Top 25 Most Valuable Comic Books

August 21, 2020

Is the era of $1 billion dollar movie franchise over? It looks like it is for the foreseeable future. Wonder Woman 1984 and Black Widow were supposed to premiere this year. Both films, and numerous other blockbuster films, will be postponed due to the pandemic. The pandemic is no joking matter. The pausing of the comic book movie is a traumatic blow to popular culture. Still, I have noticed that many modern, “comic book fans,” don’t read comics. So, I want to inform such people about the 25 most valuable comic books you should know about as a potential investor.

You want my advice? Start reading comic books! The billion-dollar films you love so much get their ideas from them anyway.

And, you can start learning about investing in comic books too.

For example – you know what makes some comics very valuable? The first appearances of major characters.

Black Widow’s First Appearance

I love Scarlet Johannsson as Black Widow in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, Black Widow’s first appearance didn’t occur in 2010’s Iron Man 2.

 

The comic book character Black Widow first appeared in Tales of Suspense #52 in March 1964. This occurred during the Silver Age of comic books.

Look, none of us will be cheering in a comic book movie anytime soon.

And if you can save money movie for comic book movies in this economy, maybe you can try investing in the most valuable comic books.

Look at it this way – you can learn true comic book canon from comic books instead of from the movies.

And you can make a tidy investment.

So here are the 25 most valuable comic books.

But first, a mini style guide.

CGC Ratings and Comic Book Eras

In this ratings list of the 25 most valuable comics books I will be referring to, “CGC ratings,” and, “ages,” of comics.

The Certified Guarantee Company, or CGC, is a third-party comic book verification and rating provider. The most valuable comic books are usually verified as such by a CGC rating. The CGC rating is a 10-point scale – the higher the rating, the more the comic can be verified as being in perfect physical condition.

There are four distinct, “ages,” of comic book publication since 1938. The exact years for each age differ from person to person. There are four:

The Golden Age of comics ran from 1938 to 1956. This is the era when the superhero comic became popular.

The Silver Age of comic books ran from 1956 to 1970. Comic books were highly censored by the Comics Code authority and creatively regulated during this period.

The Bronze Age of comic books ran from 1970 to 1984. Comic books become creatively unshackled from the Comics Code Authority. Stories begin to reflect real world issues.

(The Copper Age is sometimes referred to the years between 1984 to 1991, but is not agreed upon by everyone.)

The Modern Age of comic books started in 1984 and continues to this day.

This list of the 25 most valuable comic books will go backwards from the Modern Age to the Golden Age.

25 – Preacher #1 (April 1995) Vertigo/DC Comics

Are you a fan of AMC’s Preacher? Well, it started out as a comic book in 1995.

Preacher tells the story of an amoral preacher, Jesse Custer, who gets caught in a battle between Heaven and Hell.

A copy of Preacher #1 with a 9.8 CGC rating sold for $210 in August 2020.

24 – The Walking Dead #100 – Red Foil Variant Cover Edition (June 2012) Image Comics

Jeffery Dean Morgan is one of the best actors of his generation.

But if you think his characterization of Negan, the wildly popular fan-favorite horror character, first appeared on the sixth season of The Walking Dead TV show in 2016, then it is obvious you don’t read comics much.

Negan made his first appearance earlier in the landmark 100th issue of The Walking Dead.

The Red Foil variant cover edition of this comic, which is all black and features Negan’s blood-stained bat Lucille, sold for $675 in March 2020. It has a CGC grading of 9.8.

23 – Amazing Spider-Man #700 – Steve Ditko Variant Cover (January 2013) Marvel Comics

The existence of this comic helps me to better understand why modern comic book fans, the ones who don’t read comics, don’t read comics.

Grappling with decades of comic book canon can be intimidating. Still, not a reason to not try, in my opinion.

In Amazing Spider-Man #700, Peter Parker, “died.” (Not really and not for long). This issue paved the way for Dr. Octopus to assume the Spider-Man mantle as the Superior Spider-Man for a few years. (Yes, really.)

This comic, with a variant cover drawn by Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko, sold for $700 in August 2020. It has a CGC grade of 9.8.

22 – Malibu Sun #13 (May 1992) Malibu Comics

Todd McFarlane became a superstar comic book creator in the 1990s when he and several other creators launched Image Comics.

McFarlane’s signature series is Spawn, about a murdered assassin who is reincarnated as an unwilling agent of the devil.

