Those comic books we grew up with and loved started almost a century ago, in 1930. It’s hard to believe these beloved stories, many now rare, have been around this long as collector’s items. We grew up but our passions did not get too far from our childhood loves.
I can recall my first Superman comic book. I was so thrilled to have it and couldn’t stop rereading it. It lost pages, was spilled on, and stuffed into couch cushions. It was very well-loved. I was addicted. From there spawned my love for these quirky, fast-paced action magazines. But unfortunately, some of these popular comics ended up being so rare that they are next to impossible to find.
Comics weren’t just for your standard superheroes, either. They were for the strange and obscure. Remember Tank Girl? I still am obsessed with those comics, and most people would have never even known they existed if not for the 90s hit movie Tank Girl.
It can be challenging to find some of these super-duper ‘rarer than a unicorn’ comics and I, for one, know the battle of attempting to find them in off-the-beaten-path comic book shops. Comic book shops aren’t all that common anymore.
They are mostly small, independently owned businesses that grew from the owner’s love for these action-packed little books. They definitely need all the support they can get. In fact, I plan to visit a new shop that opened up not far from me as soon as possible.
Bottom Line Upfront
It is almost impossible to please everyone when I write what my favorite super rare comic book is in this context. Every comic will speak to its audience differently, and I do not want to take away from that or alter your opinion. So let this be precisely that; my opinion.
- The rarest comic book set is Double Action Comics 1 & 2! This comic is undoubtedly rare, with only eight known copies of this set.
- The single-rarest unpublished comic book is Motion Pictures Funnies Weekly. Only eight copies are known to exist. This comic is intended to be handed out to teenagers in movie theaters.
- The single rarest published comic book is Action Comics #1. So it is a no-brainer why this is the rarest single comic book and the most sought-after. In this comic, we first meet Superman and Lois Lane.
The Five Ages of Comic Books
- 1897 – 1937 The Platnium Age – mega rare and something you will see in a museum if the comic even exists anymore.
- 1937 – 1956 The Golden Age – not quite as rare as the Platinum Age but much more popular and acknowledged as the actual birth of comic books. DC Comics dominated this age.
- 1956 – 1969 The Silver Age was the age of Marvel, Fantastic Four, and good ol’ Stan Lee himself. However, this Silver era also introduced comics aimed at a slightly more mature demographic.
- 1970 -1984 The Bronze Age – This debatable age in comics saw more of a storyline, much like our favorite movies on the big screen. The content continued to mature and became something to look forward to reading when finished with the current comic.
- 1984 – Present The Modern Age – This age saw cleaned-up artistry and reached a more mature audience. These comics are worth nothing compared to the other eras, but who knows what the next 100 years could bring.
How the CGC Grades Comic Books
This information comes directly from the CGC (Certified Guaranteed Company). It is the gold standard for any grading on books, comics, magazines, and other written or print collectibles.
They have an extensive and streamlined process for getting the health and authenticity of the mailed-in comic processed to perfection. They are a little like the Wizard of Oz, but real and not hiding behind a weird screen, or are they?
- A grader checks the comic book for flaws, missing pages, and impurities.
- The book is now checked for authenticity by experts and will go on to numerical grading if deemed fit. Some comic books may need to be in better shape to grade, but for rare comic books, only a few would be turned away.
- A team of graders generally takes turns grading the book until the results have all been entered into a reporting system. See more about numerical grading below.
- The comic is placed into a clear archive holder, which will preserve the comic from future decline.
- The comic’s label, storage container, and information are now checked for accuracy by a quality control team.
- Once the comic has been thoroughly graded and inspected, it is ready to ship back to its rightful owner.
CGC Numerical Grading
There have been millions of arguments over why a CGC would give a specific grade to a comic. It all comes down to the CGC’s seal of approval and the entrance of your comic into their noble database. What they say goes.
Change has probably happened at times after a lot of backlash from the comic’s owner, but in general, the grade your comic gets is the grade it stays as long as it is within the encapsulation the CGC placed on it. Again, this information came directly from the CGC website. Please check them out for more thorough information on their numerical grading scale.
*All info derived from CGC’s website
Places to Check Out for Rare Comic Books
This brief list will help you find other obscure and otherwise impossible-to-find comic books. I recommend dipping into your local flea market, antique shops, and collectibles shops. You never know what you might find.
- Flea Markets – this link will help you locate flea markets near where you live!
- Thrift Shops – these can be hit or miss depending on the outlet. I have never seen a comic book at Goodwill or the Salvation Army, but I pay attention to those small non-chain thrift shops. They always have the most incredible stuff, and you might find a rare comic floating around.
- Antique Shops – you will need to search for antique shops in the town you live in online for a listing of possibilities. It never hurts to check out some neighboring areas’ antique connections in case they offer something better. Like flea markets and thrift shops, the merchandise is often replenished, so keep checking in.
