With the advent of Marvel movies, comic book sales have increasingly surged in popularity over the last decade. Suddenly comics found a lot of new fans, and because of this, the value of certain older and rarer comic books grew markedly.
1938's Action Comics no. 1 has held the top spot for being the most expensive comic book over many years. However, while this one, and Detective Comics no. 1, still dominate the market, many other classic titles from the bronze age to the modern era now fetch incredible amounts at auctions.
Comic readers yearn for specific titles, and this demand means that the most expensive comic books in the world have prices so high that only elite comic fans could ever think of owning them.
So, without further ado, let's take a look at the 15 of the most expensive comic books in the world from Ask Genie.
15. Action Comics #10 - $258,000
Publishers released Action Comics #10 in 1939, with its feature story being "Superman Goes to Prison." This Golden Age story follows an escaped prisoner who turns to Superman for help regarding his abuse. This comic is one of the few on our list that doesn’t debut a major superhero. Despite no other notable superheroes featured in the comic book, it sold for $258,000 in 2011.
14. The Avengers #1 – $274,000
The Avengers #1 was released in 1963, featuring iconic superheroes like The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, The Wasp and Ant-Man. In this comic book, The Avengers battle Thor's supervillain brother, Loki.
13. Whiz Comics #2 – $281,000
Despite being listed as the second, Whiz Comics #2 is the first issue. The release of #2 was the first issue to reach the stores in 1940, as the original run had only been a promotional release. The comic features numerous stories, but Captain Marvel's origin story debut appearance is the highlight.
12. Flash Comics #1 – $450,000
1940's Flash Comics #1 features the first appearance of Jay Garrick, better known as The Flash. Jay Garrick is one of five different characters to have adopted the role of the superhero through the years and currently holds the comic book role once more.
A Gardner Fox and Harry Lampert creation, Flash Comics #1 fetched $450,000 at a 2010 auction. The Golden Age comic, considering its age, was in near-perfect condition thanks to its long-time owner, comic book collector Edgar Church's tender care. Church is responsible for the excellent condition of most top-quality Golden Age comics in circulation.
11. Phantom Lady #17 - $456,000
Phantom Lady first made a comic appearance in Quality's Police Comics #1 in 1941. That issue established her alter ego as Sandra Knight, the daughter of a U.S. Senator. Phantom Lady is not a typical hero and has certainly not gained the fame of some of her counterparts.
Fox Features Syndicate published Phantom Lady #17 in 1948. Due to its classic bondage-type cover, German-born American psychiatrist Fredric Wertham cited the comic book in his 1954 book, "Seduction of the Innocent," which warns of their dangers.
Phantom Lady #17 fetched the same amount as Detective Comics #140 at the 2021 online Heritage Auctions event.
10. Incredible Hulk #1 – $490,000
The first edition of Marvel's Incredible Hulk was sold to a private collector for $490,000 via Comic Connect in 2022. The comic tells the story of scientist Bruce Banner and how, when enraged, previous toxic exposure transformed him into a grey neanderthal. Yes, grey - later printing problems caused the switch from grey to the now-famous green of The Incredible Hulk's skin.
The sold copy of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's creation, Incredible Hulk #1, has been graded near mint condition by experts, making it so expensive. Highly graded copies of this specific edition are rare due to the constant smudging of the grey color on the cheap paper used for the front cover.
9. Fantastic Four #1 – $1.5 Million
A first edition Fantastic Four #1 sold for $1.5 million at a Heritage Auctions auction in 2022. The CGC 9.2 grade afforded to this copy means only five other comics in history had received higher CGC grades, and it becomes the first comic book on our list with a price tag of over one million dollars.
This 1961 debut sees the quartet, made up of Johnny Storm (Human Torch), Reed Richards (Mister Fantastic), Ben Grimm (The Thing) and Sue Storm (Invisible Girl), taking on The Moleman. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, there is a strong likelihood that, without The Fantastic Four, we may not have any of the future Marvel superheroes we know so well.
8. All Star Comics #8 – $1.62 Million
Released in 1942, All Star Comics #8 features the first appearance of Wonder Woman. Although the Justice Society of America, with Doctor Fate, Sandman, Johnny Thunder and a Hawkgirl cameo, makes the cover, the inside story of the Amazon princess has given this comic book its value.
A collector sold the Gardner Fox and Everett E. Hibbard creation, a highly-graded copy of All Star Comics #8, for over $900,000 in 2017. A bidder substantially bettered this price in a 2022 Heritage Auctions auction, where a cost of $1.62 million was the winning bid.
7. Detective Comics #27 – $1.74 Million
Bruce Wayne, otherwise known as Batman, makes his first appearance in 1939's Detective Comics #27. Created by artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger, The Dark Knight (as Bat-Man) uses his detective skills to help Commissioner Gordon with a murder case in this breakthrough issue.
Detective Comics, which published its first issue in 1937, would officially become DC Comics 40 years after holding a host of other monikers. An edition of Detective Comics No. 27, with only an 8.0 CGC rating, sold for $1.5 million in 2020. This price has since been bettered, with a CGC 6.5 graded copy selling for $1.74 million this year.
