10 Rarest Comic Books

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Comic books are responsible for giving rise to some of the biggest and most famous movie and television franchises in the world. Without comic books, there would be no Superman, Batman, Iron Man, and Wonder Woman, and the countless other superheroes that many people around the world idolize. Although comics had been around since the 19th century, they didn’t really hit their stride until 1938 when Superman made his debut in Action Comics #1. This time period is called the Golden Age of Comics and a number of iconic DC and Marvel superheroes made their debut in the subsequent years.

Since then, the comic book industry has not slowed down and comic book collecting is one of the most popular hobbies in the world. Many early comic books from the Golden Age are now considered rare and valuable since very few complete copies exist. This list contains some of the rarest and most important comic books ever.

  1. Detective Comics #38
  2. Estimated Number of Existing Copies: 122
    Year Created: 1940
    Publisher: DC Comics
    Featured Hero(s): Batman; Robin (Dick Grayson); Bart Regan; Red Logan; Crimson Avenger; Speed Saunders; Steve Malone; Cliff Crosby; and Slam Bradley
    Value (Based on Highest Price Ever Paid at Auction): $107,500
    Detective Comics #38
    photo source: DC Database

    A year after Batman made his debut in Detective Comics #27, his iconic sidekick Robin (Dick Grayson) made his first appearance in Detective Comics Vol. 1 Issue #38. In the issue, Robin’s well-known story is told for the first time. After taking in the recently orphaned Dick Grayson, Batman trains him to become the Boy Wonder and the Dynamic Duo goes on their first adventure. Robin then goes on to become the most important superhero sidekick ever.

    As Robin’s first issue, Detective Comics #38 is quite valuable. Its minimum worth is about $4,000 and the highest amount a copy of Detective Comics #38 sold for was $107,500. There are 122 copies of Detective Comics #38 registered with CGC.


  3. All-Star Comics #3
  4. Estimated Number of Existing Copies: 101
    Year Created: 1940
    Publisher: DC Comics
    Featured Hero(s): Justice Society of America – Flash (Jay Garrick); Johnny Thunder (John L. Thunder); the Thunderbolt; Hawkman (Carter Hall); Spectre (Jim Corrigan); Hourman (Rex Tyler); Sandman (Wesley Dodds); Doctor Fate; Atom (Al Pratt); and Green Lantern (Alan Scott)
    Value (Based on Highest Price Ever Paid at Auction): $200,000
    All-Star Comics #3
    photo source: DC Comics

    All-Star Comics Vol. 1 Issue #3 is another important comic book in the DC Universe. In All-Star Comics #3, the Justice Society of America (JSA) makes its debut – they are the world’s first superhero team and predecessor of the Justice League. Many of the members of the JSA are some of DC’s most popular heroes and includes the Flash, Hawkman, Doctor Fate, the Sandman, Atom, and the Green Lantern.

    All-Star Comics #3 is quite rare and there are only about 101 issues registered with CGC. While, All-Star Comics #3 is an important issue, its not quite as valuable as some of the others on this list. However, a copy of All-Star Comics #3 in good condition was sold for $200,000.


  5. Action Comics #1
  6. Estimated Number of Existing Copies: 69
    Year Created: 1938
    Publisher: DC Comics
    Featured Hero(s): Superman/Clark Kent; Lois Lane; Chuck Dawson; Zatara the Magician (Giovanni “John” Zatara); Marco Polo; Pep Morgan; Scoop Scanlon; and Tex Thompson
    Value (Based on Highest Price Ever Paid at Auction): $3,200,000
    Action Comics #1
    photo source: Flickr via Jim, the Photographer

    Action Comics Vol. 1 Issue #1 is widely considered to be the most important comic book of all time because Superman makes his grand debut in the issue. Although DC Comics had already been in business for a few years and put a number of comic books featuring other heroes, Superman became their first big hit. Superman was the first “superhero” and set the tone for every other superhero that came after.

