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The Most Valuable Comic Books Ever Sold

By Staff Writer
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Comic books were originally thought of as a cheap, low-brow form of entertainment meant only for kids. No adult would ever admit to reading one. But over the course of the last 100 years or so, they have gone from being throw-away distractions for children to one of the most lucrative forms of entertainment around.

A select few have been sold for hundreds of thousands, sometimes even millions, of dollars. Often, these are issues in which now-famous heroes were introduced, though some are famous for stranger, more obscure reasons.

01

Superman #1

In 2022, a copy of this comic sold for a mind-boggling $5.3 million, making it far and away the most expensive comic ever sold. One of the things that makes it so valuable is the fact that it’s the first Superman-specific comic ever, and Superman is one of the most popular superheroes ever. Also, of course, it is super hard to find a copy of this comic in good condition.

Superman #1 had a limited distribution, and, back then, nobody knew that Supes would turn out to be so popular, so nobody bothered to save their copies.

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02

Amazing Fantasy #15

The original Amazing Fantasy title had a short run of just over a year back in 1961. In the final issue, after the comic was already canceled, Stan Lee convinced the publisher to take a chance on a new superhero that he and Steve Ditko had just created. That hero was Spider-Man.

The issue sold like hotcakes, as they said back then, and an all-new Spider-Man comic was launched. That’s why a copy of Amazing Fantasy #15 sold for $3.6 million in 2021.

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03

Action Comics #1

For a long time, Action Comics #1 was the most valuable comic ever. In 2010, a copy was sold for $1.5 million. A series of sales kept driving the price up until, in 2022, a copy sold for $3.4 million. The reason for the high-priced interest is because this was the first-ever appearance of Superman before he got his own comics line.

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04

Captain America Comics #1

It’s no surprise that the comic that introduced the world to Captain America would make an appearance on this list. In 2022, a copy sold for $3.1 million. Printed before America entered WWII, this comic was famous at the time for taking a strong political stance on the subject of Hitler’s Germany.

In it, Captain America punches Hitler in the face, an early approach to the “punching a Nazi” debate. At the time, Hitler was just another world leader, and this comic led to threats against the creators for showing this incident.

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05

Marvel Comics #1

A copy of Marvel Comics #1 sold for $2.4 million in 2022. Given the name, you might think that it was the first comic published by the Marvel Comics company...but you'd be wrong! It was actually an anthology comic published by the Timely Comics company.

However, when Timely Comics later decided it needed a complete rebranding, it named itself after its most successful title, becoming the Marvel Comics that we know today.

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06

Batman #1

Of course, the first solo Batman comic would be one of the most valuable comics ever printed. In 2021, a copy was sold for $2.2 million. In addition to giving the Dark Knight his self-titled debut, Batman #1 also grappling-hooked into popularity for being the issue in which iconic villains such as the Joker and Catwoman first appeared.

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07

Detective Comics #27

A lot of entries on this list are the introductory issues of now-famous superheroes, so it’s only to be expected that Batman’s first appearance is here, right alongside his solo release. At the time, Detective Comics was the name of both the series and the company that published it. Later, the name was shortned to “DC,” and it became Marvel Comics’ greatest competitor today.

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08

All-Star Comics #8

This issue is famous because it included the first appearances of two new heroes who would go on to become two of DC’s most famous: Wonder Woman and Hawkgirl. It also introduced a new appearance for Dr. Fate, a major character at the time. A copy of All-Star Comics #8 sold for $1.6 million in 2022, possibly because due to the popularity of the Wonder Woman movies.

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09

Fantastic Four #1

Although today the Fantastic Four are perhaps most famous for never having had a successful movie adaptation, the crew took the world by storm when they debuted in 1961. Even with nary a well-received movie to their name, they've always been popular in print. Apparently, they were so popular that someone in 2022 was willing to shell out $1.5 million for a copy of their debut.

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10

X-Men #1

The X-Men have changed a lot over the years, with the team roster today looking nothing like it did when they first appeared. There’s still a lot of nostalgia for the original team of Cyclops, Beast, Iceman, Angel, Marvel Girl, and Professor X, though.

This could explain why this debut comic was sold for an impressive $871,999 in 2022, though the popularity of the movies surely played a role as well.

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11

The Brave and the Bold #28

Today, the Justice League is one of the two most famous superhero teams in the world, as well-known as the Avengers. However, when they first debuted, they were just another imitation of the older, more popular Justice Society of America. Nobody could have foreseen that this team-up of such heroes as Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and Martian Manhunter would become the unstoppable juggernaut that it is today.

Fortunately, perhaps, that means that few people saved their copies, which is why one lucky collector banked a sweet $750,000 in a private sale in 2022.

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12

Phantom Lady #17

If you have no idea who the Phantom Lady is, you’re not alone. First published in the 1940s, this superhero was not destined for widespread popularity. Today, almost nobody remembers these comics. However, issue #17 has a unique place in the history of comic books and, indeed, in American history. The risqué cover art was one of the “offenses” cited in Wertham’s famous moral-panic-inducing book, “The Seduction of the Innocent,” and the censorship and Comics Code Authority that followed it.

That probably explains why someone was happy to pay $456,000 for a copy in 2021.

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13

Detective Comics #140

Just because Batman got his own solo comics title doesn’t mean that he stopped appearing in Detective Comics. Indeed, a lot of the most famous developments of his storyline took place there. One of the biggest occurred in issue #140, when the Riddler was added to Batman’s Rogue’s Gallery. A copy of this issue sold for $456,000 in 2021.

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14

Flash Comics #1

Flash Comics #1 was the first appearance of the Flash. Not the Barry Allen Flash you’re thinking of from the movies and TV shows, though. This is an older version of the character named Jay Garrick, one who would later be used to introduce comics readers to the now-common “multiverse” idea. In 2010, a copy of this comic sold for $450,000.

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15

Tales of Suspense #39

This is the comic where Iron Man was introduced, though, at the time, he didn’t have the sleek gold and red armor he sports today. Back then, his armor was huge, clunky, and made of gray steel. He looked something like a metal Frankenstein’s monster. The hugely popular movies with Robert Downey Jr. no doubt played a huge part in racking up the price for Tales of Suspense #39, which sold for $375,000 in 2012.

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