Kapow! Vintage Comics Strike Gold

Two vintage Superman comics – including the character’s first every graphic appearance in 1938 – have sold in America for a combined US$3 million at auction. While most DC and Marvel comic books are very affordable at auction, it shows the lengths some passionate collectors will go to for the rare and special. We take a look here at some of the record comic book sales internationally… and what drives collectors to pay such extraordinary sums.


Superman #1 comic that achieved record result at US comic book auction

Superman Comics Strike Gold

On 15 June, the two vintage comics went under the hammer in the United States. After fierce bidding, the rare Superman #1 (1939 DC) – the first newsstand comic book dedicated to a single character – sold for US$1,620,000 including buyers premium (IBP).

The second of the pair was a 1938 edition of Action Comics #1. It’s the comic that featured the origin and first appearance of Superman, and of Lois Lane. Eighteen bidders competed for the rare edition, with the winner paying US$1,500,000 IBP.

While more common vintage comics – including DC and Marvel comic books – can often be found for a bargain, these extraordinary results illustrate just how far some passionate some comic book collectors will go to own very special editions.


1938 edition of Action Comics #1 that sold in America in June 2023 for US$1,500,000 including buyers premium

Record Prices for Vintage Comics

While the June sales are incredible, there aren’t the biggest. Artnet reports that another 1938 edition of Action Comics #1, sold at auction in January 2022 for US$3.18 million, before changing hands again for $3.4 million in a private sale.

Other eye-watering prices (all US) include:

  • X-Men No. 1 (1963) | $807,300, June 2021
  • Fantastic Four No. 1 (1961) | $1.5 million, April 2022
  • Detective Comics No. 27 (1939) which debuted Batman | $1.74 million, May 2022
  • Batman No. 1 (1940) | $2.22 million, January 2021
  • Marvel Comics No. 1 (1939) | $2.42 million, March 2022
  • Captain America Comics No. 1 (1941) | $3.1 million, April 2022
  • Amazing Fantasy No. 15 (1962) which introduced the world to Spider-Man | $3.6 million, September 2021

And the most expensive comic book ever sold? In January 2021, an 8.0 graded copy of Superman No. 1, sold for US$5.3 million in a private sale. It was part of the Mile High Collection of about 20,000 vintage comics owned by Edgar Church, perhaps the most renowned comic book collector in history.

The Phantom, Eight Vintage Australian Release Comic Books 1960's, Issues 254, 256, 260, 319, 336, 345, 366 & Giant Size 24 [7]The Appeal of Vintage Comics

Theodore Bruce’s Collectables Specialist, Holly Furness, observes that while DC and Marvel comics are always popular, bidding depends on a few things.

“Rarity obviously is key, with American first editions the most sought after. The quality of the comic book is very important (with comic book condition internationally graded on a scale of 1 to 10) – and prior ownership can play a part, as in the case of the Edgar Church collection.”

The 1938 Action Comics #1, for instance, is also viewed as the comic that started the Golden Age of Comic Books – which lasted until the 1950’s – and this place in comic book history is one reason for it’s popularity.

A Collection of Marvel Comic Books including The Avengers & Mighty Thor, c. 1990's/2000's

Vintage Comics at Auction

Theodore Bruce Auctions & Valuers holds regular collectables auction, featuring vintage comics from Australia and internationally. While last year we auctioned a set of American release 1970’s edition The Amazing SpiderMan, for $3,500 IBP, our vintage comic books often go at bargain prices, with bids starting at about $20.

Collectors looking for vintage comics can find them in our Collectables auctions, held bi-monthly.

To see what’s coming up, please join our mailing list via the link below, or keep an eye on our Upcoming Auctions.