In a rare occurrence, an important piece of the legacy of Marvel comics made its way to ComicConnect, an online platform for buying and selling comics. A copy of the first-ever Marvel comic book was sold for $2,427,777 on March 18. The comic received 33 bids, however, the winning bidder’s name remains undisclosed.
A first of firsts
Released in November 1939, Marvel Comics #1, a 68-page comic book hit the stands almost 20 years before the more popular Fantastic Four hit the stands. The booklet was published in the same year when Martin Goodman, the founder of Marvel, started the company. At that time, it was known as Timely Comics, by 1951 it had become famous as Atlas Comics, while the Marvel era began in 1961. 1961 also marked the year when superhero titles by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko like the Fantastic Four hit the stands, while the following year saw Spider-Man’s introduction.
The first ever Marvel comic is said to be one of the top five most important comics ever published. It featured the first appearance of the Human Torch by Carl Burgos, the first Angel by Paul Gustavson, in addition to the first appearance of the Sub-Mariner, the first Mavel hero, designed by Bill Everett. Even the original Ka-Zar, Ben Thompson’s Tarzan-style hero, is part of the comic, making this a precious find. Despite the lack of popular superheroes such as Spider-Man, Captain America and Ant-Man, the book still fetched an impressive price at auction. And who knows, without this copy we may not have had the beloved Avengers, X-Men and Daredevil in our lives and screens.
What makes it special
The Marvel Comic #1 earned a 9.2 CGC (Certified Guaranty Company) Universal Grade and has off-white pages. It is a rare Golden Age copy in mint condition, and inevitably creates a frenzy when released in a market. The Golden Age of Comic Books refers to an era of American comic books from 1938 to 1956, when comic books as we know them today were first published and increased in popularity. ComicConnect reports the front cover to be remarkably well preserved and clean, the colours crisp, a rarity when it comes to an 80+ year old comic.
What makes this comic book even more valuable is that it’s a “Pay Copy.” This means that it was the original copy used by publisher Lloyd Jacquet to record payments to the artists that contributed to the book. The record of payments is noted on 7 pages and even on the cover in pencil. The reimbursement details for iconic artist Frank Paul, who is part of the Science Fiction Hall of Fame, are detailed on the title logo and illustration. He was paid $25 to design the cover of the comic, and now the comic is worth almost 100,000 times that.
Though the Marvel Comic #1 did sell for a whopping $2.4 million, the record for the most expensive comic rests with a 9.6-grade copy of Amazing Fantasy #15, a Marvel comic that first had the honour of introducing Spider-Man and Peter Parker to the world. It sold for $3.6 million last September. Another origin story takes second place. Superman’s first appearance in Action Comics #1 was published in 1938 and sold in 2021 for US$3.25 million in a private sale. With so many of these DC and Marvel copies raking in US$3 million and above, Marvel Comic #1 slots in at around #17, proving that comic books are really no more child’s play.