DescriptionDetective Comics #27 (DC, 1939) CGC VF 8.0 Off-white to white pages. This is perhaps the most desirable comic book we have auctioned at Heritage to date.
The first appearance of Batman, this comic has been considered among the top books in the hobby ever since comic collecting began. It enjoyed a brief tenure at #1 on Overstreet's Top Golden Age Books list, and while it's been ranked #2 behind Action Comics #1 (Superman's first appearance) for some years now, it is the one serious contender to dethrone Action #1 in years to come. Which character is more popular now, and which will be more popular in years to come, Batman or Superman? We think most people would say the former. The character's recognition factor thanks to his success in other media makes this copy an item with exceptionally broad appeal.
This clean, beautiful copy really delivers when it comes to eye appeal. As far as this issue is concerned, most seasoned Golden Age collectors would be prepared to accept any number of flaws, but they will find only inconsequential ones, and none that mar the very strong impression you get the moment you lay eyes on the book. Issue #27's solid yellow background is ordinarily very prone to smudging, yet this copy somehow avoided it. The red block with the Detective Comics logo also discolors easily, and is almost never seen as the solid block you see here without a color break marring it somehow! Also, note the absence of spine splits, creasing, and most other things that are known to mar comic books of this vintage. We can only encourage the prospective bidder to examine the scans of other unrestored Detective #27 copies in our online auction archives to fully appreciate how unusual this copy is.
Detective Comics was what gave the company now known as DC its name, and was innovative as a single-theme comic in a day when a variety of features was the norm. But up to this point in the series' run this anthology title was fairly unremarkable except for some striking covers. Of course, those early issues are fervently sought after today, but the interiors were populated by the fairly standard likes of Slam Bradley and Speed Saunders, nothing a kid would go out of his way to ask a newsdealer for.
When this issue was released with a May 1939 cover date, Superman was the only other superhero on the stands, save for the now-obscure likes of the Arrow and the Crimson Avenger. So it's no wonder that the striking cover by artist Bob Kane made a strong impact. It has taken its place as one of the most famous covers in the history of comics. Kane and writer Bill Finger (generally credited these days as a co-creator of the character) produced a hero to rival Superman without imitating the earlier character. As Jim Steranko noted, "Superman had given DC its strength, but Batman gave it tone. Of course, Superman was more impressive... but Batman was more fascinating."
"The Bat-Man" appeared in a six-page story that also introduced the character of Commissioner Gordon. The second-to-last panel revealed that this mysterious figure was in fact Bruce Wayne, introduced earlier in the story.
The character has been in continuous publication since 1939 (a distinction only Superman shares among comic-book characters), and thanks to his success in a variety of media, we dare say Michael Fleisher was correct when he dubbed the character "the world's foremost fictional detective after Sherlock Holmes."
The Pinnacle Hill Collection, from which this copy hails, is not an original-owner collection, but was assembled in the 1960s and 1970s by a discriminating collector who purchased from the major dealers of the day.
Since a Detective #27 in any grade is the crown jewel of any comic collection, nobody ever seems to want to part with one, and when one is on the market it tends to be a restored copy. This is easily the highest-graded unrestored copy Heritage has auctioned, the next highest being VG 4.0!
While of course not every existing comic has been CGC-certified, many of the notable pedigree comic collections of high-grade Golden Age have lacked this key issue. It was notably absent among the Lamont Larson collection and the Davis Crippen "D" Copies, two of the few pedigree collections which began early enough to encompass this book's May 1939 cover date. That early date is a major obstacle. For example, the two best original-owner Golden Age collections Heritage has brought to auction (other than the aforementioned Crippen copies) are the Harold Curtis and Ralph Chicorel collections. These two outstanding Golden Age hoards, put together by boys who avidly collected Batman, did not begin until 1940 and late 1939 respectively. As a comparison, take Marvel Comics #1, cover-dated just five months later - Heritage alone has sold four copies of that book from CGC-recognized pedigrees, and a couple of other attractive copies from other sources. Since so few nice Detective #27s have surfaced to date, it is fair to assume that few others will follow.
It's worth noting that the other copy to receive the 8.0 certification had "off-white" pages (one notch lower on the scale than the copy offered here). That copy sold for $278,189 on 10/26/2001 in an auction held by Mastronet Inc. Given that result and the jump in price that top Golden Age keys have made since then (consider the FR/GD 1.5 Detective #27 that Heritage auctioned for $83,650), the stated Overstreet VF value noted below seems conservative indeed.
Overstreet 2009 VF 8.0 value = $240,000. CGC census 12/09: 2 in 8.0, none higher. From the Pinnacle Hill Collection.
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