In 1934, a company called National Comics Publications, Inc. was founded. Its goal was to create the first comic book, as opposed to reprinting the strips you'd find in the newspapers. Their primary title was a pulp adventure series Detective Comics, which didn't debut a certain caped crusader until 1939. Superman had already been established. Wonder Woman, the Spectre, the Green Lantern, a whole host of others were introduced and DC Comics, as we would come to know it was born and on a roll.
Combine these key issues with the fact that collecting just was not a thing nearly a century ago and you have comics to set you up for life now, if you somehow have one of these or have the money to actually buy one of these. If you do, and they’re not hermetically sealed within the confines of a CGC case, then please for your own sake send them to preserve them. Not only are these all worth way more than just a small fortune, they’re all great historical pieces in the world of comics.. After you’re done with your preservation, check out this article for more of the 30 Of The Rarest DC Comics (And Their Worth).
30 Green Lantern #1 (1941) - $45 thousand
“And I shall shed my light over dark evil. For the dark things cannot stand the light…the light of the Green Lantern!” While the oath of the Green Lanterns has changed over the years, the general premise is the same. But the original DC Green Lantern, Alan Scott did not get his abilities from a power ring on Oa, but the from the Starheart. Scott made his debut in All-American Comics # 16 way back in 1940 and a year later got his own title.
Created by cartoonist Martin Nodell, Green Lantern # 1, while a very expensive purchase, could actually be a decent investment if you’re willing to blow all of your savings, or just not spend a lot of money for a year. Copies of this issue have been known to fetch about a year’s worth salary for most mid-level jobs at 45K. With the eventual GL movie re-launch, this one should only go up in price.
29 Batman #2 (1940) $48,500
Quite possibly three of the most enduring characters of American pop literature would be the Joker, Catwoman, and the Batman. All three were part of the proceedings of the second issue of Batman in 1940. In this issue, Batman tried to bring the Clown Prince Of Crime to a specialist to cure his brain. Robin surgically removes a bullet from Batman, and Batman knocks a guy down the stairs killing him.
78 years in, and a lot has changed about the Caped Crusader, but there was still plenty of action in his second self-titled adventure. The issue is also notable for being the first time that Selina uses the Cat-woman name before removing the hyphen. Finding good copies of this one, like many on this list might be hard to find. But if you have one, or the cash to play with, excellent copies can net you nearly 50 grand.
28 Detective Comics #36 (1940) - $54 thousand
One of the more underutilized members of Batman’s infamous Rogue’s Gallery is Hugo Strange. He has been slowly rising to prominence as a puppet master pulling the strings behind the events of the Arkham video games and the Gotham TV series. He’s actually been one of Batman’s oldest foes, debuting in Detective Comics # 36.
Like many comics of the time, Detective was an anthology series, that didn’t just feature the debut of a new Batman villain, but it also was the debut of the iconic three-finned bat gloves and inks by artist, Jerry Robinson. While not one of the more popular members of the Rogues Gallery, if you have this one collecting dust in your attic, get it graded and it might get you a good 50K or better to a needy collector.
27 Action Comics #3 (1938) - $55 thousand
Action Comics # 1 came out several months before this one and while Superman changed the game and became the first ever widely recognized superhero, he still wasn’t the only person adorning the cover of Action Comics, the anthology comic that birthed him. In this issue, we also saw another appearance from Zatara (Zatana’s daughter). The Superman story didn’t have him taking on any crazy supervillain, but he was deftly saving a bunch of coal miners from a mine.
The issue happens to be one of the rarest non-Supes Action covers, which by #19, the Blue Blur was more or less on the cover of all of the Action books. For collectors, this one is the second one, and can be found for as little as 55 thousand for those who feel like blowing a year’s salary.
26 Adventure Comics #48 (1940) - $55 thousand
Rex Tyler’s a chemist who has discovered and pioneered Miralco - a compound which grants the user enhanced strength, senses, and move faster than the speed of light. But only for an hour, so if you want to be a hero, you better do things pretty fast; and that's how Tyler becomes the Hourman!
