10 Most Expensive Comics of All Time
There was a time when reading or collecting comics was scoffed at for being such a nerdy pastime. But now collectors are having the last laugh as some editions have been sold off for millions!
There are 3 factors that make a comic book worth millions – the condition it’s in, the demand for it and someone’s willingness to shell out money for it. Companies like the Certified Guaranty Company even grade comics based on a 10-point scale, with 10 described as being in mint condition and 9.4 as near mint condition. A comic with a grade of 6 is in fine condition and one having a grade of 2 is in good condition. It goes without saying that well preserved comics fetch top dollar at the market.
To give you an idea of how lucrative putting a prized comic book up for sale is, here are the 10 most expensive comic books of all time.
1. Action Comics 1
How Much: $3.2 million
CGC Grade: 9.0
Why it’s expensive: A lot of people might be astounded that a mere comic book will fetch over $3 million at auction, but comic book enthusiasts understand that this is THE issue that made the comic book industry into what it is today. Without this issue, there wouldn’t be any superhero movies or TV shows either.
Action Comics 1 is actually a collection of stories that also happened to include some guy called Superman. In this issue, baby Superman grew up in an orphanage, has super strength and speed but doesn’t fly. Aside from the origin story of Superman, the fact that there are less than 100 copies of this comic left in the world that are in good condition, let alone MINT condition like this one, is what made this a record breaker.
2. Detective Comics 27
How much: $2.57 million
CGC Grade: 8.0
Why it’s expensive: Batman’s in it.
Like the Superman origin arc, Detective Comics 27 is the issue that introduced Batman, Commissioner Gordon and Gotham City to the world. The comic is an anthology of – as the title suggests – detective stories. In this issue, the Caped Crusader is investigating a crime that involves a vat of acid and a wealthy industrialist.
Unlike Action Comics 1, there are other copies of this issue but none in this pristine condition. Not bad for a comic book that sold for 10 cents in 1939.
3. Amazing Fantasy #15
How much: $1.1 million
CGC Grade: 9.6
Why it’s expensive: According to legend, this anthology was originally called Amazing Adult Fantasy, which is why it probably didn’t fly well with consumers. While on the verge of cancellation, editor Stan Lee decided to let loose and introduce the world to a timid teenager who was bitten by a radioactive spider. It didn’t save the Amazing Fantasy line but the Amazing Spider Man did show up with his own comic book seven months later and consequently spawned thousands of issues of comics and several Hollywood movies.
4. Superman 1
How much: $715,000.00
Why it’s expensive: Even though it’s mostly a reprint of what was already seen in Action Comics 1, this issue is Superman’s first solo comic book debut. Superman 1 also expands on the Man of Steel’s origin by introducing Mama and Papa Kent.
5. Batman 1
How much: $567,625.00
CGC Grade: 9.2
Why it’s expensive: Like the previous entry, this issue is Batman’s solo debut as a comic book superhero. The writers revised and polished Batman’s origin story and introduced his main nemesis, The Joker. Arkham Asylum and Catwoman also made an appearance here, although Arkham was unnamed and Catwoman was still known as The Cat.
6. Marvel Comics 1
How much: $499,000.00
CGC Grade: 9.0
Why it’s expensive: It’s the issue that launched Marvel’s colossal empire. This first ever Marvel comics was still being published by Timely Publications at this point but introduced the Sub-Mariner and the Human Torch. Actually, the Human Torch introduced here is not as a human and not as Johnny Storm, but an android with solar cells that became overloaded.
7. X-Men #1
How much: $492,937.00
CGC Grade: 9.8
Why it’s expensive: This was an almost perfectly preserved copy of the comic that gave us some of the most well-known mutants in the world. This issue introduced the team of Cyclops, Beast, Angel, Ice Man and Marvel Girl as they fought against Magneto.
One can also look at this as a testament to one comic book fan’s unwavering loyalty, as the X-Men franchise wasn’t even popular at the time.
8. All-American Comics #16
How much: $478,000.00
Why it’s expensive: Anthology comic books were quite the rage during the 60’s and All-American Comics was one of the more popular ones. This particular issue was momentous because it introduced Alan Scott, the first Green Lantern.
9. Tales of Suspense #39
How much: $375,000.00
CGC Grade: 9.6
Why it’s expensive: Tales of Suspense was primarily an anthology of sci-fi stories and this particular issue introduced Tony Stark, a man who built a robotic suit that would help him escape from a Vietnamese prison and slow down the shrapnel that was lodged near his heart.
It’s amazing that Iron Man’s origin story and robotic suit survived the times and reached Hollywood intact. Even more impressive was the care the owner gave to this comic book; a care that undoubtedly paid off when this pristine copy was auctioned off in 2012.
10. Flash Comics #1
How much: $350,000
CGC Grade: 9.6
Why it’s expensive: Flash Comics #1 gave the world the fastest man alive, Jay Garrick. The university researcher developed super speed after inhaling vapors created by “hard water.” While the origin of his power sounds funny now, it did allow writer Gardner Fox to bring his creation to life. This issue is doubly sweet for some superhero enthusiasts as it also introduced Hawkman.
While comic books can fetch a hefty price in the market and it’s always a good idea to take good care of your comic collection, let’s no forget one intrinsic truth – comic books are meant to be read and enjoyed.