Comics are books or magazines that narrate a story through illustrations on strips or frames. They are a combination of visual and textual information. In fact, comics are versatile mediums because they make use of a mixture of different elements like cartoons, sounds, and dialog. Originally, comics were considered children’s literature, but this concept changed some decades ago. During the 60s, comics became a medium of expression discussing serious themes and targeting adult audiences.
Today, comics are a popular form of entertainment for kids and adults alike. There are many reasons for their popularity. Comics are accessible to everyone – even those who can’t read can look at the illustration and enjoy the story. The beautiful illustrations in comics also give people a chance to enjoy great artistry. In addition, there are many genres in comics: science fiction, adventure, fantasy, horror, and romance. So there is something for everyone. However, superhero comics are the most popular comic genre in most countries.
With the advancement of technology, comics are no longer limited to books. Most of our beloved comics have developed into cartoons, TV shows, movie franchises, and video games. Today, most comic heroes have become household names. Who doesn’t know about iconic characters like Spider-Man, Superman, Batman, or the Hulk? With this great popularity, older comic books have easily achieved the status of valuable collectibles.
Did you know that some comic books are worth more than $1 million? The CGC (the Certified Guaranty Company) reports that there were eight book sales over the $1 million mark in 2021 alone. In the first half of 2022, there were nine huge sales, each over $1 million. In fact, some of the most expensive purchases listed in this article are from 2022 sales.
What makes a comic book so expensive? Well, there are several factors affecting the value of a comic book. One of the main factors is the age of the comic book. If the comic is from the 70s or an earlier period, there’s a bigger chance of it being valuable. Another important factor is having a lower issue number. The lower the issue number, the more valuable a comic tends to be. Generally, issue number one (#1) is more valuable than others. However, this is not always the case. The characters appearing in the book can also make it more expensive. Having iconic characters like Spiderman, Superman, or the Hulk can also make the value of a comic book skyrocket. In fact, the first appearance or the origin story of a character can make a comic book more valuable. For example, Amazing Fantasy #15, which has the first appearance of Spider-Man, is more valuable than #1 the issue number one. Even a comic book featuring the first appearance of a popular villain like Joker or Magneto can fetch mind-boggling prices.
The grade of a comic book also has a huge impact on its value. The grade of a comic book describes how good or bad its condition is. These grades are given by the Comic Book Certification Service (CBCS) and are based on a score out of 10. 10 (gem mint) is the highest grade awarded to a comic book. To be awarded a 10, the book must be in perfect condition and have no evidence of any manufacturing or handling defects. 0.5 is the lowest grade and indicates that the book has a number of major defects, with some pieces missing. Naturally, a comic book that is well-read and torn up is less valuable than a book in mint condition.
In this article, we will be looking at some of the most valuable comic books of all time. The books are listed in ascending order (from lower values to higher values). The first place in the list, i.e., the position of the most expensive comic book, goes to Action Comics #1, which features the first appearance of the legendary Superman.
Use Up/Down vote buttons and comment section under each list item to tell us your opinion and rank these based on your preference.
1 The Incredible Hulk #1 - $326,000
Witness the birth of the green giant - Dr. Bruce Banner, aka the Hulk, the strongest man alive. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, this comic was published by Marvel Comics in 1962. Today, everyone knows the Hulk as a green giant, but in his first appearance, Hulk was illustrated in grey! The original series only ran for six issues and was canceled in March 1963, and the second volume was issued in April 1968. The first issue of The Incredible Hulk fetched a price of $326,000 at an auction in 2014.
"Hulk1” ( Fair use) via Commons Wikimedia
2 Flash Comics #1 - $450,000
This first issue of Flash comics published by DC Comics in 1940 marks the debut of the Flash, aka Jay Garrick. This classic Flash story tells us how he was bestowed with superhuman powers after a laboratory accident in which he inhaled DNA-altering vapor. It also features the first appearance of Hawkman and Johnny Thunder. In 2010, it was sold for $450,000.
“Flash Comics (Jan. 1940)-1” (Fair use) via Commons Wikimedia
3 X-men #1 - $807,300
X-men was the first ever comic book to introduce the idea of Mutants, humans who are born with an X-gene, which gives grants them natural superhuman abilities. #1 of X-men marks the first appearance of mutants like Professor X, Magneto, Iceman, Angel, Marvel Girl, Cyclops, and Beast. Created by Stan Lees and Jack Kirbys in 1963, this comic did not receive a warm reception from comic lovers and was canceled in 1970. Interest rekindled in 1975 for X-men, and it eventually became a huge success, with millions of fans around the world. Mutants also later appeared in many books, TV shows, and movies. A near-mint copy of this issue attracted many bids on Comic Connect and was finally sold for $807,300 in June 2021.
“Magneto debut” By (Fair use) via Commons Wikimedia
4 Fantastic Four #1 - $1.5 million
Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, this issue, published in 1961, marks the beginning of the adventures of the Fantastic Four, a team of superheroes who gain supernatural powers after exposure to cosmic rays. The four superheroes featured in this book are Mister Fantastic (Reed Richards), Invisible Woman (Susan Storm), the Human Torch (Johnny Storm), and the Thing (Ben Grimm). It was, in fact, the first superhero team title to be produced by Marvel Comics and is one of the few Marvel titles from the Silver Age of Comic Books. In April 2022, a copy of this issue sold for a staggering $1.5 million.