While heroes like Hourman aren’t as well known to newer comic book fans, he is still a Justice Society stalwart and the Miralco was reimagined in the Arrowverse. A savvy collector could conceivably find little-known issues like this for fairly cheap at some random garage sale. A decent enough copy in good condition could net you a little over 50 grand.
25 Adventure Comics #40 (1939) - $63 thousand
Created by Gardner Fox, The Sandman (Wesley Dodds) is in the same company as other heroes like the Flash; not to mention coming from the same mind that came up with the concept of the DC Multiverse. With his unique look – a man in a green business suit with a fedora and a gas mask, The Sandman used a gun with sleeping gas to knock out the bad guys.
He is one of several heroes introduced during the pulp noir era, but was eventually fashioned to be a costumed avenger who was part of the Justice Society Of America. A lot Golden Age books like this his debut in Adventure Comics #40 are always worth a pretty penny, if not for the rarity. But considering this is one of Fox’s creations, and the Neil Gaiman’s version of the character gaining popularity in the nineties would pump up the value of this one, 63K to be exact.
24 Detective Comics #28 (1939) - $64 thousand
History was made in Detective Comics # 27 (more on that historic issue later), but plenty of early issues of the then–anthology detective book are rare as rare could be and all of them can snag a collector a small fortune. That fortune can start here with Detective #28, which also contained the second appearance of New York City’s vigilante superhero, the Bat-Man!
Yes, you read that correctly - The Bat-Man and plenty of aspects of the character weren't created yet, and Gotham City wasn't either, so the then-gun wielding caped-crusader was living and operating out of the Big Apple. While #27 has been known to go for well over a million dollars, a fan could conceivably save up their pennies and nab his second appearance for as little as 64 thousand.
23 Superman #2 (1939) - $94 thousand
The world’s first costumed superhero is generally recognized as Superman. First debuting in Action Comics in 1938, the Man Of Steel got his own full-fledged comic a year later. Similar to the Bat-Man, things are slightly different here. Clark Kent works for the Daily Star.
In the first issue of the second issue of Superman, Clark saves a down on his luck boxer and helps him regain his confidence. This issue didn’t include a lot of firsts, but it was the first instance of the Blue Blur using his super-telescopic vision. This is the first issue on our list that might take a little more than a year’s salary for us mere mortals to own, and perhaps because it’s not a key issue you might want to abstain from nabbing this one. But if you have it in your attic, get it graded and flip it, it might net you nearly 100 grand.
22 Action Comics #2 (1938) - $95 thousand
The second issue of Superman’s and DC’s flagship book doesn’t even have the Man Of Tomorrow on the cover! It is called Action Comics after all. While the medium of superhero book just starting, Pulp stories were still the hot topics of the day. So why not have a pretty cool shot of a hero in the middle of a whole lot of dare and do.
But that isn’t to say that that there wasn’t a Superman story. In this issue, Superman ends a civil war of sorts, as well as Zatara the magician investigates a haunted farm. You might think the second issue of Action would go for nearly as much as the first. But this one is far more affordable at ninety-five thousand.
21 More Fun Comics #73 (1941) - $104 thousand
While it might seem like a silly name for a series, More Fun Comics couldn't be more aptly named, and its 73rd issue might be the absolute most fun a reader could have with a Golden Age book ever. Not one, but four superheroes are part of this one, plus several other stories and the debuts of Aquaman, Speedy, and the Green Arrow.
Somehow, a book like this is valued pretty low considering its contents include the debuts of two DCU stalwarts. But that just means you should go dig out some change and save some pennies to invest in a book like this, it's only going to go up in value. Currently, it's been sold as high as 104K but with the Aquaman movie and Arrowverse running rampant, this one is only going to go up.
20 Detective Comics #38 (1940) - $107 thousand
The most iconic dynamic duo in all of comics had to get their start somewhere, and why not start with one of the most iconic covers of all time? The Boy Wonder, Robin debuted in the pages of Detective Comics # 38, with much of his origin story already fleshed out, just like Batman’s. Bruce Wayne is a witness to the passing of the Graysons and takes their boy, Dick in as his ward.
