In 2018, the comic book market hit an all-time high. Estimations by ICv2's Milton Griepp and Comichron's John Jackson Miller reveal that "total comics and graphic novel sales to consumers in the U.S. and Canada were approximately $1.095 billion in 2018, an $80 million increase over sales in 2017." It sounds like one of the more lucrative markets to make your money! When readers and vendors somehow get their hands on classic comics, like Superman's first appearance, they control the market. eBay, auctions, and private collectors alike can resale these gems for millions, and they have! Let's take a look at some of the most valuable superhero books to date.
The Introduction Of Spider-Man
Long before Spider-Man would star in TV shows, comic books, and movies, he was merely a special character making his first appearance in Amazing Fantasy No. 15 (1962). The webhead only made an appearance because the publisher was underwhelmed and only agreed to feature him because it was the last issue of the series.
Readers, on the other hand, loved the swinging hero after they learned about him and his popularity is still a thing today. A private collector paid $1.1 million for Amazing Fantasy No. 15 in 2011.
Say Hello To The Dark Knight
One year after Superman made his first appearance in the comic world, The Caped Crusader wanted to fly in as well. It was the 27th issue of Detective Comics (Detective Comics No. 27, 1937).
2010 came around and someone wanted a well-preserved copy to call their own. That's when an anonymous buyer bought one in an online bid for $1 million. Experts say that there are 100 to 200 copies still around today if you want one too.
It's A Bird, It's A Plane!
Superman just might be the most well-known comic book hero ever. The man can do it all, and still, people can't recognize him working as Clark Kent at the Planet as a reporter. Something people do realize is that Action Comics No. 1 was the first time he graced a comic book in 1938.
In 2014, a mint condition copy of the issue with the ten cents still on the cover sold for $3.2 million on eBay.
Wonder Woman Makes An Appearance
Judging off the cover, one wouldn't know that All-Star Comics No. 8 would mark the first appearance of the mighty Wonder Woman. The story revolves around the Justice Society of America and was also the origin story of one of DC's greatest warriors.
Something like that has to fetch a lofty price, and it did on eBay. Someone sold a copy on the e-commerce site for $936,223 in 2017. We wonder if they could've received more?
Iron Man's Introduction
Much like there are B-list actors, the same also applies to superheroes. When he first came out, Iron Man was on that list all the way up until Marvel made his film adaptation in 2008.
The hype reached new levels and Iron Man's first appearance int he comic world via Tales of Suspense No. 39 had a ton of buzz. That's why it sold for $375,000 in 2012 at an auction. It's crazy how something from 1963 can fetch that high of a price.
The First to Do It
On November 21, 2019, an auction sold a piece of history for a tremendous amount. It might carry the Marvel name, but Marvel Comics No. 1 was published in 1939 by Timely Comics.
This comic is the debut of the Human Torch, (the original android Human Torch) a crimefighter named Angel and an adventure starring Sub-Mariner. The best-preserved copy of this comic went for $1,260,000 at an auction held by Heritage Auctions in Dallas, Texas.
The First Of Many X-Men Comics
There's no doubt that the X-Men are some of the most beloved superheroes to ever come exist. When you put Wolverine alongside any other good guys and let them work, the results are always spectacular.
Fans would soon come to learn that after reading and watching their comics and films. In 2012, X-Men No. 1 from 1963 sold at an auction for $492,937! It was in near-mint condition, receiving a 9.8 out of ten on the CGC scale. That's a metric used to determine how worthy vintage comics are.
From 12 Cents To Hundreds Of Thousands
The big green monster known as The Hulk lives inside of scientist Bruce Banner. He didn't always dwell there, but after a scientific mistake, things got crazy. His first comic hit the shelves in 1962 and had a price of 12 cents.
Fast forward to 2014 and The Incredible Hulk No. 1 sold for $320,000 at an auction. Many know him as the green freak, but this early version rendered him as the gray beast.
The Power Of The Lantern
Not many know the origin story of the mighty Green Lantern. The man with the power to create practically anything with the help of the ring on his hand gets his story told in All American Comics No. 16 from 1940.
This classic issue is quite rare compared to most others from that era, with only 21 to 50 remaining today. Put all that together and you get a selling price of $200,000 at an auction in 2013.
The Fastest Man Alive
In 1956, comic fans everywhere received a treat they would be forever grateful to have. DC released Showcase No. 4, featuring Barry Allen, the Silver Age Flash or the fastest man alive.
He would prove to be a big hit with people, leading to The Flash getting his own title soon enough. Decades later, his first appearance would end up being worth a ton of money. Showcase No. 4 sold for $179,250 at an auction in 2009.
The People Love Superman
The number of villains Superman goes into battle against over the decades is a high amount. Some were more a challenge than others, but none were like his first battle with Ultra Humanite.