Spawn #1 launched in May 1992 and is still published to this day. It was adapted into a film in 1997 and may be soon be rebooted with Jamie Foxx in the lead role.

The first appearance of Spawn technically occurred in a promotional comic, Malibu Sun #13, right before the comic’s official launch at Image.

A copy of this comic with a CGC grade of 9.8 sold for $925. If the Jamie Foxx-led film franchise reboot of Spawn occurs, keep an eye on this comic’s value.

21 – Invincible #1 (January 2003) Image Comics

Comic book creator Robert Kirkman, who created The Walking Dead, is prolific. Invincible is the story of teen Mark Grayson, who learns his father is an alien. Mark later develops superpowers.

Invincible ran for 144 issues and wrapped its run in 2018. The comic has a fervent fan-base which may expand with the right TV or film adaption.

A 9.8 CGC graded copy of this comic sold for $1,000 in August 2020.

20 – The Walking Dead #1 (October 2003) Image Comics

This is the Modern Age horror comic that became a global popular culture hit in the 2010s.

In the post-modern comic book ages to come, this is a comic to watch for increased value.

The Walking Dead #1 features the first appearances of Rick Grimes, Shane Walsh, and Morgan Jones.

A 9.8 CGC graded copy of this comic sold for $2,100 in August 2020. The Walking Dead #1 has steadily increased in value since 2016.

19 – Edge of Spider-Verse #2 – Greg Land Variant Cover (September 2014) Marvel Comics

If you loved Spider-Gwen’s appearance in the 2018 animated film Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, then this is one of the most valuable comic books to know about.

Gwen Stacy was originally Peter Parker’s first love interest. Gwen died in Peter’s arms in The Amazing Spider Man #31, published in December 1965. Gwen Stacy was revived as an alternate version of Spider-Man from another dimension in Edge of Spider-Verse #2 in 2014. There is also a Deadpool-inspired variation named GwenPool (Don’t ask.)

A 9.8 CGC grade copy of this comic sold, with a variant cover sold by Greg Land, for $3,400 in April 2020.

18 – Special Marvel Edition #15 (December 1973) Marvel Comics

Shang Chi, the Master of Kung Fu, was a character created in the 1970s in the wake of Bruce Lee’s popularity. Marvel has used the character in comics ever since.

Now, Shang Chi will soon appear in a live-action MCU film.

Canadian-Chinese actor Simu Liu has been cast as Shang Chi and will appear in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings in 2021 or 2022.

Shang Chi made his first appearance in Special Marvel Edition #15 in 1973.

A copy of this comic with a 9.8 CGC grade was sold for $4,300 in June 2020.

Shang Chi may become the next superstar of the MCU, so keep an eye on this comic’s value.

17 – Iron Man #55 (February 1973) Marvel Comics

People who have never read a comic book know who Thanos is by now.

But if you have never read a comic book before, you may think he first appeared in the post-credits sequence of the 2012 Avengers film.

Thanos first appeared in the Bronze Age of comic books in Iron Man #55. Drax the Destroyer, a supremely powerful cosmic being in the comics, also made his first appearance in this issue.

A copy of this comic with a 9.8 CGC grade sold for $5,750 in June 2020.

16 – Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #134 (December 1970) DC Comics

The Justice League film was supposed to introduce Darkseid as the big bad of the DC Extended Universe.

Those plans did not work out.

But who knows what will happen in the future? Soon, the Zack Snyder cut of Justice League will be released on HBO Max. Fan interest in Darkseid could be reinvigorated.

Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #134 features the first appearance of Darkseid.

A copy of this comic with a 9.8 CGC grade sold for $9,500 in April 2020.

15 – Amazing Spider-Man #129 (January 1974) Marvel Comics

Were you a child in the 1980s? Then you’ve lived long enough to see four actors portray the Punisher is live action film and cable TV.

Since 1989, Dolph Lundgren, Thomas Jane, Ray Stevenson, and Jon Bernthal have all portrayed the grim vigilante. The Punisher is a character whose popularity will not wane anytime soon.

Amazing Spider-Man #129 features the first appearance of Frank Castle, the Punisher.

A copy of this comic with a 9.8 CGC grade sold for $14,000 in May 2020.

14 – X-Men #94 (August 1975) Marvel Comics

X-Men #1 was first published by Marvel Comics in 1963. The comic was a loose allegory of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.

