Most Valuable First Appearance Comics To Invest In
Most Valuable First Appearance Comics To Invest In

Most Valuable First Appearance Comics To Invest In

Superman save the day? More like saves the dough. His first appearance comic bagged over $3.2 million on the secondary market. Here’s why first appearances make for a super-powered investment.

Comic Books

Comic Books



Long Term Growth

Long Term Growth

Comic book characters are hotter than ever. Movies like the Marvel Cinematic Universe and DC Extended Universe sagas, animations like Spider-Man Into The Spiderverse, and video games like Arkham Knight, Gotham Knight, and Spiderman PS4 have all been major successes in the entertainment market.

And what do all these ultra-successful properties have in common? They’re based on the stories first written decades ago in comic books.

Comic books featuring the first appearances of icons such as Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Spiderman, and The Incredible Hulk have become coveted artifacts of comic book history.

While these characters have since taken a life of their own in new media projects, early titles like Flash ComicsDetective Comics, Action ComicsAmazing Fantasy, and All American Comics have become niche collectibles, with the most valuable issues doubling as lucrative investments.

So take off your disguise glasses and grab your mask to flesh out the best first appearance comic books to collect.

Why are first appearance comics so valuable?

First appearance comics are as popular and valuable as the heroes they gave us. For example, a mint condition copy of Batman’s first appearance in Detective Comics #27 sold for a record-breaking $2.2 million in 2021. Had Batman not been as popular and iconic as he is, his initial appearance would not have been so sought-after.

Another factor is age—the most valuable first appearances in comics are the ones that date back to what comic book aficionados call “The golden age” which covers the 1930s through 1950s. This era is when iconic DC and Marvel comics made their debut. The 1930s gave us Batman and Superman’s first appearances in Action Comics #1 and Detective Comics #27, respectively.

A copy of Action Comics #1 broke records when it sold for $3 million in 2021.

The 40s were iconic for the first Captain America comics, Wonder Woman comics, and the continuation of DC comics’ most popular series at the time, such as More Fun Comics, giving us the first appearance of the golden age Justice Society team, Whiz Comics giving us the first appearance of Captain Marvel AKA Shazam, and All American Comics and Flash Comics for giving us the first appearances of the first Green Lantern and Flash: Alan Scott and Jay Garrick.

The golden age issues are rare and hard to find in mint condition, so they sell for such high numbers. Of course, nothing beats the most iconic superhero, Superman, as his first appearance issue of Action Comics #1 sold for an unprecedented $3.5 million.

The golden age isn’t the only perfect period to invest in. While these were the ideal decades for DC comics fans to collect first appearance issues, Marvel comics fans would get more for their buck with 60s comics, as the 1960s were considered the birth period of what Marvel is now, with first appearances in series like Invincible Iron ManAmazing Fantasy with the first appearance of the Amazing Spider-Man, the first appearances of the Fantastic Four, Silver Surfer, and the X-Men.

While DC Comics’s golden age issues are valuable for the impact Superman and Batman have had across history, the popularity of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has caused Marvel Comics issues to skyrocket, especially silver age issues. This is evident by the first appearance issue of Iron Man in Tales of Suspense #39, which sold for $375,000 around the same time as the release of the first Avengers movie in 2012.

Most expensive first appearance comics to invest in

The most valuable first appearance issues are also the most iconic. The first appearance of a character like the Joker far overpowers a first appearance of a character like Marvel’s Squirrel Girl, so for popularity’s sake, interested collectors need to keep an eye out for theirs, their dad’s, and their granddad’s favorite superheroes.

1. Superman #1

  • Price Range: $500,000 to $5.3 million
  • Highest Sale Price: $5.3 million
  • Supply: 174
  • Brand: D.C. Comics 

A 6.0 CGC-graded copy of Superman #1 sold for a record-breaking $5.3 million in January 2022.

While Superman #1 is not the first appearance issue of the Man of Steel (That honor goes to Action Comics #1), this issue has played a major role in cementing Superman’s history and lore across pop culture and its impact on the history of comic books is undeniable.

This issue features the first appearance of Superman’s birth parents, Jonathan and Martha Kent, and the first mention of Superman’s home planet, Krypton. This issue was the first to showcase Superman’s now iconic origin story of being sent from the doomed planet of Krypton to Earth to be adopted by the Kents in Smallville.

The issue features six iconic stories: The Coming of Superman, Clark Kent Gets A Job, Revolution in Sante Monte, The Blakely Mine Disaster, and Superman Gridiron Hero. The issue was penned and inked by Superman’s creators, Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster, and the cover showcasing Superman flying high over the towers of Metropolis has been an iconic Superman image for over eighty years.

Due to this iconography, the issue holds the record for the most expensive comic book ever sold, dethroning the previous record holder, Spiderman’s Amazing Fantasy #15.

