The Ultimate Pricing Conundrum

WebShooters- Spider-Man

When Marvel announced that the Ultimate Universe was returning, many comics buyers were filled with trepidation. The original Ultimate Universe was well receieved in the beginning, mainly based on the Brian Bendis and Mark Bagely Ultimate Spider-Man book and the Ultimates by Mark Millar andBrian Hitch. But as with everything comics, the stories, characters and timelines grew and once again proved to be complicated for new readers. That and an astonishingly bad Ultimatum book by Jeph Loeb sent many of us running from the line.

Well, we are now one mini and a few titles into the new Ultimate Universe. And, well, the temperature would be anything but lukewarm. The books are flying off the shelves and the prices on ebay are going through the roof. What happened?

Over a month ago, prior to the release of Ultimate Spider-Man #1, I asked my LCS owner to hold #1 for me, which he did. I then went to ebay to look for Ultimate Invasion issues 1-4 to prepare for the launch. At the time, I could get the entire set for around $30, a few were cheaper and a few a little more expensive. For some reason, I passed at the time. After Ultimate Spider-man was released, I was hooked. I decided that I was going to grab those issues to get the complete backstory. To my astonishment, the price for the book had jumped…. a lot. Over the past week, that run has sold for anywhere between $50-$201. Individual issues are selling in the $25 range.

Ultimate Spider-Man #1 has similarly had a meteoric rise. The story is amazing, but the jump in price is ridiculous. (You can find reviews here and here.) Over the past week, Ultimate Spider-Man #1 has sold for $60-$224 for a 9.8. This book is not even two months old. Comics Cubed comic shop owner Shawn Hilton said, “This is rudimentary SUPPLY and DEMAND mixed with a version of SURGE PRICING. Speculation, fed constantly by YOUTUBE and other immediate opinion/information sources feeds fans FOMO (fear of missing out). This leads to an almost I WON THE LOTTERY enthusiasm when collectors and fans can find these books in the wild and pay cover price for the books. ALL of these books were readily available months before they arrived. Fans and collectors could have contacted their local comic shops two months in advance to order these books and they would have received them (from any reputable comic store). The unfortunate part was the HYPE didn’t hit until after the books were already in stores, and at that point, it was too late to adjust orders.” It will be interesting to see how much the demand dies for this book in a few months, and how much the amount will decline. And it will.

Ultimate Black Panther followed the release of Ultimate Spider-Man. There was a lot of interest in the book. Mr. Hilton took advance orders, knowing that this would be a Hot book. He was right. Additionally, 12,000 books were lost in transit, furthering the need for supply to meet that high demand. The result? UBP #1 sells for $25 to $129 for a 9.8. Not as high as Spider-Man, but pretty impressive for a character that doesn’t sell nearly as many books.

And, the final oddity in all of this- Marvel Previews #26, a free book of previews handed out at stores, recently had Ultimate Spider-Man on the cover. A copy of this recently sold on ebay for $50. I suppose someone will claim that it’s the first appearance of the new Ultimate Spider-Man. Now we are reaching.

I think we all know that these prices will not hold. As demand subsides, the issues will return to a more normal selling price. For those looking to jump into the story with a first print of either book, you may struggle to find a good deal for now. Ultimate X-Men isn’t far away. Make sure you tell your LCS to order you a copy now!

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