I don’t know what’s rarer, seeing a high-end copy of one of these books or any one of them actually going up for sale. The books on this list are like a Total Solar Eclipse in that they only appear every now and then. When they do, however, collectors jump at the chance to drop thousands, and even millions, of dollars.
Some books are so rare that they haven’t exchanged hands in Near Mint condition in a generation. While this list holds very few surprises as to which books make the cut, you will be surprised by exactly how much they have sold for. Let’s take a look at our list of the 10 most expensive comic books in history.
1. Marvel Comics #1 – $350,000
When you factor in that this book is the first appearance of Namor the Sub-Mariner, The Human Torch, and is the first book published by what would become Marvel Comics, it’s a no-brainer that it sold for a ton of money.
What makes this book so impressive is that it is “only” graded a 9.0. Yes, a book of this age at 9.0 is impressive but understand, if it was a 9.2, it could probably fetch over $550,000. This book, if in a higher grade may have very well been the most expensive book on this list. Alas, it’s not and that’s ok.
2. Tales of Suspense #39 – $375,000
When Marvel Studios launched the first Iron Man movie back in 2008, it was loosely based on this book. Since that movie came out, everything Iron Man has become hotter than a summer day in the desert. Whether or not the character deserves the attention is for another list.
Unlike other books on this list, it may not be worth what it is perceived to be. After all, before the launch of the incredibly successful MCU, Iron Man was nothing more than a ‘B-List’ character. Until that time comes, $375,000 is nothing to shake a stick at.
3. All-Star Comics #8 – $411,000
What do you get when you release a comic book that contains the first appearance of one of the most beloved heroes of all time? $411,000, that’s what.
All-Star Comics #8 houses the very first appearance of Wonder Woman and because of that, it makes this list. Look, Gal Gadot, like Linda Carter before her, is this generation’s Wonder Woman. Her performance, demeanor, and look are spot-on.
Unlike some of the other books and characters on this list that have increased due to the current state of comic book popularity, Wonder Woman is and will forever be timeless. When the comic movie ride is over, Wonder Woman and her value will still stand tall.
4. Flash #1 – $450,000
At the time of its sale, this book was the second-largest sale ever. Don’t read too much into that, however. When it was sold, the highest sale in history occurred just a single month earlier and it was surpassed twice later that year. Hailing from the same collection as many other high-end Golden Age books, Flash #1 garnered a lot of attention when it hit the market.
Investors and collectors alike flocked to get a piece of comic book history. The book boasts the first appearance of both The Flash and Hawkman and is one of the rarest books in existence. Hence, it must be a part of this most expensive comic book in the history list.
5. X-Men #1 – $492,937
What’s the difference between an X-Men #1 graded 9.6 and the same book graded 9.8? About $250,000. It’s absolutely amazing how much a slight corner ding, a staple bend, or a stress mark can affect the value of a book.
When this 9.8 copy of X-Men #1 was sold, it became the highest sale for this book of all time. More impressively, at 9.8, it will be the only book graded that high on this most expensive comic book in the history list.
6. Superman #1 – $507,500
The first of two Superman appearances on this list, Superman #1 is deserving to be here. Not only is he arguably the most recognizable character in comics…my trip to Ethiopia with our sister company Comics For Cause confirmed this…he is, well, Superman!
In 2017, Superman #1 sold for a whopping $507,500. What makes this so remarkable is that this isn’t even the first appearance of the character. Of course, having the first issue of a character as iconic as Superman is something to brag about and I can’t say though I’d turn it down if I ever had the chance.
7. Batman #1 – $527,625
The product of a frenzied bidding war, Batman #1, Graded 9.2 joined the upper echelon of comic book sales when it climbed to just over $500,000. This book, as you probably are aware, boasts the first appearance of the Joker, Catwoman (formerly the Cat), and Hugo Strange. If that doesn’t impress you, know that this one almost never goes for sale. This is the kind of book that gets left in a will. And the benefactor of that Will spends their entire existence dreaming of the day it will be theirs.
8. Detective Comics #27 – $1,075,000
The best part about this copy is that it has only been graded 8.0. That same collection that boasts that Flash #1 from earlier has this book in it…in a higher 8.5 grade. Unfortunately for us and not so unfortunate for its owner, the book has not been sold since 1994. In 1994, that 8.5 sold for, and I use this jokingly, a paltry $125,000. Imagine if it were to hit the market today. I’m thinking $1.5 million.
The most surprising thing is that there are known copies of both 9.0 and 9.2. What’s incredible is if that 9.2 were to hit the market, it would probably be at the top of this most expensive comic book in the history list.
9. Amazing Fantasy #15 – $1,100,000
At the time of the sale of this book, which by the way is graded 9.6, the record sale of a Silver Age book was just under $300,000. For this to sell above a million is startling.
Granted, this is the first appearance of Spider-Man but still. $1,000,000? Now that Spider-Man is firmly back home at Marvel, this one is as sure to jump in price as a Lebron James apparel deal.
10. Action Comics #1 – $3,200,000
Was there any doubt? Considered the Holy Grail of comic books, Action Comics #1 is the first appearance of Superman.
Not only is the one sold in 2014 the top-selling book of all time, but there are also others like it. First, there is another graded 9.0 copy in existence and it sold for $2.16 million just three years earlier. And second, apparently, a Church Collection, the same one that the mentioned Flash #1 is a part of, exists. The owner won’t get it graded but rumor has it, it would come in at an incredible 9.2.
What makes this sale so impressive is that aside from the one that sold for $2.16 million, there are four other copies of Action Comics #1 that have raked in a million or more.