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The $3.2 million just paid on eBay for the first issue of Action Comics (featuring Superman) makes it the most valuable comic book of all time. Previously, the record-holding comic was...another copy of the Action Comics No. 1 issue, which had sold in 2011 for more than $2.1 million, according to Harshen Patel of CGC, a comic book grading service. Along with baseball cards, comic books represent an important component of the collectibles market, and can prove to be quite profitable for collectors holding highly sought and rare items.
The "Golden Age" of comic books spanned from the late 1930s into the early 1950s and introduced most of the superhero and adventure characters that have become billion-dollar brands today. Among the most expensive comics are the ones that tell the story of a superhero's first adventures, but in order to carry a large price tag, they must also be in near-mint condition.
Rankings are from Nostomania, an online collectibles community, which draws near-mint valuations from CGC. Based on their rankings, some of the most expensive comic books can sell into the hundreds of thousands or even millions.
So, what are the most expensive comic books of all time? Click ahead to find out!
Posted August 25, 2014
CGC certified NM value: $353,000
Issue date: March 1941
The opening issue of Captain America, where high-level government officials inject a young weakling with a potent, strength-giving serum, transforming the youngster into a shredded and ultra-patriotic one-man Nazi-fighting machine. Like so many comic book heroes at that time, Captain American often found himself face to face with the ultimate foe—the Third Reich. That is the red-white-and-blue soldier punching Adolf Hitler on the cover of the issue.
CGC certified NM value: $405,000
Issue date: December 1938
Superman joins the circus. Seriously.
Part of this comic's value may stem from one rare quirk: Superman wears yellow boots throughout the story (though not on the cover). The change was short-lived, and the superhero's boots went back to red in the next issue.
CGC NM value: $442,000
Issue dated: August 1962
Originally selling for 12 cents per issue, the Amazing Fantasy No. 15 comic is valued around $263,000 for a near-mint copy. When the “Amazing Fantasy” series was in dire financial straits, the publishers allowed writers to experiment with a new kind of superhero, a teenager who lives with more every day problems. From this issue, “Spider-Man” was born. This issue is also listed at No. 1 on Marvel's list of “The 100 Greatest Marvels of All Time.”
CGC NM value: $497,000
Issue dated: July 1940
This issue is notable for introducing the iconic superhero the Green Lantern. The issue was published by All-American Comics, which was later one of three companies that merged to form DC Comics.
CGC NM value: $529,000
Issue dated: March 1937
The inaugural issue of the Detective Comics series, this first issue began the line that eventually featured Batman and Superman. The issue featured stories written in the “hard-boiled detective” genre and contained 10 stories. Currently, near-mint copies of this issue are valued at around $529,000.
CGC NM value: $530,000
Issue dated: Spring 1940
Although Batman had appeared in previous comic books, this issue marks the first of the long-lasting series of self-titled comics. The issue’s first story was entitled “The Legend of Batman—Who He Is and How He Came to Be” and the second story was entitled “The Joker.” Interestingly, the issue also contained the story “The Joker Returns.”
The Batman series originally was a quarterly publication but eventually transitioned into a bimonthly and then monthly issue. The Batman No. 1 issue was also the first to feature “Robin, the Boy Wonder.”
CGC NM value: $578,000
Issued dated: October 1939
The first issue in the Marvel Comics series featured characters like The Human Torch, The Angel, and Namor the Sub-Mariner. The original publication sold out 80,000 copies in October 1939 and prompted a second publication, which sold approximately 800,000 copies in November 1939.
CGC NM value: $712,000
Issue dated: June 1939
Although Superman was introduced prior to this issue, this was the first comic book series devoted to a single character, which was new territory for the industry. The origin of Superman is reprinted in this issue, which also features another first: a pinup back cover.
CGC NM value: $2,220,000
Issue dated: May 1939
Detective Comics is the longest continuously published comic book in U.S. history, but its most iconic hero, Batman, did not make his first appearance issue until issue 27. Millionaire Bruce Wayne's alter ego eventually became the leading character of the series. In the issue, Batman's first story is "The Case of the Chemical Syndicate."
CGC NM value: $3,207,000
Issue dated: June 30, 1938
The first issue of the comic book series Action Comics is most recognized as the issue that introduced Superman to the world. The issue, which originally sold for 10 cents, had a print run of 200,000 copies.
The first 13 pages of the book tell the famous story of Superman’s origins and early adventures, while the rest of the comic contains 10 more features with stories on a range of characters, like “Tex Thompson” and “The Adventures of Marco Polo.”
In February 2010, a near-mint copy of this issue sold for $1 million.