Batman trains young Dick to help him fight crime and as Robin, the Dynamic Duo take down Boss Zucco, the gangster responsible for the passing of the Grayson family. This Seminole issue in the history of the Caped Crusader currently can go for as much 107 thousand on the market.
19 More Fun Comics #53 (1940) - $141 thousand
The second appearance of the DCU’s spirit of vengeance, the Spectre features Jim Corrigan (who is the Spectre) doing all he can to save Clarice the love his love. He strikes a deal with the archangel, Michael to save her soul for his, rendering him doomed to roam the galaxy with the Spectre-force. After sending her away and breaking off their relationship, Corrigan begins to create the green and white costume of the Spectre.
An issue before this one, we were introduced to one of Jerry Siegel’s biggest creations not-named-Superman, and is jam-packed with pulp stories with Bulldog Martin, Captain Desmo, and the Radio Squad. In a rare instance where a second appearance can go for as much as the first, More Fun #53 has been known to go for at most 141K in a decent grade.
18 Detective Comics #33 (1939) - $150 thousand
Over ten years ago, a young Bruce Wayne is walking home from the movies with his parents, Thomas and Martha – this is the fateful origin story of “The Batman and How He Came To Be.” A horrified Bruce would kneel at his bed and swears a war on the criminal element. Just about every aspect of the Dark Knight’s origin story is born right here in this issue.
Still no Batcave or Gotham City, and still using a gun – this issue of Batman has two of the most important pages in comic book history and if you’re lucky enough find a near-mint edition of this comic book, be prepared to pay a small fortune for this one; well a little more than a small fortune – 150 thousand.
17 Action Comics #13 (1939) - $185 thousand
We all know that The Man Of Steel is more powerful than a locomotive, and that’s what the cover of Action Comics # 13 represents in all of its glory. Inside the pages of the anthology series’ thirteenth edition is a different story, however – “Superman vs. the Cab Protective League.”
Yup – Superman goes up against a villainous union for Hacks. Wowzers, other than that harrowing tale, fans have theorized for years that one of the henchmen of the Ultra Humanite is none other than Lex Luthor. But no one behind the issue ever confirmed or denied that fact, making this issue slightly more valuable than one might think – 185 thousand is how much this early issue has gone for.
16 All-Star Comics #3 (1940) - $200 thousand
We've cracked the two hundred thousand dollar range with this book - All-Star Comics #3; the first appearance of the Justice Society Of America! Before the JLA became a thing, Gardner Fox took most of his older creations, along with several other heroes that he didn't create, and put them together into one big super team. Dr. Fate, the Sandman, the Atom, they're all here and ready to fight crime.
Until Johnny Thunder inadvertently crashes their gathering and they instead tell stories of dare and do in flashback form. While not the most action-packed debut, All-Star 3 is still a momentous issue to have as part of any collection and near mint copies can go for as much as 200K.
15 Action Comics #10 (1939) - $258 thousand
It's a good thing that early Action Comics featured a really cool action shot of Superman and a slew of stories inside, because a lot of the early Superman stories weren't exactly…super. In this issue, Superman went undercover as a prisoner to root out prison guards who were beating on the prisoners. But it was also only the third time he would be on the cover, which we all know would soon change.
One might surmise it is the rarity of stories like this, plus issues like this that have upped this one in value. At least one issue has been known to have been sold for nearly 260 thousand, the price of a very decent home in some areas of the world. For plenty of mere mortals out there, this is buried treasure.
14 Wonder Woman #1 (1942) - $291 thousand
Possibly the hottest property in comic books right now is Wonder Woman. Between the movie starring the stunning real-life warrior, Gal Gadot. Not to mention the massive women’s movement that is going on in all corners of the world in some way or another - the song might be from ‘71 but now more than ever, their roar is being heard and the movement is being felt around the world.
Why shouldn't the Amazon queen be front and center during this momentous time? Exactly, she should, and to some she is. The debut issue of her own solo book from way back in 1942 has always been a steady climber but now that DC has brought her to the big screen, the current rate of 291K isn't going down anytime soon and will only go up.
