The Record-Setting X-Men #1

by Matt Tuck

Jim-Lee-X-Men-poster-198x300 The Record-Setting X-Men #1With the X-Men’s return to stardom, 1991’s X-Men #1 and its numerous variants are getting the rub from the surge in popularity and the MCU speculation.

Love them or hate them, the 1990s left a massive impact on comic history. X-Men #1 encapsulates what is both great (the dramatic, detailed artwork) and eye-rolling (remember the holographic covers?) about the decade. If you were a collector in 1991, you bought one of these issues. Chances are, your choice for covers has gained value. Let us take a closer look at the current values for each variant.

X-Men-1-1991-Full-Spread-300x122 The Record-Setting X-Men #1THE HISTORY OF X-MEN #1

Whenever the comic community discusses the multitude of variants in today’s market, the inevitable mention of the 1990s market crash is brought up. Many collectors blame the gimmick covers and the numerous variants for the crash, and I see that trend truly starting with X-Men #1. Sure, Todd McFarlane’s Spider-Man #1 had its share of variants, but 1991’s X-Men #1 set records that still stand even today. It is even listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the highest-selling comic of all time after selling over eight million copies.

Having the creative superstars Chris Claremont and Jim Lee steering the ship helped kick off the second volume of X-Men in grand fashion. It also marked the decade of the X-Men as Marvel Comics’ flagship title. After the success of X-Men #1, many X-titles would flood the market. As a kid and avid X-fan, I bought every one of them, and I have no regrets.


There were many fans in 1991 who collected all five variants. The trick here is to have them in 9.8s because that is where the sales are garnering attention. In fact, each variant at a near-mint-plus has been selling for above its fair market value in the past month. Here’s your breakdown.

X-Men-1-1991-Magneto-195x300 The Record-Setting X-Men #1MAGNETO VARIANT

The Magneto cover is the most prized X-Men #1 among collectors. Personally, I think it is because Jim Lee was on his game when he drew the most gorgeous creation of the Master of Magnetism ever put to paper. It carries a fair market value of $90. The last two sales were both edging towards the $100 mark, at least at a 9.8.

If you don’t mind compromising on the grade, the 9.6 is less than half the price with an FMV currently at $40.




X-Men-1-1991-Gambit-193x300 The Record-Setting X-Men #1GAMBIT, PSYLOCKE, COLOSSUS, AND ROGUE VARIANT

This is a quartet that defined the new team Marvel was looking to capitalize on when the second volume debuted. Definitely having the likes of Gambit, Psylocke, Colossus, and Rogue on the cover helped boost sales and showed they would be getting more of the spotlight.

The 9.8 is averaging $55, but July has been a big month for this variant. Four of the six sales this month have been between $60-$83. If you picked this up back in ’91, hold tight.




X-Men-1-1991-Storm-194x300 The Record-Setting X-Men #1STORM AND BEAST VARIANT

Even Beast got a chance to be front and center of a variant cover. Again, Lee’s talent shines as he features Professor X, Jean Grey, Archangel, Storm, and, yes, Beast for this edition. The 9.8 averages $70, but four sales this month have surpassed that mark, with one reaching as high as $90.






X-Men-1-1991-Wolverine-194x300 The Record-Setting X-Men #1WOLVERINE AND CYCLOPS VARIANT

There’s no shortage of amazing Wolverine art drawn by Jim Lee, but this ranks among his best. Personally, I do not think Cyclops has ever looked better, and I wish the current editorial team would put him back in his 1990s attire.

Although the 9.8 has an FMV of $70, it will soon pass that mark. In the last five sales since July 11, this variant has not sold for less than $79.99, and it has reached as high as $90 twice.




X-Men-1-1991-Special-Collectors-Edition-196x300 The Record-Setting X-Men #1SPECIAL COLLECTORS EDITION

The last of the X-Men #1s, this one featured a foldout, wraparound cover that merged all four variants into an epic action sequence. This may be the best cover to collect simply because it has everything in one place.

Like the other variants on today’s list, the collectors’ edition has been faring well in the summer heat. So far in July, the 9.8 has consistently sold in the $70 range. July 6 saw one copy sell for an impressive $85.


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Sidney Hale August 2, 2020 - 9:25 am

I like the holographic X-Men covers…… the eye roll was all the people buying 100 ‘investment’ copies of a book that had the highest print run in history. I see similar trends all across the market today, and I fear that it is once again turning off real fans.

Matt Tuck August 6, 2020 - 4:10 pm

I think the difference now is that we will likely never see another massive print run like the one for those early 1990s comics, like X-Men, Spider-Man, and Spawn. Naturally, there will be fewer copies on the market.

Brian Weaver August 2, 2020 - 11:46 am

I have all. Do you suggest I get them graded now or sell them raw. All in 9.4 or better.

Matt Tuck August 6, 2020 - 4:09 pm

Graded comics bring more money if you’re looking to sell.

RhCannon lord of pigmonkey village August 2, 2020 - 12:31 pm

I’ve been encouraging people to give these books to kids an dog ear the corners for at least ten years…. I figure if we can destroy about 7 million copies we might one day recoup our losses from speculative investment.

