In the pantheon of superheroes, Spider-Man is probably the unluckiest guy there is. Sure, Batman’s parents died, but they left Bruce Wayne with a fortune. When Spider-Man’s parents died, Peter Parker was left with an elderly couple in a questionable NYC apartment. Instead of becoming a brooding creature of darkness, Spider-Man became a fast-talking, hard-working everyman, and the stories of his innumerable trials and tribulations can be worth quite a few bucks, as well as provide a quick education about comic book values in general. Here’s a top ten list of the most valuable Spider-Man comics, based on recent auction results.
Bear in mind that comic values fluctuate wildly depending on the condition of the book itself, and whether or not it’s been professionally graded and prepared in a sealed, archival case. This can mean a difference in price that can very in the amount of tens of thousands of dollars. Examples to follow.
It’s pretty common knowledge that any A-list superhero’s very first appearance in a comic book is going to be worth a few bucks. The Spider-Man you see on the cover of Amazing Fantasy #15 is relatively unchanged today, the product of the three men who would change the comic art form in more ways than we can count: Stan Lee, Steve Ditko and Jack Kirby, all of whom have names which are revered by visual storytellers the world over.
This combination of talent, combined with a character who would leave a lasting impression on readers, make this a prime example of a comic book holy grail. At an auction in 2011, a graded copy of Amazing Fantasy #15 sold for $1.1 million dollars.
More recently, a copy of this comic in inferior condition sold for $20k at auction, revealing the huge disparity between different comic book grades. An off-white page or a rusty staple could cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars.
By contrast, you can also find a fair copy of Amazing Fantasy #14, the issue just previous to this one, for around $20. So, it’s not always the age of the comic, but the characters involved that lend a comic value. Who know at the time that Spider-Man would become a hit?
Comic characters don’t seem to make their first appearance in their own books very often, with authors instead choosing to introduce characters in a familiar environment before entrusting them with their very own title.
After Spider-Man proved popular as a guest star, he was given his own comic less than a year later, encountering the Fantastic Four (and not on very friendly terms) in his very first issue. He’d later join the Fantastic Four (a few different times, actually), so this ill will didn’t endure for too long.
A near mint copy can go for around $40k, and quite possibly a little bit more if it’s sealed on the aforementioned archival slab. Again, who knew that this flash-in-the-pan character would be around 50 years later?
Here’s where recent auction values can get a little strange, veering off from values which might once have been regarded as “standard”. One might assume that Amazing Spider-Man #2 would be the third most valuable Spider-Man comic at the moment, and sometimes it is—but that issue only has The Vulture as Spider-Man’s foe of the day. Issue #39 features the Green Goblin, who is usually regarded as Spidey’s most notorious and vicious arch-enemy. A recent auction placed this issue at $15k, even though the more common value for this hovers around $700.
This isn’t even the first appearance of the Green Goblin, but this is the issue where he reveals his true identity after two years of tormenting Peter Parker. This was certainly a big deal at the time, and identity reveals are still pretty intense affairs in today’s comics, from Batman’s Hush to the X-Men’s Xorn. Because of this, iconic characters, both good and bad, can sometimes catch a higher price for their “big reveal” comic issues.
…and then there are cases of comics being valuable just for the virtue of them being #2 in a series for a popular hero. This comic marks the first appearance of the Vulture, a old man in a green flying suit who is one of the more ridiculous Spider-Man bad guys, but who fits right into the ridiculous “old man as super bad guy” thing that great Silver Age comics occasionally touched upon.
This issue also featured “The Terrible Tinkerer”, another pretty evil old guy whose popularity never really took off. Recent auctions have finished around $8k for this issue, which lines up with the accepted price guide values.
The rest of this list hinges upon first appearances and origins, all of which are critical “key” issues for comic collectors. The value of issues sometimes changes based on the excitement and budget of the collective nerd population, or the appearance (or disappearance) of a previously unknown copy of a particularly rare issue, but it’s a pretty sure bet that if you have one of these and it’s in good condition, you should probably do everything you can to keep it that way.
#5 & 6) Amazing Spider-Man #3 & Amazing Spider-Man #6 (1963)
Once again, we meet two major villains: Doctor Octopus and The Lizard. Because of their prevalence in Spider-Man’s battles, their first appearances bring about $6k each, if these comics are in near mint condition.
Unsurprisingly, the first four issues of Amazing Spider Man are all worth a ton of cash, when they’re in good condition. This issue features the first appearance of Sandman, the shape-shifting bad guy who made an appearance in Spider-Man 3, and a constant threat to Spider-Man. A solid copy sells for around $5k.
Here’s an anomaly in the list of most valuable issues of Spider-Man, based on recent auction results. While this issue typically is valued at around $700, recent auctions have ended at $5 and $4K, showing that this suddenly high price might be more than just an anomaly.
So, why is this issue worth so much? This marks the very first appearance of The Punisher, a vigilante anti-hero who ended up obtaining a cult following. Often, it’s a character’s later appearance and viral popularity that will retroactively give a comic value. If the world suddenly embraces Stilt-Man tomorrow, it’s equally likely that the value of his appearances in comics will also increase in value.
Most notably, The Punisher’s popularity was part of a movement in comics towards “grittiness”: gun-toting, cursing heroes who re-grounded the comic world after the exuberant pseudo-science of the Silver Age. He’d eventually get his own series, and a trading card series with special pack-in cards that had a charming scratch-and-sniff gunpowder scent.
Here’s another auction anomaly. Recently, a copy of issue #300 sold for nearly $4k at auction, though near-mint copies are generally valued at around $200. So, what makes this issue so special?
First, this marks Spider-Man’s first full battle with Venom, an alien who came out of a vending machine in space, who also acted as Spider-Man’s costume for a little while before consuming other people, spawning some meaty, evil babies and then becoming a good guy for a time, all because comics are gloriously weird. He’s an important enough villain to have been a main protagonist in Spider-Man 3, and aspects of Venom still haunt the Marvel universe today.
This issue also features the artwork of Todd McFarlane, an artist who became known for redefining Spider-Man into the hyperkinetic hero we know today, and who would go on to be a founder of Image Comics after leaving Marvel.
Once again returning to the importance of the Green Goblin in the continuing saga of Spider-Man, this issue reveals the origin of Spidey’s arch-nemesis. Finally, readers found out exactly why (spoiler alert) Norman Osborne started dressing up like an imp and chucking exploding pumpkins at people. While this issue is valued at around $775, a very, very near perfect copy recently sold for nearly $4k at auction.
Also worth mentioning is Amazing Spider-Man #14 (July 1964), also valued at around $4k, in which the Green Goblin makes his very first appearance.
So, these are the top ten most valuable Spider-Man comics, based on current price guide values and recent auction results. Don’t forget that condition of these issues has an enormous impact on their prices, but also that these aren’t the only comic issues that are worth a fair chunk of change. It’s time to start digging through closets to see if you can find hidden treasures!