As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
The comic book is one of the hardest things to judge when looking for valuable resale items.
Sure, we all know to grab vintage Marvel or Star Wars comics but what about the weird stuff that’s worth big money?
Well, until recently I hadn’t put in the time to really understand which comic books are worth money so I just didn’t bother to look at them while thrifting or sourcing for resale.
Which probably means that I passed up on thousands of dollars.
No longer, however! Not that I’m an expert by any means but I’m a bit more comfortable now at recognizing comic books worth money that I can reseller and (more importantly) what makes certain ones valuable.
So sit back and relax and let’s make some money flipping comic books! (or just enjoy collecting them, whatever’s your jam)
We’ll get into some specific comics that have a high value in a little bit but first, let’s take a broader look at which type of comics will make you the most profit if you happen to find some at a garage sale or in a thrift store.
Which Types of Comics Should I Look For?
We’ll get a bit more into the weeds later, but there are a couple of things right off the bat that influence the value of a comic:
While all of those come into play, pricing really comes down to how much someone is willing to pay for the comic you have or found. So the best case scenario is that you find something in mint condition that is old, rare, and highly sought after.
Having only a couple of those things can still mean a nice payday but, if desirability is low, none of the others really matter.
So what should you be grabbing if you’re looking to resell comic books on eBay or another platform?
Well, honestly, you should be looking up just about everything that you find until you feel comfortable recognizing winners for yourself.
However, here are a few tips to help you hit the ground running!
First, like most collectibles, a comic book’s resale value is mostly based on rarity. People often assume that older comics are more valuable, which is true to some extent, but age alone isn’t always the most important factor.
For example, (I’m just throwing out rough figures here) a comic that only sold 100,000 copies will generally be more valuable than one that printed 10,000,000. Since there are fewer copies left to buy, that creates scarcity within the market which drives up prices. The older a particular comic is, the more likely it is that most of the copies from the time have been lost or destroyed.
Quality is also important. If the front cover is ripped or it seems to be missing some pages, it’ll be worth significantly less. If you find a comic that has been selling for a lot online, you may want to consider getting it professionally graded, which I’ll explain more about in a little bit.
Finally, the more well-known the main character is, the higher the resale value will be.
If you don’t know a lot about comic books but you see Batman, Superman, or another character whose name you’ve heard before, that’s probably a good place to start. The most expensive comics are the ones that introduce major characters, feature major events like the death of a major character, or that are part of a major comics storyline.
To recap, if you recognize the star of the comic book, it appears to be in pretty good shape and the date on the front is at least 40 or so years old, there’s a good chance you can get a profit out of it if you find it for cheap at a garage sale or an estate sale. There are a few exceptions, of course, which I’ll get into a bit later.
17 Comic Books Worth Good Money
Now, figuring out what comic books are worth the most money really isn’t that difficult. There are several comic book value guides that resellers use to price their inventory and you should probably get one to look at.
However, the most expensive comic books are those that are so incredibly rare that you’ll probably never see one. There are books that have come up for sale only once in history so, if you’re lucky, you might be alive when there it hits the auction block again.
So, instead of staring at some pie-in-the-sky comic books, I’ve compiled a list of some of the most interesting comic books worth good money that have actually sold on eBay recently.
While you’re unlikely to find any of these, this list should get the wheels turning in your head.
Let’s start with the most expensive comic book that has sold recently:
1. Tales of Suspense #39 (Sale Price: $29,999.00)
Tales of Suspense #39 is exceptionally valuable primarily due to its historic significance as the first appearance of Iron Man.
High-grade copies of this issue (this one is a bit better than average) are particularly sought after, commanding premium prices in the collectibles market. But you probably won’t be finding this one any time soon.
2. Amazing Fantasy #15 (Sale Price: $29,100)
Here’s another first, take note of the pattern. Amazing Fantasy #15 is highly valuable due to its historic importance as the first appearance of Spider-Man
Published in August 1962, the issue was created by writer Stan Lee and artist Steve Ditko, marking the beginning of Spider-Man’s legendary journey. Collectors and comic book enthusiasts actively seek out high-quality copies of Amazing Fantasy #15, making it one of the most valuable and sought-after comic books in the industry.
