BY MATT TUCK, BLOGGER SUPREME
FB@ The Comic Blog
The Batman could be the biggest movie of 2022, and fans are prepped and waiting for Thursday’s premiere. To whet your Dark Knight appetite, here are ten key issues getting a spike thanks to the hype. Don’t worry; the rhymes are free.
1. SUPERMAN’S GIRLFRIEND LOIS LANE #70
The early reviews have been highly complimentary towards Zoe Kravitz as Selina Kyle/Catwoman. Based on the trailers alone, fans have been intrigued by her turn as Catwoman, and she could challenge Michelle Pfeiffer for the title of best silver screen portrayal of the iconic character, not that there’s a lot of competition for that throne.
With all that fanfare surrounding Kravitz’s take on Catwoman, it stands to reason that WarnerMedia and DC could give her a massive push. After the overwhelming success of Peacemaker on HBO Max, it is almost a certainty that the corporations are eying different characters for their own live-action spinoffs. We know that the Penguin is in line for a streaming show, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be two The Batman spin offs on HBO Max. For that matter, I wonder if a Catwoman movie could be a possibility, especially if fans are equally as impressed with Kravitz as the critics.
It all leads to a rush for Catwoman’s key issues, and Lois Lane #70 is the most popular choice. With Selina’s first appearance in Batman #1 being a holy grail with massive price tags, it makes sense that collectors would turn their attention toward her first Silver Age appearance. In the past week, raw copies have sold for anywhere between $110 to as much as $650. On the slabbed side, a mid-grade 5.5 traded hands online for $650 on February 22, and an 8.0 brought $1,134 on February 19. While those prices may seem high, they pale in comparison to her Golden Age keys, and that’s what makes this issue so popular.
2. BATMAN #171
Another performance that has been lauded since the leaked test screenings has been Paul Dano’s take on the Riddler. While there have been some who miss the silly antics of Jim Carrey’s take from Batman Forever, the general consensus has been that Dano redefines the role. Judging from what we have seen in the trailers, this version of the Riddle could fit into the classic serial-killer thriller, Se7en. It makes sense that fans of the campy, 1960s Adam West Batman would long for Carrey to return to the role. If your taste is more for Dark Knight, Dano appears to be your Riddler.
Speaking of Silver Age, here’s another ‘60s Batman comic for your collection: Batman #171. This week’s top five has the recurring theme of cheaper alternatives to those overpriced Golden Age keys. Here, you get Riddler’s ‘60s debut with one of his most famous cover appearances. Just yesterday, a graded 3.0 sold for $725. Days ago, a 7.5 sold for $1,675 while a 6.0 brought $739.
3. BATMAN #155
Once again, if you are a fan of campy, cartoony silliness, odds are that you won’t like Colin Farrell’s interpretation on the Penguin. This version is much more in line with the modern comics and video games view of Oswald Cobblepot as a mafia-style crime boss rather than a brightly clad Burgess Meredith who talks like an actual penguin (if they could talk, I bet they’d sound just like that). His HBO Max spin off series should have implications for the future of The Batman with plenty of new faces that could be important in a movie sequel.
Ever since the news first broke about Penguin getting a starring role, the speculative heat has been cranked up full blast. If you don’t have thousands of dollars to invest in his first appearance in Detective Comics #58, you turn to the next best thing: Batman #155. For that reason, Penguin’s Silver Age debut has been a hot commodity for months. On the eve of The Batman’s premiere, this issue is on the move. Last week, a low-grade 3.5 sold for $425, and an 8.0 nearly hit the $2k mark on February 18. Raws are currently earning $200+.
4. WORLD’S FINEST #88
I was tempted to put this issue higher on the list, but fourth behind three confirmed characters for the movie isn’t a slight in this case. World’s Finest #88 is widely considered to be the first Silver Age appearance of the Joker. There is some debate on the issue, but most collectors point toward WF #88 as the Joker’s SA debut. The comic was published in 1957 post Barry Allen’s premiere in Showcase #4 that marked the beginning of the era.
The reason this issue is gaining traction is based purely on rumors at this point. For the past few months, there has been speculation that a new Joker has been cast for the franchise. The gossip sites reported that he would be included as a possible Easter egg or perhaps the actor will make a cameo in The Batman. That has sent buyers on a feeding frenzy for an affordable Joker first.
If the Clown Prince of Crime were on the cover art, this comic would fetch a much higher price tag. That’s not a bad thing, at least if you’re a buyer. Most raw copies have stayed below $100 since last month. Even if you were to consider buying a graded edition, the prices are relatively cheap. The last time a slabbed copy traded hands online, an 8.0 sold for $1,560 in September.
If you haven’t watched the DC Animated Long Halloween movies, treat yourself to that. It stays true to the source material, and it is a good way to get your Batman kicks before the big movie premiere. Even better, read the comic.
When it comes to The Batman inspiration, many fans have been pointing towards The Long Halloween for years. The movie’s plot focuses more on Batman’s detective skills than previous interpretations, and this is one of the Dark Knight’s most famous mysteries. Connecting the dots between Long Halloween and The Batman seems elementary, if you will.
The ties are so evident that DC issued a special edition Long Halloween #1 variant with cover art inspired by the upcoming film. The variants were given away as part of a promotion for an early screening of The Batman. These days, that variant has been selling for as much as $75 in some cases.
For those on the lookout for the original Long Halloween #1, a graded 9.8 sold for $600 on February 23. Three days later, another copy brought $395 on February 26. Prefer to roll the dice on a raw? Most copies sold last month had price tags between $30-$50.
6. BATMAN #357
The MCU changed the game for superhero movies and audience expectations. On the Marvel side of things, the intrigue of what’s next overshadows the actual stories from the movies and streaming series. While that is not quite the case for the DCEU - yet, anyway - Robert Pattinson’s recent comments have shifted the gaze toward the Boy Wonder.
