Image via DC Comics
Comics are large corporations and auction houses. For mass-produced pamphlets, the power of these little masterpieces of sequential storytelling long after they’ve left newsstands is incredible.
The golden age of comics began in the 1930s and quickly brought us several hard-hitting pop culture icons that are still around today. Batman and Wonder Woman, Captain America and Namor the Submarine, and at the front, the archetypal superhero, Superman.
Remarkably, many of these icons’ comic book debuts have survived in superb condition – and the closer to mint they are, the higher their value. Over the years, new classics have emerged and entered into a super-powered bidding war, including the arrival of Marvel superheroes in the 1960s. These included heavy hitters Spider-Man and the First Family from House of Ideas, the Fantastic Four.
The art of calculating the quality of a comic and its earning potential is a delicate process.
Classification of comics
The accepted grading scale for vintage comics comes from CGC, the Certified warranty company. Comics that go through the process are evaluated for quality and given a rating from 0.5 to 10, with an additional designation indicating the quality of the page.
A rating of 0.5 means a collectible has been degraded over the years. It is likely to have significant defects and missing parts. A rating of 5.0 means average quality, so there are some flaws. At the very top, and extremely rare for older collectible comics, are ratings of 9.0 to 10.00. A 10.00 indicates a collector’s item free from defects in workmanship or handling. In other words, it’s mint. The high end is where the highest paying comics live – where 0.1 can make a big difference.
However, the ranking is indicative, and if there is demand, lower quality comics can quickly overtake the best at an auction, as happened last year. Recently, the value of classic comics has surged. The 10 most expensive comics below have all been auctioned this decade.
As you can imagine, the best comics are dominated by a few select historical names. We’ve opened the pages to the most expensive copies of individual titles for this ranking.
As the world goes crazy for NFTs and blockchain collectibles, there’s something reassuring about the fact that physical comics still loom large in collectors’ imaginations.
$0.81 million — X-Men #1 (sold: 2021)
When you search for Wanted Marvel Comics, the X-Men will appear. X-Men #1 began an era that would deliver some of the best-selling comic book issues of all time. The mighty Marvel mutant franchise began when Stan Lee and Jack Kirby introduced us to six mutants, including Professor X and the malevolent master of magnetism, Magneto.
Despite being almost five decades old, this comic has demonstrated its superpowers with a phenomenal CGC rating of 9.6. But to show you how quickly this market is changing, the record for this title was previously held by a 9.8-rated copy that reached 0.5 million in 2012.
$1.5 million — Fantastic Four #1 (2022)
The comic that introduced the Fantastic Four finally broke into the 7-figure comic book club in April 2022. The superteam may not have its distinctive uniforms, and the Thing may not have not yet its rock-like orange skin, but it was where Stan Lee and Jack Kirby launched the Marvel Universe in 1961.
Its 9.2 rating signifies a well-preserved collector’s item with only a few wear and minor flaws in workmanship or handling.
$1.62 — All-Star Comics #8 (2022)
This 9.4 graded copy featured Wonder Woman’s first appearance in late 1941. This is an honor sometimes erroneously attributed to Sensational comics #1released in early 1942, with the Amazon claiming the cover.
The short story, later titled Introducing Wonder Womanprovided the classic introduction to Wonder Woman when pilot Steve Trevor crash-landed on Paradise Island.
$1.74 million — Detective comics #27 (2022)
It’s no wonder the Guardian of Gotham’s six-page debut is a highly sought-after comic. Batman’s debut in the spring of 1939 brought us the Dark Knight, his alter ego, and Commissioner Gordon, though Gotham City wouldn’t be named for another 18 months.
An 8.0-rated copy of the DC title – denoting moderate flaws – had already made $1.075 million before this 6.5 (above average) copy arrived. If you thought this title would rank higher, there’s still a certified 9.4 restored copy. It’s the highest rating on record, but the 8.0 has it for now.
$2.2 million — Batman #1 (2021)
The first issue of Batman’s single-player comic book was the true beginning of a world-dominating property that continues to grow.
A high rating of 9.4 was the icing on the cake for an issue that redefined the Dark Knight’s origins as young Bruce Wayne vowed to fight crime after his parents were murdered.
$2.42 million — Marvel Comics #1 (2022)
In the fascinating and complicated history of the comics, it’s only fitting that Marvel Comics #1 is near the top of the list, topping $2 million with a 9.2 CGC rating. Going back to 1939, it’s no wonder this issue inspired Timely Comics’ renaming in the Silver Age of comics.
This issue debuted with the Submarine and the Human Torch, a name that would carry over to The Fantastic Four when Marvel Comics appeared.
$3.12 million — Captain America Comics #1 (2022)
A recent arrival in the top four is Marvel’s American Hero. Captain America Comics #1 is a 1941 comic book that featured the first appearance of the titular character, created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby.
His 9.4 rating was impressive for an 81-year-old comedian, but this hero may have other records ahead of him. A certified 9.8 copy has so far not been auctioned.
$3.25 million — Action comics #1 (2021)
Without a doubt one of the most iconic comics of all time – we all know the comic book cover that debuted Superman. There he is, on the cover, with a car held above his head.
This 8.5 graded copy of Action comics #1 launched a 9.0 edition of the title which earned $3.2 million in an eBay action in 2014.
$3.6 million — Incredible Fantasy #15 (2021)
If anyone can rival Superman, it’s Spider-Man. The web crawler’s debut in the late summer of 1962 was rated as nearly new with no surface wear and like-new pages.
Armed with his 9.6 rating, he knocked the Man of Steel off the top spot at the end of 2021.
$5.3 million — Superman #1 (2022)
Superman is another iconic character who debuted in an existing series before earning his own title in the spring of 1939. Its 60 pages confirm that it was intended as a one-shot until sales made it a series. keep on going.
Big Blue’s debut broke the record for amount paid for a comic book despite an 8.0 rating that noted moderate flaws, breaking the $5 million barrier and upsizing Spider-Man’s number one spot. after a few months. It may not be as iconic as Action comics #1but as of 2022, it does put the Man of Steel at the top of the pile.
Faster than a speeding bullet
The comic book market is changing rapidly and prices are skyrocketing as serious collectors spot a wise investment. Ten years ago, a high-quality slice of comic history from this top 10 might have cost you more than the average price of a home in the United States. Now that could be ten times higher.
However, these huge cultural milestones still have a ways to go if they are to challenge other print media. The book and manuscript record is held by a first printing of the United States Constitution, which sold for $43.2 million in November 2021. All eyes are on Spidey and Supes to see who achieves this. level first.