08th Jul2020

Wolverine Wednesday #35/eBuying Comics: Week 39

by Ian Wells

With the world of comics slowly returning to normal, or the new normal at least I thought I would do what all great comics do and do a crossover. So in this installment of both Wolverine Wednesday and eBuying Comics I will be taking you on a whistle stop tour through my collecting history, the valuations of key Wolverine issues, which collected editions are good starting points for new readers and where to find them cheaply as well as me embarking on some new Wolverine comic hunts post lockdown.

I have wanted to do a price comparison and valuation of my key Wolverine issues for some time now. I see a lot of collectors on Youtube and Instagram Stateside picking up bargains and I wonder if I am paying over the odds here in the UK. One of biggest regrets about my collecting is that I have never kept a record of my earlier days. Now everything is digital it is easier but when I started I was just happy to be buying back issues, everything was new to me. A lot of my back issues still have their original stickers on as I don’t re-bag and board. But I never kept a record of how much I spent from con to con. I would love to be able to tell you right now what year and at what convention I brought Wolverine #1 but that information eludes me. When I first started collecting Wolverine #1 was a pipe dream. Especially when I learnt there was the mini series first issue and then the ongoing series first issue. To me just starting out that was two high expenditures. Quite early in my collecting I picked up Wolverine #5 for £5. For a long time it was the oldest back issue in my collection and I was so happy. Nowadays it  goes for between £1.99 and £10.99 depending on condition and the chancer listing it on eBay. To me nearly twenty years ago £5 for 20-odd pages of story was a big outlay. Long story short I now have every issue of Wolverines ongoing title starting with the first issue of the mini series right up to the first issue of volume whatever from earlier this year.

For the price comparison and valuation I will as ever be using data from comicbookpriceguide.com. This time round I will also be using prices from a Wolverine special edition of Wizard Magazine dated 2004 when Wolverine and my own collecting were at peak following two very successful X-Men movies. Starting with the mini series I paid £30 for #1. In 2004 this issue was valued at £40 by Wizard magazine and comicpriceguide.com has it had £40 today for a NM (9.4). So while they hasn’t been any increase in value in that time period there is potential for me to make a profit if I was looking to sell. However with my copy I would have to grade it myself, its one of my few back issues with out a grade from the seller. Add in the fact it has been in my long box for well over ten years now and I think I would be lucky to break even. Currently on eBay raw copies if grades VF/VF+ are going between £60 and £90, with a CGC 9.4 at £285. As I stated in my introduction I have a nagging feeling I am paying over the odds for key issues in the UK. The remaining three issues of the mini series prove this not to be the case. I picked up #2 (VF) for £20, #3 (VF-) for £18.50 and #4 (VF) for £20 also. For a NM copy in 2004 Wizard had all three issues valued at £32. so by going down a grade or two I saved myself £12 and in those days I was only interested in reading the stories not the collecting culture. All three issues raw on eBay can befound between £12 and £18 so again I would be lucky to break even. To this day the Wolverine mini series remains one of the strongest stories in the back catalogue. With Chris Claremont combining his soap opera writing style with that of the pulps, all backed up by Frank Miller’s cinematic art style it is an excellent starting point for anyone new to Wolverine. There are so many editions of it available now you can pick it up easy and cheaply, usually between £10 and £15 depending on the age of the edition and whether you want trade paperback or hardcover. As ever I would reccomend seeking out the ‘Marvel Graphic Novel Collection’ edition, these hardcover editions are readily available from £5 upwards. Another classic Wolverine story worth tracking down in this format is Barry Windsor Smith’s ‘Weapon X’ reprinting the ‘Marvel Comics Presents’ issues from 1993.

Once you have the mini series all bagged and boarded and tucked away in a long box its time to start on the ongoing series from 1988. I picked my #1 up for £20 graded VF. Again this issue has shown a decline in value between 2004 and today. Going from £28 to £24. The next big issue from the ongoing you want to track down as any self respecting Wolverine fan is #10. The first encounter with Sabretooth and the birth of their shared backstory. I paid £15 for my NM copy and it is actually a issue I could make a profit on. Funnily enough the sources of my research shows no movement in valution between 2004 and today. Sitting steady at £24. However on ebay it is going for more. I found a raw VF for £32 and a CGC 9.6 for £88. The first ongoing series ran from 1988 to 2003 and consisted of 189 issues. The best way to catch up on the whole series would be to invest in the Essential Wolverine collections. Volume 1 collects issues 1-23 with more pulpy stories from the likes of Claremont and Peter David. My personal preference would be to steer you instead to start with volumes two and three. They collect issues 24-47 and 48-69, these are the Larry Hama and Marc Silvestri years. When I was collecting my back issues these issues were the most impressionable on me. As it turned out a lot of what I already knew about Wolverine from the the animated series came from these stories. A milestone issue from this run is the double sized #50 which is the culmination of a story arc refered to as the sequel to ‘Weapon X.’ For a milestone issue a valuation of £2.40 for a NM may seem a little low, but it indicates now is a buyers market. This value is way down on the £5 I paid for it and the £6 Wizard had it at in 2004. The 90’s was the height of excess, milestone issues were marked with variant covers and often one of these variants would be a foil printing, Wolverine #145 is one such issue. With elements of 90’s collector culture creeping back into the world of eBay I could make a handsome profit on my copy of this issue. I paid on £4.50 for a NM. Currently on eBay raw copies of similar grades are upwards of £17 and there was one listing for a slabbed 9.8 for £127!

The first comics I brought after seeing the first X-Men movie that kick started everything for me were Wolverine #157-#160. I picked these up at a Forbidden Planet shop and if memory serves me right they would have been around £2.50. By 2004 in the Wizard price guide they were already down to £2 but currently on eBay they are all £3 and over. #159 easily has the best Wolverine cover of all time by Sean Chen and it is the first issue on a run by Frank Tieri and Sean Chen that I still rank as the best run. This run can be found in the collection titles ‘Return of Weapon X’ and retails on eBay between £20-£30. Lastly for all you Wolverine completests the ultimate treat to yourself would be The Adamantium Collection. A oversized hardback collection of classic Wolverine stories. It retails for £189 which may seem staggering and I have never pulled the trigger on it myself. Its not the price that puts me off its the choice of stories included. Obviously it includes the first mini series as well as ‘Weapon X’ from Marvel Comics Presents and the newer ‘Origin’ mini series, which is dubbed the true story of Wolverine. Dissapointingly it only includes one Larry Hama story and only five issues from the first ongoing all together! I would argue why buy this huge collection when you can go hunting for back issues.

The sooner lockdown ends the sooner we can all go back issue hunting and you need to get those key Wolverine issues before the MCU gets their claws into him!

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