Million Dollar Comics: The Most Expensive Comic Books of All Time

A copy of Action Comics #1, graded a 8.5 by CGC, recently sold for a record $3,250,000. This sale comes as no big surprise to comic book collectors, investors, or even casual pop culture enthusiasts. If you’ve been following pop culture collectibles, even peripherally, you’ve likely seen a headline or two over the years about a copy of Action Comics #1 breaking a new record. Even casual fans could probably guess that the comic with the first appearance of Superman would have the title of most valuable comic.

Vincent Zurzolo at Metropolis Comics (which brokered the recent sale) in New York says that he doesn’t see the market slowing down anytime soon. In fact, he worked with the Action Comics seller to obtain the book back in 2018 for $2,000,000—which means that the investor was able to see over a 62% price increase in a little over 2 years.

All of this then begs two questions: what other comics are worth over $1,000,000 and which one could be next?

Below are some other grail comics to keep your eye on that have previously sold for seven figures – and our bet on what’s next.

Detective Comics #27 for $1,500,000

Detective Comics #27

Late in 2020, Heritage Auctions sold a copy of Detective Comics #27 for $1,500,000. Batman’s first appearance in this book makes it the second highest selling comic book issue of all time, right behind Action Comics #1. This particular issue was graded 7.0 by CGC, making it one of the highest graded copies known to exist. According to the CGC census, there is an unrestored copy graded in a 9.2 which would likely shatter the current all time high price for this book if it ever comes to market.

Amazing Fantasy #15 for $1,100,000

Amazing Fantasy #15

The highest price for Amazing Fantasy #15, featuring the first appearance of Spider-Man, was set back in 2011, when a near-mint copy graded CGC 9.6 was sold by New York dealers ComicConnect for $1,100,000. Years ago, no one would have guessed that a comic book from the silver age (roughly 1956-1970) like this one would sell for over $1,000,000. Silver age comics were produced with collectors in mind, thus increasing their supply significantly compared to the rarer golden age comics (like Action Comics #1 and Detective Comics #27).

Could we see Amazing Fantasy #15 surpass Detective Comics #27 with a sale price over $1,500,000 soon? Perhaps if a few conditions are met. There are currently 4 copies of AF15 on the CGC census, graded at a 9.6 unrestored (meaning no one has tried to make it grade higher by taping things together or recoloring parts of the book). The current fair market value is estimated at $1,400,000 in the grade of 9.6. Given current market trends, and how well Marvel books have been selling compared to DC, if one of those four books are put out into the market, you could very well see that book sell for over $1,500,000.

What’s next?

To take a guess at what might be the next seven-figure comic, it’s important to understand the factors that need to be met in order for a book to hit that record high status.

1) The book needs to have historical significance.

2) It needs to feature the first appearance of an iconic character.

3) There needs to be a limited supply available.

4) Lastly, it has to have appeal beyond comic book collectors.

You can easily see that the three comic books I mentioned above meet this criteria all featuring the first appearance of a major character. Action Comics kicked off the superhero genre while Amazing Fantasy changed how superheroes were written and portrayed. All of them are hard to find in high grade, feature iconic/dynamic covers, and all appeal to anyone that enjoys pop culture in general. So, with this in mind, is there another book that meets this criteria?

Our bet: Captain America Comics #1

Captain America Comics #1

With the most recent sale being in 2019 at $915,00 for a 9.4 CGC graded copy (2 total on the census) and the fact that there is a 9.8 grade (1 total) floating around out there, this could easily be the next $1,000,000 comic book sold.

What makes this comic stand out? It boasts the first appearance of Captain America, Bucky, and the Red Skull all in the same book. With the success of the Marvel cinematic universe, Captain America has become a household name, much like Superman and Batman. This book features an iconic and historically significant cover of Captain America punching out Hitler. Beyond that, there are only 6 copies graded at 9.0 or better on the CGC census. We would bet that a lot of people will want this book in their collection—and some of them will be willing to pay over $1,000,000 to get it.

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