Amazing Spider-Man #4, First Appearance of Silk

I seem to be writing a lot about Spider-Man lately. I guess that’s what happens when Dan Slott writes a mythology-changing story arc that defies all expectations and receives widespread critical acclaim.

Anyway, I said a short time ago that Amazing Spider-Man #1 is probably not a collectible book. At least, it’s not a book that’s going to significantly increase in value any time soon… or ever.

However, if you read ASM #1, you know there was a teaser in there for a new character. The concept is that for years we’ve all assumed that the radioactive spider that bit Peter Parker died immediately afterwards. Apparently, we thought wrong. Slott shows us the spider bite a young woman right after it bit Peter.

Apparently, this is the introduction of a new character named Silk who will make her first full appearance in Amazing Spider-Man #4.

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Now, who knows if Silk is going to be an interesting character, but the origin story alone is intriguing. If Silk turns out to be cool, then Amazing Spider-Man #4 might be the comic book worth money.

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Where Will Wolverine Die?

Confirming the worst kept secret in comics, Marvel has released the teaser art for a new mini-series coming in September called The Death of Wolverine. The series will be written by Charles Soule with art by Steve McNiven.

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Comic Book Resources has a good interview with Charles Soule. Check it out.

Interestingly, Soule was asked how important Paul Cornell’s current run on Wolverine was to Wolverine’s September swan song. Soule replied:

Paul has been doing some killer work on the main series, particular in his development of the idea that Wolverine has lost his healing factor. That concept also plays a significant role in the “Death of Wolverine” story. That said, that is literally all you need to know in order to read this story. While I’m going to be weaving in a bunch of Wolverine’s history from the past 40 years of publishing (and 100+years or so that he’s been alive in fictional terms), I’m taking great pains to ensure that anything I bring up, whether it’s a character familiar from Logan’s history or a location that has some meaning to him, is explained within this story.

So… My take on this is that the guts of Cornell’s story, all the stupid Wolverine “finding” himself by teaming up with a team of forgettable C-List bad guys will not at all feature in Soule’s mini-series. The only common element is that, in both stories, Wolverine has no healing power.

But… what are we to make of the reports about Wolverine #12 used to hype Cornell’s series a few months ago.

Here’s a quote from a CBR story written back in December:

In an update released to retailers, Marvel announced an “exchangeability” program where unsold copies of the upcoming new “Wolverine” #1 could be exchanged for an exclusive “Mortal Variant” of “Wolverine” #12,” an issue scheduled to go on sale in September 2014. While that comic is still months down the road, Marvel described it as a “double-sized landmark issue” they expect to receive “national attention for its game-changing story.”

Cornell’s series wraps up right around the same time Soule’s mini-series does, in September. The end of Cornell’s series is a “double-sized landmark issue” that should receive “national [media?] attention,” but Soule’s series is called “The Death of Wolverine” and apparently has very little to do with Cornell’s series. So, where and when is Wolverine actually going to die?

Look, obviously, Marvel is going to try and milk Logan’s death for all it’s worth. Why tell a story in one issue when they can make you shell out money for five (one double-sized)? But the continuity disconnect is curious? I wonder if Cornell is actually going to be the one to kill Wolverine off, while Soule provides a kind of “narrative retrospective” on the career of Marvel’s most popular X-man.

As of right now, I’d guess that Wolverine #12 is going to be the equivalent of Superman #75 (which kind of kills me, because I hate this arc).

And before people go crazy, can we all just accept the fact that Wolverine is not really going to “die”? This is what happens in comic books people. Deal. Wolverine is one of Marvel’s most popular characters. Not only is he not going to stay dead. He’s not even going to stay off the shelves for a month, let alone two or three. Expect to see Logan’s adventures in the underworld in October.

Another thing to keep an eye on from a story perspective (and perhaps from a collector perspective) is that, come September, Wolverine, Professor X, and Jean Grey will all be dead. That’s three of the top five or six most popular X-Men right there. Is Marvel going to bring them back one at a time, or all at once? At the very least, I imagine the Phoenix will play a part in Wolverine’s resurrection. Maybe she and Chuck will hitch a ride.

