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Action Comics

Comic Book Values

Publisher: DC

Introduction to Action Comics 

Action Comics is an American comic book that is best known for introducing Superman to the world. It is one of the longest-running comic books ever, spanning 1938 to the present. Action Comics is published by DC Comics (originally known as National Allied Publications, it officially changed its name to DC in 1977). It is one of the few comics to last through every publishing era, spanning The Golden, Silver, Bronze, and Modern ages. The industry’s biggest writers, editors, and artists have done some of their most iconic work in the pages of Action Comics. This list includes Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster (creators of Superman), artists Wayne Boring, Neal Adams, John Byrne, Jim Lee and the man who has drawn more Superman stories than anybody, Curt Swan.  Among the popular writers, we have Bill Finger, Edmond Hamilton, Otto Binder, Denny O’Neil, Marv Wolfman, Paul Dini, and most recently Grant Morrison. 

Brief History of Action Comics 

Action Comics will always be closely associated with Superman, for good reason, Action Comics #1 (on sale April 18th, 1938) features the first appearance of the “Man of Tomorrow”. Originally created as an anthology title, the pages of Action Comics debuted adventures for some other famous heroes of The Golden Age. Besides Superman, there were Zatara the Magician, Tex Thompson, and Vigilante. 

As comic books shrank in size, the Silver Age saw editor Mort Weisinger forced to move away from the anthology format, instead choosing to focus on the quickly-expanding Superman mythology. The introduction of Brainiac (Action Comics #242) and Supergirl (Action Comics #252) as well as the polarizing Bizarro World (Action Comics #263), were notable additions during this time. However, Mort’s greatest contribution may have been the hiring of writer Jim Shooter to write some Superman family stories. Corresponding and working for over a year before finding out, Mort had no idea he had hired a 13-year old. Mort retired in 1970, allowing editor Julius Schwartz to update the mythos by destroying all kryptonite on earth and making Clark Kent a TV reporter for 17 years until DC decided to update the Man of Steel again at the hands of John Byrne.

In more recent years, the comic has served as a testing ground for new ideas. Lex Luthor was the main character for ten issues in the late 2000s. The New 52 relaunch in 2011 saw famed writer Grant Morrison and artist Rags Morales reset the clock on Superman, choosing instead to focus on his early days as a costumed crime-fighter. No matter the incarnation, Action Comics continues to be one of the most popular titles in modern publishing history. 

Action Comics may have briefly become Action Weekly in 1988 and started the numbering over with the second run of Action Comics in 2011 which ran until 2016. But the third run picked up the old numbering system and continues with the DC Rebirth-branded relaunch in 2016.  Action Comics has now numbered over 1,000 issues!  How’s that for staying power!

How much are Action Comics worth? 

Action Comics can be worth hundreds to thousands of dollars, with Action Comics #1 occasionally fetching millions at auction. While Action Comics #1 is obviously an outlier, even later comics in the run (#2 - #252) can fetch thousands, tens of thousands, and even hundreds of thousands from collectors. Often value can be tied to a favorite character, including the first appearance of Luthor in Action Comics #23, worth up to $65,000 or Lois Lane’s first cover appearance on Action Comics #29 which is worth up to $26,000.  Other notable first appearances include Action Comics #33 (Tex Thompson becomes Mr. America, origin), Action Comics #40 (1^st^ appearance of Star-Spangled Kid & Stripesy, also created by Jerry Siegel), Action Comics #42 (1^st^ appearance & origin of Vigilante), Action Comics #51 (1st appearance of The Prankster) and Action Comics #64 (1^st^ appearance of Toyman).

Be aware that no matter the comic, the condition of the comic has an overwhelming effect on its value – with mint condition comics being exponentially more valuable than anything else. 

Action Comics prices - what is the most expensive Action Comics sold at auction?

The most expensive Action Comics ever sold at an auction is Action Comics #1, which sold for $3.2 million dollars on August 14th, 2014. It was certified as a 9.0 Universal (that means no restoration or conservation was done to the book) on a 10-point scale by the third-party certification service Certified Guaranty Company, and listed as having “white pages”.  While there was an initial run of 200,000 copies, only around 100 are thought to still exist in the world. Of those, CGC has graded only three other Action Comics #1 8.0 Universal or higher. The combination of scarcity and the amazing condition of the comic itself led to this being the most valuable comic of all time. 

What Action Comics are worth money?

Action Comics #1 is worth the most (it’s the most valuable comic of all time), but there are a few other notable Action Comics that are also quite valuable. Action Comics #7 is the second most valuable, selling at an auction for $188,000 in February of 2008. Action Comics #10, selling for $258,000 in August 2011, is the 3^rd^ most valuable with Superman on his 3^rd^ cover and Action Comics #13 is also notable, with an auction price coming in at $185,000. All of these comics have one big thing in common: Superman is on the cover, and their unrestored condition was graded as a 7.0 or better by the CGC. 

