Spider-Man surpasses Batman and Superman as world’s most valuable comic
The most valuable comic in the world has always been Action Comics #1 (the first appearance of Superman and the beginning of the entire superhero genre) … until a few hours ago when a copy of Amazing Fantasy No. 15 (the first appearance of Spider-Man) sold for US$3,600,000 at Heritage Auctions. This is big news as it represents tectonic movement within the massive comic collecting industry.
The lynchpin of the entire Marvel superhero battalion, Spider-Man leapfrogged the world record by a fair margin, as the most expensive copy of Action Comics #1 sold for $3.25 million in April of this year (2021) in a private transaction brokered by online auction and consignment company, ComicConnect.com.
Action Comics #1 originally sold for 10 cents when it was released in 1938, and is highly sought-after because it was the first appearance of Superman. The comic is culturally significant because, beyond just Superman, the success of the comic's sales kickstarted the entire superhero genre. That first issue had a print run of 200,000 copies, though the frailty of paper and 83 years of attrition has whittled the number still in existence to around 100 copies.
Action Comics #1 became the first comic to sell for more than $1 million in February 2010 and has maintained the auction record price for a comic since it sold for $54,625 at Sotheby's annual auction of comic books and comic art in June 1994. On that day, a copy of Detective Comics No. 27, which introduced Batman in May 1939, brought $48,875, becoming the second-most-valuable comic in the world – a position it has maintained to this day … and a few hours ago.
Action Comics #1 set the most recent auction record price for a comic in 2014 at $3,207,852. Indeed, there are several different comics that have sold for more than $1 million, with Marvel Comics #1 (the first appearance of the Human Torch and the beginning of the Marvel franchise), Detective Comics #27 (the first appearance of Batman), Batman #1 (Batman's first stand-alone comic) and Amazing Fantasy #15 (first appearance of Spiderman) all having sold above that mark – and the record for Captain America #1 is $915,000 and it is generally regarded to be just a matter of time before that goes over the $1-million mark.
Until today, the most expensive copy of Amazing Fantasy No. 15 to sell at auction was the CGC Near Mint 9.4-graded copy Heritage sold in March 2020. The issue sold for $795,000, though expectations were high for this auction because the it involved the finest-known copy of Amazing Fantasy No. 15, one of only four copies ever to receive such a high grade. In March 2011, a copy of Amazing Fantasy No. 15 sold privately for $1.1 million.
Spiderman’s record-breaking day also included the sale of a CGC NM 9.4-graded copy of 1963’s The Amazing Spider-Man No. 1, which sold for $264,000. That sale bests the previous world record for that book set in November 2016, when a CGC Near Mint+ 9.6 copy sold at Heritage Auctions for $262,900.
Heritage’s previous comic book record was set just last January, when the only known Batman No. 1 graded CGC Near Mint 9.4 sold for $2.22 million. That book shattered the previous $1.5-million world record set for a Batman title in November 2020, when Heritage sold a copy of 1939's Detective Comics 27 for $1.5 million. At the time, that was the highest price ever realized for any Batman comic book.
That Amazing Fantasy No. 15 is now the world’s most expensive comic book should not surprise. The recently released trailer for the upcoming movie Spider-Man: No Way Home is the most-viewed video on YouTube over a 24-hour span.