The first appearance of the Human Torch. The first time readers were introduced to the Sub-Mariner. Angel’s first time gracing a comic book page.
These historic panels are all in one comic book: The aptly-named Marvel Comics Number One. First published way back in October of 1939, the seventy-year-old comic book just sold for the highest price of any Marvel-published title.
A 9.4 grade Marvel Comics 1 recently sold for a record-shattering $1.26 million, according to Heritage Auctions. The comic was in exceptional condition for its age, hence it’s “9.4” grading. That’s on a scale of zero to ten.
For context, most books from the 30s and early 40s have simply been lost to time, destroyed or otherwise damaged beyond recognition. To find one in such good condition is a rarity. In fact, many comics enthusiast are fairly certain that this copy of Marvel Comics 1 is the best example of the book in existence.
The sale price of over a million dollars is a seriously big deal for a Marvel comic. While the company didn’t beat Superman to publication, they were among the first making “superhero” books. This sale doesn’t quite reach the monumental $3 million sale of Action Comics 1, which is the first appearance of Superman.
However, for a Marvel book, this price is meaningful. A lot of the value can be attributed to Marvel’s recent successes on the big screen. While the Human Torch and the Sub-Mariner haven’t exactly been done justice on the big screen, Angel played a major role in Fox’s X-Men franchise.
You might be wondering “Why hasn’t Iron Man’s first appearance beaten that number?” Well, it’s got a lot to do with when the book was released. Books from the Golden Age (essentially, the late 30s through the early 50s) are just physically scarcer, and they’ve survived the test of ages. Meanwhile, Iron Man’s first appearance is from the Silver Age (specifically, the early 60s).
That means that books like his and the other Avengers are just more numerous. Not commonplace by any means, but significantly more numerous than a book that was printed during the Depression. As such, Golden Age books will always sell for significantly more.