- Comic Book Stores – this one may seem obvious, but you will not likely find the holy land of rare comic books in an actual comic book store. However, you will see some, don’t get me wrong, but be ready to pay what they are worth. These are people who know the business front and back.
- Collectibles Outlets – this could be anything from traveling conventions to an actual shop you have in town. Google’ where to find collectibles’ or ‘where to buy rare comic books’ and your town.
- Online – As you would expect, there are tons of options online. Be careful where you type in your credit card info, and only use sites you trust. Scammers come in many forms.
Guide to the Rarest Comic Books Out There
Amazing Fantasy #15
- Heroes: Spider-Man/Peter Parker
- Birthday: August 1962
- Worth: 3.6 million dollars
- Copies Still Out There: Possibly more than 2,000, but only four are known to be of a high grade.
An itsy bitsy spider changed comic books forever when it went and made a snack out of poor, innocent Peter Parker.
This comic was the first we’d ever heard of the now-legendary Spider-Man. Stan Lee had said in an interview that he was proudest of creating Spider-Man. Now, sixty years later, Stan Lee has sadly passed on into the hero’s final resting place, and Spider-Man lives on just as iconic as he ever was.
Marvel Comics #1
- Heroes: The Human Torch, Masked Raider, The Angel, The Sub Mariner, Ka-Zar
- Birthday: August 1939
- Worth: 2.4 million dollars
- Copies Still Out There: 61
This comic is the beginning of the Human Torch and the Sub-Mariner and wowed people when it sold at auction for 2.4 million dollars in 2022. The copy sold was a rare publisher’s annotation copy that showed who needed to be paid out of the illustrators and writers.
Captain America Comics (68 Page Special Edition)
- Heroes: Captain America and his sidekick, Bucky
- Birthday: February 1941
- Worth: 3.1 million dollars
Copies Still Out There: It needs to be clarified how many copies of this comic are out there. However, we know that only three are near mint condition.
Nothing could ever trump Captain America’s grand introduction. Mister America is on the cover of this rare and valuable comic, punching Hitler in the face.
When this comic came out in March of 1941, World War II was heavy on everyone’s minds and even heavier in the hearts of those directly affected by its historically evil storyline. So everyone will agree that it would be nice to have a Captain America- then and now.
This comic was 68 pages long, like all Marvel comics at that point. Generally, this number is altered to exactly the amount of pages dedicated to comics, which in this case is 45 pages. The 68 pages included the covers and other noncomic material. Though, 45 pages isn’t too shabby for a hand-drawn comic.
X-Men Comics #1
- Heroes: X-Men, Professor X, Marvel Girl
- Birthday: 1963
- Worth: $492,938
- Copies Still Out There: 13 near-mint condition
This comic, created by a young Stan Lee, was the official introduction to Professor X and the mutants, the X-Men. We first meet Professor X when he telepathically calls the X-Men to his school, Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, to train them as a cv defense against mutants and educate them. This comic is the birth of the X-Men’s first mission when Magneto causes trouble and Professor X sends in his team of superheroes.
The Incredible Hulk #1
- Heroes: The Hulk
- Birthday: May 1962
- Worth: $490,000
Copies Still Out There: 27 are known to have been graded as very good condition, but as far as the overall count, who knows?
The Hulk’s first comic is epic for several reasons, one being that the cover of the comic is one of the greatest ever drawn, even by Marvel’s standards. Jack Kirby is the applauded illustrator, and of course, none other than Stan Lee created the character and storyline.
At the time, nobody knew whether to consider the Hulk a monster or a hero. The general population needed to figure out what to make of this character, and the Hulk’s beginning was pretty dicey. Even the front of the comic introduced this big green man as the strangest man of all time.
With real-life characters in our society now, like Elon Musk, we know that the Hulk was far from the most bizarre man alive. When we first met the Hulk, he didn’t “hulk out” when he got mad. He wasn’t even green yet. That would come later.
Tales of Suspence #39
- Heroes: Iron Man
- Birthday: February 1963
- Worth: $375,000
Copies Still Out There: 2673 in the CGC census, but there were only 66 comics that graded at a nine or higher.
Why is this comic worth so much money? Well, it has to do with the introduction of none other than Iron Man. Iron Man may not be as well-loved as Spiderman or Superman, but introductory comics like this are rare and worth a lot of money to the right audience.
Motion Pictures Funnies Weekly
- Heroes: Sub Mariner pre-Marvel
- Birthday: 1939
- Worth: $48,000
- Copies Still Out There: 8
Publisher: Timely Comics became Atlas Comics in 1951and later became Marvel Comics in the 1960s
This comic is tough to find the correct information in the database of historical comics. Some say it made its grand and relatively quiet release in 1962. Other sources say it came out in 1942 but was in many people’s hands in 1970. The comic never was officially published but made its way to the hands of teenage moviegoers. This extremely rare comic was reprinted in Marvel Comics #1 with an illustration upgrade, at least for that era.
