December was a big month for Golden Age DC keys in both ComicConnect and Heritage auctions. Let’s dive deep into the Chartbusters to determine what these sales tell us about the market for the comics every collector wishes they could own.
Clark Kent Reigns
Returning to the top of the Chartbusters is none other than Superman #1. This is a book that has been selling briskly in top auctions over the past year, with at least one graded copy trading hands each month of 2022. Much of the frenzy – and, yes, 15 graded copies selling of an 82-year-old first issue comic featuring arguably the most important super-hero of all time does indeed constitute a frenzy – is due to the $2.6 million dollar sale of a 7.0 graded copy in a December 2021 ComicConnect auction.
Top sales of high-grade keys that rarely appear in auctions will often drive sales for lower grades, raising the stakes for collectors interested in these scarce comics.
Regarding the December sale, a 4.5 graded Superman #1 topped the December 17 ComicConnect auction with a price of $517,500. That sets a record in the grade and beats out the previous top 4.5 – a November 2016 Heritage auction sale for $358,500 – by 44%.
While there were a couple sales in 2022 – most notably a 3.0 selling in an October 30 Goldin auction for $420,000 – where we saw a decline in value, for most sold grades, records were set throughout the year. While no comics are immune to a downtrending market, big Golden Age keys like Superman #1 are proven long-term investments.
More Fun for DC in the December Auctions
Coming in at the number three slot on our Chartbusters list is More Fun Comics #52, the first appearance of the Spectre. An 8.5 graded copy sold in the December 12 Heritage auction for $264,000, the highest price ever paid for this comic. With only two unrestored 9.2 graded copies topping this 8.5 copy, and one of those last selling all the way back in 2006 for $119,500, this copy was pretty much a lock to set the record, and boy did it.
Also, remember what I said above about big sales driving sales of lower-graded copies? Sure enough, a restored 7.5 graded copy sold in the December 16 ComicConnect auction – just four days later – for $22,425. Keep in mind that, of the ten copies that have received the 7.5 grade, only one hasn’t been restored or conserved, and that one universal graded copy has never sold.
There was more fun for More Fun in December when a 6.0 graded copy of More Fun Comics #73 sold in the December 12 Heritage auction for $90,000. This mega-important key features not only the first appearance of Aquaman, but also the first appearances of Green Arrow and Speedy. While it sets a record for the grade, it is important to note the sales of 6.5 graded copies in Heritage auctions earlier in 2022. The first was a January 17 sale for $192,000. The sale price then plummeted in a subsequent April 11 auction all the way down to $102,000.
That January sale was likely too high a price to pay – as evidenced by a 7.5 selling in an April 2021 auction for $111,000. But that’s what makes these auctions so much fun; it only takes two people coveting these important keys to drive prices higher than we would expect.
Big Month for Wonder Woman Keys
The December 17 ComicConnect auction saw the sale of an 8.5 graded copy of Sensation Comics #1 for $165,000, the second highest price ever paid for this book. Besides being Wonder Woman’s first solo series (predating Wonder Woman #1 by five months), the issue also marks the first appearances of Mr. Terrific and Wildcat.
The record setter was a 9.6 graded copy selling in an eBay auction in 2017 for $399,100. An 8.5 had last sold in a 2018 ComicConnect auction for $153,000. That’s only an 8% increase in value over the course of nearly five years. While you could potentially see a profit, it’s not a fantastic return on the investment.
Wonder Woman’s first appearance in All-Star Comics #8 also made it to the Chartbusters list at number 12. A 6.0 graded copy sold in the December 12 Heritage auction for $66,000, a record in the grade. That’s more than was paid in the November 22 Heritage auction for a 6.5 ($60,000), although that copy was noted as being slightly brittle as opposed to the off-white copy sold in December.
This is another DC Golden Age key seeing brisk sales since the June 20 Heritage auction when a 9.4 sold for $1.62 million; six graded copies have changed hands since mid-September.
