Rare comic books are a valuable commodity. They can be worth thousands, even tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars. Even over one million!
Brief History of Comic Books
Comic books began in the 1930s. Although they were originally reprints of newspaper comics, superheroes quickly joined the comic book ranks.
The first superhero comic book is often cited as being Action Comics #1, which featured the debut of Superman. This book was published in June 1938 by National Allied Publications, which would later become DC Comics. Action Comics would go on to become one of the most popular and enduring comic book series of all time.
Comics evolved over time–the Golden Age of comic books was a time when comics were simple and straightforward, with heroes fighting villains and doing good deeds. The Silver Age of comic books marked a shift towards more complex storylines and characters. This era also saw the rise of Marvel Comics, which would eventually become one of the biggest names in the comic book industry.
Lastly, the Bronze Age and the Modern Age of comic books have been a time when comics became more adult-oriented, with mature themes and darker storylines, marking them as controversial among comic fans.
Today, comic books are more popular than ever. They are collected by fans all over the world and can be worth a great deal.
Rare Comic Books
It may seem unbelievable to a non-collector, but for avid collectors, hunting for comic books is a fun (and possibly quite lucrative) hobby.
There are many comic books that are considered to be rare and valuable. Here are the top 25 most valuable comic books of all time, counting backward from 25 to 1.
#25 – Justice League of America No. 1
This is the first issue of the Justice League of America, which was published in November 1960. It features the Justice League, which includes Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Flash (Barry Allen), Martian Manhunter, and Green Lantern (Hal Jordan).
This isn’t their first appearance, as our introduction to the Justice League was in The Brave and the Bold No. 28. But this particular comic book is valuable because it’s their first time as a team in their own book.
It had a CGC grade of 9.6 and sold for $215,100 in 2018.
#24 – Fantastic Comics No. 3
Issued in February 1940, this Golden Age comic book edition actually didn’t introduce any particular hero that we know and love today. What makes it notable is the striking cover by artist Lou Fine of Samson beating down a massive robot.
This particular copy of Fantastic Comics No. 3 was graded at 9.4 by CGC and sold for $243,000 in 2017.
#23 – Pep Comics No. 22
This is the first appearance of Archie Andrews, one of the most popular and enduring comic book characters of all time. Published in December 1941, this fantastic comic book features Archie and his friends Betty Cooper and Jughead Jones.
Archie was such a hit that they’re still publishing his comics even today! This 1941 copy was graded at 8.0 by CGC and sold for $252,100 in 2017.
#22 – Action Comics No. 10
As the third cover appearance of Superman, this comic book is valuable for its historic place in comics history. This edition was published in March 1939 and features Superman taking on a villainous prison ward.
This copy of Action Comics No. 10 was graded at 9.0 by CGC and sold for $258,000 in 2011.
#21 – Suspense Comics No. 3
This comic book was published in April 1944 and is most notably remembered due to the suspenseful and striking cover art, executed by comic artist Alex Schomburg. It was produced at the height of the Golden Age, and is recognizable to many collectors.
This copy of Suspense Comics No. 3 was graded at 9.2 by CGC and sold for $262,900 in 2017.
#20 – The Amazing Spider-Man No. 1
This is the first issue of The Amazing Spider-Man, which was published in March 1963. It’s sought after because of being the 1st appearance of the Chameleon. The Fantastic Four also appear in this issue, though not for their first time on the page.
A copy of The Amazing Spider-Man No. 1 was graded at 9.6 and sold at auction for $262,900 in 2016.
#19 – The Avengers No. 1
Written by Stan Lee, the Avengers No. 1 is one of the most valuable comic books in existence. An almost-perfect condition copy made a record sale price of $274,850 in 2012.
Featuring Thor, Iron Man, Hulk, Ant-Man, and the Wasp, it’s the first appearance of the team that would go on to become one of the most popular superhero groups of all time. The book is also notable for its iconic cover by Jack Kirby, which has been adapted numerous times over the years.
The Avengers No. 1 was published by Marvel Comics in 1963 and is considered to be one of the most important comic books ever published.
