Number 1. The first appearance of Superman from 1938. Valued at a mere... $470,000*.
This cover with the hero wielding a car has been copied on a variety of other modern covers,
like on the Action Comics #800 anniversary issue...
>> Action Comics #1
Number 2. Not as rare as some of the old comics show-cased here, the revamped, more modern
Spider-Man from 2000 created quite some buzz and is a highly popular addition to the Marvel universe... perhaps helping
to drag the publishers out of the "dark ages" of comic book sales in the mid to late 90s, where people
were tired of cover gimmicks, semi-"limited editions", and a general lack of continuity or plot.
This cover, which exists in different editions – and was even handed out free in quite some quantity to attract
new readers – is drawn by Mark Bagley, with prices for the original ranging around $190.
>> Ultimate Spider-Man #1
Number 3. This issue of Detective Comics from 1939 introduced the "caped crusader" Batman.
If you bought it for 10 cents back then and sold it at today's price, you'd find yourself 389,999.90 bucks richer.
To come up with a striking new image in the course of the success of Superman, Batman creator Bob Kane (with co-creator Bill Finger) was inspired by
Leonardo Da Vinci's batlike flying machine, as well as movies of that age – like Zorro or Dracula**.
>> Detective Comics #27
Number 4. Cerebus the Aardvark is one of the (if not the) longest graphic novels ever published.
This ish from 1977, still somewhat crudely drawn by creator Dave Sim back then, is priced at $580.
>> Cerebus #1
Number 5. Zap is likely the most well-known underground comics of all time.
Released to the streets of San Francisco 1968, the cover shows Mr. Natural
driving his little car, with a warning that this comic is "for adult intellectuals only."
The first issue, including the cover, was drawn by Robert Crumb, though the Zap series later
featured a larger stable of artists including S. Clay Wilson and "Spain" Rodriguez***.
>> Zap #1
Number 6. A new, dark and gritty superhero is out to get Spider-Man in 1974: the Punisher.
The character was designed by legendary then Marvel art director John Romita. Writer Gerry Conway, who came up with the idea for the Punisher,
says he might have been ahead of his time – the Punisher would only be really unleashing his full potential
in the 1980s. "From the moment that I wrote him, I thought he would become a star
character," he says, "Every time he appeared in a Spider-Man book, it sold well. But he had no super powers,
and at the time there was a strong feeling that a character without super powers couldn't carry his own book.
The other feeling was that The Punisher was so violent that we couldn't really give him a regular comic book."****
You can own this comic book for around $490.
>> Amazing Spider-Man #129
Number 7. The first appearance of Edward Nigma aka The Riddler, who'd turn into one of
Batman's most interesting arch enemies (later played by Frank Gorshin on TV, and Jim Carrey on the big screen in
Batman Forever). This
one is priced at $5,500.
>> Detective Comics #140
Number 8. The first appearence of the Fantastic Four from 1961, created by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby, and priced at $33,000.
(The Human Torch was actually an older character, invented by Carl Burgos in 1939, who was now reintroduced.)
>> Fantastic Four #1
Wikipedia writes: "The Goon is a comic book series created by Eric Powell in 1999.
The story is about the adventures of the Goon, a muscle-bound brawler who claims to be the primary enforcer for the feared mobster
Labrazio. (...) The series has a distinctly paranormal slant, with the average story concerning ghosts, ghouls, skunk-apes with an
unnatural hunger for pie, extradimensional aliens, and mad scientists."
The first issue of this popular series is now priced at around $70.
>> Goon #1
Spider-Man almost didn't come about. Creator Stan Lee remembers that publisher Martin Goodman at the time thought
that readers would find the subject of spiders distasteful.**** However, the comic book series Amazing Adventures (later Amazing
Adult Adventures, and finally Amazing Fantasy) wasn't doing well and
about to be canceled anyway... so Stan Lee gave it a shot. "Nobody cares what you put in a book that's going to die," Stan recollects,
"so I threw in Spider-Man. I featured him on the cover and forgot about him." Well, readers didn't forget the teenage hero with his
human flaws. Says Stan: "A few months later, we got the sales figures, and that Spider-Man issue was one of the best-selling books we ever had."
To own this book today, save around 41,000 bucks...
A couple of decades later, a special "zombie" version of the classic cover hits newsstands, becoming a collector's item itself.
>> Amazing Fantasy #15
*All price estimates by Wizard, December 2006.
**Source: DC Comics – A Celebration of the World's Favorite Comic Book Heroes (by Les Daniels)
***Source: Wikipedia entry on Zap Comix
****Source: Marvel: Five Fabulous Decades of the World's Greatest Comics (by Les Daniels)
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