Over Labor Day weekend, most of us were celebrating the final days of summer. But on Friday, September 1st, 2023, comic book fans around the world celebrated the 60th anniversary of two of the most important superhero teams in history: the Avengers and the X-Men. Let’s take a look at the cultural impact of Avengers #1 and X-Men #1.
On September 1st, 1963, Marvel officially published Avengers #1 and X-Men #1. Yes, they were (at least officially) on the same date! In some ways, it’s appropriate that the two teams would be born on the same day; they are like Superman and Batman: two opposite, yet complementary forces.
Although the two teams often come into conflict, they also provide balance to one another. The Avengers are like the cool kids in school; the public adores them, they often represent law and order and have often worked alongside the U.S. government (think Superman).
On the other side, the X-Men are the freaks and geeks who have lived as outlaws and vigilantes, hated and feared by the people they have sworn to protect (think Batman).
Due to their different lived experiences and agendas, the two teams have squared off against one another several times.
With the exception of the Justice League, no other superhero team has had a greater impact on comic book history and popular culture. Over the past 60 years, both have grown to become massive franchises, with multiple titles and media adaptations. Case in point: four of the top fourteen highest-grossing films of all time are Avengers films.
20th Century Fox’s X-Men franchise consists of 13 films, grossing well over $6 billion worldwide, making it the tenth-highest-grossing film series ever just after Batman. In addition, the X-Men have been a vanguard of addressing issues of prejudice, racism and hatred since their inception during the Civil Rights movement.
For these reasons, it’s not surprising that Avengers #1 and X-Men #1 are two of the biggest grails of the Silver Age. Let’s take a look at these two issues and compare them.
Interestingly, the most common grade on the CGC Census for both of these issues is a 3.0. There are 467 3.0 copies of Avengers #1 and 506 3.0s of X-Men #1. There is a significant price difference between these two issues, however. According to GoCollect, the FMV of a 3.0 copy of Avengers #1 is $3,200 (see below).
As most collectors know, the difference in value is due to the fact that there are no first appearances in Avengers #1, while X-Men #1 features the first appearances of Professor X, Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Beast, Iceman, and the Angel. Personally, I think the difference in values between these two issues is too large.
I love the original X-Men, but there isn’t a single character in that group that could carry his/her own ongoing series. On the other hand, each of the Avengers had their own individual series before appearing in Avengers #1. In addition, Avengers #1 represents the first major crossover in Marvel — and, as we all know, it’s really the interaction and relationships between major characters that make these stories so special.
For these reasons, I personally think Avengers #1 may be the most undervalued mega-key of the Silver Age.
Hopefully, we see these two teams appear together in the MCU in the not-too-distant future!