#18 – Journey Into Mystery No. 83
This issue gives us our introduction to Thor, who was sent to earth by Odin, his father, with his memories erased so that he may work as a geeky scientist with no idea he’s actually the Asgardian god of thunder. Of course, chaos ensues and he’s able to come into his own and save the day.
It was originally published by Marvel Comics in 1962 and was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. In 2014, a copy with a CGC grade of 9.4 sold for $275,000 at auction.
Journey Into Mystery No. 83 is considered to be one of the most important issues in Marvel history, as it introduced one of the most popular and enduring superhero characters of all time.
#17 – Whiz Comics No. 2
The second issue of Whiz Comics introduced the world to DC’s Captain Marvel, who would go on to become a very popular superhero.
Created by C.C. Beck and Bill Parker, Captain Marvel and Shazam first appeared in Whiz Comics No. 2, which was published by Fawcett Comics in 1940.
A copy of the comic in near-mint condition was recently sold at auction for $281,000 in 2012, making it one of the most valuable comic books in the world.
#16 – Wonder Woman No. 1
The first issue of Wonder Woman was published by DC Comics in 1942 and introduced the world to one of the most iconic superheroines of all time. Created by William Moulton Marston, Wonder Woman is a powerful Amazon warrior who fights for justice and equality.
In 2016, a copy of this comic was sold at auction for $291,100.
#15 – Fantastic Four No. 1
This comic book was published in November 1961 and is the first appearance of the Fantastic Four–Mister Fantastic, the Invisible Girl, the Human Torch, and the Thing. This is regarded as one of the most significant superhero debuts in the Silver Age of Comic Books.
The comic book has a CGC grade of 9.4 and was sold at an auction for $300,000.
#14 – The Incredible Hulk No. 1
This comic book was published in May 1962 and is the origin story of the Incredible Hulk. In this issue, we are introduced to Dr. Bruce Banner, who is transformed into the Hulk after a gamma radiation experiment goes wrong.
The Incredible Hulk No. 1 is considered to be one of the most important comic books ever published, as it introduced one of the most popular Marvel characters. The comic book has a CGC grade of 9.2 and was sold in 2014 for $326,000.
#13 – Detective Comics No. 33
This comic book was published in November 1939 and is the origin story of Batman. In this issue, we meet young Bruce Wayne, who becomes Batman after witnessing the terrible murder of his parents. This comic is highly valuable due to its age and condition, as well as its significance in the history of Batman.
A copy of the comic book with a CGC grade of 9.2 sold for $341,234 in 2018.
#12 – Tales of Suspense No. 39
This comic book by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby was published in 1963 and is the first appearance of Iron Man. In this issue, we meet Tony Stark, a billionaire businessman and genius engineer who creates a suit of armor to save his life after being captured by terrorists.
This is a very important debut in the Silver Age of Comics, as Iron Man is an iconic figure we still recognize and love even today. A near-mint issue sold for $375,000 in 2012.
#11 – Sensation Comics No. 1
This comic book was published in 1942 and is the first appearance of Wonder Woman. In this issue, we meet Diana and experience her origin story, as well as the introduction to Wildcat and Mister Terrific.
Wonder Woman has been a groundbreaking character since her debut, being one of the earliest examples of a strong and capable female superhero.
It sold in 2017 for $399,100 on eBay with an amazing 9.6 CGC rating.
#10 – Flash Comics No. 1
This comic book was published in 1940 and is the origin story of the Flash. In this issue, we meet Jay Garrick, a college student who gains super-speed after inhaling heavy water vapor.
This is one of the earliest examples of a superhero with super-speed powers. We also meet other characters such as Hawkman.
A 9.6 copy sold for an amazing $450,000 in 2010.
#9 – X-Men No. 1
This amazing comic book was published in September 1963 and is the first appearance of the X-Men. In this issue, we meet Professor Charles Xavier and his team of young mutants who use their powers to fight for peace and justice. Some of the characters you’ll meet here include Jean Grey, Magneto Cyclops, Iceman, and Beast.
This is a highly notable comic book due to the popularity of the X-Men franchise, which has been adapted into numerous movies, TV shows, and video games.
