Introduction to Adventure Comics
Adventure Comics was perhaps the most resilient anthology comic to ever be published in the United States. Except for a brief period from issues #346 until #424 (1966-72), the book contained two or more distinct features. With so many features over the years, the list of creators in huge. Writers include Jerry Seigel, Gardner Fox, Edmond Hamilton, Otto Binder, Jim Shooter, Sheldon Mayer, Paul Levitz, and Geoff Johns. Well-known artist Creig Flessel, Joe Shuster, Jack Burnley, Joe Simon & Jack Kirby, Frank Frazetta, Curt Swan, Jim Aparo, and Alex Toth were among the many contributors.
Brief History of Adventure Comics
Adventure Comics actually started as New Comics with a publishing date of December 1935. After eleven issues it became New Adventure Comics and finally dropped the New with issue #32 to become the familiar Adventure Comics we know today. The end of its publishing history is just as disjointed, ceasing publication with the February 1982 issue #490. It was followed by a write-in campaign to at least wait until issue #500 so it was revived as a digest with the September 1982 publication of #491 and canceled again with issue Adventure Comics #503. When the title was revived in 2006, it picked up the numbering again and ran until 2010, Adventure #529 is the last issue, for now.
Early issues in the pre-super-hero era are pretty unremarkable. Many early creators like Joe Shuster, Creig Flessel, Bob Kane, and Fred Guardineer were teenagers or in their early 20s and it’s interesting watching them develop their craft but that’s about it. Adventure Comics #40 is the first big book to hit the stands for this title.
Adventure Comics #40 features the second appearance but the first story produced of the Sandman of the Golden Age of Comics, published with a July 1939 cover date, barely a year after Action Comics #1 introduced Superman. The issue’s desirability as a “key” Golden Age comic is enhanced by its rarity. The 2019 Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide notes this and ranks the issue #23 ($175,000) on its Top 100 Golden Age Comics list. The only other issue to make the list is Adventure Comics #48 at 49th ($64,000), while Adventure Comics #247 makes the Top 50 Silver Age Comics list at 14th ($29,000).
The Golden Age issues were geared towards crime, noir, suspense, and all-around adventure. No fewer than 11 stories, mostly short ones, occupy the pages of Adventure Comics #40, with Sandman featured only in the opening story “The Tarantula Strikes” and on the cover, which is rendered by Creig Flessel, one of the most renowned comic artists of the Golden Age’s earliest days. Some very famous names appear in #40. Batman co-creator Bob Kane writes and draws a story called “The Pirate Ship.” Superman co-creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster write and draw, respectively, a story called “The Tarryville Counterfeiters.” Gardner Fox co-writes the Sandman story with artist Bert Christman. Adventure Comics #40 claims the first comic book incarnation of William Shakespeare. It also registers the second official appearance of the Justice Society of America charter member, Sandman, but the events of the story predate chronologically his first appearance in New York World’s Fair Comics #1. The words “The Tarantula Strikes” don’t actually appear on the original title page — it's listed as such in the opening volume of the reprint title Sandman Archives. The villain Tarantula who appears here bears no relation to three other characters that appear later in DC Comics publishing history.
Other highly collectible issues in the long-running title’s history include Adventure Comics #48 (first Hourman), Adventure Comics #61 (first Starman), Adventure Comics #66 (first Shinning Knight), #73 (the first Manhunter written & drawn by Simon & Kirby), Adventure Comics #103 (first Superboy in title), #210 (first Krypto), and Adventure Comics #247 (first Legion of Super Heroes). Other superhero stars featured in the title regularly over the years included Aquaman, Green Arrow, Johnny Quick, Supergirl and Spectre.
How much are Adventure Comics worth?
