While some may scoff at the artistic merit of the comic book, there's no denying that they have become an influential art form in popular culture. Today, the comics have taken on a life of their own as global movie behemoths thanks to the Hollywood studios that financed them. But even before the film business got their hands on them, many of these comics were already collector's items.
It's not always the case, but many comics from the early years of the publications and the nineties -when publishers, aware of the high resell value of their work, went out of their way to make comics that were as valuable as possible by adding quirks and gimmicks to a wide range of hard to find variants- possess a high rarity and value.
With that said, here are 30 of the rarest comics in the world.
30. Fantastic Four #3
The Fantastic Four series will always have a special place in Marvel's heart as the debut comic spawned a whole host of beloved superheroes. In this rare and prized third issue, the Fantastic Four fight off the Miracle Man, a villian responsible for humiliating the Thing and destroying the Human Torch.
What made Marvel titles stand out from DC was their chaptered features, and this edition, currently going for around $38,000, was no exception.
29. Fantastic Four #4
One character yet to make their cinematic debut in any of the Marvel adaptations is Namor, the Sub-Mariner which is strange as he's the frickin' King of Atlantis and Marvel's first mutant.
He also has the hots for Sue Storm, so this character could really go places on screen. Anyway, #4 in the Fantastic Four series is already pretty lucrative should you own one, and we suspect its value will only increase when Namor makes his screen debut.
28. Incredible Hulk # 2
Did you know that everyone's favourite green superhero was supposed to be grey?
In the first few issues of the comics, Banner morphed into a grey-skinned monster, but sensing that green was a more color friendly tone for the printing process due to different shades of grey always being printed out, his image transformed to a vibrant green which is why this #2 edition of a grey hulk can fetch upwards of $47,0000.
27. Tales To Astonish #35
Think of the Avengers, and Hank Pym isn't one of the first superheroes that come to mind. Yet he is one of the smartest minds in the Marvel Universe, but because he is a jerk, his likability as a character might not go down to well with audiences.
Still, he remains somewhat of a cult figure in comic book circles ever since he made his debut in the Tales To Astonish #35 edition. In some cases, the Stan Lee and Jack Kirby creation has been known to fetch upwards of $51,000.
26. Amazing Spider-Man #3/#14
One of Spider-Man's main antagonist is a deranged scientist with eight arms who married his Aunt May. The other evil he fights off is the green goblin, the latter of whom took the life of his teenage sweetheart, Gwen Stacy.
Because Doctor Octopus and the Green Goblin debuted within the space of a year between edition 3 and 4, these comics can quickly go for upwards of $50,000 if well-preserved.
25. Strange Tales #1
Indiana native Pete Petruski turned from do-good research scientist to crazed assassin. Meanwhile, Bentley Wittman possesses a supreme intellect but is continually watching over his back for the ever-lurking Human Torch. Petruski and Wittman then team up to beat Johnny Storm's sorry ass in Strange Tales #110.
The second comic, “Dr. Strange Master Of Black Magic!” only added to the value of its predecessor, and it isn't unheard of to hear of Stange Tales #1 editions going for $60,000 +.
24. Fantastic Four #12/#5
Fantastic Four #5 introduced us to the grand villain, Dr. Doom, who remained a force in the Marvel comic book world for years to come, but it was in issue #12 when things took off. In that issue, Marvel’s two most prominent titans, the Thing, and the Hulk, fought to the bitter death.
These two famed issues are now two of the most sought-after comics in the world, with both going for 65K at auction.
23. Amazing Spider-Man #6
Dr. Curt Connors's story of a scientist destined for greatness only to turn into a giant Lizard remains one of the most riveting character arcs in the Marvel Universe which is why Marvel fans with more money than sense are all-too-happy to pay $71k for the Lizard’s debut issue.
Other issues released around the period are also well worth taking to your local comic book store if you're lucky enough to have any lying around as they can fetch upwards of $200.
22. Amazing Spider-Man #2
Amazing Spider-Man's second issue proved as popular as the first, and Spidey's well-written antagonist, Adrian Toomes is the main reason why. A prolific New York criminal clad in a Vulture costume, we soon have a thrilling battle on our hands between Peter Parker's Spidey and Vulture.
Thanks to the acting chops of Michael Keaton, the character has been introduced to the public, and thus the comic book's value has only rocketed, with some copies going for $72k.
21. Amazing Spider-Man #4
Fun fact time: Everyone's favorite web-head has a name that continues to attract the incorrect spelling. To some fans, it's “Spider-Man." To others, including journalists, it's “Spiderman” or “Spider Man”.
