- Marvel’s first comic book just sold for $1.26m.
- Movies have contributed to the enduring popularity of superheroes, bringing in new audiences.
- The printed comic is still big business, worth over $1bn in North America alone.
Kapow! Thwack! Boom! Who knew the price tags on comics could pack such a punch?
A 1939 Marvel comic book just sold at auction for $1.26 million – and it’s not even the most expensive comic out there.
The copy of Marvel Comics No 1 is the most expensive Marvel issue ever sold. It introduces characters such as Marvel’s very first superhero, the Human Torch, and its first mutant, Namor the Sub-Mariner.
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It was originally purchased by a Pennsylvania mailman, and its condition has been rated as 9.4 on a scale of 1 to 10.
With superhero movies and paper comic books seemingly as popular as ever, here are five more things to know about the industry.
1. Superman tops the comic book charts
Superman’s debut in the number 1 edition of Action Comics, released in 1938, holds the crown for the most expensive comic. It was sold on eBay in 2014 for $3.21 million. Three years earlier, actor Nicholas Cage sold another copy of the same edition for $2.16 million. Only 200,000 copies were originally printed.
2. The Avengers top the box office
But that doesn’t necessarily mean they are the most popular superheroes out there. Batman has had 11 different films made in his name, with four different directors.
3. The printed comic market is still big business
Research suggests the comic book industry has been growing steadily since the early 1990s, driven in part by the profitability of licensing and advertising. But since 2017 the market has started to slip. Total graphic novels and comic sales dipped 6.5% in the United States and Canada in 2017, but nonetheless remain in excess of $1bn.
4. First black superhero to have his own comic
Luke Cage was the first black superhero to get his own comic book. In 1972, Marvel created this man with unbreakable skin – the Hero for Hire – in the wake of the popularity of films like Shaft and Superfly.
5. Marvel vs DC
It’s a divisive topic among fans, with both empires using TV and film to expand their fan base.
In the cinematic universe, Marvel films are undeniably more prolific, with characters such as Spiderman, Ant Man, Iron Man and The Avengers on the big screen.
According to a 2018 YouGov survey, more people prefer Marvel over DC.