Superman’s 'Action Comics No. 1’ Sells For $6 Million At Auction

An anonymous buyer paid $6 million for the world’s most valuable comic book, Superman’s “Action Comics No. 1,” published in 1938.

A piece of pop culture made headlines recently as it made a staggering sale in an auction. Superman’s Action Comics No. 1 fetched $6 million according to Heritage Auctions, who enlisted the item under the hammer. They referred to the item as “the world’s most valuable comic book in the world.” 

The pristine copy’s sale not only reaffirms the cultural impact of the superhero, but also highlights the growing market for rare memorabilia and other artifacts.

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“Action Comics No. 1” graded 8.5

Heritage Auctions mentioned that Action Comics No. 1 went off the market on April 4, during the first session of the latest four-day Comics & Comic Art Signature Auction event. This comic introduced Superman to the world in 1938, when he took his first leap over a tall building.

The auction body said the Kansas City Pedigree gave a grade of “CGC (Certified Guaranty Company) Very Fine + 8.5” (out of 10). This rating means the comic book is in excellent condition despite its age, according to The Hollywood Reporter

Action Comics No. 1 surpassed the record Superman No. 1 which fetched $5.3 million in a private sale in 2022. 

CBS News reported that million-dollar sales of original superhero comic books have been rampant in recent years. A copy of the 1941 Captain America Comics No. 1 sold for $3.1 million in 2022. The year before that, Heritage Auctions gained $2.2 million for a high quality copy of Batman #1. The first ever Marvel comic, Marvel Comics No. 1 (1939), sold for $1.2 million in 2019.

A very rare comic

The comic book delved deep into a baby boy who was born on a dying faraway planet. His father placed him on a space capsule and sent him away moments before his home planet exploded. A passing motorist discovered the capsule when it landed on earth and brought the baby to an orphanage. 

That baby eventually turned into a hero who remained a symbol of heroism and justice. Superman tackled societal issues such as unjust imprisonment, drunk driving, and spousal abuse, among others. It reflected his desire to commit to helping those who are in need.

Action Comics No. 1 remains a highly sought-after treasure among collectors as per Heritage Auctions. There are just 78 copies of the comics in Certified Guaranty Company’s population report. 

The auction company revealed only 100 comic books currently survive out of the 200,000 copies that DC Comics’ predecessor National Allied Publications printed. 

“Action Comics No. 1” tells the beginning of Kryptonian hero Superman’s story
“Action Comics No. 1” tells the beginning of Kryptonian hero Superman’s story/Photo from Heritage Auctions

Most important comic ever published

Heritage Auctions’ Vice President Barry Sandoval told Barrons that Thursday (April 4) was a historic day for the comic book and they “expected no less.” 

“The first session of this four-day event will surpass $15 million — and we haven’t touched the comic art that begins Friday, with numerous pieces of significance forthcoming,” he continued. “Maybe there is more history still to be made.”

Heritage Auctions regarded Action Comics No. 1 as the most important comic, aside from being the most valuable comic. 

Sandoval added through Barrons that while the comic received the most attention, it was gratifying to see collectors responding to many of the items in the lot. He remarked that without Superman and Action Comics No. 1, there was no way to know if the medium would become what it is today.

Record-breaking comic sales

The comics auction went on from April 4 to 7 and made historic sales aside from the Action Comics No. 1. It generated a total of $28.2 million sales. Other notable lots included Daredevil No. 1, sold for $360,000; Tales of Suspense No. 39, sold for $552,000; and Captain America No. 1, realizing $750,000, among others.

“Daredevil No. 1” was part of Heritage Auctions’ Comics and Memorabilia lot and sold for $360,000
“Daredevil No. 1” was part of Heritage Auctions’ Comics and Memorabilia lot and sold for $360,000/Photo from Heritage Auctions

Heritage Auctions revealed its events faced intense bidding wars, with more than 6,600 bidders participating worldwide. You can find the complete results of the auction events’ outcomes here.

The Action Comics No. 1’s buyer’s details were not revealed, but they now own one of the industry’s most cherished pieces of pop culture.

Banner photo from Heritage Auctions.

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