Action Comics #1 Overview

Action Comics #1 Cover Art 

The cover art for Action Comics #1 was created by Joe Shuster, a well-known comic book artist, and the co-creator of Superman. 

Characters from Action Comics #1

Action Comics #1 is known for featuring the first appearance of Superman and Lois Lane. Since this was an anthology series, there are also stories featuring other Action Comics characters, the most notable being Zatara and Tex Thompson.  The rest have entered the dustbin of history. 

Plot Summary of Action Comics #1

Containing 11 separate stories, the most notable feature is the first in the book and is untitled. The 13-page story opens with the now-familiar 1-page origin story of Superman. His birth parents send him to safety as their home planet of Krypton is destroyed. The boy grows up as Clark Kent with adoptive parents on Earth and uses his unique powers including the ability to outrun a freight train, jump over buildings and lift incredible weights to thwart evil. 

How rare is Action Comics #1?

While it is difficult to determine exactly how many original Action Comics #1 are still around today due to many of these comics being part of private collections, it is estimated that between 50 and 100 remain intact. Not only is Action Comics #1 difficult to find, but it is also nearly impossible to locate one of these comics in Good or better condition according to the Certified Guarantee Company's comic book registry. 

How much is Action Comics #1 worth?

The rarity and value of Action Comics #1 are evident in recent auctions of the comic. An original comic in Very Fine condition (8.0) was sold for $1 million in February 2010, and another original in the same condition fetched $1.5 million a month later. A Very Fine/Near Mint (9.0) Action Comics #1 was purchased for $3.2 million in 2014, making it the most expensive comic to date.  Can’t afford to spend a million dollars on a nice copy?  Perhaps nothing expresses the value better than the sale of a low-grade copy.  A coverless copy still managed to fetch $82,622 in December of 2018.  Good luck finding this book at your local flea-market.

How to tell original Action Comics #1 from a reprint? 

Since Superman made this comic so popular in its initial run, it has been and continues to be reprinted. Many confuse the original Action Comics #1 with the version that was reprinted in the “Famous 1st Edition” series published by DC Comics. Like the original, it’s 64-page but this edition was oversized, measuring 10” x 13.5” not 7.5” x 10.25”.  It is also printed with a cardboard cover that is different from the original.  This is usually removed exposing the inside so that it looks like the original with a slick cover and pulp pages.  Besides the size, it features three staples instead of two. For more information on other ways to tell the difference between an original and the many reprints, check out[ our guide|]. 

Action Comics #7 value

Many consider Action Comics #7 to be the second most valuable comic in the series with an Overstreet Comic Price Guide value in 9.2 of $510,000. It features Superman on the cover for the second time ever. The image shows him dangling a man while using his power of flight for the first time (though technically this power would only become canon much later). Action Comics #7 was dated December 1938. Because of its limited availability and sheer popularity (plus it being Superman’s second-ever cover), this work is extremely difficult to find.

Heritage Auctions[ sold a copy|] of Action Comics #7 (certified 8.0 from CGC) for $143,400. 

Action Comics #13 value

Action Comics #13 is considered one of the top 25 most valuable comics ever, with a price guide valuation of $180,000 for any copy with a 9.2 grade. It was dated June 1939. It is the first appearance of the Ultra-Humanite, but perhaps even more notably some say it features Superman using his power of flight for the first time. This is debatable among his fans. It is famous for its cover, which features Superman stopping a rushing train from going over a collapsed bridge, as well as a two-page centerfold ad for Superman #1.

Heritage Auctions[ sold a copy|] of Action Comics #13 (certified 9.0 from CGC) for $156,000.

Why sell your vintage comics and original comic art with Heritage Auctions?

Our marketing reach and a huge base of members mean more bidders and higher realized prices for your collectible comics.

Reputation can make or break your sale. Heritage Auctions has a 60% market share in comics and comic art — three times the volume of any other comic auctioneer, and our record-breaking comics and comic art auctions speak for themselves:

  • 2019 was a record year with $79 million-plus sold, topping $58 million in Comics and Comic Art sold in 2018; triple all other comic auctioneers combined! 
  • World’s Most Valuable Auction of Comic Books, Comic Art, and Related Memorabilia: $15.121 million (May 2019) 
  • World record for comic artist Robert Crumb - Fritz the Cat Cover, $717,000.
  • The world record for comic artist Frank Frazetta - Egyptian Queen, $5.4M
  • World record for comic artist Neal Adams – Batman #251 Cover, $600,000

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