    With so much history attached to it, Action Comics #1 is the most valuable comic book out there. The minimum value of a copy of Action Comics #1 is $100,000 and a few years ago, one copy of Action Comics #1 broke records when it sold for $3.2 million! While Action Comics #1 is valuable, its not quite as rare as some of the other comic books on this list. In fact, about 69 copies are registered with CGC.


  7. Detective Comics #27
  8. Estimated Number of Existing Copies: 68
    Year Created: 1939
    Publisher: DC Comics
    Featured Hero(s): The Bat-Man/Bruce Wayne; Commissioner Gordon; Speed Saunders; Buck Marshall; Bart Regan; Crimson Avenger; Bruce Nelson; Cosmo; and Slam Bradley
    Value (Based on Highest Price Ever Paid at Auction): $2,100,000
    Detective Comics #27
    photo source: DC Database

    DC Comics has hundreds of heroes, but one of the publisher’s most famous heroes is Batman. This is the sole reason that Detective Comics Vol. 1 Issue #27, in which the Batman/Bruce Wayne makes his debut, is so valuable. Comic book enthusiasts considered Detective Comics #27 so pivotal to any collection, that they are willing to pay over $1 million for a high quality copy.

    According to another source, one copy of Detective Comics #27 was sold for $2,100,000. The CGC Database only lists about 68 copies of Detective Comics #27 in various conditions. Detective Comics #27 is so rare that its minimum value is $20,000.


  9. Marvel Comics #1
  10. Estimated Number of Existing Copies: 61
    Year Created: 1939
    Publisher: Timely Comics
    Featured Hero(s): Human Torch (Jim Hammond); Professor Phineas Horton; The Angel (Thomas Halloway); The Sub-Mariner (Namor McKenzie); Masked Raider (Jim Gardley); and Ka-Zar (David Rand)
    Value (Based on Highest Price Ever Paid at Auction): $226,000
    Marvel Comics #1
    photo source: Marvel Database

    Marvel Comics Vol. 1 Issue 1 was the first issue in a long line of the popular comic book series put out by Timely Comics, the precursor to Marvel Comics. Some of Marvel’s oldest heroes made their debut in Marvel Comics #1, including the Human Torch android (Jim Hammond) and his creator Professor Phineas T. Horton. Marvel Comics #1 was released on October 2, 1939.

    In general, any of the original Marvel Comics are quite rare and valuable but Issue #1 is the rarest. There are only 61 registered copies of Marvel Comics #1 on the CGC Database. Marvel Comics #1 is so valuable that even in poor condition an issue is worth at least $15,000. The most that a copy of Marvel Comics #1 ever sold for was $226,000.


  11. All-American Comics #16
  12. Estimated Number of Existing Copies: 52
    Year Created: 1940
    Publisher: DC Comics
    Featured Hero(s): Green Lantern (Alan Scott); Hop Harrigan; Red Dugan; Whitey Smith; Blooey Blue; and Ultra Man (Gary Concord Jr.);
    Value (Based on Highest Price Ever Paid at Auction): $203,000
    All-American Comics #16
    photo source: DC Database

    Like so many of the rare comics on this list, All-American Comics Vol. 1 Issue 16 is important in the history of the DC Comics Universe because one of the publisher’s biggest heroes makes his debut. All-American Comics #16 is the first time that Alan Scott dons his iconic Green Lantern ring and decides to use his new powers for good. The issue was released in July 1940 and the Green Lantern’s story was illustrated by his creator, Martin Nodell.

    Only about 52 registered copies of All-American Comics #16 exist. Since this is the debut issue of the Green Lantern, any copy of All-American Comics #16 is relatively valuable. A complete issue that is in poor condition is still worth about $3,000 and the most ever paid for a Near Mint All-American Comics #16 was $203,000.


