Can You Afford to be a Comic Collector with Variant Covers?

Written by Lee Roberts

Who remembers the 90’s in comic books? If you do, then you know what I’m talking about, if you don’t, well, you can guess by the title of the article. In the 90’s, the comics world published so many variant and special covers that it was a horrible time for a buyer. Everywhere you looked there was some sort of variant cover that was being put out for a book that made the one you bought worthless. How can a collector hope to have a book that will be a collectors item if there are those rare variant covers that make the regular ones worthless?

For awhile the variant covers stopped but over the last 15 years it has become worse. I’ve talked about this problem for years and I will keep talking about it until one day it ends, (which won’t happen as long as us buyers continue to buy, me included). Variant covers are cool, I love some of the art that gets put on them, but come on, give it a rest. How can a collector possibly afford to even get these books? Lets us a title that will be coming out July 15, 2020 from Marvel Comics, the one I used for the images of this post, Empyre. Here is a list of the ones I know about.

Empyre #1 (Of 6)(Cover A Jim Cheung), $5.99
Empyre #1 (Of 6)(Cover B Alexander Lozano Avengers Variant), retailer picks price
Empyre #1 (Of 6)(Cover C Michael Cho Fantastic Four Variant), retailer picks price
Empyre #1 (Of 6)(Cover D Tony S. Daniel Kree Skrull Variant), retailer picks price
Empyre #1 (Of 6)(Cover E David Finch), retailer picks price
Empyre #1 (Of 6)(Cover F Jamie McKelvie), retailer picks price
Empyre #1 (Of 6)(Cover G Mahmud A. Asrar), retailer picks price
Empyre #1 (Of 6)(Cover H Ed McGuinness Launch Variant), retailer picks price
Empyre #1 (Of 6)(Cover I Jim Cheung Premiere Variant), retailer picks price
Empyre #1 (Of 6)(Cover J Mike Mignola Hidden Gem Variant), retailer picks price
Empyre #1 (Of 6)(Cover K John Tyler Christopher 2-Pack Action Figure Variant), retailer picks price
Empyre #1 (Of 6)(Cover L Blank Variant), retailer picks price
Empyre #1 (Of 6)(Cover M Skrull Green Variant), retailer picks price
Empyre #1 (Of 6)(Cover N TBD Secret Variant), retailer picks price
Empyre #1 (Of 6)(Cover O Marvel Wednesday Variant), retailer picks price
Empyre #1 (Of 6)(Cover P Jim Cheung Back The Comeback Variant), retailer picks price
Empyre #1 (Of 6)(In-Hyuk Lee 2nd Printing Variant Cover), $5.99

Now, for sake of argument, lets pretend that all 17 covers are cover price, (which we know that’s not going to be true, but lets pretend). At the cover price of $5.99 times 17, that comes to a whopping $101.83 before tax. Now that’s the fantasy price, that won’t happen. Know how I know? Because there’s one site that’s selling 12 of the covers at $229.99 (they are sold out by the way), and that still leaves 5 other covers. Since this is a special pack from a site that’s sold out, these same covers at a comic shop or another online retailer(s) might mean even higher price tags. It’s possible that to get all the covers for this 1 issue might cost someone in mid to high hundreds of dollars.

This is how it is will so many books these days. If you know me, you know I love Harley Quinn. Because of this love I try to get as many of the books with her in it or on the cover. Well, coming soon is Harley Quinn #75, the last of that series of comic, and with it comes the variant covers. In the last 10 days there have already been 13 different variant covers released for this 1 issue.

Now out of these 13 there are a bunch of different formats you can buy. 1 cover, 2 packs, 3 packs, 5 packs, signed, graded, signed graded, and remarked. The lowest price is $15 and so far ranges up to $160, I don’t know yet what a remarked one will cost or what a graded version of that remarked one would cost but I’m going to go out on a limb and say between $300-$500. Right now, get just the regular covers, ungraded, unsigned, and nothing else, would cost about $300, and that’s only 10 of the 13 covers, I still don’t know the prices yet of 3 of them that come out tomorrow. So now we are looking at around $400 for 13 covers with no autographs and not graded and we still have another month before the comic even comes out, so who knows how many more might appear.

I would love to have a remarked one that comes out tomorrow, but the cost of that will be high, so now my choice is maybe getting the 1 cover vs the 13 covers. Wait, it gets better. If I choose the 1 or even the 13, now I can’t afford to get any of the new books out on Wednesday (and about 3 to 5 other Wednesdays after). So, what do I do? Buy the variant cover for my collection, buy all of them, or buy none and get all the new issues for about 2 to 3 months? I can’t have them all, I wish, but I can’t. Now what if I was a teenager again and can only afford $20 a week or even a month? Maybe 1 book, maybe, or a few of the new regular ones. Which by the way, I didn’t add the 2 regular covers to that list for Harley Quinn #75, that would put it at 15 covers.

Just think about that, how many hundreds of dollars being spent on just that 1 book and there are so many other books out there to get. I like more than just Harley Quinn but now I have to make that choice also. Do I spend my money on those variants or do I buy the Amazing Spider-Man, Venom, Batman, or so, so, so many others. I’ve said it many times, comic book collecting is no longer for the average person, it’s for the rich that can afford spending $100-$500 on 1 book. It has to end!

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Lee Roberts

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