Welcome back to Hammer Drops, where we look at realized prices to glean lessons about the business side of collecting cool stuff. And this is the second part of a crossover with our sister column Consigned, Cool, & Collected examining the unlikely relationship between recent hit series The Mandalorian and some nearly forty year old Star Wars comics. There, we looked at what the comics had done for The Mandalorian while here we’re looking at what Mando has done for the comics – specifically, the values of Star Wars #68 & #81.
Both of today’s subjects went under the hammer on January 16th, selling alongside a whole bunch of other Star Wars comics (including Boba Fett’s comic debut). Issue #68, the original origin for Boba Fett & the Mandalorians, sold for $475 while issue #81, the first “resurrection” of Fett, sold for $140.
For a full recap of #68 and how it laid the seeds that have since grown into The Mandalorian, check out the aforementioned installment of Consigned, Cool, & Collected, but the gist is that Mandalorians hadn’t appeared before that ish nor had Boba Fett hailed from a world of military supercommandos. Back in 2016, this was a $20-60 comic depending on condition. That value has been multiplied, as our specimen demonstrates, on the order of ten times. Heck, we’ve even found some example of a Dark Horse Comics reprint selling in the old price range.
Star Wars #81 has a seen a similar, but much more recent, jump. The issue, released seven months after The Return of the Jedi saw Boba Fett go crashing into the Sarlacc’s maw, featured Han Solo heading to Tatooine once more to get some money he had banked before joining the Rebellion. While on the planet, he encountered an amnesiac Boba Fett, who’d been spit out by the Sarlacc thanks to his indigestible armor. The issue ends with Fett regaining his memories just in time to go crashing back into the Sarlacc, his hatred for Han overriding his sense of self-preservation.
Why is that important? Well, its the very first time that the “Expanded Universe” beyond the movies explored the idea that Boba Fett might have survived falling into the Sarlacc. While Marvel’s comics had a complicated relationship with the Legends canon over the years (we blame Jaxxon), this has become a concept taken for granted in works continuing the adventures in the Star Wars galaxy – to the point where The Book of Boba Fett is a whole TV series based on the idea. This issue was selling for a respectable $10-50 as of mid-October of 2020. After Boba Fett’s cameo at the end of The Mandalorian‘s second season premier on October 30, that price range sits in the $50-150 range and we’d expect another spike when hype for the Boba Fett TV series begins.
The Teachable Moment: 1st in Comics is Key
For a long time, movie and TV show tie-in comics were largely ignored by collectors as key issues. Back to the Past’s owner Scott Lovejoy points out that this phenomenon is why Batman Adventures #12 was kept in the $2 bins in this very establishment some fifteen years ago. But times have changed, and prices have changed with them.
While neither of the aforementioned stories are canon to the current Star Wars timeline, and in fact had been invalidated in the old Legends timeline by subsequent developments in the movies and TV shows, they are still the first appearances of these concepts. While neither Lucasfilm nor the general public would list Star Wars #68 as the 1st appearance of the Mandalorians or Star Wars #81 as the revelation that Boba Fett survived ROTJ or Star Wars #42, part of the Empire Strike Back Adaptation, as Fett’s first appearance, those are exactly what they are from a comic collecting standpoint. As such, all three books sell for three figures – if you had all three, you could theoretically afford a PS5.
And if all that makes the comic book collector market sound a bit fickle, you’re not wrong. But you don’t have to face it alone, you have your friends here at Back to the Past to help you! At our most hands off, you can keep checking in here at Hammer Drops for more tips & tricks. At our most hands on, you can save some headache and let us handle the sale of your collection for you.