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  • March 2010
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A first for comics….twice!

Confused already? Allow me to explain…

Two weeks ago the comic collecting world had what can only be described as its greatest week ever. For the first time in history (twice!), a comic sold at auction for $1,000,000.  On Monday, February 22nd, a copy of Action Comics #1 (April 1938), the first appearance of Superman, sold for $1,000,000. That Thursday, a copy of Detective Comics #27 (May 1939), the first appearance of Batman, sold for $1,075, 500.

Both copies were graded by the Certified Guarantee Company (CGC) at 8.0 out of a possible 10 (8.0 = ‘Very Fine’ condition to old school collectors like myself). It’s almost unbelievable that these books are in this condition being this old. These have been very well taken care of for a very long time.

To a comics collector, first appearances like these are what collecting is all about and many collectors can give you the title/issue of a character’s first appearance from memory. For this reason, the covers of many first appearance issues become iconic and need no introduction.  The two above are without a doubt the most recognizable comic book covers in the world. 

Superman and Batman are so much a part of 20th (and 21st) century pop culture that it is easy to see why something like this makes headlines. But, they aren’t the only characters to have made an impact on pop culture who have more humble origins in less well known comics. Not every character gets his or her first appearance in issue #1 of their own series. In fact, historically, that has been the exception rather than the rule.

Seeing as how both  the graphic novel /trade collections boom (think Marvel’s Essential books)  and, especially, recent movies have (re-) introduced many of these long time characters to people who aren’t necessarily comic book collectors, I thougt it would be interesting to put up some images of  first appearance issues of a few of the more well known characters, some of which people may have never seen before. I’ve also included approximate values for near mint copies.

To find out more about comic collecting, ‘key’ issues, trends, values and the like, visit the Lyria Comic Book Exchange Forum. These guys are serious about their comics. There are tons of topics to jump in on. Read old posts first , ask some questions and then start a topic of your own. 

Note: With apologies to DC Comics fans, I’m a Marvel-ite, and since many recent movies (Batman excluded) involve Marvel characters (X-Men, Fantastic Four, Hulk, Iron Man, Spiderman) this is a Marvel dominated list.

Amazing Fantasy #15 (August 1962) – 1st appearance of Spiderman. Near Mint value: $40,000


Tales of Suspense #39 (March 1963) – 1st appearance of Iron Man. Near Mint value: $7,000


Amazing Adventures #11 (March 1972) – 1st appearance of Beast (Hank McCoy) with fur.  Near Mint value: $175. His 1st appearance in human form is in X-Men #1 (1963).


Marvel Spotlight #5 (August 1972) -1st appearance of Ghost Rider.  Near mint value: $200


Incredible Hulk #181 (November 1974) – 1st appearance of Wolverine. Near Mint value: $1,400.


Giant Size X-Men #1 (May 1975) – 1st appearance of Storm, Colossus, and Nightcrawler. Near Mint value: $1,000.


 Iron Fist #14 (August 1977) – 1st appearance of Sabretooth. Near Mint value: $150.


Ms. Marvel #18 (June 1978). – 1st appearance of Mystique. Near Mint value: $20.



Avengers Annual #10 (August 1981) – 1st appearance of Rogue. Near Mint value: $30.


Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #8 (December 1984) – 1st appearance of Spiderman’s black costume (which is really an alien life form!) Near Mint value: $30.


Uncanny X-Men #266 (August 1990) – 1st appearance of Gambit. Near Mint value: $40.

Collecting first appearances is only one approach to comic collecting. It’s such an individual hobby and you can collect anything for any reason. I even  met someone a long time ago who was trying to collect a copy of every comic book published with a cover date of the month and year they were born.  Find your own niche in the hobby and have fun with it.  One last thing – if anyone ever tells you that comic books are for kids, you can now tell them there are one million reasons that they’re not.

Steve – Lawrenceville


2 Responses

  1. Nice, Steve! Didn’t realize you were a big comics guy.

    • Thanks Corey – Not as much as I used to be though. I started collecting, vs. just reading, in high school, which was during the boom in the early 90’s, but stopped buying new comics as they were published in about 1994 (like everyone else who survived the boom). I became a Marvel ‘bronze age’ fan and started collecting as many key issues and runs in the best condition that I could find.

      I started trading/selling off some of my collection about 7 years ago and I’ve gotten rid of about 300-400 books. What I still have is about 250 of the best value wise, condition wise, or just because they’re my favorites regardless of value. Every now and then I get the itch and head to a shop, or even attend a convention to see what I can find.

      There’s a few things I’ve gotten rid of that I now wish I hadn’t – not really because of value, more for ‘coolness’, like a complete run of the Walt Simonson ‘Thor’s in perfect condition, all 40+ issues.
      Oh well.

      It’s all about the chase – there’s always something to hunt for.

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