BY MATT TUCK
Another Detective Comics #27 sold for seven figures, making it the third million-dollar comic sold since November. The thing is, Batman’s first appearance is even more rare than you may realize.
THE SEVEN-FIGURE INVESTMENT
A Detective Comics #27 kept its status as one of the two most-expensive comics ever sold. On June 17, a graded 5.0 sold for a staggering $1.12 million on Heritage Auctions. This doesn’t quite match up with the previous record set this past November when a 7.0 brought $1.5 million, but what’s $380,000 between friends?
Besides being Batman’s first appearance, there are other reasons for this comic to have earned a seven-figure price tag. Collectors may not realize how rare it is to find a complete copy of DC #27. Even at a mid-grade, having a blue universal label is difficult for any book from 1939, but to find a holy grail with all the pages intact is definitely winning the lottery.
Besides the fact that the issue is 82 years old and made of pulp paper that deteriorates much faster than today’s comic pages, no one took care of comics in the 1930s and ‘40s. They were seen mainly as kids’ stuff and treated in much the same way as a newspaper; read it and toss it in the garbage. Collecting didn’t become a serious hobby until the 1970s. Even if you are lucky enough to find a comic from this era, it is usually in poor condition with missing pages or ads cut out.
BY THE NUMBERS
CGC has only 72 total DC #27s. Of those, just 35 attained the universal label, meaning it is complete with all the pages and no missing ads. There are only 36 restored copies and one qualified grade listed in the CGC census data, which is a testament to its rarity in any and all categories. Add the first appearance of one of the two most recognizable superheroes in all of comics and pop culture to the equation, and it starts making sense why even mid-grade copies are being sold in the million dollar range.
To put that 5.0 into perspective, look again at the CGC census data. Out of the 35 graded copies with universal labels, only two of those are 5.0. In fact, there are only 19 graded DC #27s in existence that have scored a 5.0 or better. The majority of the blue labels are 6.5s, and there are only six of those. The highest grade on record is a 9.2, and we can only dream of how much that comic is worth on today’s market.
It is likely there are more ungraded copies “in the wild,” you might say, but the odds of finding one is about as good as being mauled by a black bear, a brown bear, and a polar bear. After being struck by lightning. On the same day.
BATMAN VERSUS SUPERMAN
The only comic that DC #27 can be compared to is Action Comics #1. Although the numbers are very similar, Batman’s debut is even more rare than Superman’s. According to the CGC census data, there are 73 graded Action Comics #1 on record with the company. True, that is only one more than DC #27, but look closer. There are 42 copies of AC #1 that earned the blue universal label, which means that a complete copy of DC #27 is harder to find than Action Comics #1.
At the moment, AC #1 has the edge when it comes to the most expensive comic ever sold. In April, an 8.0 made headlines after selling for $3,250,000. Who knows? If that 9.2 Detective Comics #27 ever goes to auction, we could see that $3 million mark shattered.
Matt Tuck is the author of the novel, Lost Bones of the Dead. He is a professional writer, avid comic collector, former teacher, and an international man of mystery. You can follow him on his Facebook page, The Comic Blog.