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Speculation: The Flash

I mentioned recently that DC has a lot riding on the Flash. Because of the recent failures of Green Lantern and Wonder Woman franchises, they’ve really gotta get the Flash right.

If I’m right about that, there’s potential for a popular Flash TV show or film to propel the character to the forefront of the popular consciousness. And that’s the stuff that drives the comic market.

Now, problematically, unlike, say, Preacher or Sandman, the Flash is a gold and silver age character. Like Superman or Batman his first appearances are likely out of reach for the average collector, as are the first appearances of Flash’s major nemeses: Reverse Flash, Gorilla Grodd, Captain Cold, etc. Those back issues are going to cost you some coin.

But there may be other key Flash comics worth acquiring.

For instance, after the 1985 DC cross-over, Crisis on Infinite Earths, Wally West took over for Barry Allen and the Flash was rebooted. Flash Vol. 2 #1 was published in 1987.

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Wally is yet to appear in the New 52 universe (to the best of my knowledge), but he – not Barry – was the Flash for a generation of comic readers. You can bet DC will eventually find a way to bring him into the fold.

While we’re on the subject, the death of Barry Allen in Crisis on Infinite Earths #8, might be worth picking up too. You can find one of these on eBay for anywhere from about $5-$13. NM might cost you a little more.

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I would suggest that the first appearance of Impulse is also a smart pickup.

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This ties into my theory of long-games and low-demand comics. There’s not a lot of buzz about Impulse at the moment. He’s not a hot commodity. That’s when you want to pick up his first appearance – not when CW announces that Bart Allen will be a major character in Season 3 of the Flash television series, or when DC announces that he’ll have his own series in 2015 drawn by Greg Capullo and written by Grant Morrison. (How’s that for speculation!?)

I’m a collector as well as a wannabe speculator, so this strategy appeals a bit more to me than buying five copies of whatever the latest hot comic is supposed to be, and ransoming them on eBay. I’ve begun acquiring key issues. These are a few I’ll be targeting in the near future.

Speculation: Grant Morrison’s X-Men

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Great story arcs by great creators are really the backbone of the whole comic book enterprise. They’re what we want to read, and if we’re speculators or collectors, they’re the comics we want to own. Claremont’s run on Uncanny X-Men, Miller’s run on Daredevil: these are great runs that introduce iconic characters or add essential elements to character mythology.

Because of the popularity and significance of these arcs it can often be difficult and expensive to track down the issues.

As collectors, I think we should always be on the lookout for the next great arc, or perhaps an arc from the recent past that hasn’t quite ascended to legendary status. Grant Morrison’s New X-Men might be just such a run. New X-Men was really just a new label slapped onto X-Men (Vol. 2). Morrison’s run lasted 40 issues from 114-154. It was good. “Riot at Xavier’s” remains one of the best X-Men stories I’ve ever read.

Over a three-year period, Morrison added several major players to the X-Men universe.

Quentin Quire a.k.a. Kid Omega (New X-Men 134)

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Fantomex (New X-Men 128)

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Xorn (New X-Men Annual 2001)

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Stepford Cuckoos (New X-Men #118)

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All of these characters have become major presences in the X-universe. Quentin Quire is the only reason I read Wolverine and the X-Men for twenty issues. Fantomex now has his own series and seems to be to the 2010s what Gambit and Cable were to the 1990s. Xorn comes and goes, but reappeared (in a fashion) in the recent Battle of the Atom cross-over. The Stepfords are currently members of Cyclops’ team of renegade X-Men.

One of the other great features of Morrison’s run on New X-Men is that most of the art is handled by Frank Quietly. Quietly’s art might be an acquired taste, but I’ve come to really appreciate it. There’s a similarity between his stuff and Capullo’s and McFarlane’s that I really like. The broken lines and rough edges really humanize the characters.

Anyway, my guess is that Morrison’s and Quietly’s work on New X-Men will be fondly remembered for decades, and the characters that Morrison created during that run have the potential to be major players in X-Men comic books for a long time. Get these issues now, while they’re still affordable. If nothing else, you’ll be getting a terrific story.