Professor X and Magneto were both loosely based on Dr. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X respectively.

The comic waned in popularity for a few years and was cancelled. It was revived as reprints of earlier issues before being rebooted in 1975.

The 1975 X-Men team featured in X-Men #94 was diverse. Storm was from Africa, Thunderbird was a Native American, Nightcrawler was German, and Banshee was Irish.

A copy of this comic with a 9.8 CGC grade sold for $16,000 in December 2019.

This comic is one of the pivotal issues of the Bronze Age of comics.

Now that Disney, owner of Marvel Comics, owns a majority share of Fox, the X-Men will return to live-action film sometime in the future. Watch this comic.

13 – Werewolf By Night #32 (August 1975) Marvel Comics

This Bronze Age comic book is valuable not because of the marquee character but because of the guest appearing character.

Werewolf By Night #32 features the first appearance of Marc Spector, also known as Moon Knight.

Moon Knight, who can best be described as a Batman analogue for Marvel, is rumored to have a film adaption in the near future. (There was a great rumor recently that Keanu Reeves was up for the role, which stayed a rumor.)

A copy of this comic with a CGC rating of 9.8 sold for $31,000 in May 2020.

12 – Green Lantern #76 (April 1970) DC Comics

At the dawn of the Bronze Age, Green Lantern was waning in popularity. So, he was teamed up with Green Arrow for the first time in this issue.

In 1970, Bronze Age comic books began creatively mirroring society more realistically. Green Lantern #76 launched the, “Hard Traveling Heroes,” storyline. Instead of patrolling space, Green Lantern walked America with Green Arrow and investigated issue of corruption, racism, environmental pollution and other crises of the era.

A copy of this comic sold for $33,000 in December 2014. It had a CGC grade of 9.8.

11 – Marvel Spotlight #5 (August 1972) Marvel Comics

Nicholas Cage starred in two underwhelming Ghost Rider films in 2007 and 2012.

While Cage did his best, the popularity of the character just didn’t translate from the comic to the silver screen. Still, the character is still wildly popular with comic book fans.

Marvel Spotlight #5 is the first appearance of Johnny Blaze and Ghost Rider.

A copy of this comic with a 9.8 CGC grade sold for $37,000 recently.

10 – House of Secrets #92 (May 1971) DC Comics

You may remember Swamp Thing from the campy 1982 film directed by Wes Craven.

A streaming TV series based on the character was featured on the now defunct DC Universe for one season.

However, Swamp thing has been a fan-favorite comic book character for decades.

House of Secrets #92 features the first appearance of Swamp Thing.

A copy of this Bronze Age comic with a 9.8 CGC grade sold for $47,000 in March 2018.

9 – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 (May 1984) Mirage Studios/ Eastman and Laird

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was created and self-published by creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird in 1984.

This comic was launched in the premier year of the Modern Age of comic books. TMNT #1 also created the first pop culture craze from an independent comic book that last to this day.

A 9.8 CGC graded copy of this comic sold for $90,000 in August 2019.

8 – The Incredible Hulk #181 (November 1974) Marvel Comics

Remember how I referenced how modern comic book fans think Black Widow made her first appearance in the MCU’s Iron Man 2 instead of Tales of Suspense #52?

Well, first appearances of comic book characters, especially popular characters, adds to the value of a comic.

Wolverine made his first full-body appearance in The Incredible Hulk #181. (Technically, Wolverine made his first partial appearance in a single panel in The Incredible Hulk #180.) The first appearance of Wolverine is one of the most important developments of the Bronze Age.

There is probably only one 9.9 CGC grade copy of this comic book in existence. It is one of the most valuable comics books ever and sold for over $150,000 in March 2011.

7 – Avengers #1 (September 1963) Marvel Comics

My biggest pet peeve about comic book fans who talk about the Avengers are those who are talking up the 2012 film but have never read the comic.

These billion-dollar films get their source material from the comics. If you love these films, you are missing out if you haven’t read the classic comics.

And this comic will stand the test of time as one of the most valuable comic books to own.

It has been estimated that only three issues of Avengers #1 with a 9.6 CGC grade exist. One of them sold for $275,000 in July 2012.

6 – Incredible Hulk #1 (May 1962) Marvel Comics

I grew up on Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno portraying Bruce Banner and the Incredible Hulk, respectively, on TV.

