The comic originally sold for just 10 cents when it was published in 1939

By Jason Duaine Hahn
November 22, 2019 05:12 PM
Heritage Auctions

An extremely rare and nearly perfect copy of the first comic book to feature the now-iconic “Marvel Comics” name was sold for a record amount at a Texas auction on Thursday.

The issue, Marvel Comics No. 1 — published in October 1939 by Timely Comics, which would later become Marvel in the 1960s — sold for $1.26 million, the highest price ever at public auction for a comic made by the company, according to a Heritage Auctions press release.

The comic was given a 9.4 rating out of 10 by Certified Guaranty Company, and is the highest-rated copy of the issue in existence.

Only two others have been rated 9.0 or above, according to the comic book site Newsarama.

“This is a historic copy of a historic comic book,” Ed Jaster, senior vice president of Heritage Auctions, said in a statement.

Marvel Comics No. 1 introduces fans to classic Marvel characters such as the Human Torch, Angel, Ka-Zar and the Sub-Mariner.

The late Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee
Michelle McCallum/POW! Entertainment

“Without question, this is the granddaddy of all Marvel Comics, without which we would not have the characters and stories we enjoy in today’s comics and feature films,” Jaster added.

The previous most expensive Marvel comic ever sold at public auction was Amazing Fantasy No. 15, which features the first appearance of one of the company’s most popular character, Spider-Man. It sold for $1.1 million in 2011, Agence France-Presse reported.

This issue of Marvel Comics No. 1 was first purchased by a mail carrier at a newsstand in Pennsylvania. The carrier had a habit of purchasing the first issue of comics and magazines, according to the release, and over the next eight decades, the issue has only changed owners a few times.

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While the amount the issue auctioned for is record-setting for a Marvel-produced comic, the most expensive comic ever sold is still Action Comics No. 1, which went for more than $3.2 million in 2014, CNN reported. It is the first appearance of the iconic DC Comics character Superman, arguably the most popular superhero of all time.

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The Marvel brand has enjoyed tremendous success since it was acquired by Disney for $4 billion in August 2009, which gave the company control of more than 5,000 comic book characters.

There are now nearly two dozen films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which has become a multi-billion dollar franchise.

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