13 More Fun Comics #52 (1940) - $310 thousand
What could More Fun than an undead spirit of vengeance wreaking havoc on the city’s criminals? More Fun Comics #52 first appearance of Detective Jim Corrigan, a cop who was taken out by a gangster and resurrected as the Spectre. Like many of the comic books of the day, this was another anthology series, but certainly, the biggest story of this issue was indeed the first appearance of the ethereal being.
With many of DC’s characters enduring for so long, sometimes, heroes like the Spectre get a little lost in the shuffle. But he too is also nearly eighty years old! So if your grandpa still has books in his basement or garage, take a gas mask with you, blow the 40-year-old dust off his white box and find this issue. It could land you with over 300 grand.
12 Detective Comics #29 (1939) - $324 thousand
Two issues into his introduction and the Bat-Man has become simply Batman. His first wound and the appearance is of a red sedan that both Bruce Wayne and Batman would use to travel around New York City with. We're still a few years away from the debut of Gotham City. In this issue, the detective does battle with the nefarious Dr. Death.
If it's Batman or Superman, and it's a super early issue there's a real good chance you've got the next five or six years of your life financially covered. Detective #29 is no different, a near mint graded copy has been known to sell for 324K.
11 Sensation Comics #1 (1942) - $399 thousand
The first issue of a comic book is always a fairly smart investment for a collector. It's the first appearance of a new character or an origin story, or something that creators felt warranted a whole new book for. Sensation Comics # 1 was no different, and we got the one-two punch of an origin story for one character and the debuts of two more!
In Wonder Woman Arrives In A Man’s World, we’re introduced to how Princess Diana brings Steve Trevor back to America in her Invisible Plane. But there’s also the origin stories of both two classic JSA members, Wildcat and Mister Terrific; a character whose second iteration we’ve been watching on Arrow for several years now. For the lucky owners of this book, it has been valued at 399 thousand.
10 Detective Comics #31 (1939) - $418 thousand
The cover of Detective Comics is a such a dynamic pose for the Caped Crusader and the story inside is the first-time Batman went up against a vampire as fans were introduced to the Mad Monk, Niccolai Tepes for the first time. We’re also introduced to the Batgyro, a precursor to the Batplane and most importantly, the infamous Batarang, which is one of the most notable weapons in all of comicdom!
While it doesn’t seem like a big thing – it IS the guy’s primary weapon of choice after all, which would make this actually a pretty key issue in the history of Batman, and the story itself was the basis for the now ten-year-old mini-series, Batman And The Mad Monk. If you are lucky enough to have this issue, you’re sitting on over 400 thousand dollars.
9 Action Comics #7 (1938) - $439 thousand
The world of comics was very small when Superman first appeared. There weren't a lot of megalomaniacal super villains to defend the world from. So, we got simple stories like this one. Clark is assigned to cover the circus and when he overheard that the circus owner owes money, he decides that the circus needs Superman as their big-time strongman attraction.
If you're thinking “that's it?” then you are 100 percent correct. But this silly nonsense is what worked for fans back then, because that's all we comic book fans knew at the time. Even the cover of this one is very un-Superman, the big guy’s threatening to drop a guy! Like many of these early books, all that really matters is that you have a copy, not its content, and in great condition, it's worth as much as 439K.
8 Flash Comics #1 (1940) - $450 thousand
Even when the book is named after the hero, there was still an anthology feel to the proceedings. Gardner Fox wrote and created not one, but two major DC superheroes that debuted here in Flash Comics # 1 – the Hawkman, Carter Hall, and the guy the book was named after, Jay Garrick the original fastest man alive, the Flash! How have times changed? The Flash’s lab accident was caused by the guy smoking a cigarette!
There’s a good chance that these deep into the top ten here, these mythical books are not a part of your collection at all. But if you somehow have the kind of money to spare here, then be prepared to spend at most 450 thousand on a book like this one. Just make sure it’s not your life’s savings.
7 All-American Comics #16 (1940) - $572 thousand
Long before the Green Lanterns became an intergalactic police force, and rings of all colors would do battle across the entire DCU, before names like Hal Jordan and Kyle Raynor became household names and synonymous with being ring bearers, there was just one guy – Alan Scott. His powers came from “The Green Flame Of Life,” the Starheart, which Scott diced a small piece off and forged into his power ring.
