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The Economics of Captain America #25

by  in Comic News Comment
The Economics of Captain America #25

It has been less than a day since Captain America #25 came out, and already we are seeing an interesting study in economics being played out on eBay.

The comic was released Wednesday in North America with two covers, one by regular series artist, Steve Epting, and one by artist Ed McGuinness. The book carried a $3.99 price tag.

In the last month or so (as I noted awhile back), Marvel has been telling retailers, “Trust us, order a lot of this comic,” but understandably enough, with comic books being unreturnable and all, and nothing more than a “trust us, it will sell a lot” to go on, most comic book retailers did not bet their mortgages on Captain America #25 being a huge seller. The result was that the book was relatively under ordered. I use the term “relatively” because the book was ordered a heck of a lot more than a normal issue of Captain America, and Marvel had limited advance reorders available even after Civil War #7 was released. So it’s not like there were not a lot of this comic made. Still, for the most part, after the story about the events of Captain America #25 were reported in the New York Daily News (and picked up by most every news agency out there), most comic book stores found themselves in a position of limiting purchases of the comic to one copy per person, and many stores, even with this limit in place, sold out before the day was over.

This, then, drove people to the online salesmarket, eBay.com. And what occurred today (and is currently occuring) is amazing.

As I am writing this, there is an auction for both covers of Captain America #25 that has eight hours left on it. The current bid price? $92! And that is with eight hours to go! For fun, you should click on this link eight hours from now and see what the end sale price was.

What’s interesting is that the ending prices earlier in the day were considerably lower, with the average price for a single book being about $15, and $30-40 for the pair of covers. The sets that are ending later today, though, are tending much higher – in the $60+ range for the pair, and $30-40 for the individual covers.

In addition, there are some enterprising souls who are selling the Wizard LA John Cassaday variant a little bit ahead of time. I won’t link to them, as I don’t want to get anyone in trouble, but a simple search should bring them up.

An amusing seller “trick” is the amount of sellers who are selling specifically the McGuinness cover, promoting it as a “Variant cover.” As you all may know (and I’ve written about before), variant covers are big right now in connection with comic sales. The Civil War Michael Turner covers, which retailers were allowed to order one for each X amount of the regular cover ordered (ranging from 1 for each 20 to 1 for each 15, I believe), were quite popular. So the term “variant cover” has taken on the connotation of “rare.”

Well, in this case, the Ed McGuinness cover, while termed a “Variant Edition,” was printed at the same exact print rate as the Steve Epting cover. However, since it has on the cover “Variant Edition,” eBay sellers are not being dishonest, per se, when they advertise the book as the “Captain America #25 Ed McGuinness Variant Edition.” But you have to imagine that there are eBay buyers out there who are seeing “Variant Edition” and are thinking of the “rare” connotation.

Finally, as a comparison with the hoopla over this comic book, I cannot help but draw a comparison with a baseball card from this year’s Topps. In case you did not hear, Derek Jeter’s 2007 Topps card featured a photoshopped picture of both President Bush and Mickey Mantle in the background (Bush in the crowd and Mantle in the dugout).

After the story appeared in the news (in the New York Daily News, oddly enough) in Late February, the card quickly skyrocketed from selling in the single digits to selling for prices like $317, $305 and $316.

However, a quick glance of recent sales of the card show sale prices like $30, $33, $30, $28 and $27.

Therefore, if you are interested in a copy of Captain America #25 and cannot find one at your local comic book store, the odds are that your best time to purchase a copy off eBay would be not in the next couple of days. Have faith that the hype is driving the market price up a bit too high.

And remember, “Variant Edition” does not always mean scarce!

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