A copy with a whopping 9.8 grade sold for $492,937 in 2012.
#8 – Superman No. 1
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! This is the first appearance of Superman, who was created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. This comic book was published in 1939 and is highly sought-after by collectors.
In this issue, we meet Clark Kent, who uses his superpowers to fight for truth and justice. This is a highly valuable comic book due to its age, condition, and significance in the history of Superman. He is arguably one of the most recognizable superheroes among comic fans and novices alike.
A copy with a CGC grade of 5.5 sold for $507,500 in 2017.
#7 – Captain America Comics No. 1
Introducing Captain America! This issue was published in 1941, and there we meet Steve Rogers, a skinny young man who is transformed into a super-soldier by the government’s top secret science project.
Captain America is one of the most patriotic superheroes, and his debut during World War II makes this comic book highly collectible and valuable.
A CGC grade 9.2 copy sold for $343,057 in 2011, and then another issue with a 9.4 rating sold for an amazing $915,000 in 2019!
#6 – All-Star Comics No. 8
This comic book was published in October 1941 and shows us the episode where Doctor Mid-Nite and Starman join the Justice Society of America. In this issue, we experience some of the most iconic superheroes of the Golden Age, including Hawkman, Sandman, and The Atom.
The Justice Society of America is one of the oldest superhero teams in comic book history, and their first appearance is highly collectible.
A CGC grade 9.4 copy was sold on eBay for $936,233 in 2019.
#5 – Amazing Fantasy No. 15
This 1962 issue features Spider-Man’s first story, where Peter Parker, an orphaned teen, is bitten by a radioactive spider and gains superpowers that allow him to climb walls and more. Because of this, he is able to save lives, but he soon learns that “with great power comes great responsibility.”
This is one of the most well-known and loved superhero origin stories, as Spider-Man is a relatable character who struggles with the same problems as us regular folk.
An astounding CGC grade 9.8 copy sold for $1.1 million in 2011!
#4 – Marvel Comics No. 1
Brought to life by comic artist Carl Burgos and others, this issue is the first appearance of the Human Torch, Sub-Mariner, and Angel. The Human Torch was a character that could control fire and had the ability to fly.
In 2019, a beautiful CGC grade 9.4 copy sold at auction for an incredible $1.26 million.
#3 – Detective Comics No. 27
This book from DC Comics was published in 1939 and is the first appearance of Batman. This is one of the most important superhero debuts of all time because Batman has gone on to become one of the most popular and iconic superheroes ever.
The copy of detective comics has a CGC grade of 9.0 and was sold at an auction for $1.5 million.
#2 – Batman No. 1
This amazing comic book was published in 1940, and the reason it’s worth so much is that it’s the first appearance of Joker and Catwoman. It is also Batman’s first solo series.
One copy of this comic book, with a CGC grade of 9.2, sold at an auction for $850,000 in 2012. Another with a CGC grade of 9.4 sold for $2.2 million in 2021!
#1 – Action Comics No. 1
The most sought after comic book is Action Comics #1, which is the first appearance of the iconic Superman. This comic book was published in 1938 and only a handful of copies are known to exist in mint condition.
One copy of Action Comics #1 in mint condition (CGC grade 9.0) sold for $3.2 million in 2014, making it the most valuable comic book in the world.
Another copy of the same comic with an 8.5 rating sold for $2 million in 2018 and then again for $3.2 million in 2021 through a private sale.
Lastly, a third copy with a 9.0 rating sold for $2 million in 2011, so suffices it to say that Action Comics #1 is indeed the most sought after and valuable comic book to date.
An Amazing Legacy
As you can see, the most valuable comic books are often those that feature iconic superheroes’ first appearances or origin stories.
There’s no doubt about it–people love superhero stories. Not only are they exciting, but they also make us feel like we can do anything too. If you’re lucky enough to own one of these rare and valuable comics, then you could be sitting on a gold mine!
If you’re interested in collecting rare comic books, then do your research and be prepared to pay top dollar for a high-quality specimen. But most importantly, have fun! Comic book collecting is a great hobby for people of all ages.
Which is your favorite superhero mentioned here? Let us know in the comments below!