The Action Comics No 1 sold for a world-record $5m (£3.95m), or $6m including premium, at Heritage.

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It sold for a hammer price of $5m (£3.95m) when it was offered during the April 4-7 Comics & Comic Art auction at Heritage of Dallas, Texas.

The price was $6m (£4.74m) including 20% buyer’s premium. According to (grading service) CGC’s list of the most expensive comic books ever reported sold, a copy of Superman No 1 was bought privately for $5.3m including fees in 2022.

The previous auction record was held by the CGC Near Mint+ 9.6 copy of Amazing Fantasy No 15, featuring the debut of Spider-Man that sold for a premiuminclusive $3.6m at Heritage in September 2021.

Fine pedigree

Graded CGC Very Fine+ 8.5, the Heritage Action Comics No 1 came from the Kansas City Pedigree (the earliest ‘pedigreed’ collection ever discovered, which turned up in Kansas City in the late 1960s and featured a large group of nearly 250 high-grade No 1 issues that ran from 1937 to the the 1940s).

It was “one of the world’s finest copies”, said the auction house. “Only two other unrestored issues featuring Superman’s first flight - or, at least, his first leap over a tall building - have ever graded higher.”

There are just 78 copies of Action Comics No 1 in CGC’s population report, with the grading service estimating there are a scant 100 survivors of the comic book that launched superheroes into popular culture - out of the 200,000 copies printed by DC Comics’ predecessor National Allied Publications.

Action Comics No 1 is hailed as “the most important comic ever published”, said Heritage, and the Superman who first appeared in the spring of 1938 remains “remarkably like the version still filling comicshop shelves every week or awaiting yet another bigscreen turn in writer-director James Gunn’s retelling of the tale” [film due to be released in the UK this July].

Moments after the record was set, a professionally restored copy of Action Comics No 1 bearing the CGC grade of Apparent 8.0 realised $480,000/£379,200 (or a premium-inclusive $576,000) - an all-time high for any restored comic book.

New highs

More records fell during the auction. One of the five best copies of 1963’s The Avengers - featuring Thor, Iron Man, Hulk, Ant-Man and Wasp - sparked a bidding war, the CGC Near Mint+ copy of the book written by Stan Lee and drawn by Jack Kirby realised $360,000/£284,400 (or $432,000 with premium).

There are two copies of Justice League of America No 1 graded CGC Near Mint+ 9.6 - and none higher. A “stunning copy” of the Super Friends’ first outing in their own title realised a record-setting $290,000/£229,100 ($348,000 with premum).

The CGC Near Mint+ 9.6 copy of the comic book that featured Wonder Woman’s second appearance, Sensation Comics No 1, was the highest-graded copy in the world. At Heritage it realised a new high of $350,000/£276,500 ($420,000 with premium).

Daredevil, who is about to feature in a new Disney+ series, was another record-setting star, as his debut in Daredevil No 1 took $300,000/£237,000 (a premium-inclusive $360,000) with a CGC Near Mint/Mint 9.8 copy. Doctor Strange’s debut in Strange Tales No 110 brought a record-setting $150,000, the CGC Near Mint+ 9.6 copy being one of the five highest-graded in the world.