Matt Tuck August 6, 2020 - 4:06 pm

That’s just crazy enough to work. In the words of Peter Venkman, “I love this plan. I’m glad to be part of it.”

Thomas Santiago August 2, 2020 - 3:32 pm

Yes, if you spend the money to get one graded at it is in Amazing shape, an X-men #1 9.6 or higher would be a nice addition to a collection, personally, I’d rather have a book rarer then something that they produced 8 million plus copies of, as they need the extra print run to cover damages, shortages. Retailers could have ordered more, unless it was Sold out! As the print run was so high especially because everyone knew it be a best seller, so they ordered multiple copies of each cover in such Immense numbers, orders Really were high, print run was Really high. So high that 20+ years later, if they’re store was still around, ( and many weren’t ) they probably still had books from that original order, plus all the ones that have come in from collectors selling them back, Still trying to make their profit back off all those 90’s books that were over produced. ( we used t level our shelves in the store with unsold Packs of Turok and Savage Dragon! ) Those books are a Dime A Dozen. Point Blank. Sorry for all the people who stood in line for Death of Superman.
Superman’s not dead, but a year later his sales were.
The only people that made money off those 90s comics were the comic companies and the retailers if the were lucky enough to sell a lot of them. Sorry guys, I was lucky enough to do my homework, and come in to the game after all that craziness ended, and hunted rare books that actually went up in value, rather than in the local 25¢ boxes ( $1:00 boxes now, so I guess they went up a bit )
Sure with the movies bringing more interest, there’s interest in them and they are Classics now, but I ran a comic store for over 25+ years, we bought 90s comics $5 to $10 a box, though we were generous to regulars and hard luck cases if they came on the right day of the week that if could. ( warning, if you wanna sell books, dont go on busiest or slowest days ) My advice, save up for a Big Quarter Pounder with Cheese, not 25¢ burger day and buy more than you can eat in one sitting, they dont age well.
Quality then And now, Yes!, But to much of a good thing…
Well I guess we’ll sell more $1:00 books.

Best Advice from a Pro that wants to keep his customer coming back?

Just buy what you Like! Not because you think it will go up in value.
And for Gods Sake Read Them!!!! Appreciate them for the story, art, and time the creative team put in to them, and try something new if it catches your eye. It could be the New X- men, but not if no one gives it a chance. If it goes Up in value? Yay! If not, you will like\ love it regardless. And if you get real lucky, you’ll get to see it come to life on screen ( hopefully done justice ) and share it with the world, and inspire a new generation of creators to be. Hey, I was the biggest Deadpool fan when no one knew who he was. Now the actor ( He’s great! ) wont shut up, and there are kids coming to my door on Halloween in his costume, when in the 90s I had to make my own!
Food for thought.
Nuff Said!

Thomas Santiago August 2, 2020 - 3:36 pm

And sorry for the punctuation, been really passionate about this reply, and kept my girl waiting for dinner, but hope it’s good advice, thanks the article was a fun flashback to comic history. It was a great time to be a fan, even better now! ??

Matt Tuck August 6, 2020 - 4:05 pm

I have to agree with buying what you like. It is easy to get caught up in the “comic of the month” approach, but if you buy what you want for your collection, then it doesn’t matter if it cools off later.

Wade Allan Hertsel August 2, 2020 - 6:49 pm

What about a Jim Lee autographed X-Men #1, because I have one of those.

Matt Tuck August 6, 2020 - 4:03 pm

I can’t say for sure without looking at the data, but I have found that Jim Lee’s signature doesn’t add much more value than the signing and grading fees. I have the Magneto cover signed by Lee and Claremont, and the last I checked, it was worth about what I have invested in it.

Jared Louque August 2, 2020 - 11:13 pm

What about the newsprint variants? Are they commanding a higher price in the same grades?

Matt Tuck August 6, 2020 - 4:04 pm

From what I have gathered, it does not appear to make much of a difference with this particular issue. That is probably due to the super-high print run.

Travis Bron August 3, 2020 - 4:58 am

I think ill have my xmen 1’s cgc graded now. great info Tuck.

Matt Tuck August 6, 2020 - 4:01 pm

You’re welcome, Bron.

Brent August 5, 2020 - 11:27 am

It helps that this book and the surrounding Uncanny X-Men 281 and X-Factor 71 launched what saw the greatest run of X book stories for the next year. Prior to the image break and Claremont leaving Marvel, the stories were fantastic and the art was top-notch. Regardless of value, this is a book every collector and reader should have in their collection. Thankfully they printed enough of them to make that a possibility.

Matt Tuck August 6, 2020 - 4:00 pm

I agree about this being a great X-Men era. Jim Lee’s run was amazing, and his artwork ranks with Cockrum and Byrne.

Matt Tuck August 12, 2020 - 10:15 pm

I’m curious about everyone’s thoughts on the Shia LeBeouf X-Men rumors. First it was Wolverine, now Ice Man. Think there’s any truth to it? I could see LeBeouf starting these himself as a sort of campaign.

Matt Tuck August 12, 2020 - 10:16 pm

Helps if I add the link:


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