2. Action Comics #1

  • Price Range: $500,000 to $3,000,000
  • Highest Sale Price: $3.5 million
  • Supply: 76
  • Brand: D.C. Comics 

A CGC 6.0 Action Comics #1 sold for $3.55 million on January 24, 2023.

Action Comics #1 is a stepping stone for comic books, considered the true beginning of superheroes in pop culture. While comic books had been around for decades before it with pulp heroes like The Phantom, the first appearance of Superman in Action Comics #1 marked the beginning of the age of superheroes that continues to this day.

Action Comics #1 by Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster features the Man of Steel in his first story, Superman: Champion of The Oppressed. It also features the first appearance of Superman’s intrepid partner, Lois Lane, and The Daily Star, the newspaper Clark Kent and Lois Lane used to work in before it was renamed The Daily Planet in subsequent reboots and retcons.

The iconic cover of Superman smashing a green car has become so iconic that it has been recreated several times in media, such as Superman Returns and the CW’s Superman and Lois. While it’s hard to tell how much a mint condition copy of this issue could fetch, the copy fetching a record sale of $3.5 million was graded CGC 6.0, meaning a CGC 9.0 or above could reach an unfathomable price.

3. Detective Comics #27

  • Price Range: $175,000 to $3.5 million
  • Highest Sale Price: $1.74 million
  • Supply: 75
  • Brand: D.C. Comics

A CGC 6.5 Detective Comics #27 sold for $1.74 million on May 21, 2022.

Detective Comics #27 marked the iconic debut of Batman. Released back in 1939 just a year after Superman’s first appearance, this issue became so popular that Batman completely overtook the Detective Comics series.

In the story, The Case of The Chemical Syndicate, Bob Kane and Bill Finger introduced the world to Batman, his alter ego of Bruce Wayne, and his trusted partner Commissioner Gordon.

This particular issue has fetched six figures several times. such as a CGC 8.0 that sold for $1 million, and a CGC 7.0 graded copy that first sold for $1.5 million before fetching the highest sale price of $1.74 million.

4. Batman #1

  • Price Range: $25,000 to $568,000
  • Highest Sale Price: $2.2 million 
  • Supply: 298
  • Brand: D.C. Comics

A CGC 9.4 Batman #1 sold for $2.2 million on January 14, 2021.

Similarly to Superman #1Batman #1 by Bob Kane and Bill Finger marked the beginning of Batman’s titular series a year after Detective Comics #1. This issue expanded on Batman’s lore significantly, with the first appearances of his sidekick Robin, The Boy Wonder, his parents Thomas and Marths, their killer Joe Chill, and Batman’s most iconic villains, The Joker and Catwoman. The issue is also memorable for introducing The Dark Knight’s origin story of losing his parents as a child.

The record sale issue of $1.74 million is an example of a hefty profit, as it was bought in 1979 by a collector for only $3,000 and passed down to his son, who made the fortune on his dad’s investment decades prior.

5. Captain America Comics #1

  • Price Range: $460,000 to $1.5 million
  • Highest Sale Price: $3.12 million
  • Supply: 11
  • Brand: Timely Comics

A CGC 9.4 Captain America Comics #1 sold for $3.12 million on April 7, 2022.

Long before Chris Evans brought Captain America to life earning hundreds of millions of dollars in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Star Spangled Man made his first appearance in Captain America Comics #1 in 1940, becoming the first iconic Marvel character in the golden age.

The issue, by Jack Kirby and Joe Simon, features the first appearance of Captain America AKA Steve Rogers, his sidekick Bucky, the villainous Red Skull, and the first appearance of the source of Captain America’s power, the Super Soldier serum. The comic was groundbreaking at the time for its cover of Captain America punching Adolf Hitler.

With a limited supply of 11 CGC-graded copies compared to other series, the value of this issue jumped dramatically from $900,000 in 2019 to the record sale of $3.12 million in 2022.

6. Marvel Comics #1

  • Price Range: $700,000 to $2 million
  • Highest Sale Price: $2.4 million
  • Supply: 67
  • Brand: Timely Comics 

A CGC 9.2 Marvel Comics #1 sold for over $2.4 million on March 17, 2022.

Before Captain America smashed records in 1940, Marvel Comics #1 was a massive ensemble issue that introduced several characters before the more well-known Marvel characters like Iron Man, the X-Men, and the Fantastic Four made their debut.

Marvel Comics #1 features the first appearances of the first Human Torch, Jim Hammond, Namor The Sub Mariner, and Kazar The Great. The issue is also sometimes referred to as Marvel Mystery Comics #1.

Considered the first issue of the Marvel Comics world (Though at the time the company was called Timely Comics), it was once the most expensive comic book issue ever sold at $350,000 in 2002 until its value jumped to another issue selling for $2.4 million two decades later.

7. Amazing Fantasy #15

  • Price Range: $625,000 to $2.3 million
  • Highest Sale Price: $3.6 million
  • Supply: 3761
  • Brand: Marvel Comics 

A CGC 9.6 Amazing Fantasy #15 sold for $3.6 million on September 9, 2021.