“Fantastic Four vol.1-1 (Nov. 1961)” (Fair use) via Commons Wikimedia
5 All Star Comics #8 - $1.6 million
All Star Comics #8, published in 1942, marks the first appearance of the legendary Wonder Woman. It's interesting to note that this is the only comic book in this list of most valuable comic books of all time to have a notable female superhero. The character and story of Wonder Woman were created by William Moulton Marston and H. G. Peter. The character of Wonder Woman became so popular that she was later featured as the protagonist of Sensation Comics. In June 2022, a copy of the All Star Comics # 8 was sold for $1.6 million.
“Cover of All Star Comics #8” via DC Fandom
6 Detective Comics #27 - $1.74 million
Did you know that Detective Comics #27 marks the very first appearance of the iconic Batman? Batman appeared in a six-page story, which also introduced the character of Commissioner Gordon. It was created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger and published in1939 by DC Comics. This comic is said to be very hard to find in mint condition and is considered to be one of the most valuable comics of all time. In May 2022, it was sold at Goldin Auctions for a jaw-dropping amount of $1.74 million.
"Detective Comics 27 (May 1939)" (Fair use) via Commons Wikimedia
7 Batman #1 - $2.2 million
Batman's first solo comic appearance introduces him as the antisocial wealthy billionaire: Bruce Wayne. It also iterates how he lost both his parents in a mugging when he was young. It's interesting to note that this is not the first appearance of Batman in a comic book. The character of Batman first appears in a comic book in 1939: Detective Comics published by DC comics. However, Batman #1 marks the appearance of two of his archenemies: the Joker and Catwoman. This book scooped up a pretty sum of $2.2 million at Heritage Auctions in January 2021.
“Batman Comic Book - NARA - 595420” By Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson - US National Archives and Records Administration (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia
8 Marvel Comics #1 - $2.42 million
This is the first-ever issue of Marvel Comics, making it the origin of the Marvel Universe. Issued in October 1939, this comic features the first appearance of both human torch and Submariner Marvel. The comics quickly sold out 80,000 copies, which prompted a second printing. Today, Marvel Comics is one of the biggest companies in the world. In March 2022, a copy of this comic book was sold for a staggering 2.42 million at Comic Connect.
“Marvel Comics1” (Fair use) via Commons Wikimedia
9 Captain America #1 - $3.1 million
This is the comic that introduced the most iconic World War II legend in the Marvel Universe - Captain America. It also introduced his young sidekich Ally Bucky Barnes. This patriotic superhero was created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. Interestingly, the cover of the first issue featured Captain America punching the Nazi leader Adolf Hitler. It was a controversial cover, with the political situation of the world, and sold nearly one million copies. In fact, this issue was published just a few months before the US entered World War II. In April 2022, it was auctioned for $3.1 million at Heritage Auctions.
“Captain America Comics-1 (March 1941 Timely Comics)” (Fair use) via Commons Wikimedia
10 Action Comics #7 - $3.2 million
Action Comic #7 marks the second appearance of the iconic Superman on a comic book cover. Metropolis has been captured. To save it, Superman must push the limits of his powers like never before. The cover was illustrated by Joe Shuster, the original artist and co-creator of this iconic superhero. It was published by DC Comics. This comic book was sold for an eye-watering value of $3.2 million.
“Action Comics #7” via DC Fandom
11 Amazing Fantasy #15 - $3.6 million
This issue introduced the iconic superhero Spider-Man, a new kind of superhero, a high school student who was not a sidekick. The character of Spider-Man was created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko and was published in 1962. In Spider-Man's origin story, the teenage Peter Parker gets superhuman spider-related powers from a bite of a radioactive spider. These powers include superhuman strength, agility, and speed, the ability to cling to surfaces, detect danger with his 'spider senses,' and build spider webs, and swing across large distances.
In a 2021 auction, this copy fetched a shocking 3.6 million dollars, making it one of the most valuable comic books in the world at the time.
“Amazing Fantasy 15” (Fair use) via Commons Wikimedia
12 Action Comics #1 - $5.3 million
Published in 1938, Action Comics #1 marks the first appearance of Superman, one of the first major superhero characters ever created. This iconic superhero was created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. Action Comics #1 is also considered to be the beginning of the superhero genre. It was an anthology containing eleven features, and the story of Superman was the first feature among these eleven. Action comics were published by National Allied Publications, which later came to be known as DC Comics. A copy of this comic was sold for a staggering 3.2 million dollars in 2014. But in January 2022, this record was broken by a $5.3 million purchase of a 8.0-graded Action Comics #1 in a private sale. This vintage comic was a part of Edgar Church's collection, the most famous comic book collection in the world. With this massive purchase, Action Comics #1 remains the most expensive comic book of all time.
“Action Comics 1” (Fair use) via Commons Wikimedia