Well, 2012 is over, so what did it give us as far as comic book values? We had some big ups and downs this year, mostly ups actually, and saw some interesting trends starting to form. We saw how quickly the collectors industry can change, and just how fast we’ll have to be to the buzzer in the future.
Comic book movies are huge. Like really huge. Like Avengers made more money in theaters alone than the gross national product of some small countries. And, with that massive popularity comes massive demand for source material. So much so, that origin and key books in the last year absolutely skyrocketed in value based off even just rumors. When Thanos was slated to appear in a post credit scene in Avengers, Iron Man #55 saw nearly a 500-1000% increase in value. Marvel Premiere #47, the first new Ant-Man, always had a solid guide price but a rather lukewarm market demand. Once Ant-Man was officially declared an upcoming project, that demand went nuts, making that issue go for over double the previously respectable guide price. What this really means is that 2012 was the first year where we really saw that printed guides, like the venerable Overstreet, are no longer the carved in stone bibles they once were (if you ever did consider them to be that reliable, that is). The market showed that it can go nuts based off a simple tweet from a producer, making the guide that was printed on Tuesday worthless by Wednesday. For investors, this is great news as what this really means in the end is that new people are flocking to the hobby in droves, and we could be seeing a trend that lasts for years.
Variants were huge this year. Like really huge. Like single issues coming out with 5 different variants of different rarities, and issues that had no real importance getting limited edition variants. Look, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. This isn’t a good thing. These issues will not hold their value. Seriously, go on Ebay and look up Civil War variants. Remember when those were going for a ton? Or even look up the AvX variants, which came out last year. Huge huge demand right when they launched, which has tapered out into the issues being thrown in as incentives for real purchases. The real reason this is a problem is that it artificially inflates the sales numbers for certain issues, making those issues get printed in way higher quantities, meaning that a few years from now none of them are worth anything. Releasing 5 different variants for a single issue isn’t encouraging people to get into collecting, it’s punishing those who are foolish enough to buy that $100 variant right when it comes out or even the “key” issue it’s based on hoping that it will go up in value. Did X-Men #1 teach us nothing? Sigh, look, if you have an artist on staff who can draw a really amazing cover for an issue, then just release that cover, okay? Stop making us jump through hoops. Or at least bring back holograms. I liked holograms.
2012 Also saw the big relaunches. With the New 52 in full swing and Marvel NOW getting launched, this was as good a time as ever for new fans to into the hobby. Now, the real issue is seeing how these relaunches are handled. We all remember Crisis and what happened afterwards. Sure, re-launching is a good idea every now and then, since after a while you just need a refresher. But will these titles get the editorial oversight needed to make sure everything stays nice and consistent, or will we fall back into the old continuity holes that got us all annoyed before? 2013 will tell!