30th Jul2021

eBuying Comics: Week 61

by Ian Wells

Since making her debut in 2010 with her appearance in Iron Man 2, Black Widow has been a key ingredient of the MCU. I think would appeal to audiences about her was her being the human element, whilst at the same time being able to hold her own. Even though her story differed a lot from her comics counter part I think from beginning to end Black Widow has one of the best, well developed story arcs in the MCU. My only criticism is that her solo movie needed to come much, much sooner. It is massive oversights like that, that make me think the timeline of the MCU wasn’t as well planned out as people said. How did they not capitalise sooner? Between Avengers and Age of Ultron how did no one see Scarlett Johansson playing the Black Widow as marketable? DC beat them to the punch with the excellent first Wonder Woman movie. I haven’t yet seen the Black Widow solo outing. As ever with Marvel movies the action sequences seem amazing. But after the events of Endgame, to me, it feels like an after thought and I don’t know if there is enough to get me to want to go. To be honest I can say that about a lot of the upcoming Marvel movies.

I will be up front from the outset my Black Widow comics knowledge isn’t at the top of my game. My first exposure to her came via Frank Miller’s run on Daredevil and later Brian Bendis’ run on the same character. I later learnt she played a bigger role earlier in the Daredevil series. The pair costarred between #81-#124. In fact between #93-#107 the series was retitled Daredevil & Black Widow. From my own point of view I am currently looking for #93 before the movie speculators take hold of all Widow related comics. A good reader copy can be found for around £6 with NM nearer £20. I am safe in the knowledge that the duo will never be pairing up in the MCU so these issues won’t sky rocket any time soon. One key issue that stands out in my mind and I recommend it to Black Widow fans and fans of good comics is of course Uncanny X-Men #268. The issue is Chris Claremont teaming with Jim Lee to flesh out the back story of Black Widow, Cap and Wolverine during WWII on Madripoor. The issue is a bit of a cult classic amongst fans. A 9.4 NM is currently valued at £11.

Moving on to the key issues. These are the ones new fans and speculators are going to want coming off the back of her own movie. Like her movie counterpart Black Widow first debut in the comic opposite Iron Man in Tales of Suspense #52. I like how this aspect of her character has remained in different iterations. While they weren’t enemies in Iron Man 2 she wasn’t exactly honest with Stark about her identity. They faced off as foes in the old Iron Man cartoon and Mark Millar put a whole new twist on things in his epic Ultimates series. As expected this issue is the most expensive of the ones I am looking at today with a valuation of £1079. While it may seem a lot it is more towards the cheap side compared to other MCU contemporaries. Speaking of which the deadly Russian spy first joined the ranks of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in Avengers #29. Whilst it is currently valued at £142 which seems a bargain now all the Avengers MCU hype has reached its peek, there are some bargains to be found on eBay. I found listings for a 8.5 VF+ for only £48. There was also a listing for a book with some damage with a starting price of £10. If I was a Black Widow fan I would be all over this. Buying key books with damage is more accessible and more realistic, especially if you are on a budget and actually buying for reading purposes. The Black Widow we all know and love from the MCU owes her visual look to the legendary John Romita Snr. Her now familiar look made its debut in Amazing Spider-Man #86. Again just having a quick browse on eBay returned listings far cheaper than its £173 valuation. In her early publication history Black Widow was mainly an Avenger or a guest star. So I can understand the appeal of splashing the cash on a key issue like this, when it reflects such a huge development in her backstory. Her first full solo outing came in the third volume of the flipbook series Amazing Adventures. Relaunching in 1970 with a new #1 with Black Widow and The Inhumans as the co features. This is the kind of issue that is going to attract the speculators. It is a #1 and a features a major MCU character. At the moment its valuation of £65 seems very respectable compared to other issues I have already discussed. Black Widow held the co feature up till #8 and the rest of the remaining seven issues are easier and cheaper to track down. Like with all good characters, new creative teams come on board and want to handle the mantle off to somebody else. New blood leads to increased sales and all that thinking! Black Widow is no different. In 1999 under the Marvel Knights banner a new spy clad in black leather emerged in the pages of Inhumans #5. From what I have read a bout the movie Florence Pugh as Yelena Belova is a scene stealer and without any spoilers she has a future within the MCU. Which is why I wasn’t all surprised to find this issue already has a valuation nearing the £100 at £92. On eBay listings are already around the £50 for similar grades and there was even a CGC 9.8 at £575! I have to be a huuuuuge Black Widow fan to consider this surely? Rounding out the possibilities for speculators acting upon the movies release we have Red Guardian and Taskmaster. I was surprised how far back Red Guardian went, making his debut in Avengers #43 (£154). I can tell you nothing about aside from the fact he is played by everyones favourite actor David Harbour in the movie. Has he appeared in many comics since Avengers #43? Apart from the ones he is in now to coincide with the movies release! Taskmaster on the other hand is a character I know a little about. I know he is a well liked villain with a very dedicated fanbase. There was a time when his first appearance in Avengers #196 was a hot book, even before movie buzz started. I mean like early Deadpool cult following levels of hot. A valuation of £270 seems reasonable with that in mind. There are some much cheaper than this on eBay and at good grades. I wonder if the twist they gave the character in the MCU has contributed to this. Could this be the first instance of mixed reviews leading to a decrease in what people are asking for a issue compared to its value?

I will wrap things up with some recommended reading. Of course most of the key issues I mentioned either have ‘True Believer’ or facsimile editions published to coincide with the movie. As always with this comics they are already upwards of £5. This could do with the fact they were released around the movies original release date and everything during the pandemic had a shorter print run. People will try anything to sell a comic (I can testify to that)! The first Black Widow solo story from Amazing Adventures was collected along with her first Avengers appearance and Amazing Spider-Man #86 in a hardcover called “The Widows Sting.” All the listings on eBay are upwards of £60. I would have thought a new cheaper printing would have been out now. A cheaper alternative is the collection of her four issue stint in Marvel Fanfare. By legendary creator Geroge Perez it is collected in the oneshot ‘Web of Intrigue” It can be found easily for around £10 to £15 depending if you want soft or hardcover. In 2015 after their hugely popular run on Daredevil Mark Waid and Chris Samnee teamed up to take on Black Widow. Running only 12 issues they are easy to find online. Alternatively a real Black Widow fan would treat themselves to the complete hardcover collection to really enjoy that beautiful Samnee art. Just last week Kelly Thompson and Elena Casagrande took home the Eisner award for ‘Best New Series.’ Currently it is only nine issues in so may be worth jumping on now.

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