Holy Grail Goodness: the X-Men

Holy Grail Goodness: the X-Men

BY MATT TUCK, BLOGGER SUPREME

IG@matt.tuck.writer

FB@ The Comic Blog

The X-Men market is on fire. Between a possible Professor X reveal in the Multiverse of Madness trailer and a new rumor that Wolverine has been recast for the MCU, your X-grails just got much more valuable.

PROFESSOR X AND MULTIVERSE OF MADNESS

Unless you have been living in a cabin nestled in the most remote Canadian wilderness with no electricity and (gasp!) no internet, you have heard the big news. During Marvel’s Super Bowl advertisement for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, one of the MCU’s greatest rumors came true. We don’t see his face, but Patrick Stewart utters one line, “We should tell him the truth,” and with that, the comic fandom has exploded. 

Marvel has been careful not to 100% confirm that Stewart is returning as Professor X, a role Stewart claimed only last year that he would not be returning to. Then again, Marvel and its actors are not above blatantly lying to the audience, so those previous comments don’t mean too much. 

Assuming Stewart is once again playing Charles Xavier, what does that signify to the MCU? The immediate reaction was that he would introduce the Illuminati, Marvel’s mysterious and amoral overlords, secretly pulling the strings and manipulating events in the name of the greater good. Really, all anyone wants is the X-Men, and there’s no question that along with Professor X comes the arrival of Marvel’s Merry Mutants.

A NEW WOLVERINE?

Would you believe there is another rumor for Multiverse of Madness? Shocking, I know, and if your minds are still intact, this should do it: there’s yet another round of Wolverine gossip. It’s hard to fathom, but it’s true. Well, maybe it’s true. Who knows?

Joking aside, the flood of Wolverine rumors that comes crashing down in waves is a testament to the love affair Canada’s favorite superhero has with the audience. Fans adore Logan, the man oozing masculine stereotypes from his very soul. From his early appearances in Hulk #180-182 to the beginning of the Chris Claremont X-Men era, Wolverine has remained one of the most enduringly popular characters in Marvel Comics. When Hugh Jackman brought him to life for the X-Men movies, Logan was firmly solidified in the mainstream consciousness. 

Well before MOM caught the world’s attention, there have been Wolverine rumors. Before Disney bought Fox, Jackman was fanning the flames. Around the time Logan stabbed Wolverine to death with a tree, the actor made offhanded comments about returning to the role if he could face Hulk in the MCU. After that, the rumors began about who would be Marvel’s Wolverine, and those fan castings got out of control in a hurry. Jason Momoa, Taron Egerton, Keanu Reeves, and for God’s sake Daniel Radcliffe were named as contenders. Then Evan Peters appeared on WandaVision, and it started the Jackman talk. Since then, good ol’ Hugh has had fun with the theorists, posting cryptic Wolverine pictures on social media. Earlier this year, Jackman professed that he’s not coming back to the role, but we’ve heard that before.

Jackman has been rumored for MOM, and Patrick Stewart’s appearance encourages more speculation. In the past week, a new round of speculation has emerged. This time, the speculation has shifted away from Jackman as the gossip sites claim that Marvel has recast Wolverine, and the all-new, all-different Wolvie will be revealed in MOM

Like every other Wolverine rumor, this one needs to be taken with a grain of salt.

THE GRAILS

Collecting X-Men is harder than it’s ever been. The overall comic market has been climbing for years thanks in large part to the MCU’s success. To a lesser extent, the X-Men keys have been on the rise due to Fox’s X-Men movie franchise, but it pales next to the inflation tied to the mutants’ arrival in the MCU. 

Since last year, things had calmed down on the secondary market virtually across the board. Most major keys hit record highs around the spring and into the early summer before values came back to reality in the latter part of the year. Thanks to Stewart’s confirmation in MOM, buyers are digging deeper into their pockets for those holy grails. Take a look.

X-MEN #1

No matter how popular other X-Men issues may become, there is no competition for the holiest of holy grails among the X-keys, and X-Men #1 has the impressive price tags to prove its case. While Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s initial venture into the world of mutant superheroes came across as a Fantastic Four clone and was nearly canceled in the decade to come, there’s no denying X-Men #1’s importance as the team’s first appearance. Plus, any of the first appearances from Marvel’s Lee/Kirby/Steve Ditko days is going to automatically fetch a high price.

Let’s pretend that we have $100k collecting dust in our bank accounts, and we want to invest in X-Men #1. What grade could we hope to get? Nothing beyond a 7.5 has traded hands online in 2022, and it tied its record high of $75k. Based on last year’s prices, our $100k could get us an 8.0, which last sold for $90,000 in November. 