According to Mr. Marvel himself, it’s spelt with a hyphen not to confuse the human spider with Superman as it has a similar-looking name. Back on topic, the great Steve Ditko designed this fantastic cover featuring the Sandman. In some instances, it has sold for a staggering $77k at auction.
20. Fantastic Four #4/#92
These pink creations by Marvel scribes are called Skrulls, an evil alien race. They recently made their Marvel debut in the movies, though that was long after these shape-shifting Skrulls first appeared in the Fantastic Four comic book series.
Making their debut in FF #2, the storyline saw them mimic the Fantastic Four in their bid to take over the world. Because of their significance in the comic book world, as well as the covers being pretty darn' cool, it isn't unheard of for the #4 and #92 editions to go for 90K and beyond.
19. Amazing Spider-Man #1
The Amazing Spider-Man #1 needs little introduction. It belongs- and in cases sits at the top- in the pantheon of rare, esteemed comic books and thanks to its Stan Lee and Steve Ditko cover it immediately stood out as a unique story.
Had it not been for Spidey’s popularity, Marvel follow-ups may not have even existed. Unsurprisingly, it has gone for over 110K at auctions.
18. Star Wars #1 35C Edition
It is perhaps little surprise that the very first Star Wars comic is sought after given the cultural impact of the film series. But this comic debuted a few months before the film- long before anyone knew of how massive it would be.
Interestingly enough, the comic was given a small print run with a 35c price tag as an experiment on Marvel’s part to see how the price would fare as the majority of the books bore a 30c price. As such the 35c issue is that much rarer with most being lost or destroyed over time.
17. Detective Comics #27
There are less than 200 editions left today, and it deserves its place due to the cultural significance it has alone. The first introduction of the superhero Batman (although then going by the name of 'the' Batman) it has earned its place in comic book history.
Its cultural significance means that if you do have a copy, it could garner a six-figure sum for its sale.
16. Action Comics #1
For similar reasons to Detective Comics #27, Action Comics #1 attracts interest for its introduction of another iconic superhero character, Superman. As well as being the first in the run of Action Comics, Superman's debut makes it a valuable collector's piece that could make you very, very wealthy.
Fewer than a hundred copies of Action Comics #1 are known to exist worldwide.
15. Marvel Comics #1
The company, Marvel Comics, has been around for a long, long time and started out life as Timely Comics. It was there comic book series known as Marvel Comics that was so popular that icon and visionary Stan Lee pushed for the company to change their name to that and so they did.
As such, the first issue of the comic bearing that name, not only has some iconic characters like the Sub-Mariner and the Human Torch but also is highly valuable because of its cultural relevance. Only 26 issues of it are known to exist (although there may be more in attics and storage units) making it super rare.
14. Bloodshot #0 Error Variant
In the 90s, many comic book publishers would print obscure or rare versions of their comics to make them more desirable to collectors and Valiant comics – one of several new publishers who were attempting to break into the industry – did just that by printing Only 5,000 copies of Bloodshot #0 and putting gold foil on the cover.
However, gold foil created an issue in the printing process, and so there are only 22 copies of Bloodshot #0 floating around. These are known as “Platinum” variants, believed to be a limited run to test the printing before the rest of the copies were printed with gold coloring. Even rare than that is the Pink Gold variant that arose due to a printing error. Only one is known to exist.
13. Maxx 1/2 Red and Blue Variant Prototypes
Maxx was a reasonably forgettable comic book that was notable for its purple title font on the cover on its foil print. However, before purple was decided upon red and blue prototypes were trialed with about 10 copies of each printed.
These have subsequently become relatively sought after despite no one really caring about the character's involved.
12. Damsels #1 "Red Rose" Scott J Campbell Variant Cover
Variant covers are a strange quirk about the comic book industry where comic companies will print limited runs of certain variant covers, but won’t sell these individually. Instead, comic stores have to order a certain amount of normal issues, and for each five or ten of fifty issues the store orders, the publisher will provide one special issue with a rare cover. The comic store is then able to sell that rare variant at an inflated price thanks to its collector appeal.
One such incidence of this is the Damsels comic. Several variant covers were made and distributed, the rarest being the "Red Rose" Scott J Campbell Variant Cover where only 10 were put into circulation. Each came with a certificate of authenticity, meaning that it is one of the rarest comic books around despite only being printed in 2012!
11. Turtlemania Special Gold Variant #1
Before the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles became a massive property in film and TV, they started as a parody of the Frank Miller Daredevil comics. As such, the indie comics are rare.