The first appearance issue of Spider-Man is special in many ways. At one point recently, it held the record for the most expensive comic book ever sold with a 9.6 CGC grading, dethroning Superman’s Action Comics #1 until it was dethroned again by the Man of Steel with Superman #1, the current record holder.

Released during the silver age in 1962, Amazing Fantasy #15 features the first appearance of the web-slinger, his Uncle Ben and Aunt May, notorious bully Flash Thompson, and Peter Parker’s love interest, Liz Allan.

The issue also features the iconic origin story of Spider-Man gaining his powers through the radioactive spider and the tragedy of Uncle Ben’s death that drives him to be a hero.

Amazing Fantasy #15 is one of the most CGC-graded comic book issues, with over 3,000 copies graded. Still, despite the abundance of issues available, it’s still one of the most valuable comic books ever, guaranteeing at least a few hundred thousand dollars in profit.

Are first appearance comics a good investment?

Comic books are a surprisingly effective alternative asset investment. While most investors expect higher appreciation rates from real estate or gold, some older comics like Batman Adventures #12New Mutants #98, and Marvel Superheroes #18, have shockingly appreciated thousands of percentages.

Even though investing in single issues isn’t the most profitable decision, first-appearance issues are on a totally different level, if you make the right research.

New Mutants #98 has seen a 4,900% lifetime value appreciation.

The comic book industry has never been bigger, making it a prime investment opportunity. In 2023, the comic book industry grew to be worth $16.05 billion and is projected to hit $30 billion by 2030. Now, while digital comics are a large contributor to this rise, physical print copies make the big bucks.

Obviously, not all comics hold the same value, and very few are in the coveted spot of being worth millions. Several factors contribute to the rise in the value of any comic book issue, especially a first appearance one.

The first factor to consider when investing in a comic book issue or first appearance copy is rarity. The rarer the comic book, the more valuable it will be, and while rarity and age often go hand in hand, it’s not always set in stone.

An example of this is 1993’s Venom Lethal Protector #1 White Error variant with printing errors, one of a black background in only 500 copies and one with a completely white background in only one known issue. These niche errors and ticks make these issues a gold mine for those passionate about comic book collecting, even though it might pass under the radar of a usual collector.

The second thing to consider when buying first appearance comics is rating. The CGC (Certified Guarantee Company) has created a very comprehensive grading system for comic book issues. This system helps to appraise each issue for elements that could drive up value significantly, like the presence or lack of manufacturing or handling defects.

The CGC grading scale goes from 1 to 10, with 10 being a very unlikely perfect mind condition and 1 being a very poor copy. The higher the grade, the higher the value of the comic book in differences of thousands or even millions of dollars.

For example, a copy of Superman #1 sold for $5.3 million, and the most shocking fact was that it was graded by the CGC at 8.0, not even in the ideal 9 to 10 range, meaning a copy should be in even better condition showing up somewhere, it would be worth more than $5 million.

Other comics that went for unbelievable numbers were a CGC-graded Action Comics #1 at $3.5 million and an Amazing Fantasy #15 copy graded at 9.6, selling for $3.5 million.

Getting a comic book graded by the CGC does cost money and could take some time, but it would add a hefty price tag on a collectible that you may not have thought to be worth much in the first place. In 2022 alone, nine comic book issues graded by the CGC were sold for over $1 million.

The third thing to remember when investing in a first appearance issue is to choose according to the character's popularity. While DC Comics used to dominate the cultural zeitgeist in the 90s and 2000s, Marvel Comics collectibles have far exceeded DC’s popularity in the past decade.

As a result, Marvel characters like Spider-Man, Captain America, Iron Man, Iron Fist, the Fantastic Four, and more are probably smarter choices to invest in rather than characters like Green Lantern or Green Arrow. Still, some DC characters like Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman will retain their popularity no matter what.

The last step towards your first appearance comic book issues investment journey is finding the medium. eBay is the most popular channel for buying and selling comic books where some of the most expensive issues have sold. However, when buying online, looking out for everything genuine, such as CGC grades is important.

The safer but ultimately more costly option is to auction. Vintage comic book issues have been sold at auctions for decades, and sites like Heritage Auctions make the process much smoother. Even though it’s a more complicated process than simply getting a copy on eBay, it guarantees authenticity.

The third option, which is more common for trading cards and figures is pawn shops. Still, it’s very difficult to find a mint condition CGC 9 issue of an old comic book worth millions lying around in a pawn shop selling for $30, but miracles do happen. People often have no idea the value of the collectible under their noses.

What’s important to note is that comics differ from the usual investments. Like cards, figures, and pops, you’ll likely make small profits unless you spend a lot of money upfront on something like a vintage first appearance issue and hope it doesn’t depreciate. While it’s a low-risk, low-reward option for more common issues, the risk factor rises considerably with the higher-value issues.