When the comic book industry boomed in the late 1980s and early ‘90s thanks to news-making storylines and the original Batman movie, shrewd fans began investing in older titles, and the genre’s popularity in the past decade has taken the wave of collecting even higher.
As bidding begins on web auction site eBay for a piece of comic book history, here we find out which titles are the most valuable, and discover the secrets of the history of comics.
Prices stated are values of a near-mint copy which scores between 9 and 9.6 out of ten on the CGC scale.
Action Comics #1
Published June 1938
Value: £1.8 million
This is the issue in question that’s currently up for bidding on eBay, and at the time of writing the bids have reached $1.6 million – that’s around £960,000!
Action Comics #1 is famous for featuring the first-ever appearance of comics icon Superman, although the issue itself is an anthology containing many different stories such as Scoop Scanlon the Five Star Reporter and Tex Thompson – none of which have stood the test of time quite like the last son of Krypton. With several films, dozens of animations and a wide range of title comics, Superman is without a doubt one of the most recognisable brands in the world today.
Detective Comics #27
Published May 1939
Value: £1.33 million
Featuring another debut appearance from one of the world’s best-known superheroes, Detective Comics #27 was another anthology issue which boasted strips featuring Buck Marshall in “Bullet Bluff” and Bart Regan, Spy in “The Mysterious Murders.”
Neither of these pulp stories however had quite the impact that the first glimpse of the Bat-Man provided. Focusing more on detective fiction, the title was boosted even further by this mysterious character, who would soon receive his very own title; a rare feat in those days.
This comic was also what gave publishers DC (Detective Comics) their eventual name.
Published June 1939
With the success of Superman’s run in Action Comics, he received his very own comic in 1940 as well as continuing to appear in his original publication. Although the first few issues of Superman were mainly reprints from earlier shorter comic strips, here we meet Superman’s alter ego, the shy and unassuming Clark Kent, as he begins work at the Daily Planet newspaper.
Through various volumes, reboots and rebrands, Superman is still the world’s most recognisable hero, but it was the Death of Superman storyline in the early 1990s which shocked the world into remembering the iconic status of Superman. In true comic book style, his so-called death only lasted a few issues but the shockwaves led to collectors buying up every copy they could find in hopes of their value increasing.
Marvel Comics #1
Published October 1939
The only Marvel comics entry on this list, the current multi-billion dollar company recently purchased by Disney had a much less auspicious start in 1939, when it introduced a character called the Angel; a detective without superpowers who nonetheless dressed like one. It didn’t help matters that the costume in question was a blue suit with a red cape…
Marvel Comics #1 also introduced readers to the Human Torch — although this was an earlier iteration and not the member of the Fantastic Four that was created two decades later. Namor the Submariner also made his first appearance here; an often-overlooked character whose early importance helped seal the comic’s popularity.
Published Spring 1940
Like Superman before him, the adventures of billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne and his crime-fighting alter ego Batman soon had their own title a year after their initial introduction in the pages of Detective Comics.
Issue one of Batman also saw the introduction of arch enemy The Joker, whose own origins had not yet been explored — but the insane villain would prove an enduring addition to pop culture, particularly with Alan Moore’s comic The Killing Joke released in 1988 and the film portrayals by Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger.
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