Adventure Comics can be worth hundreds to thousands of dollars, with Adventure Comics #40 topping the list. The Mile High copy of Adventure Comics #40 sold for $63,250 back in February of 2004. Other top sellers from Heritage Auctions include the Mile High copy Adventure Comics #48 for $54,625, the beautiful CGC 9.8 Mile High copy of Adventure Comics #72 for $50,787.50 and the CGC 9.8 Mile High copy of Adventure Comics #51 for $44,812.50 in 2008. Moving to the Silver Age, the highest price fetched for an Adventure #247 was $19,200 in February of 2019 for a CGC 8.5 copy.
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.
Adventure Comics prices - what is the most expensive Adventure Comics sold at auction?
The most expensive Adventure Comics ever sold at auction is the Mile High Adventure Comics #40, which sold for $63,250 on February 7th, 2004. It was certified as an Apparent 9.2 (that means restoration was done to the book, “very small amount of color touch, glue on spine of the cover”) on a 10-point scale by the third-party certification service Certified Guaranty Company, and listed as having “off-white to white pages”. Heritage Auctions has sold many books with the Mile High pedigree for well over the market average. This pedigree along with the San Francisco pedigree is considered by most collectors to represent the finest comics from the Golden Age.
What Adventure Comics are worth the most?
Adventure Comics #40 is worth the most but there are a few other notable Adventure Comics that are also quite valuable. Adventure #48 features the first appearance of Hourman, another charter member of the Justice Society of America is valued in the 2019 Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide at $64,000 in a grade of Near Mint Minus (9.2). Jumping to the Silver Age, we have the first appearance of the Legion of Super-Heroes (Adventure Comics #247) coming in at $29,000. Another hero who would later join the Justice Society of America is Starman, debuting in Adventure Comics #61 is valued at $27,000 as well at Adventure Comics #73, featuring Simon & Kirby’s initial Manhunter cover and story. Rounding out the top ten most value copies of Adventure Comics in values descending from $19,000 to $12,400 are Adventure Comics #72 (Simon & Kirby’s first work on Sandman), #42 and #44 (early Sandman covers and stories), #210 (first appearance of Krypto), and tied for 9th is Adventure Comics #46, 47 (again, early Sandman covers and stories).
Adventure Comics Cover Art
A lot of fine artists did covers on Adventure over the years. Let’s take the Manhunter cover for Adventure Comics #73 by Simon & Kirby which sold in 2011 for the princely sum of $119,500. The next highest price comes from a Bronze Age beauty featuring the Spectre by Jim Aparo, Adventure Comics #440 for $52,580 in 2018. The long-running series Superboy is represented by Curt Swan and Stan Kaye’s cover on Adventure Comics #291 and sold for $28,800 in 2019. Three different heroes, three different art teams from three different ages. A perfect fit for this great anthology title.
Characters from Adventure Comics
Adventure Comics featured a panoply of characters over its 500 plus issue tenure. Superboy has to be its number one resident. Superboy first made his home in Adventure Comics #103, when essentially National canceled the book by removing every feature except Shinning Knight and moving in every feature from More Fun Comics except Clover and Dover. Clover and Dover headlined a More Fun Comic that turned into a humor book for its last 25 issues. Adventure Comics meanwhile went on for another 400 plus issues. Superboy was there in whole or part for over 300 issues. The Legion of Super-Heroes, with those issued added in the 21st century, take 2nd place beginning with their first appearance in Adventure Comic #247. They made four more appearances in the title before getting a running series from Adventure Comics #300 to #380. Besides previously mentioned Golden Age characters, other prominent series include Tales of the Bizzaro World and Supergirl as well as first appearances of Black Orchid (Adventure Comics #428) and the Bronze Age Starman (Adventure Comics #467).
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
Free Comics appraisal
Get a Free Auction Evaluation for Comic Books, Comic Art & Animation Art - Generous Cash Advances Available! We are always accepting individual comic books and collections for future auctions or even for outright purchase.
Sold Collectibles & Art
Comic Grading Service
How do you know what's valuable?
Our Comic Book Value Guide provides free information about how to value your Adventure Comics Comics.