3. The Invincible Iron Man #1 – Signed (Sale Price: $22,222.22)
The Invincible Iron Man #1 is a valuable comic book as it represents the first solo series for Iron Man. Published in May 1968, the issue was written by Archie Goodwin and illustrated by Gene Colan, with cover art by Gene Colan and Mike Esposito.
The comic’s value is primarily driven by Iron Man’s enduring popularity and the significance of the character’s first standalone title. This one was also signed which added hugely to the value.
While it’s unlikely you’ll find an extremely valuable signed comic, finding signed off-brand comics is totally possible and can be quite lucrative.
4. The Amazing Spider-Man #1 (Sale Price: $18,500)
And back to Spider-Man. The Amazing Spider-Man #1 is a valuable comic book due to its historical significance as the first issue of Spider-Man’s solo series. Published in March 1963, this comic was created by writer Stan Lee and artist Steve Ditko.
For comics based around specific characters (like this one), prices tend to spike when there is a lot of public interest. For example, when a new movie comes out. Luckily for the owner of this comic, there is always another Spider-Man movie coming out…
5. Incredible Hulk 340 Jewelers Variant (Sale Price: $14,999)
Incredible Hulk #340 Jewelers Variant is a valuable and rare comic book primarily due to its scarcity and the iconic cover art featuring both Wolverine and the Hulk.
The Jewelers Variant is a unique edition that was part of a Marvel promotional campaign in which customers who purchased a certain amount of jewelry would receive a free comic book. This edition is distinguished by a small diamond logo on the cover.
While there are very few of this specific comic out there, be sure to look for small differences in comics that you find to make sure they’re not a rare a alternative edition before pricing them.
6. Journey Into Mystery #83 (Sale Price: $13,000)
And here in Journey Into Mystery #83 we have the first appearance of Thor.
Published in August 1962, the issue was created by writer Stan Lee, his brother Larry Lieber, who scripted the story, and artists Jack Kirby and Joe Sinnott (yes, I’m going to keep shouting out those that worked on the comic, recognizing the names is important if you want to develop an eye for comics).
7. Fantastic Four #1 (Sale Price: $12,800)
And another first…the appearance of the Fantastic Four.
Published in November 1961, the comic was created by writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby, marking the beginning of Marvel’s Silver Age of comics. Additionally, the comic represents the first collaboration between Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, who went on to create numerous iconic Marvel characters together.
8. Star Wars #1 Variant (Sale Price: $10,995)
Star Wars #1 Variant is a valuable comic book due to its limited availability (or “rarity” as we called it on the list above).
If you’re not picking up what I’m putting down yet, just grab any comic that looks old if you recognize the characters.
9. Batman #1 (Back Cover Only) (Sale Price: $10,000)
Batman #1 is an incredibly valuable comic book due to its historic significance as the first solo series featuring Batman. What makes this sale even crazier is that it’s not even the comic book. It’s just the back cover.
Complete and in good condition this comic book is extremely valuable and has the ability top lists of comic books worth money!
10. STARTLING COMICS #49 (Sale Price: $8,000)
If you see any old comics that surprise you with their content, grab them. Published in September 1947 by Nedor Comics, the issue features a story with the character Fighting Yank, created by writer Richard E. Hughes and artist Jon L. Blummer. The cover art, illustrated by Alex Schomburg, is considered one of his most memorable works, showcasing a stunning depiction of the hero Fighting Yank rescuing a woman from a menacing robotic figure.
Vintage sci-fi comics like this one are only growing in popularity (and value).
11. MARVEL SPOTLIGHT #5 (Sale Price: $8,000)
I promise I wasn’t trying to only first appearances but here is another, the first appearance of Ghost Rider.
Published in August 1972, the issue was created by writer Gary Friedrich and artist Mike Ploog.
