Thanks to the constantly growing success of superhero movies, Marvel has been cashing in on the big screen versions of their comic book characters for the last decade. But before Hollywood took over, all those characters first appeared in print. That means there are copies of first edition comic books floating around in the world that boast the first ever appearances of infamous characters like Wolverine, Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America.
While comic book collections aren’t always worth the hundreds of thousands of dollars that collectors hope for, there are certain issues that definitely have the potential to demand crazy prices. And you never know when you might come across someone who is selling one for as low as fifty cents because they have no idea what they’re really worth. There was even that one guy who found a copy of Action Comics No. 1— the first ever appearance of Superman, in the wall of his house.
Who knows, if you keep your eyes peeled at garage sales you could hit the jackpot with a collector’s edition of one of these most valuable Marvel comics books in the world.
10. The X-Men #1 – $80,500
Again, there are Marvel Mystery comics and Captain America comics worth more than the first issue of The X-Men, but the series has become so iconic, that it’s only going to be worth more and time goes by. The idea of a group of superheroes who were born “mutants” was Stan Lee‘s idea, because he didn’t want to have to come up with yet another origin story. The X-Men #1 was published in September 1963 and included five mutants, considered the “founding five”. They were Angel, Beast, Cyclops, Iceman, and Marvel Girl (aka Jean Grey). Professor X and Magneto also make appearances. The explanation behind the title X-Men is also provided when Charles Xavier says that mutants “possess an extra power… one which ordinary humans do not!! That is why I call my students… X-Men, for EX-tra power!” It is estimated that a mint condition copy would go for around $80,500 today.
9. The Amazing Spider-Man 1 – $110,000
There are a few Marvel Mystery comics that are worth a bit more, but the very first Amazing Spider-Man still deserves a spot on this list. After appearing in Amazing Fantastic #15, Spider-Man got his own title series written by Stan Lee, with art by Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby. Issue #1 was released in March 1963 and it featured the first appearance of supervillian Chameleon, as well as Spider-Man’s first encounter with superhero team, The Fantastic Four. Today The Amazing Spider-Man #1 is estimated to be worth around $110,000.
8. Red Raven Comics 1 – $124,000
Red Raven #1 was published by Marvel in August 1940. It was the only issue ever published under that title, as #2 was replaced by the title The Human Torch (published in Fall 1940). Red Raven, the title character, didn’t appear in print again until 1968 as a villain in X-Men #44 (May 1968). A mint condition copy today would be worth an estimated $124,000. Avid comic book collector and store owner Chuck Rozanski attempted to sell his copy for $500,000, and his quest was filmed for a 2011 documentary about Comic-Con.
7. Captain America Comics 3 – $126,000
Captain America’s third issue, written by Jack Kirby, was published in May 1941 and features The Red Skull back for revenge against Captain America and Bucky Barnes for the Nazi cause. This comic is notable because it’s the first book Stan Lee ever worked on for Marvel. Lee contributed to the text filler story “Captain American Foils the Traitor’s Revenge” which also featured for the first time ever the Captain’s round shield is used as a weapon that returns to him after he throws it. Today, a mint condition copy is priced at around $126,000.
6. Fantastic Four #1 – $166,000
Published in November 1961, The Fantastic Four was Marvel’s answer to DC’s successful superhero team The Justice League. The Human Torch, Invisible Girl, The Thing, and Mr. Fantastic are superheroes who got their powers after being exposed to cosmic rays during a scientific mission in outer space. They were created during the Silver Age of Comics by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee and they helped solidify Marvel as a huge rival for DC. Now a mint condition copy of the very first Fantastic Four comic would probably be worth around $166,000.
5. Marvel Mystery Comics 9 – $198,000
Marvel’s (as Timely Comics) ninth issue features the first ever crossover story between two superheroes. In it, The Human Torch and Namor the Sub-Mariner fight each other in an epic battle that ends in a stalemate and has to be carried over into issue #10. The cover art is done by Bill Everett, a Golden Age-Comic legend who created Namor and also Daredevil. His artwork is what makes the issue worth around $198,000 today, but the highest that has been paid to date is $107,000.
4. The Incredible Hulk #1 – $228,000
The Incredible Hulk was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and he made his debut in a self-titled comic in May 1962. The Incredible Hulk’s alter-ego, Bruce Banner, is a withdrawn, emotionally reserved physicist who was caught in the blast of a gamma ray bomb in an attempt to save a boy who wandered into the test field. As a result of the extreme radiation, he’s able to transform into the Hulk, a giant green monster that changes personalities based on Banner’s mental state. A copy today would probably be worth around $228,000.
3. Amazing Fantasy 15 – $405,000
Amazing Adult Fantasy was a comic book anthology published by Marvel from 1961 until the last issue, titled just Amazing Fantasy, was published in August 1962. It was this issue that featured the first ever appearance of Spider-Man as written by Stan Lee and drawn by Steve Ditko, with a cover drawn by Jack Kirby. At the time Spider-Man was a different kind of superhero in that he was a teenager who had neuroses and the same types of problems as a regular guy. Today, a copy of Amazing Fantasy 15 would be worth about $405,000.
2. Captain America No. 1 – $629,000
First published on March 1, 1941, the cover of the first ever Captain America comic features Captain America punching World War II dictator, Adolf Hitler, in the face. It was released when Marvel was still called Timely Comics, and the character was created by legendary comic artists Jack Kirby and Joe Simon. In it, Captain America (Steve Rogers) and his sidekick Bucky Barnes fight spies, Nazis, and assassins to protect their country. Captain America Comics 1 would be worth around $629,000 today, and its value has been steadily climbing.
1. Marvel Comics No. 1 – $859,000
Marvel Comics #1 was published in October 1939 by Marvel’s predecessor Timely Comics. It features the very first appearances of android superhero, the Human Torch (slightly different from the later Fantastic Four member), the Sub-Mariner of Atlantis, and Ka-Zar the Great. The first print run quickly sold out of 80,000 copies, so a second printing of 800,000 was ordered, which also sold out. The comic book went for 10 cents in 1939; today, a near mint copy would probably go for around $859,000.