Action Comics No. 13 featured this bout and it's one fan's adore. The comic also features a centerfold piece advertising Superman No. 1 in the middle of it. Action Comics No. 13 would fetch $185,000 at an auction in 2011, making it one of the most expensive to get sold away.
The Avengers Arrive
It all started in 1963 when Marvel decided to release the first Avengers comic featuring Thor, Iron Man, Hulk, the Wasp, and Ant-Man. We get to see the heroes team up and take down Thor's evil brother, Loki.
You can imagine that this comic sold for a high price, and it did. The comic sold for a little over a quarter million at $274,000 at an auction. Now, we have multiple films of the Avengers thanks to this comic.
The Hero Formally Known As Captain Marvel
It may be listed at Whiz Comics No. 2, but the first one was only used in promotional advertising and didn't get released. That makes number two, the real number one, and boy was it a good one.
It gave us the first appearance of Captain Marvel (or how many know him today, Shazam). The beefy hero is similar to Superman, except he's a kid in an adult body. The comic would go for $281,000 in 2012 at an auction.
Who's As Fantastic As Them?
As far as groups of heroes go, The Fantastic Four are right up there with the X-Men and Avengers. One of the most important comic books in history is Fantastic Four No. 1.
Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created the bunch, and this issue shows their first adventure together. Fantastic Four No. 1 would sell for $300,000 in 2011! That's pretty steep, but without these four, we more than likely wouldn't have the Marvel characters we love today.
Flash's First Standalone
As we said earlier, The Flash is a fan favorite and quickly became that after making his first appearance in the comics. He eventually received his own series titled Flash Comics.
Flash Comics No. 1 turned out to be quite valuable. In 2010, it sold for what was at the time, the second-highest amount for a comic book in history! That price was $450,000! That's impressive for someone not named Batman, Superman or Spider-man, but that's the Flash for you!
Batman And Robin Save The Day
2013 marked an energetic bidding war for Batman No. 1. We can't argue with those who bid because that comic featured the first appearance of Batman's arch-rival, the Joker, and his interesting love interest, Catwoman.
Robin came along for the ride as well, so that made things better. Folks kept upping the price on this rare piece until it eventually sold for $567,625! Someone must've wanted this Batman artifact extremely bad to spend that much.
The Mighty Thor Joins The Fight
A question for all the Marvel fans out there; if Thor had gone for the head, would there have been a need for End Game? We may never know, but something that needs to be public information is how much Thor's first appearance sold for in 2014.
Journey Into Mystery No. 83 saw a number of first-time guests, but Thor stole the show. This issue would end up selling for a whopping $275,000. The God of Thunder drives a hard bargain.
The Very First Superman
Superman would receive his own comic in 1939. Superman No. 1 went through all of his first four adventures that Action Comics had already included, but it was Superman's own thing this time.
By then, everyone had already realized how outstanding Superman was, so its no secret that his very first issue would go for a boatload at auctions. The exact number is $507,050, which is utterly insane. Savvy collectors get a ton from comics!
Superman Goes To Prison?
It's not every day that one of the world's greatest heroes has to go to prison. Action Comics No. 10 wasn't Superman's first appearance, but it did have a story many readers enjoyed.
It featured a storyline called "Superman Goes to Prison" and it came out in 1939. Skip ahead to 2011 and someone paid top dollar to see Superman behind bars. The comic would sell for $258,000. Compared to some of the others on this list, that's not too bad!
Captain America's Arrival
Captain America has always been a political figure. People used to think his series focused too much on politics. The first issue by Jack Kirby and Joe Simon would set the tone for these feelings.
If you take one look at the cover, you can see what we're talking about. Still, it became a hit, and even lead to death threats against the two creators. That didn't stop Captain America Comics No. 1 from selling for $343,057 in 2011.
Robin Joins The Fight
Detective Comics No. 38 is a special one for one specific reason: The issue came out in 1940 and it features the very first time fans see Robin, the boy wonder and longtime sidekick of Batman.
A copy of this comic sold in 2005, which came from a personal collection of Nicolas Cage. The value of this precious collector's item is now $126,500, all thanks to Robin's comic book debut.
Here Comes The Justice League Of America
When you're dealing with the Justice League as a villain, you can expect to lose. Who's going to stop a team stacked with Superman, The Flash, Green Lantern, and more? It's utterly insane to fathom.
The Brave and the Bold No. 28 is the first appearance of the Justice League of America. They brought their powers together to destroy the evil of Starro the Conqueror, who is just an extremely large starfish. Aquaman couldn't do that by himself. This puppy has a value of $140,000!
Say Hello To Wolverine
Wow, what can we say about this precious comic book? Well, Hulk No. 181 is a special one because it features the full debut of the clawed mutant that fans love so much, Wolverine.
This comic from the '70s became the first comic book to sell for over $100,000 from that decade. That's some high-end action you're paying for, so we don't blame the person who bought it for $150,000. As long as they had the money to spare, it's okay with us.
