Most Valuable Comic Books of the 1990s
As a comic book collector, or rather, as an investor of collectible comic books, its important to be patient. And, to maintain proper fiduciary perspective. Consider: the most valuable comic books of the 1990s are not very valuable. Not yet, anyway.
What’s important to remember about collecting comic books from the Modern Age is keep perspective. We live in an era where comic books are making a billion dollars at the box office.
The excitement and mass appeal of comic book entertainment at this very moment will become valuable nostalgia to the comic book collectors of the future.
This is the kind of valuable nostalgia that can be strategically monetized in the future. And by the future, I mean decades from now.
Why? Before listing the most valuable comic books of the 1990s, let’s briefly discuss the Golden Age and Modern Age of comic books and the differences in rarity and collector demand.
Rarity and Demand from the Golden Age to the Modern Age
Comic books are like a lot like a hybrid of a time machine and a mirror. Especially comic books that collectors covet. They reflect the politics, zeitgeist, and influences of their creators during the era of which they are published.
Superman’s first appearance in Action Comics #1 in Spring 1938 occurred over a year before the launch of WWII.The character was bulletproof, could only leap about one-eighth of a mile in that era, and couldn’t fly.
When Superman first appeared, the character launched the Golden Age of comic books and wowed readers. Superman would be an archetype for many successive characters.
Today, in the Modern Age of comic books, the character is overly saturated, overpowered, and overly familiar to readers audiences of pop culture.
Scarcity of Rarity
There are too many comic book characters today who are similar to Superman in recognition and popularity.
Moreover, modern comic books are not rare. In the Modern Age of comics, comic book publishing is slowly moving to the e-comic medium as well.
It’s the supply and demand economics of comic books, and commerce in general, that makes them valuable to collectors.
For example, the average cost of a comic book in 1938, when superman first appeared in Action Comics #1 at the dawn of the Golden Age of comic books, cost $0.10. (Or, about $1.82 in today’s money when adjusted for inflation.)
Since there are only two near-perfect copies of Action Comics #1 in existence today, they are extremely valuable. One copy sold for $3.2 million in 2014 and the other sold for $2.1 million in 2011.
The average comic book costs $4.48 per issue today. A comic book published in the Modern Age is not as rare, or nearly as valuable, as a rare comic book published in the Golden age from 1938. Not yet anyway.
New Mutants #85 (February 1991) Marvel
Do you know the reason why Ryan Reynolds, who is now globally synonymous with the fourth wall breaking, wisecracking superhero Deadpool, secured the part?
Reynolds’s first attempt to headline a comic book film franchise, 2011’s disastrous live-action Green Lantern, sidelined his securement of the Deadpool role for years.
In fact, legend has it that the Deadpool project he tried to launch was being rejected. Tim Miller, a noted video game designer and aspiring film director, was hired to direct the live action Deadpool in 2011.
However, filming didn’t begin until 2015. Also, there is another legend that Miller, or someone in his department, leaked a pre-visual demo for a Deadpool stunt sequence online before filming began.
The stunt worked. Although not the sole reason, the leaked stunt pre-visuals created a fan fervor that couldn’t be ignored. Deadpool (2016) and its sequel Deadpool 2 (2018) collectively grossed over $1.5 billion at the box office.
However, if comic book artist Rob Liefeld hadn’t created the Deadpool character way back in 1991, Reynolds would never have assumed the role he was born to play.
Deadpool made his first appearance in the pages of the X-Men spinoff comic book New Mutants #85 in February 1991. The character was created by writer Fabian Nicieza and artist Rob Liefeld.
Deadpool began life as deadly supervillain but has since morphed into an antihero. And, a bankable household name due to Reynold’s portrayal.
A copy of New Mutants #85 with a CGC grade of 10.0, which means the copy is in perfect mint condition) sold for $15,500 in 2013.
The Batman Adventures #12 (September 1993) DC Comics
Australian actress Margot Robbie boosted her international career and became a household name after appearing in the 2016 film Suicide Squad.
The film was a critical failure but grossed almost $750 million at the box office. Will Smith starred as the expert assassin Deadshot, Jared Leto portrayed the newest iteration of the Joker, and even Ben Affleck appeared in the film as Bruce Wayne/Batman.
However, it was Robbie’s riveting portrayal as Harley Quinn that absolutely stole the film and made a lasting impression on audiences.
Avid comic book fans have always known about Harley Quinn, but Suicide Squad introduced the character to non-comic book reading audiences.
Harley Quinn Origin
So, in what comic book did Harley Quinn make her comic book debut?
Trick question! Real comic book fans know that Harley Quinn first appeared in the cartoon Batman: The Animated Series in September 1992.
Dr. Harleen Quinzel was a psychologist working at Arkham Asylum working on a project to cure the Joker of his murdurous insanity.
Instead, Quinzel’s mentality and personality was corrupted by the Joker and transformed her into his lover and sycophant Harley Quinn.
However, Harley Quinn is now an independent antihero in modern comic books. The character’s first comic book appearance was in The Batman Adventures #12 in 1993.
In April 2016, a copy of this comic with a CGC grade of 9.8 sold for $1,800.
This sale occurred a few months before the Suicide film opened, so it’s value will certainly go up in the long-term future.
Value is in the Future
As collector of Modern Age comics, it’s important to keep perspective. In an era of relatively larger print runs, there are no scarcity of copies.
The value of such comics, in an age of billion-dollar movies, will accrue in the long-term future.