Handling FOMO During The Comic Book Speculator Boom

Comic books have risen recently in popularity thanks to their crossover appeal in live-action media. What is spurring the boom is that as mainstream properties from Marvel Comics and DC Comics are being shown on screen, film and TV studios are mining other comic book properties, not just obscure Marvel and DC characters but those from independent comic book properties.

As properties like The Walking Dead, Invincible, Sweet Tooth, Locke & Key, The Umbrella Academy and The Boys have captured the imagination of television and streaming audiences (along with lower-tier mainstream characters like Scarlet Witch or Black Lightning), these studios have found a treasure trove of characters and stories to adapt. This in turn has made many of these titles increase in value among comic book collectors and speculators. Meaning the prices for key issues have exploded.

A good example of this situation is with Boom! Studios’ Something is Killing the Children, a horror title that only debuted in 2019, yet its first issue commands a price of roughly $1,000 for a near-mint copy. Other hot titles which are increasing in value include The Department of Truth and Saga.

The value of previously insignificant mainstream titles or issues increased significantly as characters or storylines were adapted. A recent example is with The West Coast Avengers, particularly its original middle run by John Byrne that introduced a white version of Vision and a dark version of Scarlet Witch. Both of whom wound up on the hit TV show, WandaVision. That TV show also led to a huge price increase for Fantastic Four #94, which was the first appearance of Agatha Harkness, the major villain of WandaVision.

For collectors who wish to pick up newly important issues or speculators looking to buy low and sell high, this has created a mad scramble to find these books and it’s a textbook example of FOMO. Among collectors that stands for Fear of Missing Out on obtaining an issue before it becomes too expensive. Many collectors have horror stories of passing up titles then regretting their decision as those books too off in value.

Thanks to the speculator boom and relevance of live-action comic book properties, FOMO has gripped the comic book community hard. But fans should not give in to FOMO. How important is it to have that particular title unless you want to make a quick profit? Those sold-out issues always get reprinted or are available for downloading, so for a true fan who wants to complete a run, these are alternatives.

It’s also important to keep in mind that the value of these titles often has peaks and valleys. Sure, some titles like The Walking Dead still command high prices, but the average costs for the first issue these days is only a couple thousand dollars. Back during the heyday of the title and the TV show, the first issue of The Walking Dead often sold for nearly five figures. That is enough to help pay for a new car!

As seen with the above example, once the hype dies down so will the prices and many times tey plummet to the point that the key issue becomes affordable. Consider The Avengers #55, which was the first appearance of Ultron. Back when Avengers: Age of Ultron premiered that issue was unobtainable for the average collector. Today, it can be bought for under $100, and that is for a decent copy. Another example is Marvel Premiere #15, the first introduction of Iron Fist, which was undervalued for a few years because of how poorly the Iron Fist TV show was received. Now is a good time to buy that issue and it should be soon as speculation has reared its head that the character will re-appear again in live action some time in the future.

A more recent and glaring example is Jupiter’s Legacy. There was some hype and speculation with that title since it was going to be adapted into a TV show, but that show was not well received and cancelled after one season. Right now, anyone trying to sell their copy of Jupiter’s Legacy #1 is lucky to sell it for cover price.

So, there is no reason to give in to FOMO. If a title like Something is Killing the Children becomes too expensive, let it go and stop obssessing over it. If you have to read the story get the trade paperback, read it online or borrow a friend’s copy. The key is to be patient, eventually the prices will settle and if you’re lucky you will find a copy you can afford to buy. More importantly, just enjoy the hobby.

6 comments on “Handling FOMO During The Comic Book Speculator Boom

  1. The value of new comics can be extremely variable and hype about new shows ect can make values skyrocket if its successful. But, like we’ve seen with Jupiter’s Legacy and Iron Fist, this doesn’t always prove the case if the new series gets canceled or doesn’t live up to the hype. Safe bet with collection is classic issue and storylines. One could also speculate that the recent trend of big comic publishers constantly rebooting their ranges and relaunching with new No 1’s all the time, has inadvertently made the vault of new modern comics almost irrelevant. FOMO can indeed be something of a poisoned chalice so be careful before you splash out the big bucks.

    • Exactly! FOMO probably hits new or inexperienced collectors but can affect more seasoned collectors. Basically serious collecting can be similar to buying stock, where you cannot get emotional when doing so. The same principle has to apply to chasing particular back issues and as you said the sure bets are the classic comics with first appearances.

      • Yeah, Golden, Silver, or Bronze Age is easily the best bet for comic collectors now. The market is smaller, but you have more assurance that what you are buying is actually worth the price. I’m afraid modern comics and this era of the reboot / relaunch has very little to recommend it these days. When it comes to collection I still feel its best to collected the comic characters that you have always enjoyed best, irrespective of their popularity in mainstream media, that way you will feel more assured as a fan and less likely to throw money away on something that probably won’t hold its value in the long run.

  2. I really do dislike the speculator boom, I’d much rather own a physical copy of something to read and enjoy, even treasure but not for the sake/hope of a particular issue increasing in value. As you rightly touch upon, all these titles get reprinted in numerous collected editions anyway.

    Still, not quite s crazy as this bizarre thing that’s going on with getting VHS tapes graded and listing them for sale at ridiculous prices!

    • Ugh and here I threw out my VHS tapes ages ago. They took up too much room!

      It won’t surprise me if the boom bursts as some have pointed out the sale prices of some high end books are decreasing a bit. I just hope the comics medium does not suffer like it did in the 90s after the crash.

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