Imagine that we bought that 8.0, and that extra $10k is burning a hole in our wallets. What should we do? If we can work a good deal, we can just afford a 2.5, which last sold for $10,400 earlier this month. 

GIANT-SIZE X-MEN #1

That brings us to our second grail on today’s list, the iconic GSX #1. It was in these pages that Len Wein and company reinvented the X-Men. The Lee/Kirby era may hold a dear place in the hearts of millions simply due to this being their creation, but if it wasn’t for GSX #1, there likely wouldn’t be any X-Men. 

After years of poor sales, the title had been regulated to reprints from X-Men #67-93. By the early 1970s, hardly anyone was buying the copies, and it was in danger of being tossed in the trash. That’s when Wein and artist Dave Cockrum diversified the team, adding Wolverine, Storm, Colossus, Nightcrawler, and Thunderbird to the ranks. Logan’s bad attitude and rivalry with Cyclops would help define the title for years to come.

The highest grade sold this month has been the 9.4. A copy sold for $12k, which is in line with last year’s FMV. If you want a 9.8, that will cost you in the $45k-$50k range, but that’s still much easier on the budget than X-Men #1. Once upon a time, you could get a low-grade GSX #1 for $600-$700, but these days even a 0.5 comes with a $1k price tag. 

INCREDIBLE HULK #181

The fan base has become divided over Wolverine in the past 10-20 years. Maybe it’s overexposure, maybe it’s Wolverine getting more overpowered with every new creative team, or maybe it’s the inevitable moment for every popular character when he becomes too mainstream. Whatever the reason, there are vocal fans that despise Logan and want him out of the spotlight. 

The thing to remember is that, whether you love or hate Wolverine, he is the primary reason the X-Men became profitable enough to stay in print. As much as I adore Storm, Colossus, and Nightcrawler, those characters would not have kept the title afloat for long. It was the introduction of Wolverine that piqued the interest of readers for years to come. He is synonymous with the X-Men to this day, and many of the best stories center on him. Personally, I miss the antagonistic version of Logan from the Bronze Age when he bordered on being a villain, but I digress.

No matter how modern creators want to change things, Wolverine remains the face of the X-Men. That is why Hulk #181 is such a valuable key. Granted, he first appeared in the final panel an issue earlier, but his first cover appearance is the bigger seller. Wolverine’s significance to the X-Men and Marvel Comics also helps explain why Hulk #181 earns higher values than GSX #1. Instead of paying $50k for a 9.8 Giant-Size #1, Hulk #181 will run the tally past the $80k mark, at least for a complete copy with the Marvel Value Stamp. Even without it, a green-labeled 9.6 still averages over $30,000. All the way down to a 3.5 without the MVS, the prices border on $2,000.

X-MEN #94

Compared to the other comics on today’s list, X-Men #94 would appear to be the consolation prize of the group. Considering the ridiculous prices of the aforementioned grails, X-Men #94’s prices are bargains. Just this month, a graded 9.2 sold for $3,500, and it was teetering on the brink of $5k in January, but that’s only a small fraction of the other keys’ values. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

True X-Men fans know this issue’s importance as it kicked off the Chris Claremont era. Contrary to popular belief, Claremont was not part of the GSX #1 creative team. However, the writing duties were turned over to him in the next issue. X-Men #94 would mark the first original story published in the title in four years. 

What makes this comic so valuable is its significance to the title for decades to come. Following in Wein’s footsteps, Claremont gave the team its identity. As the X-Men gradually shifted away from the campiness of the Silver Age, the team would become more modern for the time. As the popularity grew, the mythos expanded. X-Men #94 laid the groundwork for everything that made the X-Men the most popular team in comics throughout the 1980s and into the 2000s.

More recent iterations of the X-Men have inched toward the campy ‘60s Lee/Kirby era. Much of this can be blamed on the MCU, which tends to favor the goofiness and irreverent nature of Silver Age comics as opposed to the more gritty tales from other eras. Hopefully the pendulum will shift back towards Claremont for inspiration.

A NEW BEGINNING

As I outlined in the latest Bloggerverse of Madness, the Professor X we see in MOM could be a variant from the rogue timeline created by the events of Days of Future Past. That would account for Wolverine to be inside the TVA alongside Xavier but without the rest of the team. Whether Professor X is part of the Illuminati or not, his appearance confirms the X-Men are much closer to being in the MCU than we previously expected. Maybe all those teases between WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier weren’t for nothing after all.

Matt Tuck is the author of the novel, Lost Bones of the Dead. He is a professional writer, avid comic collector, former teacher, and the Blogger Supreme. You can follow him on his Facebook page, The Comic Blog, or on Instagram at matt.tuck.writer.


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