Only 3,000 copies were printed with only a hundred “silver” variants. The gold variants were hand-numbered and featured a sketch from the artist. Due to their rarity, they are valued at around $4,500
10. Superman #409 Superhombre Logo Variant
In 1944, DC Comics came up with an alternative design and trademark for Superman known as Superhombre, but they didn't use it. The problem is, with trademarks, they have to be in regular use or they expire so to stop anyone else getting their hands on it DC printed 10 issues of Superman #409 with the alternative Superhombre logo.
What started out as a smart way to circumnavigate a legal issue, became a collector's item.
9. Evil Ernie Octagon Editions
Many won't particularly remember Evil Ernie, but four issues of his comic were produced with leather-bound covers as special editions, mostly to appeal to the comic book speculator market of the 90s. 8 copies of each of these four editions were made and sold for $100.
As such, their high price at the time has increased nearly ten-fold due to the rarity, with each one coming with a sketch from the comic book artist.
8. New Adventures #26
Not containing any significant characters, this comic from a bygone era doesn't generate the same sort of fervor by collectors as Action Comics #1 or Detective Comics #27, but it is significantly rarer with only 5 issues known to be in existence. However, its less recognizable cover could also be a factor.
From the Golden Age of comic books, it is unfortunately overlooked for others of more prominent note.
7. Lady Death: Phoenix Rising Edition
A spin-off from the Evil Ernie comics, Lady Death was a personification of death and had a popular enough cult following for cosplayer Alex Hayes to attended Phoenix Comic-Con dressed as the character. As such, she was snapped as Lady Death and used on the front of five copies of a special variant for the Lady Death comic.
So rare is this variant that it has never been put up for auction, so good luck getting your hands on one anytime soon.
6. DC Comics Presents #22 Whitman Variant
It took a long time for this edition to come to light and when it did, there proved to be a mixup with the publisher's logos.
Obviously, DC and Whitman comics were using the same printer at the time but as only a few issues of DC Comics Presents #22 have ever been seen, they’re without a doubt the rarest of the whole range.
5. Unity #1 Golden Ticket Variants
In 2013, Valiant Comics released a brand new line of five different comics under the Unity title. In a promotional gimmick, they promised special prizes to anyone who picked up one of a rare few 'Golden Tickets' hidden beneath the barcode of the comics.
Valiant didn't announce the competition until the books were already on sale, that way people wouldn't search through stacks of comic books for them at their local shop. Only 3 of the 5 have been found meaning that somewhere out there, there are 2 very rare comic books waiting to be discovered.
4. Action Comics #7 Ashcan Cover
Before variant covers became a way of generating buzz and whipping collectors into a frenzy, comic book publishers would produce cheap, sketch cover comics of each issue printed in minimal numbers – generally two per issue – with one copy stored at the publisher in their files, and a second copy sent to the US Patent Office.
These are known as Ashcan comics, and very few of them exist anymore. The last time one of these Ashcan versions of Action Comics #7 was in 2005, and it reached a whopping $37,375.
3. Venom Lethal Protector #1 White Error Variant
You'd think that printing with foil would be a thing of the past because of the number of errors it produces. The Venom Lethal Protector Series featured a black background with red foil webbing and a white background with gold foil webbing behind the main character.
Around five hundred of these comics with the black background exist, but each is worth as much as $450 if in perfect mint condition. However, only one known issue of the plain white cover is known to exist, making it incredibly rare.
2. Solar, Man of The Atom: Gold Ink Prototypes
Owing to countless errors with foil printing and its high production costs, publishers looked for alternatives and Valiant comics tried with their Solar Man comic. A new prototype was developed which used gold ink instead of foil to see whether this different material would produce a shiny and durable cover that could conceivably be sold instead of foil.
Only one copy of each comic was produced and when they weren’t needed anymore, artist Janet “Jay Jay” Jackson kept them for herself, before eventually selling them in 2015. The test was a success, and gold ink is used reasonably often now, but these prototypes remain incredibly valuable.
1. My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic #12 1 Million Variant
The My Little Pony comics broke records for publisher IDW in 2013 when the company managed to sell a million issues of the series within its first year. Titles selling around 100,000 copies are considered a success, so this was a very impressive feat.
IDW wasted little time printing a lone variant for My Little Pony #12 in lieu of the series’ remarkable milestone. This issue was sold at auction to raise money for charity and fetched $6,572.50. Given the popularity of the franchise, its value has only gone up.