Since then, Eric Bana, Ed Norton, and Mark Ruffalo have portrayed the Hulk in live action films, with Ruffalo becoming the fan favorite.

Everyone loves the Hulk, and his adventures started in Incredible Hulk #1 in 1962.

In September 2016, a copy of Incredible Hulk #1 with a CGC grade of 9.2 sold for $375.000.

5 – Fantastic Four #1 (November 1961) Marvel Comics

There have been numerous attempts to successfully adapt the Fantastic Four to the big screen.

None have been very successful.

Non-comic book readers may know the Fantastic Four through cartoons and video games.

However, their best adventures occurred in the comics books, especially in their signature Silver Age stories.

This comic is one of the most valuable comic books around. A copy with a 9.6 CGC grade sold for $450,000 in 2008.

4 – X-Men #1 (September 1963) Marvel Comics

In the 1980s and 1990s, Marvel Comics almost went out of business. So, the company licensed many of its characters for use in films to numerous film companies.

Until recently, the X-Men and Deadpool could only be adapted for film and TV by Fox. Fox is now majority owned by Disney, which owns Marvel, so this will change in the future.
(Confused yet? No wonder modern comic book fans prefer the live adaptation over the comics.)

Anyway, sometime in the future, we will hopefully get a new franchise of X-Men films produced by Disney.

This wildly successful pop-culture phenomenon was made possible by the publication of X-Men #1 in 1963.

A copy of this comic with a 9.8 CGC grade sold for $493,000 in July 2012.

3 – Amazing Fantasy #15 (August 1962) Marvel Comics

During the Silver Age of comic books, Amazing Fantasy was an anthology comic waning in popularity.

It was actually in danger of cancellation.

The editors of Amazing Fantasy gave Stan Lee and Steve Ditko carte blanche to create whatever they wanted in issue #15. Spider-Man first appearance occurred in that issue.

Imagine – if Amazing Fantasy was wildly popular, we may never have experienced Spider-Man!

A copy of this copy with a 9.6 CGC grade, or near perfect condition, sold for $1.1 million in March 2011.

2 – Marvel Comics #1 (September 1939) Timely/Marvel Comics

This comic is a time-capsule of history – WWII started the same month Marvel Comics #1 was published.

This is the very first Marvel Comic book with the name, “Marvel” on the cover. It was published by Timely Comics in 1939. Timely Comics later became Atlas Comics in the 1950s, which then officially became Marvel Comics in the 1960s. It is one of the most valuable comic books ever.

Marvel Comics #1 features the first appearance of the android Human Torch, who is not the Human Torch from the Fantastic Four. (It’s complicated – you have to be a comic book reader!)

A Pennsylvania mailman bought a copy of Marvel Comics #1 in 1939. It was kept it in pristine condition ever since.

That copy was sold in November 2019 for $1.26 million. It has a CGC grade 9.4, so it is in near perfect condition.

1 – Action Comics #1 (June 1938) DC Comics

As of this writing, it’s unclear if fan-favorite Henry Cavill will return as Superman on the big screen. (Signs aren’t looking good). There probably must be an official confirmation either way before fans can let the issue go.

Such fan-based psychodrama didn’t exist in 1938. We can only have such fan debates now because of one comic book that was published 82 years ago: Action Comics #1.

In 1938 there was no such thing as a, “superhero comic book,” relative to how we how understand it in the modern context.

Then, in June 1938, Action Comics #1 introduced the modern comic book superhero as we know it. It launched the Golden Age of comic books.

Created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, this comic book was the big bang that created the comic book industry as we know it today.

A genuine copy of Action Comics #1 is rare to find. About 200,000 copies were printed in 1938. Less than 100 copies probably exist today.

There are probably only 2 copies in existence in near-perfect condition with a CGC grade of 9.0.

Actor Nicholas Cage paid $2.1 million for one of the existing 9.0 CGC copies in 2011. The other 9.0 CGC copy sold for $3.2 million through eBay in 2014.

Start Realistically

There is a reason why I started this list with affordably priced comics.

If your knowledge of comic books starts and end with films, dip your toes into comic book investment slowly.

Start reading comics and find out what you like and what you think may become valuable as an investment.

Read More

Most Valuable Comic Books of All Time

Most Valuable Comic Books of the 1950s

Most Valuable Comic Books of the 1960s

Most Valuable Comic Books of the 1970s

Most Valuable Comic Books of the 1980s

Most Valuable Comic Books of the 1990s

 

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