We have talked about the first issues, rare issues and the first appearances of comic books before, but now I will let you in on a little secret. Until recently, the last issue of a comic book series didn’t seem to matter at all. It was simply a comic book that gradually aged and collected value as much as any other comic. However, with DC’s reboot (the new 52) a lot of series are ending. In addition to that, miniseries tend to finish after a few issues, and usually their final issues are quite rare. Along with that, trends in auctions are indicating that some of the final issues are gaining value and could potentially be worthy of collectors attention.
Comic book printing tends to be a guessing game. By this I mean that comic book shop owners must plan their actions tentatively and carefully. Comic book sellers will generally look into previews for issues three months in advance, and will take some pre-orders from customers, or guesstimate what the demand might by and place their orders accordingly. When that issue is released, the owners will adjust their ordering based on early actual sales. If the original batch sells out and there is still demand, the owner will attempt to secure more inventory. If it’s left on the shelves, however, the owner will order less or none.
Now that the basics of running a comic book shop are unveiled, let me tell you why the last issues of miniseries are usually quite rare. Unless a miniseries is very successful right away or is part of a summer special such as Civil War etc., it will tend to obtain and maintain some loyal audience.While at first it could sell more copies, as more curiosity is expected, a six issues series will tend to have a loyal fanbase around issue #3. Assuming 10,000 copies were printed for the first issue, in three or four months time the number being printed will drop to say around 5,000. Hence, the final issue of a miniseries usually has a smaller circulation, and if the story wraps up nicely it could definitely see an increase of interest.
With the reformation of franchise, a lot of the favorite comic book series are coming to an end. Although these series could appear again in the future, their final issue is easy money, as they are only bound to increase in value. For example, Hellblazer #300 is an issue I predict to be valuable, as it is not only the 300th issue, but also the final issue of the series. Hellblazer has been a cult classic for years and if the series is put on hold or if the character is reformed, this issue could become very valuable.
It may also be worthwhile to follow up on the stories of more cult favorite comic books that are reaching an end either as a whole series, or as a story arc. Be wary of story arcs, however, as comic series tend to be made up entirely of story arcs. The best thing to do is to keep an eye on popular ongoing story arcs and wait until they finish before collecting the final issue. Series such as the Walking Dead are growing quite strong, and should be on your watch list as the final issue will probably be sold out once it is first released.
Character arc ends are also worth pursuing. When a series follows a specific character or a group of characters and they all die but reappear in another series, the previous main character’s final issue is also collectible. For example, X-Force is the X-men black ops; a group of specialists who are licensed to kill. It first started during the Messiah Complex story arc, and it has been popular ever since. As the team composition changes and some groups are more favorable than others, it can get a bit tricky to track. It gets to be a game in a way, of information acquisition and insightful projection.