Two Golden Age Timely Comics Return to Chartbusters
Two comics that made the Chartbusters list based on November sales – Marvel Comics #1 and Captain America Comics #1 – made a return to the list coming off sales in December auctions. Marvel Comics #1 comes in at number 2 following the sale of a 2.5 graded copy in the December 16 ComicConnect auction for $293,250. That’s more than was paid for a 3.0 in Heritage’s November auction. However, it also marks a 19% decrease from the March 2022 sale of a 2.5 in a Heritage auction for $363,528.
This was the sixth sale of a graded copy of Marvel Comics #1 in 2022 after only coming up for sale once in 2021 and not at all in 2020. The recent glut of copies appearing in auctions may be causing a reduction in prices paid, although this is the first drop we’ve seen for this book in a while in any grade.
A 4.5 graded copy of Captain America Comics #1 comes in at number 4 on the list with a $194,400 sale in the December 12 Heritage auction, setting a record in the grade.
It’s a good sale for this book, although less than was paid for a 3.5 graded Promise Collection copy that sold in the November 2021 Heritage auction for $240,000. It is, however, a bump up from the sale of a 5.0 in a September 2022 Heritage auction for $180,000.
DC Silver Age First Appearance Moving Up
While many traditional Marvel Silver Age keys made the top 30 once again – Amazing Fantasy #15, Fantastic Four #1, Incredible Hulk #1, X-Men #1, etc. – a key DC first appearance broke in at number 16.
A 7.5 graded copy of Showcase #22, the first appearance of the Silver Age Green Lantern, Hal Jordan, sold in the December 17 ComicConnect auction for $50,728, a record in the grade and up a phenomenal 148% over a June 2020 eBay sale for $20,495.
Hot Silver Age Marvel Key Has Big Sales
Perhaps no Silver Age Marvel comic has been hotter over the past few years than Fantastic Four #5, the first appearance of Doctor Doom. An 8.0 graded copy sold in the December 9 Heritage auction for $31,200, setting a record in the grade, beating out the previous record holder by 18%, only to be surpassed by a $33,500 sale in the December 15 ComicConnect auction. That’s a 7% gain in less than a week.
On a personal note, while I can certainly see the appeal in this book, I weep at the recent record-setting sales; I passed on what would now be a relatively cheap copy back in 2019, a shame since it’s a book I’ve long coveted. It wasn’t a great copy, but I could have used the increase in value since to upgrade. Let that be a lesson – always strike when opportunity knocks.
Deep Indie Cuts on the Chartbusters List
Coming in at number 21 on the Chartbusters list is a sale you don’t see every day. An 8.5 graded copy of Gobbledygook #1 signed and sketched by Kevin Eastman, sold in the December 14 ComicConnect auction for $37,055. There are only 23 graded copies of this rare early Copper Age book in the CGC census, which is actually pretty high when it’s estimated that the total original distribution was only roughly 50 copies.
So, what makes this comic so valuable? There’s an ad for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 on the back cover, marking their first appearance anywhere in print. There aren’t enough recorded sales to make any determinations regarding value but the little data we have shows this to be a $ 20,000-plus comic. Considering the signature and sketch, this doesn’t strike me as an exorbitantly high price.
A 9.6 graded copy of Vampirella #1 sold in the December 17 ComicConnect auction for $21,221, the highest price ever paid for this magazine, beating out the 2016 sale of a 9.8 graded copy for $13,145.
Graded copies of Vampirella #1 sell fairly regularly but rarely in high grades. It’s nice to see a copy of this quality going for top dollar.
It can be fun and illuminating to dig a little deeper into the Chartbusters lists to find some gems. Coming in at number 22 on the Bronze Age Chartbusters list is one of the first creator-owned comics. A 6.5 graded copy of Cerebus the Aardvark #1 sold in the December ComicConnect auction for $3,565. That’s down 13% from a May 2022 high in this grade of $4,100, but still well above a trendline that had been flat until mid-2020.
This is a comic that had been ignored by collectors until being newly discovered during the recent boom. Considering the drops we’ve seen in many books, it appears to be holding its value pretty well.