Finding Rare & Valuable Comic Books To Resell
If you’re unfamiliar with comic books, let me explain how to find out the information you’ll need to look up a comic book’s value.
Once you have that information, I’d suggest looking first at the price guide on GoCollect.com. This is the comic book version of a Kelly Blue Book value that you might use when figuring out how much to charge for a used car.
However, I’d also suggest looking it up on eBay, Mercari, Amazon, or another website to see the typical price that it actually sells for. For the auction websites, I’d check the completed listings to see what people are actually getting for them. If you end up buying the comic first and you find there are 50 unsold copies, you may need to list it at a lower price or wait until the competing copies are sold.
On the front cover, you’ll see a title in big letters, like “The Amazing Spider-Man”, “Detective Comics”, or something else. That’s the name of the series. If the individual comic has a name or is part of a series, that’s usually written below it. Depending on the publisher and the year, the location of the other important piece of information will change but if it’s Marvel or DC, the two that generally have the most value, it will be written somewhere.
These are the volume number, denoted by “Vol.”, and the date it was first published. The series title and the volume number are the most important parts, as they make up the name the comic is known by. If the series is “The Amazing Spider-Man” and it’s listed as Vol. 1, that issue would be called “The Amazing Spider-Man #1”. The date isn’t generally part of the title but is still important, as it will tell you how old it is and therefore how valuable it is.
Comic Book Grading
You probably noticed that all of the above examples were graded and in plastic hard cases.
Long story short, any comic book worth money isn’t worth money unless it’s graded (which is also a form of authentication).
There are a few grading scales used by comic book experts but most of them use a simple, standardized system that ranges from “immaculate” to “not worth a whole lot.” Scoring a perfect ten is pretty rare because “Gem Mint condition” pretty much means “never before touched by human hands”.
Thankfully, the bottom of the scale is pretty easy to avoid. The lowest rating of 0.5 usually means that the back cover and three pages are missing, a kid drew bunny ears on Wonder Woman or other things of that nature. In other words, you’ll be able to tell right away if the comic is too badly damaged to have any real value.
If you do happen to find a particularly rare one, I recommend having it graded by CGC Comics, who will rate it according to this standardized scale. They’re one of the most respected graders in the industry and their process is rather simple. You’ll definitely want to take out insurance on the package when you mail in it, of course!
Comic Book Eras (and their corresponding values)
#1: Early Days to the Golden Age
Comic books have actually been around for longer than you might think. The oldest known entry into the genre was The Adventures of Obadiah Oldbuck, which was published by Rodolphe Töpffer in Switzerland in 1842. It was first published in the US in 1866. It’s been reprinted many times, so if you happen to find this one, the odds are pretty good that it isn’t an original.
However, comic books as we know them today didn’t really debut until the late 1930s. Two major rival companies that still exist today emerged: Detective Comics, which was later shortened to “DC”, and Timely Comics, which later changed its name to “Marvel”. The first era of comics is known as “The Golden Age” and spans 1938 to 1956.
On June 30th, 1938, Superman debuted in Action Comics #1, which has historically been the most expensive comic. Mint copies have sold for between three and five million dollars. It also gained a bit more fame when famed actor Nicholas Cage reported that his copy had been stolen in the year 2000 and was later recovered from a storage unit in 2011.
A few months later, Detective Comics #27 came out. It was the first of many comics to feature Batman and was recently sold at an auction for $1.74 million. Nearly all Golden Age Comics are at least 70 or so years old and extremely valuable.
Unfortunately, they’re also exceedingly rare. They’re even more rare to find at a low price, as the odds are pretty good that even a family who doesn’t know anything about comic books will recognize that they’re valuable.
#2: The Silver Age
The Silver Age runs from 1956 to 1970 and marks the era when comic books really began to become mainstream. They grew in popularity as part of a tonal shift that took place around the end of the Golden Age. Most comics from that era were aimed more at adults and featured hard-boiled detectives solving murders. In contrast, the Silver Age began to focus more on children and teenagers. They were focused on teaching moral values to young people, as opposed to being illustrated short-form novels.