The comic book sold through Heritage Auctions was the World's most expensive comic book before 2011. Experts say that a more well-kept copy would most likely become the highest-selling comic book of all time, should one become available.
A Church comic book collection copy is rated at 8.5 by CGC, but it hasn't been available on the market since 1994 when it sold for $125,000! Should an even more highly-rated copy be out somewhere, collectors could make a good case for calling it the most valuable comic book ever.
6. Batman #1 – $2.22 Million
While this wasn't the first time Batman appeared in a comic book, Batman #1 was the first comic named after him. The original comic sold for the first time in 1940 and included his right-hand man Robin and villains, the Joker and Catwoman.
A bidding war for this issue of Batman took place at an auction in 2013, resulting in the copy being one of the most expensive comic books sold, with a selling price of over $500,000.
The new owner auctioned a pristine copy of the comic in 2021. Its previous owner, Billy T. Gates, bought it for $3,000 in 1979, but after his death in 2019, his son chose to auction his father's copy. The result was a windfall of $2.22 million, making it currently the sixth most expensive comic book ever sold.
5. Marvel Comics #1 – $2.4 Million
Sub-Mariner and the first Human Torch, a character with the same name that Marvel would later use for a member of the Fantastic Four, debuted in 1939's Marvel Comics #1. The comic was also a "pay copy", another reason for the edition's high sales price of $2,4 million in 2022.
A "pay copy" means that the comic includes handwritten notes by the publisher listing the pay of everybody involved. The copy carried a CGC 9.4 grade, also contributing to the high price.
Marvel Comics #1 was an anthology series that would ultimately be used as the name for the comic's publisher, after Timely Comics, which had changed its name to Atlas Comics, then changed it again to Marvel Comics in 1961 when the Fantastic Four debuted.
4. Captain America Comics #1 – $3.12 Million
Joe Simon and Jack Kirby are the men responsible for creating this comic. Known for its cover artwork, where Captain America is punching Adolf Hitler, the edition features the first appearance of Cap. A near-mint copy of this comic sold for $3.12 million this year, which now ranks it as the fourth most expensive comic in the World.
Published by Timely Comics, Captain America Comics #1, by Jack Kirby and Joe Simon, was recreated as part of the 2012 Captain America motion picture.
3. Action Comics #1 – $3.4 Million
For almost two decades, Action Comics #1 has been the most expensive comic book in the World. Action Comics #1, published in 1938, saw the emergence of one of the greatest-ever comic book superheroes, Superman. The series' cover features Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster's Man of Steel lifting a car.
The comic sold for 10 cents when it was originally released, which makes the price it sold for this year even more mindblowing. Average CGC copies of this comic book have sold for between $1 and $2 million in the past, but a CGC 8.5-grade copy of the edition broke the $3 million in 2021. There was still more to come, though.
This time, a CGC 6.5-grade copy fetched $3.4 million! Incredibly, this figure is only good enough to occupy the third position on the current most expensive comic book list.
2. Amazing Fantasy #15 – $3.6 Million
Action Comics #1 was the most expensive comic book of all time for many years, until 2021 when a CGC 9.6-grade copy of the Amazing Fantasy #15 (1962) fetched an unbelievable $3.6 million. This comic became the most expensive comic book ever sold. Many believe that the auctioned copy is one of only four still in existence.
The first appearance of Spider-Man is reason enough that this specific comic is so valuable and adored. Marvel Comics founder Stan Lee, a writer at the time, convinced the publisher to try out his new adolescent superhero, drawn by Steve Ditko, in the final edition of Amazing Fantasy.
In the final issue of Amazing Fantasy, Stan Lee convinced the publisher to let him try out a new teenage hero he created with Steve Ditko. The publishers quickly gave Spider-Man his own series after the success of the character's debut.
Where Action Comics #1 had been top of the most expensive comic books list for almost 20 years, Amazing Fantasy's reign didn't last very long. In 2022, a flurry of buying activity would reveal a new, and the current, #1.
1. Superman #1 - $5.3 million
For many years, through featuring in Action Comics #1, Superman was the most expensive comic book character in history. In 2021, Spider-Man knocked the Man of Steel off his throne, but Spidey's success was short-lived. Earlier in 2022, Superman returned to the top in his own right with the self-titled Superman #1 comic.
Published back in 1939 by Detective Comics, Superman #1 was the first comic book series to feature a single headline character. Until recently, Superman #1 wasn't regarded as a major player as far as most expensive comic book statistics and prices went, but that changed after 2020.
First, in 2021, a poorly rated CGC 5.0 copy of Superman #1 fetched $720,000 at a Heritage Auctions auction, but what happened in 2022 astounded comic collectors the World over. A buyer paid over an incredible $5.3 million to conclude a private sale for a CGC 8.0-rated copy of the edition.
In that instant, Superman #1 became the most expensive comic book in the World, 1.7 million dollars higher than the next most pricey!
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