There’s been a lot of Robin talk in the DCEU as of late. Both Dick Grayson and Jason Todd have been hit characters on the live-action series, Titans. Then there is the 1989 Batman universe that has been rekindled with Michael Keaton set to appear in The Flash and Batgirl. Supposedly, Batgirl will feature the Earth-89 Robin, and that has raised plenty of speculative eyebrows.
The other side of the coin comes from the world of The Batman. Pattinson previously remarked about the possibility of bringing Robin into Matt Reeves’ dark, gritty Gotham City. What should have you thinking about Jason Todd is that the actor mentioned that he would like to see an adaptation of “A Death in the Family” for The Batman sequel. Put those two comments together, and it has cast a spotlight on Jason Todd’s key issues.
When it comes to Jason, there are several issues to choose from. Whether it’s his death in Batman #428 or his rebirth as Red Hood in Batman #635, collectors have choices. The top of the list as of late has been Batman #357, in which Jason made his first appearance. The added attention has pushed raw copies consistently into the $100 range. Meanwhile, graded copies have been earning top dollar as well. On February 27, a 9.4 sold for $225. Compared to those Silver Age issues on today’s list, that is a steal.
7. BATMAN #436
Speaking of Robin, there are other options for the role in a future movie. Obviously, the most famous Robin, Dick Grayson, is the odds-on favorite to appear on the big screen in some semblance. The trouble is that most of his key issues are Golden Age grails with hefty price tags. After that, you have the aforementioned Jason Todd, who is a frontrunner because of Pattinson’s “A Death in the Family” remarks.
There’s another Robin that doesn’t get nearly the credit he deserves, and his key issues are much easier on your budget: Tim Drake. He would go on to become one of the worst-named superheroes of the Modern Age, Red Robin (go ahead and say, “Yum!”). However, put him in the care of Reeves, and there could be something interesting happening. His origin story is similar to Dick’s, but the mainstream audience isn’t as familiar with Tim. That would give Reeves and company more room to work their magic.
The best part is that prices for Batman #436, Tim’s first appearance, are dirt cheap at the moment. That overlooked status is keeping values for raws at no more than $20. If you opt for the graded 9.8, those have remained steady in the $350 range for the past year, though you can keep the overhead to $50 or less if you downgrade to a 9.6 or lower.
8. BATMAN #16
By no means is this issue going to fall under the “bargains” header. After all, this is the sixteenth issue of Batman ever published. That alone will keep this issue earning four figures for the low grades. What makes this a key moment in the Batman history is that Bruce Wayne’s faithful butler, Alfred Pennyworth, made his debut here.
Over the years, DC has taken strides to make Alfred more than a toity manservant with a British accent. Jeremy Irons brought a tech-savvy quality to the role in Batman V. Superman and Justice League. Then there was the short-lived Pennyworth television show that aired on Fox, which presented Alfred’s past as an MI6 secret agent during the Cold War. This time around, Andy Serkis is continuing the modern tradition of a tough, battle-hardened Alfred in The Batman. That is giving collectors more reason to seek out those Pennyworth key issues, not that there are not many to choose from. That’s why the best bet is to find a low-grade Batman #16 if you have the means.
As I said, this is no bargain of a comic, but it’s still cheaper than some of the other Bat-Family firsts from the Golden Age. On February 20, a graded 2.5 sold for a record $2,280. Prior to that sale, it had never brought more than $1,650, which it achieved last year. If you don’t mind the lowest of grades, a coverless but otherwise complete raw copy sold for $333 on February 6.
9. BATMAN #404
The setting of The Batman takes place two years into Bruce Wayne’s war on the criminal underworld as a masked vigilante. While the timeline skips ahead so that we don’t have to endure another retelling of Batman’s tragic origin story (and see Martha’s necklace snap and spill pearls onto the pavement one more time for good measure), it has the look and feel of Frank Miller’s classic Dark Knight tale, Batman: Year One.
No one made the Gotham landscape as gritty and noir as Miller did in Year One. Much of what has been showcased in the trailer pulls from that story. For that matter, Kravitz’s Catwoman appears to be inspired by Miller’s take on the character much more so than Anne Hathaway’s portrayal in The Dark Knight Rises.
With iconic characters like Catwoman, Riddler, Penguin, Alfred, and possibly the Joker in the film, it’s easy to forget that John Turtoro was cast as Carmine Falcone three years ago. Carmine debuted in the second chapter of Year One in Batman #405. That could have investment potential, though it won’t rival the other first appearances on today’s list. The thing is, these issues are fairly inexpensive. Head over to the auction sites, and you can buy the entire four-issue story arc for about $30.
10. DETECTIVE COMICS #575
Odds are, Year One will get the most publicity and love from collectors. Why wouldn’t it? It’s already a modern classic, and anything from Frank Miller’s early ‘80s creations gets the stamp of approval from noir fans. Don’t forget about the hidden gem of a follow up, Year Two.
By no means does this compare to Miller’s masterpiece, but since The Batman focuses on the Caped Crusader after being at war with crime for two years, it will send curious buyers on a scavenger hunt for these issues. What should intrigue you is that three of the four issues from Detective Comics #575-578 featured art by none other than Todd McFarlane.
McFarlane’s take on Batman has become the stuff of legend. Batman #423 is a must-have for Batman cover hunters, and McFarlane collectors will want these to add to their long boxes. The best part is that these are even cheaper than the Year One issues.
DC #575 in particular has been getting a boost from the movie hype, though it’s still easily affordable. Raw copies described as being in the near-mint range have been earning upwards of $30, though lower grades can bring the price down to the $5 range.
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.