

Bane made his first appearance in 1993 in a one-shot written by Dixon with art by Nolan, Batman The Vengeance of Bane.

The Comic Speculator is a blog written by WorthPoint Comic Book “Worthologist” Matt Baum that takes a look at each week’s hot new comics, back issues and the comic marketplace in general. Prices discussed here are taken from Comicspriceguide.com (CPG) and current online auction sales. Sales numbers and rankings are courtesy of ICV2.com. Lists of new comics are courtesy of Previewsworld.com and Comiclist.com. Make sure and click on the links to learn more about the titles and creators discussed here. If you want to hear what this nerd sounds like you can catch me on my podcast, the Two-Headed Nerd Comicast, where my friend Joe and I discuss the latest comic news, review some new comics, and answer your questions.

Back Issue Report

Welcome back true believers. It’s time again to strap ourselves to a rocket and launch into the dark, mysterious unknown that is comic book back issue marketplace.

Auction Watch!

Summer may officially start on June 20th—happy solstice to all my pagan readers out there—but the summer-blockbuster-comic-book-movie-season is already in full swing. “The Avengers” movie hit theaters and very quickly became the third most successful commercial film of all time and with its success, all the key Avengers comics have been enjoying record-high prices. Last time on Auction Watch, I was writing about Thanos, the mysterious villain behind the Avenger’s woes. Oh, spoiler alert… I guess. Anyway, this time I’m sticking with bad guys and looking forward to Batman’s latest movie nemesis, Bane.

By now, I’m sure you’ve heard the third and final installment in director Christopher Nolan’s Batman films—“The Dark Knight Rises”—hits theaters on July 20. In this installment, Batman meets his equal and opposite in the villainous Bane, played by actor Thom Hardy. And if the hype is to be believed, Bane just might kill him.

As we get closer to opening week, the price of Bane’s first appearance is, predictably, going through the roof. Bane was created by legendary Bat-writers Chuck Dixon and Doug Monech, and artist Graham Nolan. The character was created as Batman’s Moriarty, if you will; equal in intelligence and detective skills but far more physically imposing and stronger than Batman. It would be like Sherlock Holmes facing off against Moriarty, if Moriarty was built like a professional wrestler. Bane has been a beloved and sometimes misused Bat-villain (see director Joel Schumacher’s Batman & Robin film, for what was by far the worst version) since his first appearance in 1993. For Bane’s complete—and admittedly kind-of-confusing history—click here.

Bane made his first appearance in 1993 in a one-shot written by Dixon with art by Nolan, Batman The Vengeance of Bane. The story introduced us to Bane as a young man growing up in the fictional Caribbean Republic of Santa Prisca, a prison island for government dissidents and terrorists. The perfect place for a villain to grow up.

It’s important to understand that at the time this comic was printed, the comics industry was enjoying a success it had never known, as 1993 was the single highest-grossing sales year for comics to date. When the first appearance of Bane hit shelves (January 1993), the comic had a print run of well upwards of 500,000 copies—a far cry from the highest-selling titles today, whose print run is considerably smaller than 200,000. So there is a bit of debate going on about whether or not this comic’s value should be rising with the movie hype.

The villainous Bane is played by actor Thom Hardy.

Bane, as portrayed in Joel Schumacher’s “Batman & Robin” film.

It’s easy to understand how the first appearance of Batman in Detective Comics #21 (DC, 1939) keeps selling for higher and higher prices when there’re only 100 copies (approximately) left intact on the planet. The Vengeance of Bane comic, however, is not very hard to find. There was a time several years ago when the comic shop I worked at had almost an entire long box of the title (one long box holds about 250-300 comics). So calling it rare might be a stretch. That said, five years ago, Batman: Vengeance of Bane was sitting at a little less than $10 in the Overstreet Price Guide. Flash-forward 10 years—just less than a month before Bane makes his second big-screen appearance—and it’s a very different story.

Prices of Bane First Appearance Soar . . . and Fall
On April 18, an unslabbed (not professionally graded and sealed) copy of Batman the Vengeance of Bane sold for $162.

After that, it was off to the races, with retailers and collectors everywhere listing their copies and, naturally, the price began to come down. As of this week, unslabbed copies are selling for around $80, still an impressive price for a comic that isn’t that hard to find.

CGC-graded copies went even more insane with a copy CGC-graded in 9.8 condition selling for $800 on May 23 on eBay. Again, people saw this and went nuts, flooding the eBay market with CGC-graded copies and again, the price came down.

Two copies in CGC 9.8 condition sold on eBay last week, one for $249 on June 13 and one for $222 on June 18. Now, the collector who paid $800 is probably putting on his Bane mask and punching himself in the face, but $250 for a comic that CGC Census lists 179 copies in 9.8 condition is nothing to laugh at.

So why is this comic selling for huge prices if it’s relatively easy to come by? The answer is condition. With so many copies in circulation for so long, retailers and collectors alike began to take this comic—and many other titles from the 1990s—for granted. Vengeance of Bane was a dollar-box mainstay for years after the initial heat had cooled. In that time, people dumped their collections, especially in the wake of the bust period after the 1990s comic boom. The gold rush ended and collectors dumped their first appearance of Bane, along with their Youngblood and Spawn #1s. Interestingly, in the time since the bust, copies of Vengeance of Bane and other 1990s in nicer conditions became increasingly harder to find. I’ve got two copies in my basement right now, both marked with red marker (a common way for retailers used to label comics for the dollar or quarter-bin) with bad spines and bad corners. So is this comic rare? No, not necessarily, but it is hard to find in conditions above 9.0 or Very-Fine/Near-Mint.

Keep in mind this is all happening before “The Dark Knight Rises” has opened. Will it challenge “The Avengers” for box-office-receipt dominance? I honestly have no idea. I don’t think so, but that’s just me calling my shot.

Now, comics I can talk about, and I’m betting Batman: Vengeance of Bane continues to increase in price as the movie premier gets closer, with the highest prices probably hitting right around the movie’s release date. After opening weekend, those prices will begin to settle, but I’m guessing the new baseline for slabbed and unslabbed copies (currently CPG has it at $73 in 9.0 condition) is going to be higher than it was.

It will be the vengeance of Bane.

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Matt Baum is WorthPoint’s comic book Worthologist. If you have any questions about these books or anything else in the comic book world feel free to contact Matt or post your question below in the Comic Book Forum in the WorthPoint Forums, located in the Community tab. You can also reply to this article in the “leave a reply box below. If you need more comic-nerd in your life, you can follow Matt on Twitter, where he’s always screaming about something nerd-related. Thanks to all Matt’s new followers and keep the comments coming!

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2 Responses to “Comics Auction Watch – 1st Appearance of Bane Rises as ‘Dark Knight’ Finale Nears”

  1. Spider34 says:

    Well done, this is your best article yet!

  2. nilly says:

    I totally agree Matt. I guess we all knew that Bane’s first appearance would go through the roof, but after the movie…now thats hard to speculate, but I feel you’re accurate in you predictions in that the baseline value will be higher. I personally predict a VF copy to go for 45-50, and a NM copy for 70+ after the hype. Bane will no longer be found in the dollar boxes, yes… his vengeance indeed.

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