When it comes to collectibles, superhero comic books reign supreme even as many other collectible categories crater. One reason—the tremendous popularity of superhero movies.
Most comic book collectors know that finding an extremely rare 80-year-old classic in the attic, such as Action Comics #1 featuring the first appearance of Superman or Detective Comics #27 where Batman debuts, could be worth hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars, depending on its condition.
But even many comics from more recent decades have become quite valuable. Here are some from 1966 or later that can bring big bucks. Good news: They’re not exceptionally rare so they may be hiding in that old box of childhood books and toys.*
Fantastic Four #48 (1966) is the first appearance of the Silver Surfer, a character who appeared in the 2007 movie Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. Disney’s 2019 merger with 21st Century Fox has spurred speculation that the Silver Surfer could appear in future installments of the massively successful “Marvel Cinematic Universe” film franchise, further boosting this comic book’s value. It currently brings around $31,000 in near-perfect condition…or around $1,000 in average condition.
Detective Comics #359 (published in late 1966 with an early 1967 cover date) features the first appearance of the most iconic version of Batgirl, Barbara Gordon. Warner Bros. has been trying to get a Batgirl movie into production, potentially increasing the appeal of this already valuable comic book. In near-perfect shape, it brings around $14,000…or in average shape, around $415.
The Amazing Spider-Man #50 (1967) includes the first appearance of a villain named Kingpin, who in recent years appeared in the Netflix show Daredevil. In near-perfect condition, it can bring $30,000…or in average condition, around $300.
Iron Man #1 (1968) has shot up dramatically in value because of the Iron Man movies starring Robert Downey, Jr. A few years before the first film, copies in near-perfect condition sold for less than $3,000…now they bring $18,600. Copies in average condition are worth around $300.
Silver Surfer #1 (1968) isn’t the first appearance of the Silver Surfer—that’s listed earlier—but it is the first issue of a new comic book focused specifically on the character. In near-perfect condition, it can bring $33,000…or around $400 in average condition.
Batman #227 (1970) does not feature the debut of a new character or anything of that nature. It’s prized by comics collectors because of its cover art—drawn by Neal Adams, the iconic cover is an homage to a 1939 issue of Detective Comics. It brings $6,500 in near-perfect condition…or $150 in average condition.
The Amazing Spider-Man #129 (1974) features the first appearance of The Punisher, an antihero who recently had his own Netflix show. In near-perfect condition, it can sell for more than $12,000…in average condition, around $550.
The Incredible Hulk #181 (1974) features the first appearance of Wolverine, the extremely popular character played by actor Hugh Jackman in the X-Men movies. It’s among the most valuable comic books of its era—and as with the Silver Surfer, Disney’s acquisition of 21st Century Fox may open the door to Wolverine joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe, potentially reinvigorating a character that might otherwise have run its cinematic course following Jackman’s 2017 retirement from the role. This comic book can bring $31,000 in near-perfect condition…or around $1,500 in average condition—amazing money for a comic that’s less than 50 years old and not tremendously rare. Warning: If you find this comic book, very carefully flip through its pages to confirm that they’re all intact. There was a “Marvel Value Stamp” printed on an interior page that readers could cut out and paste in a stamp-collecting book. This comic’s value can be cut almost in half if that stamp has been cut out—in average condition with the stamp missing, it’s worth around $835.
X-Men #94 and Giant-Size X-Men #1 (both 1975) marked the introduction of a new X-Men team featuring Wolverine, Storm, Colossus and Nightcrawler. This new team quickly became more popular than the prior X-Men, making these issues extremely desirable for collectors. X-Men #94 is worth as much as $14,500 in virtually perfect shape…or around $225 in average condition. Giant Size X-Men #1 can bring $15,000 in near-perfect shape…or around $800 in average condition.
Star Wars #1 (1977), a comic issued in conjunction with the original Star Wars movie, can have significant value. That probably comes as no surprise, considering the enduring popularity of Star Wars. But how much this comic book is worth today depends greatly on how much it cost back in 1977. If the price on the cover is 30 cents, it’s worth around $220 in near-perfect condition…or $50 in average condition. If the cover price is 35 cents, however, it’s worth $27,000 in near-perfect condition…or $3,000 in average condition—the 35-cent version is rarer and collectors prize rarity. Warning: There have been reprints of this comic book, which have very little value. The reprints typically have an empty white box on the front cover where the bar code should be, among other minor differences.
The Amazing Spider-Man #300 (1988) features what is generally considered the first full appearance of Venom, a character in a 2018 movie starring Tom Hardy. The issue was drawn by Todd McFarlane, one of the most acclaimed comic book artists of
the era. In near-perfect condition, it’s worth around $2,000…in average condition, around $145.
The New Mutants #98 (1991) is valuable because it’s the first appearance of Deadpool, the title character in a pair of recent popular movies starring Ryan Reynolds. In near-perfect condition, this comic can bring around $750…in average condition, perhaps $125.
Batman Adventures #12 (1993) includes the first appearance in print of Harley Quinn, a character recently featured in the movies Suicide Squad and Birds of Prey. Batman Adventures generally is not a comic book valued by collectors—unlike some other Batman comics, it was written for young children, not older comics fans. But Quinn’s first appearance makes this issue the exception. It’s now worth around $1,500 in near-perfect condition…or around $300 in average shape.
*Comic books are graded on a 10-point scale. In this article, the phrase “near-perfect” refers to comics graded around 9.8. To achieve this stellar grade, a comic should look essentially as crisp and clean as on the day it was printed. The term “average” is used to refer to a comic graded 4.0 to 5.0. To achieve these scores a comic should be intact but might look like it’s been read a few times by a child.