A lot of people assume because I “collect” comics that I must have some rare, valuable ones stashed away for my pension. Anyone remotely inside the hobby knows, of course, that such notions are a complete fantasy. While I do see some value in investing in comics if you can afford to, the ones that are worth anything in the long term are, generally speaking, already well-identified and unlikely to be joined by anything in the future. I doubt we’ll ever get another Action Comics #1, or Amazing Fantasy #15, or even a Hulk #181. The only comic I can even imagine joining those ranks is Amazing Spider-Man (Vol. 2) #36 – the 9/11 issue. And that’s currently going as low as £15 on eBay. AND it’s pretty fucking embarrassing. No, I buy comics to read. The only time I’ve ever though a comic was worth more to me sold than owned was when I resold Origin #1 and #2 for £49, two weeks after they came out. I bought the trade with the profits.
For that reason, picking a “most valuable” comic is tough to do. Assuming we don’t count trades (in which case Absolute LoEG or the Alias Omnibus has it, because they started off expensive and have since become much more scarce and desirable) then there are only a handful of issues I’ve paid more than a few quid for. I paid £10 for a set of all 5 X-Men #1 covers. I paid £10 for some bullshit, 2000-copies-only, foil-covered reprint edition of the Lee/Kirby X-Men #1-3 (I misread the price and felt too embarrassed to put it back after I realised). I paid £7 for Uncanny X-Men #236, but I got completely gouged on that one. To try and settle this, I’m going to go read the eBay listings, remove CGC listings and job lots, order the results by price, and see how long it is until a comic I own comes up.
The first comic I actually own is the first print of the Obama Spider-Man issue (#583) which someone has listed at £80. Although there are no bids, and I’ve got a second printing because I wasn’t going to go and queue like a mug. Between the massive number of copies of that issue in circulation and the relative unpopularity of Obama right now, I suspect it won’t be worth anywhere near that in real terms. Certainly not in a few years.
Some complete sociopath is selling Hulk: The End for £75. I have a copy of that – it’s a prestige format (square-bound) adaptation of a Peter David prose story where the Hulk is left alive with only a floating camera for company. It’s good, and as an expensive(ish) comic, it was presumably under-ordered, but there’s no way it’s worth that much now. It’s been reprinted to death, for one thing. There are more people listing it at £39.95, which suggests there might actually be *some* demand. Checking the completed listings, copies in the US have sold for the equivalent of £9-£11, so that’s the number to beat.
Daredevil Vol.2 #1 (Kevin Smith/Joe Quesada relaunch) is listed for £31.12. A CGC 9.6 of that recently sold for £20. Of course, mine isn’t CGC graded, so it wouldn’t get half that. And most comics aren’t even CGC 9.6 by the time you buy them, as far as I can recall. Captain America #25, first printing, listed at £25, last copy sold… £6.24.
Anyway, there are too many more pages to make it worth carrying on, but what we’ve learnt here is that I don’t own any individual issue that, in its own right, is worth more than £20. And bearing in mind I have a few thousand comics, that’s proof enough that being a comic reader and being a comic collector are completely different games. Luckily, the hours of entertainment are enough for me, because the lesson is clear: you don’t make money as a side-effect of buying comics.