The Comic Speculator Back Issue Report – Marvel Super Villains’ First Appearances

Avengers #55 (Marvel Comics) written by Roy Thomas, art by John Buscema. Shipped: August 1968.

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 and back issues and the comic market place in general. Prices discussed here are taken from the Overstreet Guide to Comics (OVST), (CPG) and current online auction sales. Sales numbers and rankings are courtesy of Lists of new comics are courtesy of Previews World and Comics List. Make sure and click on the links to learn more about the titles and creators discussed here. The codes under the prices of new titles discussed are Diamond Comics order codes that can be used to help your local comic retailer in ordering the issues discussed. If you want to hear what this nerd sounds like you can catch him on his podcast, the Two-Headed Nerd Comicast, where he and his friend Joe discuss the latest comic news, review some new comics, and answer your questions.

The Back Issue Report

Welcome back true believers. It’s all bad guys on this edition of TCS, where we’ll be taking a look at couple of Marvel’s most sinister super villains’ first appearances and why they seem to be skyrocketing in value.

Let’s start with Ultron. Created by Hank Pym (Ant-Man), Ultron-5 the living automaton, gained consciousness after Pym modeled the Robot’s brain after his own. Like any good sentient robot, Ultron rebelled against his creator and created the Synthezoid the Vision to defeat the Avengers from the inside. Well, that, of course, didn’t go so well and the Avengers have been beating Ultron down ever since. Ultron was created by the creative team of Roy Thomas and John Buscema and has been one of the Avengers most powerful nemeses since his first appearance…

Avengers #55
Marvel Comics
Written by Roy Thomas
Art by John Buscema
Shipped: August 1968

Synopsis: The Avengers are captured by the Masters of Evil. The identity of their leader, the Crimson Cowl, is revealed once and for all as Ultron-5. The Avengers escape the diabolical plot and defeat the Masters of Evil with the help of Jarvis and the Black Knight.

Why it’s hot: This was the first full appearance of Ultron after disguising himself as the Crimson Cowl in issue #54. Ultron has made a huge comeback recently in the pages of the current Age of Ultron mini-series running at Marvel Comics and I wouldn’t be shocked to start hearing rumors of a movie appearance soon.



How Much? Currently, Avengers #55 guides for $300 in Near Mint condition (9.8). As of recently, copies in CGC 9.6 have been selling for $400 and up on eBay. If we do start hearing about Ultron getting a Marvel movie appearance, watch for that price to double.

One comic villain we do know will be making a movie appearance soon is Thanos. We got our first big-screen glimpse of Thanos at the end of last summer’s “Avengers” film (if you didn’t stay for the credits you may have missed it). Thanos was created by Jim Starlin and was influenced by Jack Kirby’s Darkseid. Thanos was one of the Eternals of Titan (a moon of Saturn) and due to his purple appearance, he became isolated and obsessed with death.

Strangely enough, Thanos has two first appearances… well, sort of…

Iron Man #55 (Marvel Comics) written by Mike Friedrich, art by Jim Starlin. Shipped: February 1973.

Iron Man #55
Marvel Comics
Written by Mike Friedrich
Art by Jim Starlin
Shipped: February 1973

Synopsis: Iron Man is contacted telepathically by Drax the Destroyer, warning him of the Blood Brothers coming to Earth! Unfortunately, the warning comes too late and Iron Man is captured. Returning him to Titan, Iron Man’s armor allows for Drax to be freed from his prison cell. Learning about the history of Titan and Thanos, Iron Man and Drax are confronted by a robotic duplicate of Thanos, which activates a self-destruct mechanism on Thanos’ fortress! Can Drax and Iron Man escape in time?

Why it’s hot: This isn’t just the first appearance of Thanos, even if he only appears in flashbacks, but also the first appearance of Drax the Destroyer. If you don’t recognize Drax’s name, rest assured, you will soon. Drax is one of the Guardians of the Galaxy and will be playing a major part (played by WWE wrestler David Bautista) in the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy film slated for release in August, 2014.

How Much? Before Thanos appeared in the credits of the “Avengers,” Iron Man #55 was selling for $150 to $200 in Near Mint condition (9.8). Now, with hype about the Guardians making an appearance in the end of this summer’s “Iron Man 3” film, ungraded copies are selling as high as $900. Currently, this issue guides for $2,000 in Near Mint condition but some sellers at auction houses like Comiclink are asking as high as $3,300 for #55 in CGC 9.8. I’m guessing this one continues to heat up.

Now, if you’re looking for a more affordable first-full appearance of Thanos, check out…

Captain Marvel #27 (Marvel Comics) written by Mike Friedrich, art by Jim Starlin. Shipped: July 1973.

Captain Marvel #27
Marvel Comics
Written by Mike Friedrich
Art by Jim Starlin
Shipped: July 1973

Synopsis: Captain Marvel vs. the sinister Super-Skrull on a world called Titan.

Why it’s hot: While Thanos only appeared in flashbacks in Iron Man #55, this was his first full appearance, however, you’ll typically see this listed as his second appearance.

How Much? Currently, this issue guides for $160 in Near Mint (9.8) condition, but you can probably find it much cheaper. Copies listed in 9.2 or better have recently been selling for less than $100, some as low as $45. If you’re looking to get in on an early Thanos appearance, this is a sneaky one that a lot of collectors might not know about, yet.

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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