Considering how much history has been born out of the power rings, All-American Comics #16 might be one of the most underrated and undervalued books out there. So if you can come up a little over half a million, this book might actually be a steal despite its hefty price tag.
6 Detective Comics #1 (1937) - $586 thousand
While Detective Comics # 27 is one of the sacred cows of American literature, let alone comicdom, there were 26 issues before that! Detective Comics # 1 might not have a giant bat running around, but it did have hard-boiled detective “Slam” Bradley solving crimes, stopping crooks, and hanging out with his sidekick, Shorty Morgan.
This issue also saw the debut of Fui Onyui, a stereotypical Chinese villain of the time. It's certainly a unique piece of history to see the burgeoning DCU, without the Batman just yet. A copy of this one has been known to go for 586K, not bad to have an issue before both Supes and Bats were created.
5 Batman #1 (1940) - $634 thousand
Talk about an action-packed issue! Rather than simply rehashing Batman’s tragic origin tale, Batman #1 took the character and ran with new material. The new story featured two Joker stories, an appearance from Catwoman, and Dr. Hugo Strange conducting his maddening experiments.
Three of the greatest members of Batman’s Rogue’s gallery, two of which made their debut here in this issue. Clearly, it wasn't before long that Joker and Catwoman would become as popular than the hero that pursued them. If you're fortunate enough to have this issue, then you could be sitting on over 600 grand.
4 Superman #1 (1939) - $768 thousand
The cover of the Man Of Steel’s first issue boasts 64 action-packed pages. They're also basically the Man Of Tomorrow’s origin story rehashed for his own first issue. Add in some more backstory to Jonathan and Martha Kent and some stories about Superman versus arms dealers, crooked miners, and crooked footballers and you have what's actually a less than stellar first issue.
But it is still the first issue of Superman’s own monthly title after all. For that singular reason alone, this book is one of the most sought-after books to bigwig collectors. A book only collectors like Nicolas Cage could afford and still have money left over to spare, it's been known to sell for 768K at one time.
3 All-Star Comics #8 (1941) - $936 thousand
DC Comics’ Holy Trinity has always been Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. So it's only fitting that these three characters’ first appearances round out the top three most valuable DC books of all time. All-Star Comics #8 has a pretty zany story about the JSA going up against a mad doctor and his insanity serum, which causes people to think they're animals, among other things.
The book also includes the first appearance of Wonder Woman, which is certainly the price of admission alone, and at just under a million dollars would make any one of us very happy.
2 Detective Comics #27 (1939) - $2.49 Million
Detective Comics has a lot of great stories going on inside its pages. And adventure from Slam Bradley, trying to stop someone while on vacation; the nefarious and insidious Dr. Fu Manchu. There's some story with Commissioner Gordon pondering how boring his friend Bruce Wayne’s life must be.
In case you didn't know, Detective Comics #27 is the very first appearance of Batman and Commissioner Gordon. Seeing as how he has emerged as a cultural icon whether you've ever read a comic book or not, this issue is one of the holy sacred texts. While some holy scriptures you can't put a price on, DC #27 is valued at 2.49 million…as in MILLION.
1 Action Comics #1 (1938) - $4.530 Million
He's the world’s first superhero. The basis by which all capes and cowls came afterward were formed. In the story, he's the measuring stick that all masks live up to. A literal god among men - Superman debuted right here in Action Comics # 1 eighty years ago. It's not superfluous to say that this is the most well-known image of the Man Of Steel next Christopher Reeve flying through Metropolis.
Just because it's well known, doesn't mean there's a lot of these in the world. The most valuable comic book of all time costs a lot more than just a small fortune to own, and to more than a few of us readers, it's an unfathomable amount that will never be seen in our lifetimes. But for the rare few of us that have at least several million to blow on a few colored comic book pages, the rarest of the rare books can be yours.
References: SellMyComicBooks, ScreenRant, CheatSheet, CollectivePop