Investing in Divinity: Divine Speculation
Earlier this year I was in communication with superstar Valiant artist, Lewis LaRosa, and his art representative, “Sonic” Dan Moler (Dan also writes the Portfolio Review for All-Comic) about expanding my original art collection. It had just been announced that Valiant Entertainment would release a number of ***NEW*** titles in 2015 (Ninjak, Divinity, Imperium, and Bloodshot: Reborn) and the solicited covers clearly showed that Lewis had completed artwork for each title. Each was beyond amazing, as by the end of 2014, Lewis made a significant shifted artistically in both process and in style. Divinity #1 (LaRosa 1:40 Variant) was (as I have been told) one of Lewis’ covers that he completed with Copic Markers (and blending gray-tones to create texture and depth to each image).
However, as many readers may know, original artwork (especially covers) are seldom cheap, and depending on the artist and/or quality, can quickly drain a bank account of an enthusiastic collector. I ended up buying Lewis’s Ninjak, Imperium, and Bloodshot: Reborn covers, while passing on the (at the time unknown) Divinity cover. Anyone want to guess what I regret not buying? Certainly not my purchase of three of the most iconic Valiant covers to date (I have no regrets whatsoever there), but Lewis’s Divinity cover was later sold to Valiant Entertainment CEO Dinesh Shamdasani (a highly accomplished collector in his own right). You can view this cover on Dinesh’s CAF page here: Divinity #1 (LaRosa 1:40) Original Cover Art.
Simply viewed as a comic book, Divinity was (and is) completely original on a level not commonly seen today (by any publisher honestly). In an industry that all but demands both diversity of characters and new content all of the time, Valiant really nailed it with a Black Russian Cosmonaut who basically becomes God while exploring deep space; gaining the ability to manipulate space, time and reality. You do not get more diverse and/or original than that.
But then something happened; Divinity #1 sold out. It was still February (the month Divinity was released), but copies were selling for 200-300% of cover-price. 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th printings were released, and each sold quite well.
But it was the Divinity #1 (LaRosa 1:40) variant that exploded with speculators and speculators on May 17th, 2015 when Valiant CEO Dinesh Shamdasani wrote the following on Valiant Fans:
“Based on the demand for the 1st print, I’m not surprised to see the 1:40 hit the $140+ range. The print run on the 1:40 is just 350 copies. One of our lowest runs ever (possibly our lowest). We’ve got big plans for Divinity going forward (his quick app in Book of Death #1 was beautifully rendered by Doug this week) and will be announcing several new printings for the current mini soon.”
Almost overnight, the market value for (raw copies) the LaRosa 1:40 Variant shot-up from $100 to $200 to $300 and beyond. Unreal for a book that had just been released earlier that same year. However, the cover stock was very good, and the books graded well at CGC and CBCS. Raw copies were certainly not guaranteed to grade at 9.8, but most did which helped boost confidence with buyers in the raw market who considered each buy as a solid investment. The market really was not expected to become over-saturated with the book, since it was confirmed by Valiant that only 350 exist! Graded sales for 9.8’s have been in the $450-650 range, with a 9.9 selling for $900 over the summer.
In late May (following the 2015 C2E2 in Chicago) Dinesh auctioned a CGC 9.8 Signature Series copy of Divinity #1 (Djurdjevic 1st Print) for a winning bid of $415.
Virtually every regular and/or variant of Divinity that has been graded 9.8 has sold above $100. The 1:10, 1:20, and 1:30 Variants (as expected) typically sell for more. Raw copies of Divinity #2 (LaRosa 1:30 Variant) often sell for $100+.
It should be noted that Divinity #2 (Djurdjevic 1st Print) sold 9,384 copies (source: Comichron March ’15 Sales Records) so it is reasonable that based on those numbers that only 300-400 copies of the Divinity #2 (LaRosa 1:30 Variant) exist in circulation. Remember that Divinity #1 (Djurdjevic 1st Print) sold 12,079 copies (source: Chomichron February ’15 Sales Records) and it has been confirmed that only 350 copies of the Divinity #1 (LaRosa 1:40) exist in circulation. What this means (to me) is that both the LaRosa 1:40 and the LaRosa 1:30 are very close in scarcity, which might not mean much to the average collector today, but might very well mean something in a few months and/or years when copies can not be easily found and prices increase for those that are available.