With that growth in popularity came a higher number of comics being printed, which makes Silver Age comics less valuable than their Golden Age counterparts, unfortunately for us. However, in 2022, a copy of Fantastic Four #1 from 1961 was sold at an auction and, due to the 9.2 professional grading it received, sold for $1.5 million.
However, do you remember earlier when I said that age wasn’t always the most important factor in a comic book’s value? It may surprise you to know that the most valuable comic ever sold was actually from the Silver Age. In 2021, just before Marvel Studios released Spider-Man: No Way Home, an exceedingly rare 9.6-grade copy of Spidey’s debut comic was sold at auction. That issue of “Amazing Fantasy #15” brought its seller $3.5 million.
The good news is, because of the increased number of copies printed, Silver Age can still be found easily, especially at estate sales. You might not find the Fantastic Four’s or Spiderman’s debuts but you should still be able to find something that will sell for a much higher price than you bought it.
#3: The Bronze Age
The Bronze Age ran from 1971 to 1985 and featured a return to more adult themes, like poverty and homelessness. The Comics Code Authority, which had mandated the changes making comics more kid-friendly, relaxed some of their restrictions. Many horror-based comics got their start during this era.
The overproduction problems of the Silver Age only got worse, unfortunately, which severely limits the amount of money you’ll be able to get reselling comics of this era. However, you can still make a nice bit of profit!
The most valuable Bronze Age comic ever sold was Marvel Spotlight #5, which featured the debut of Johnny Blaze as The Ghost Rider. In 2021, Heritage Auctions sold the only currently-known 9.8-graded copy of this particular comic for $264,000.
Interestingly enough, Johnny was played in a couple of movies by Nicholas Cage, who had to have a Ghost Rider tattoo on his shoulder covered up to play the part. Could Nicolas Cage have been the one to buy it? I don’t know, I don’t work for Heritage Auctions.
#4: The Modern Age
Finally, starting in 1985 and continuing through to the present day is the aptly-named “Modern Era” of comics. It is also commonly called “The Dark Age”, due to the popularity of darker, more serious comics than were previously written. Some people do refer to 1984 or 1985 to 1991 as “The Copper Age” but it’s much more common in my experience to just refer to 1985 forward as “The Modern Age”.
Unsurprisingly, the value of comic books from the Modern Era falls even further. They are somehow still overproduced and yet less popular. It kind of makes sense, though, in a way. If you’re a fan of Superman, for example, would you rather spend a year buying a 12-part series one at a time or just wait a few months for the next Superman movie from the DC Extended Universe to show up on HBO Max?
Interestingly enough, the most valuable Modern Age comic isn’t actually about superheroes, unlike every other era. Before “The Walking Dead” became a worldwide phenomenon as a television series with too many seasons and too many spinoffs, it debuted as a comic in 2003. The Walking Dead #1, which introduced Rick Grimes as the main character of the series, recently sold at auction for $20,000.
Most modern comics won’t be worth a lot by themselves. The best way to make money here is by having a complete set of a certain comic’s run. In the above example of a yearlong Superman story arc, if you can find all 12 comics that tell a complete story, you might be able to sell it at a premium to someone who wants to read the entire story.
Summary and Final Thoughts
To recap, older comics are generally more valuable, although that might not always be the case for the comics you find. The most valuable comics will usually be the first edition that introduces a major character, although comics that feature the death of a major character like Spider-Man’s girlfriend Gwen Stacy, for example, will also have a high resale value.
That said, if you find a $20 comic book from 1973 at an estate sale that looks like it’s in good condition, you might as well buy it. It might not sell for a few hundred thousand but you’ll almost certainly make a nice profit on it. Just be wary of reprints or replica comics, which will generally be of little value. These should be all marked pretty clearly, either directly on the cover itself or on the first page.
Hopefully, this guide will give you a little bit more information about how to identify comic books that you find in the wild and how to look up the going price to see what resale value they have. If in doubt, just run a quick eBay search for the series title and volume number.
May the comics ever be in your favor!