Jumbo Comics #1
- Heros: Sheena, the Jungle Queen
- Birthday: September 1938
- Worth: $3,947
- Copies Still Out There: unknown
This comic is unique because it was the first time a woman would get her own comic book. We had a superhero-type woman, and in 1938 women’s rights were just starting to really blossom.
- Heroes: Superman
- Birthday: 1939
- Worth: 5.3 million dollars
- Copies Still Out There: 165
Who doesn’t love Superman? He is the greatest and most popular superhero of all time. In this comic, we learn of Superman’s origins and life before he put on that cape. We meet Clark Kent, the average Joe who works at a local newspaper. Of course, Clark has a secret, and this comic was the first to enter that world. Speaking of worlds, this comic was also the first to mention the planet Krypton.
The only other time the iconic Superman was mentioned was in Action Comics #1. However, this isn’t exactly a legitimate “rare” comic because the number of copies floating around out there in the wide open is 165 at last count. However, it is rare enough to drive up the sale price insanely high!
- Heroes: Batman, The Joker,
- Birthday: 1940
- Worth: 2.2 million dollars
- Copies Still Out There: 40
In this iconic and sought-after comic book, four stories unravel; The Joker, The Giants of Doctor Hugo Strange, The Cat, and The Return of Batman.
This was our first introduction to who would later be known as Catwoman. In the very beginning, she was known as The Cat. Before this comic, Batman was introduced in Detective Comics #33. However, in 1943 and Batman comic #15, Catwoman and Batman would meet out of costume.
Action Comics #1
- Heroes: Superman, Pep Morgan, Zatara, Scoop Scanlon, Chuck Dawson, Tex Thompson, Marco Polo, and Sticky Mitt Stimson
- Birthday: April 1938
- Worth: 3.4 million dollars
- Copies Still Out There: 50 – 100 copies may still exist.
It’s easy to understand why this comic is super rare and worth a mega boatload of money to collectors. However, this was the first hint of an introduction of the Man of Steel himself, Superman. Later, we learned much more about Superman in the Superman #1 comic book.
In this comic, Superman names himself the Champion of the Oppressed. We also are first introduced to Lois Lane, Clack, and Superman’s love interest.
Detective Comics #27
- Heroes: Batman
- Birthday: May 1939
- Worth: 2.1 million dollars
- Copies Still Out There: 69
The story “The Case of the Chemical Syndicate” within this comic was Batman’s official debut. This story has been reprinted many times in other comic books.
This comic was a major player in the official debut of superheroes and DC Comics. DC Comics, formerly National Allied Publications, was the first comic book to introduce us to superheroes in 1938. It would not officially take the name DC Comics until much later, in 1977.
Five years later, Marvel, then known as Timely Comics, would follow DC Comics down the long and winding road to superhero sensationalism. Both companies came before World War II, but their dependable humor and even propaganda would help keep folks grounded and sane during the war that was on its way.
The era that birthed both companies would be known as the Golden Age of Comics, covering comics that emerged from the late 1930s through the early 1950s.
Flash Comics #1
- Heroes: The Whip, Hawkman, Johnny Thunderbolt, Cliff Cornwall, and the Flash
- Birthday: January 1940
- Worth: One million
- Copies Still Out There: 48
The popularity of the Flash has driven the prices for imperfect copies to skyrocket in recent years. Even copies that graded very low have brought in as much as $15,000! We first heard the Flash’s origin and backstory in this comic. Along for the ride was Johnny Thunderbolt, who had not been introduced before.
All-Star Comics #8
- Heroes: Wonder Woman, Doctor Fate, the Sandman, Hawkman, and Starman
- Birthday: October 1941
- Worth: $936,000
- Copies Still Out There: 193 books have been accounted for during grading. The total count is unknown.
This valuable comic was Wonder Woman’s official debut. This brightly colored Amazonian feminist was before her time and was undoubtedly greeted harshly for not wearing appropriate clothing in the 1940s. Nevertheless, Wonder Woman is the most popular female superhero and one of the top three superheroes ever.
The other contenders were Batman and Superman, of course. These facts made this All-Star Comic book so valuable to collectors and essential to the entire DC population of superheroes.
Another shocker in the World of Wonder Woman was who initially created her and thought up her history and story. It was none other than the famous psychologist Doctor Willian Moulton Marston. He was proud to introduce a new kind of woman to the comic book scene. So, Doctor Marston was also a bit of a feminist.