But while Divinity #2 (LaRosa 1:30 Variant) is a very solid pick for collectors and/or buyers due to its scarcity (almost identical to Divinity #1 (LaRosa 1:40 Variant)), special attention should be given to Divinity #3 (Gill 1:10 Variant) and Divinity #3 (LaRosa 1:20 Variant) for its potential significance as well as scarcity.
Divinity #3 (Djurdjevic 1st Print) sold 9,582 copies (source: Comichon April ’15 Sales Records) which likely translates to 450-500 copies of Divinity #3 (LaRosa 1:20 Variant) and about 950 copies of Divinity #3 (Gill 1:10 Variant). However, there is more to this story than numbers alone…
On September 22nd, 2015 it was reported that Valiant Entertainment is planning to create a ***NEW*** female character / icon that is on par with DC’s Wonder Woman and/or Marvel’s Captain Marvel (source: Bleeding Cool).
Speculators and fans quickly began, well, speculating as to who this will be. Nothing was certain, until Valiant Entertainment Executive Editor Warren Simons tweeted the following on Twitter:
“Here’s a sneak peak of the first page from Divinity II! Scripted by @mattkindt with lovely pencils by @despotting.”
The image clearly depicted a woman on a distant planet, wearing what appears to be a Russian Cosmonaut outfit. This information in itself is only partially interesting, but when reinforced by the Bleeding Cool article, indicated strong evidence that this will be the ***NEW*** female character / icon being created by Valiant.
However, is she “really” new?
The answer is likely both yes and no. Divinity #3 Page #2 shows three Russian cosmonauts together in space at the moment that Divinity becomes, well, Divinity. if you look closely to at the cosmonaut on the right, you will see that artist Trevor Hairsine penciled long eyelashes and slightly slanted eyes to create a feminine appearance for (what has likely been intended to be a prominent female character in the Valiant Universe. While there was no real character development or further information provided at the time, it is HIGHLY REASONABLE to speculate that she is the character we see in the Divinity II preview.
Furthermore, I do not believe in coincidence. Dinesh (despite having hundreds if not thousands of potential pages to choose from) decided at some point to buy Trevor Hairsine’s Divinity #3 Page #2 original art (added in June of 2015) which can be found on Dinesh’s CAF page here: Divinity #3 Page #2.
I strongly speculate that this is not an accident, and that Dinesh invested in this page due to it holding future significance as the 1st appearance of at major female character that will become known in the near future — and we have not even discussed the third and final cosmonaut pictured on the left side of the page…
While this page is clearly unavailable for purchase, Divinity #3 (LaRosa 1:20 Variant) and Divinity #3 (Gill 1:10 Variant) have been somewhat overlooked while the market has been focused on Divinity #1. It appears that Divinity #3 is a sleeper book with a LOT of future potential; both as a comic book and as an investment.
Divinity #4 rounded out the mini-series quite well selling 9,536 copies (source: Comichron May ’15 Sales Records), with Divinity #4 (Guice 1:20 Variant) emerging as the most valuable variant of Divinity #4 which is estimated to have only 480 copies in circulation.
Lastly, fans and readers received the Divinity story they deserved with perhaps one of the greatest story battles of 2015 in the pages of Josh Dysart’s Imperium #7 and 8. Specifically, Imperium #7 sold 6,425 copies (source: Comichron August ’15 Sales Records), and yet featured a 1:20 incentive variant that was almost impossible to find in most LCS’s. With an estimated only 300-350 copies in circulation, Imperium #7 (Tan 1:20 Variant) sold quickly with a market value growth of 150-200% since its released date.
Now is a very good time to pick-up these books while prices are low. The higher variants all have fewer than 500 copies in circulation, and both Divinity #1 and #3 in particular feature first appearances that are (and will be) highly significant to the Valiant Universe for years to come.
With a funded five-movie-deal in place, and the likely reality of expanded visibility by (what will likely be) millions of fans, collectors, readers, and investors in the near and distant future, it seems silly to not buy these books while they are easy to be found and/or obtained.
It is the sort of easy investment move that people later kick themselves for missing out on for no good reason.