  13. Whiz Comics #2 (#1)
  14. Estimated Number of Existing Copies: 50
    Year Created: 1940
    Publisher: Fawcett Publications
    Featured Hero(s): Captain Marvel (Billy Batson); Shazam; Ibis the Invincible; Golden Arrow (Roger Parsons); Spy Smasher; Scoop Smith; Lance O’Casey; and Dan Dare
    Value (Based on Highest Price Ever Paid at Auction): $281,000
    Whiz Comics #2 (#1)
    photo source: DC Database

    Whiz Comics Vol. 1 Issue 2 is a highly collectible comic book because many DC Comic heroes make their debut in the issue. The most famous hero appearing in Whiz Comics #2 for the first time is Captain Marvel (Billy Batson), aka Shazam. Some other heroes that make their big debut in Whiz Comics #2 are Golden Arrow and Ibis the Invincible.

    The CGC Database lists about 50 copies of Whiz Comics #2 in various conditions. A few of the copies are in very fine or near mint condition. Since Whiz Comics #2 is so rare, it is considered one of the most valuable comics and an issue was sold for $281,000.


  15. Adventure Comics #40
  16. Estimated Number of Existing Copies: 36
    Year Created: 1939
    Publisher: DC Comics
    Featured Hero(s): The Sandman; Barry O’Neill; Steve Carson; Jack Woods; and Socko Strong
    Value (Based on Highest Price Ever Paid at Auction): $63,000
    Adventure Comics #40
    photo source: DC Database

    Adventure Comics Vol. 1 Issue No. 40 is a rare and important DC comic because its the first major appearance of the Sandman (Wesley Dodds). In the issue, the villain called the Tarantula makes his first appearance as the main antagonist to the Sandman. Some of the other big stores in Adventure Comics #40 include: Barry O’Neill: “The Suicide of Major Duval, Part 3”; and Jack Woods: “Wolf Rucker’s Trap, Part 2.”

    The CGC database only lists 36 known copies of Adventure Comics #40 in varying conditions. One of the copies is in Near Mint- condition (9.1), but has been restored. The most an Adventure Comics #40 has ever been sold for is $63,000.


  17. Detective Comics #1
  18. Estimated Number of Existing Copies: 32
    Year Created: 1937
    Publisher: DC Comics
    Featured Hero(s): Speed Saunders; Cosmo; Bruce Nelson; Bart Regan; Buck Marshall; and Slam Bradley
    Value (Based on Highest Price Ever Paid at Auction): $38,500
    Detective Comics #1
    photo source: DC Database

    One of DC Comics’ first popular series was Detective Comics, which is what the initials “DC” stand for. The very first issue in the series was Detective Comics Vol. 1 Issue #1, which debuted in March 1937. In this issue of Detective Comics, a number of old DC heroes made their debut, including Speed Saunders, Cosmo, Bruce Nelson, Bart Regan, Buck Marshall, and Slam Bradley. Later issues of Detective Comics would give rise to some of DC’s most iconic characters, like Batman.

    There are only about 32 copies of Detective Comics #1 registered with CGC. None of the surviving copies are in mint condition and the best unrestored copy of Detective Comics #1 only rates at a 6.5 (fine) on CGC’s scale. Although there aren’t any mint copies of Detective Comics #1, the highest amount paid for an issue was $38,500.


  19. New Adventure #26
  20. Estimated Number of Existing Copies: 9
    Year Created: 1938
    Publisher: DC Comics
    Featured Hero(s): Captain Jim of the Texas Rangers; Steve Carson; Nadir, Master of Magic; Dale Daring; Robin Hood; Sandor; and Ian Murray
    Value (Based on Highest Price Ever Paid at Auction): $11,000
    New Adventure #26
    photo source: CGC

    Although Captain Jim of the Texas Rangers is not a widely known comic book hero, he is the star of main story in New Adventure Comics Vol. 1 Issue #26. This particular series from DC Comics is not necessarily widely collected, which is why very few copies exist. According to the CGC database, there are only 9 registered copies of New Adventure Comics #26, making it the rarest comic book in the world.

    New Adventure Comics #26 was first published in 1938, during the early days of DC Comics.  This rare comic featured several stories, including Captain Jim of the Texas Rangers: “The Train Robbery, Part 26”; Federal Men: “The Safety Patrol”; Master of Magic: “Pearl of the Bleeding Heart, Part 10”; and a few others.

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