All-American Comics #16
- Heroes: The Green Lantern, Blooey Blue, and Ultra Man
- Birthday: July 1940
- Worth: $850,000
- Copies Still Out There: 52
The Green Lantern, aka Allen Scott, makes his gleaming debut in this comic, giving it a tremendous value. Unfortunately, at this time, there have yet to be any near-mint condition copies graded, but it’s said that if one were to find one in that shape, it could be worth over one million dollars.
Sensation Comics #1
- Heroes: Wonder Woman, Little Boy Blue, Wildcat, The Gay Ghost, Mister Terrific, and Black Pirate
- Birthday: January 1942
- Worth: $399,100
- Copies Still Out There: Unknown
This is an important issue and collectible. In one of the eight featured stories, Wonder Woman risks her identity and brings Steve Trevor to America, where she meets a nurse named Diana Prince, who looks very similar to Wonder Woman. She allows Wonder Woman to use her identity to enter the hospital as a nurse and aid the ailing Steve Trevor.
Some other short stories were about Little Boy Blue, Wildcat, the Gay Ghost, and others. This comic would be Wonder Woman’s second appearance following her debut in All-Star Comics #8.
Detective Comics #1
- Heroes: Bruce Nelson, Cosmo, Bart Regan, Buck Marshall, Slam Bradley, Speed Saunders
- Birthday: March 1937
- Worth: $108,000
- Copies Still Out There: 32
What does DC stand for in Marvel comic land? Detective Comics, of course! This was one of the very first comics to land in the hands of superhero fans everywhere.
It made its grand entrance into the world in March 1937, making this easily one of the first comic books ever! You may or may not recall the names of the superheroes in this comic. However, it was much later that DC would introduce common household names like Batman.
Double Action Comics 1 & 2
- Heros: Doctor Occult (Superman was based on this character)
- Birthday: January 1940
- Worth: $80,000 for 1 & 2 together
- Copies Still Out There: 8
This “set” of comics is rare as far as quantity floating around the world goes. It is only worth a little money or mega important in the comic book universe regarding introducing new characters.
One of the selling points for collectors is that this comic was put together by hand. Also, only the second edition was in color. The original was to see if a black-and-white cartoon would appeal to the audience. It wasn’t, but it sure has gained interest now!
Whiz Comics Volume #1 Issue 2
- Heroes: Captain Marvel aka Shazam, Sky Smasher, Ibis the Invincible, Golden Arrow, Scoop Smith, Dan Dare, and Lance O’Casey
- Birthday: February 1940
- Worth: $281,000
- Copies Still Out There: 50
- Publisher: Fawcett Comics
Captain Marvel made his very first appearance in this published comic. He would later be known as Shazam. In this issue, we are introduced to the Wizard Shazam. Even though this is technically the second issue of volume one, it is the very first published Whiz Comic!
Four Color Comics #16 Rare Mickey Mouse Edition
- Heros: Mickey Mouse
- Birthday: December 1940
- Worth: $78,000
- Publisher: Dell
- Copies Still Out There: 92 graded
Mickey Mouse! Say no more! We will all likely figure out why this comic is sought after and ultra rare. Very few decent copies of this comic exist, and a not-so-great copy can fetch a decent amount of money. Mickey Mouse has been cool for so long that it’s hard to beat him.
PEP Comics #34
- Heros: Archie Andrews, The Sheild, The Hangman
- Birthday: December 1942
- Worth: $57,360
- Copies Still Out There: 30
- Publisher: MLJ Comics/Archie Comics/Becoming DC Comics in 1991
World War II people and collectors are fans of this particular “Nazi” cover edition of PEP Comics. There’s also a lot of horror, blood, and action, followed by sweet little Archie being a goofball. Unfortunately, the comic is very rare, and a mint copy is unheard of at this point.
Question: What is the rarest comic book ever made?
Answer: The 1938 Action Comics #1 is said to be the rarest. This comic is worth 3.2 million dollars! In it, we first meet the Man of Steel himself. Remarkably few copies have survived this long in good shape.
Question: How can you tell if a comic book is rare?
Answer: The cover price for rare comic books is ten through twenty-five cents. Those are considerably more valuable because they are so rare.
Question: What is considered the best comic book of all time?
Answer: This is a highly debatable question. The internet tells me the best comic book of all time is The Watchmen, but the X-Men comic was similar in popularity.
Poof! That Concludes our Time Travel
I hope you find the next best comic book and plan a trip to your local comic book store. Those places are always a lot of fun. Check out the other shopping options for these ultra-rare comic books, too. Not only is it a lot of fun to thrift store hop, but you will be shocked at some of the things you find. You could be looking at your retirement savings.
To wrap this up, the rarest single comic book of all time is debatable, and it’s Action Comics #1. Do your research and see what other rare comics your can find.
The list of comics I started with versus what made it to this article is quite different. There are just too many rare comic books to list in one piece without it becoming a book! I’m sure you could find a list of all the rare comics somewhere, but would that make the list rare, too?