Captain America Wants To Have Some Fun Too
The Avengers are the toughest group of heroes assembled next to the Justice League. With all their different powers, it's impossible to stop them (unless you have all the Infinity Stones). In The Avengers No. 4, Captain America joins the team.
A near-perfect copy of this issue sold for $143,400 in 2017 at Heritage Auctions. One reason why this copy sold for so much is that it was Captain America's first Silver Age appearance after coming out of being frozen.
Batman Gets New Gadgets
Bob Kane did the honors of blessing comic lovers everywhere when he drew for Detective Comics No. 31. Many say this is one of the best covers the Dark Knight has had.
Reports reveal that it's extremely difficult to locate a copy of this comic with a decent grade of quality. In 2017, a copy with a 5.0 grade sold for $131,450, which means it could very well reach a higher value if in better condition.
More Fun Comics Are Worth A Ton Too!
Comic books don't always have to feature some of the most popular names to hold value. While Superman, The Hulk, and other appealing names draw a crowd, never underestimate the unknown.
More Fun Comics No. 53 allows fans to read the second appearance of the Spectre, as it continues his origin story. A 9.8-graded copy of this issue sold for $141,000 in 2015, which is more than some of the most famous heroes fetch on the market.
The Highly Valuable Archie
The first copy of comic series usually ends up becoming the most valuable in the set. It's the first time fans get to see their favorite person in action for a healthy amount of time.
The first Archie Comic hit the market in 1942 and sold for a dime. Imagine picking it up back then, holding onto it and selling it for $167,300 in 2012. That would be one of the greatest returns ever recorded.
The Third All-Star Comic
If a comic has "All-Star" in the title, you can expect there to be a cast of superstars in it. Well, All-Star Comics No. 3 featured the first superhero team ever in 1940.
They called themselves the Justice Society of America and included the likes of Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman, and more. A copy of this comic sold for $126,500 in 2002 but would go for $200,000 in ten years later in 2012 through Heritage Auctions.
The First Appearance Of Ant-Man?
Ant-Man becomes one of the most popular Marvel heroes in 2015 after his solo movie grossed over $500 million at the box office. Tales to Astonish No. 27 was arguably the first appearance of the tiny hero.
After genius scientist Henry Pym shrunk himself to the size of ants, he had to find a way out. This issue ended up selling for $205,501 in 2016 at Comic Link. That's a steep price for a tiny man.
More Fun Strikes Again
Who knew a C-list character would be worth so much? Maybe DC should invest their money into Spectre more because it looks like he's fetching high prices on the comic market.
More Fun Comics No. 52 came out in 1940 and it was the first appearance of Spectre and the Presence. Can you believe this thing went for $119,500 in 2006? The crazy thing is that it's now worth $207,000 on the market depending on how good your copy is.
The Amazing Cover Made It worth it
Many collectors love Fantastic Comics No. 3 due to its sensational cover by Lou Fine. It shows a giant named Samson destroying iron masters with his spiked flail. That's epic, isn't it?
Outside of that, there aren't any first appearances by anyone special or the forming of a supergroup, people just love the cover that much. The value of this comic is now $243,000, as long as you have a high-quality version of it (a 9.5-grade).
The Very First Amazing Spider-Man
The first issue of The Amazing Spider-Man released in 1963. The Amazing Spider-Man No. 1 has two stories in it; one is about saving J. Jonah Jameson's son and the other features the Fantastic Four.
In the Fantastic Four story, readers get to see Chameleon for the first time. This boosts the stock of the issue, even more, making it valued at $262,900. It sold for that price in 2016 at Heritage Auctions, so chances are its probably worth more now.
Wonder Woman Gets Her Issue
To be honest, there aren't many heroes as strong as Wonder Woman. That goes for DC and Marvel. The high-flying hero received her first comic book in the summer of 1942.
That was an interesting time in the world, as many might not have been that interesting in a woman warrior, but DC gave her a chance anyway. "In a recent poll of child readers, 80 percent chose 'Wonder Woman' as their favorite over seven male characters," read a letter sent out by DC to convince readers of Wonder Woman's amazingness. This comic has a value of $291,100.
The Tragic Story Makes A Debut
If you're a comic book fan, then how could you forget the tragic story of how Bruce Wayne's parent's got murdered? Thugs rob his mom for her necklace and as his dad steps in, they both get shot.
Detective Comics No. 33 is the first time that story comes to life, and the tears come in strong. With that being such a pivotal part of Batman's story, the value of this comic is vast. It sold for $341,234 on Comic Connect in 2018.
The First Of Many Sensation Comics
The Sensation Comics series featured 109 books, that mainly had stories of Wonder Woman. The first one came out in 1942 and it was the second appearance of Wonder Woman as well.
It would continue her origin story and feature the first appearance of Mister Terrific and Wildcat. With all that being true, you can imagine how much value this issue has. Would you believe that one sold for $399,100 on eBay in 2017? We can't either.