The first comic book, as we know them today, is thought to have been printed in 1933. Famous Funnies was released in the US in 1933 and was a reprinting of earlier newspaper humour comic strips. Since that time just shy of a century ago, comic books have gone on to capture the hearts and minds of people the world all over.
We doubt anyone involved with Famous Funnies in the 1930s could have predicted the powerhouse industry comic books would become – spawning icons known the world over like Batman, Superman and the Avengers – coincidentally also the most successful film franchise of all time.
With all the money brought in by comic book creations, it’s easy to forget that the comics themselves can bring in a pretty penny themselves.
The top 10 most expensive comics
10 Marvel Comics #1 – $350,000
Coming in at the perfect ten is the one that started what would become the world’s most successful film franchise of all time.
Published on October 1st 1939, this issue introduced the world to the Human Torch and Namor the Sub-Mariner.
9 Tales of Suspense #39 – $375,000
A creation from the iconic duo of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Tales of Suspense #39 was first published on March 1st 1963.
This one earns its place in the top 10 because it includes the first ever appearance of Iron Man.
Tony Stark – and his suited superhero moniker – would go on to play a hugely important role in the development of the Marvel franchise, and he’d get a much-needed makeover too.
8 Flash Comics #1 – $450,000
The first appearance of the Flash, one of the most enduring icons from DC.
It was published on November 20th 1939, and told the story of how Jay Garrick, a student at Midwestern University, inhaled some hard water gas fumes in a lab accident and became the world’s fastest superhero.
When this issue sold for $450,000 in 2010 it was, at the time, the second-largest amount a comic book had ever sold for. The fact that it’s now at number eight should be inspiration enough for all your collectors and sellers out there to keep buying and protecting your collection – you just never know what it could be worth.
7 X-Men #1 – $492.937.50
You’d be in seventh heaven if you had this, the seventh most expensive comic book ever sold.
Published on September 10th 1963, X Men #1 (sometimes known as Uncanny X Men #1) introduced the world to ‘the strangest super-heroes of all time.’ The X-Men have gone on to become a juggernaut (pun not intended) of a franchise, spawning spin-offs, cartoons, movies, alternative universes and much more.
This issue, created by the Marvel dream team of Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, features the first appearances of Magneto, Cyclops, Beast and Jean Grey.
6 Batman #1 – $567,625
The first Batman-titled comic (but not the first appearance of Batman, more on that later…), Batman #1 was published on April 24th 1940.
In this issue, we get the first appearance of The Joker and The Cat (who would, of course, go on to become Catwoman), as well as the backstory of Bruce Wayne’s parents.
Written by Bill Finger, the issue follows two narrative stories – one is The Joker announcing his plans to steal some priceless gems over the radio. He leaves his victims with that signature grin – forcing Batman to intervene. And thus, a lifelong feud that has been played out in all formats was born.
The second story shows the Caped Crusader in a different light to how many modern audiences see him now. Robin, the Boy Wonder, is investigating jewellery theft on board a yacht. In this tale, though, Batman turns up to actually let the villain escape. The seductress The Cat gets away with it, as Batman is shown to be enchanted by The Cat’s eyes.
5 All-Star Comics #8 – $936,223
Fetching just under a million dollars on eBay in 2017, All-Star Comics #8 earns its spot as the fifth most expensive comic ever sold by holding the title of Wonder Woman’s first appearance.
Released in October 1941 and written by William Moulton Marston, this story focuses on the Justice Society of America, but comic-book collectors know the true value lies in the introduction of Wonder Woman’s origin story.
4 Detective Comics #27 – $1.075 Million
It’s hard to imagine a world without Batman, but until May 1939 that was the case.
Detective Comics is an important piece of comic book history and is best known for the debut appearance of Batman, in a featured story called ‘The Case of the Chemical Syndicate.’
For a time, in 2010, this was the world’s most expensive comic book ever sold.
3 Amazing Fantasy #15 – $1.1 Million
Another big debut appearance slinging this issue into the top three of the most valuable comics ever, Amazing Fantasy #15 published in August 1962 introduced the world to their friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man.
Created by Steve Ditko, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the sales for Amazing Fantasy #15 proved to be one of Marvel’s highest at the time, inspiring the company to launch the The Amazing Spider-Man seven months later.
In 2001’s The Greatest Marvels of All Time published by Marvel, Amazing Fantasy #15 came out on top.
2 Action Comics #1 – $1.5 Million
Considered the holy grail of comic collectables by many collectors and fans, Action Comics #1 features the debut appearance of Superman.
Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster’s first iteration of the superhero was published in May 1938, selling for 10 cents a piece.
Since then at least four copies of the issue have sold for more than a million dollars.
1 Action Comics #1 – $3.2 Million
Not a mistake – the world’s two most expensive comic books are the same issue.
The only difference is the condition it was sold in.
In 2014, a higher quality copy of Superman’s debut appearance sold for over three million dollars.
Which of these would be in your dream collection? Comment below!