This Is The Most Valuable Comic Ever Sold

The title of "most valuable comic ever sold" has changed four times since 2021, but it might be a while before that record is broken again. On April 7, 2024, a copy of "Action Comics No. 1" sold at auction for $6 million, surpassing the previous record, set in 2022, by some $700,000. This comic, which features the first-ever appearance of Superman and represents the start of comic superheroes, was graded CGC 8.5 (Very Fine+), and is one of only 100 copies believed to still exist — from the original printing of 200,000.

This particular copy of DC Comics' "Action Comics No. 1" hailed from the Kansas City Pedigree collection, one of only 61 comic-book collections to hold that distinction, as recognized by CGC, a comic-book grading service. This collection, found in the late 1960s, contained nearly 250 "No. 1" issues of comic titles dating back to 1937, featuring the debuts of heroes like Batman, Flash, Green Lantern, and, of course, Superman. As Barry Sandoval, vice president at Heritage Auctions, said of the first issue of Superman, prior to its $6 million sale, "Without Superman and 'Action Comics No. 1,' who knows whether there ever would have been a Golden Age of comics — or if the medium would have become what it is today."

Action Comics No. 1

"Action Comics No. 1" hit the shelves on April 18, 1938 (although the month on the cover is June). Nearly 86 years after that first-run publication, the comic would sell for $6 million at auction to set a new record as the most valuable comic ever sold. When it first went on sale, the comic cost 10 cents. Accounting for inflation, that would be $2.20 today, a cost many consumers could likely fit into their monthly budgets. (Check out our explainer on zero-based budgeting versus traditional budgeting.)

The comic, as explained by American auction house Heritage Auctions, which handled the April 2024 sale, has been reprinted several times since 1938. This has perhaps led to confusion for some who might have found a copy of the famous issue, only to learn that it's a reprint and, thus, not very valuable. If you do happen to come across one, (keep calm and) keep in mind that telltale signs of a true "Action Comics No. 1" include its size, measuring 7.5 inches by 10.25 inches, and a few cover details; namely, the falling rocks on the right, the car's yellow running board, and the two drops of sweat falling off of the man (likely meant to be Butch Matson) running away on the left.

"Action Comics No. 1" was 68 pages long, and Superman's iconic story accounted for 12 of those pages. The comic's cover is a version of what happens in the story, which covers Superman's arrival on Earth and, ultimately, his first leap over a tall building; it also introduces readers to Lois Lane.

A few other notable comic-book sales

While spending impulsively on comics might fall under bad money habits that could lead to you going broke, it's clear that if you had the foresight to know how valuable some of these publications would be one day, you'd recategorize your weekly purchase as a solid, savvy investment. (See our ranking of the 12 best compound interest investments.)

The first million-dollar sale of a comic was in 2010, and "Action Comics No. 1" holds the singular distinction as the first comic book to ever sell for $1 million. The copy, sold by ComicConnect, was in a private collection for 15 years before it was put up for sale. Prior to its sale, the $1-million mark seemed impossible to reach, but since then, records keep falling. The April 2024 $6-million sale of "Action Comics No. 1" broke a two-year record, held by another rare Superman comic, "Superman No. 1" from 1939.

Prior to this 2022 record, the record was held by comic "Amazing Fantasy No. 15," which featured the debut of Spider-Man. This copy, sold in September 2021 by Heritage Auctions, had a CGC grade of 9.6 (Near Mint+) and went for $3.6 million. What's more, that then-record-breaking sale broke a record that stood for only five months. The comic? "Action Comics No. 1," of course. Auctioned by ComicConnect in April 2021, the copy went for $3.25 million, or $350,000 less than Spider-Man's.