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  • SubZero Comics

The Top 10 Rarest Comic Books in the World

Updated: 2 days ago

You might be thinking to yourself; what is rare in the world of comic books? The term "rare" can be extremely subjective. Some collectors consider comics that have thousands of copies in existence to be rare. Others will only use the term to describe something that has 100 or fewer available today. We will make things easier and agree with the latter. Comic books are generally very common and most of them have thousands to millions of copies available today (see Spawn 1 for millions).

We have seen other websites publish lists of the rarest comic books in the world and we find many of them to be extremely inaccurate as they just discuss some of the more valuable comic books and call them "rare." Just because a comic book is valuable doesn't mean it is rare. We hate to break this to everyone, but Amazing Fantasy 15 is NOT a rare comic book unless you're looking for ultra-high-grade copies. There are about 4,000 graded copies between CGC and CBCS and thousands of copies that are probably sitting ungraded in many collections. The comic is just valuable due to major demand.

A rare comic book can be worth much less than a comic book that is valuable due to demand. This list discusses the rarest comic books in the world without any kind of price bias. Note that we do not have any kinds of variants on this list. Most of the books on this list are comics that are rare due to circumstances and not manufactured to be rare (ex: a recent comic that has a variant that purposely had 10 copies printed). Unfortunately, many collectibles today are what we like to call "manufactured rare", which is a subject to discuss on another day.

Note that we use a few different sources to find out which rare comics should make the list. One of which is the Gerber Scarcity Index. While this index is over 30 years old, many comic book collectors (and major auction houses) still reference the guide. It's not 100% accurate as the referenced number of comics in existence isn't quite right (there have been many comics found in the past 30 years since the book was published), but we find that it can be very accurate with its index numbering system. The index is as follows:

11 - Not in Existence - There has Never Been a Comic Given an 11 Rating

10 - Unique - Less Than 5 Issues in Existence (ex: Jumbo Comics 7)

9 - Very Rare - 6-10 Issues in Existence (ex: Detective Comics 3)

8 - Rare - 11-20 Issues in Existence (ex: More Fun Comics 52)

7 - Scarce - 21-50 Issues in Existence (ex: Action Comics 1)

6 - Uncommon - 50-200 Issues in Existence (ex: Superman 1)

5 - Less Common Than Average - 200-1000 Issues in Existence (ex: All-Star Comics 8)

4 - Average - 1000-2000 Issues in Existence (ex: Amazing Fantasy 15)

3 - More Common Than Average (ex: X-Men 1)

2 - Common (ex: Incredible Hulk 181)

1 - Very Common (ex: Spawn 1)

Note that we also use the CGC census which has data on the total graded copies for particular issues. This data source can be useful when looking at Golden Age comic books (which are usually the rarest) as most have been found and graded by collectors. Note that the CGC census is not an accurate representation of rarity for newer comics as many of them aren't graded because they simply aren't worth sending to CGC.

Please note that these comics are rare and finding them can be tough outside of major auction houses. It's pretty unlikely that you'll come across any of these rare comics when searching through your uncle's attic. If you feel like you've found something rare or valuable, then be sure to do proper research as comic books are constantly reprinted. If you ever need any personal advice on your collection, then be sure to give us a call, text, or email. We provide any advice/our opinion on comic books completely free of charge and obligation-free.


This list can be difficult to narrow down specific issues, so in some cases, we will break things down into categories/titles. That being said, let's get on to the list of the rarest comics in the world.

Motion Pictures Funnies Weekly 1

8 Copies in Existence

1st Appearance of the Sub Mariner (Pre-Dates Marvel Comics 1)

Highest Sold Price $48,000 (Pay Copy)

Motion Pictures Funnies Weekly is one of the rarest comic books in the world. It features the first appearance of the Sub-Mariner before Marvel Comics even started (technically making him the first-ever Marvel superhero). The comic was supposed to be used as promotional material for Funnies Inc studio. It was also meant to be distributed weekly to local theaters but didn't seem to catch on, so there was no second issue (it also wasn't distributed to any newsstands). The Sub-Mariner story was reused for Marvel Comics 1 and 4 pages were added by artist Bill Everett. Many thought this comic didn't exist until copies started to surface in the 1970s. Among the copies found was a "pay copy" which has the pay for the artists and staff that contributed to the issue written on it. This copy came from the estate of Lloyd Jacket of Funnies Inc studio and is the highest graded copy in existence. A few more of this comic are out there, but none of them can match the CGC 9.0 "pay copy". There are 5 copies of Motion Pictures Funnies Weekly on the CGC census in total.

Double Action Comics 1

1 Copy in Existence (Ashcan)

Highest Sold Price - $80,000 (Paired with Double Action Comics 2)

Gerber Rating of 10

For our next entry, we decided to include the rarest DC comic book, Double Action Comics 1, but this can be debated as some collectors don't consider ashcans to be a regular comic. The only copy of this book is a single ashcan that came from the office of longtime DC employee, Sol Harrison. You might be wondering why we would even put something that was never printed as a regular comic on this list and that is because there is the second issue of this title (see our next entry). Note that most early ashcan comic books were used to copyright titles, so they are all essentially one-of-a-kind-rarities. Some other ashcans include Superman Comics 1, Superboy Comics 1, Flash Comics 1, and many more. Many comics would have an original title, but reuse content from previously printed comics. Since Double Action Comics 1 is such a debatable comic when it comes to rarity, we won't count it on this list (we'll just call issue 1 an honorable mention).

Double Action Comics 2

7 Copies in Existence

Highest Sold Price - $80,000 (Paired with Double Action Comics 1)

Gerber Rating of 10

While issue number 1 is a one-of-a-kind ashcan-style comic book, Double Action Comics 2 is also very rare (it also is not an ashcan comic like the previous issue). It is said to have only 7 copies in existence. This comic reuses the cover from Adventure Comics 37. All of the stories are reprints from pre-Action Comics 1 comic stories such as Dr. Occult (a Superman prototype character). This comic was manufactured in hopes to see if a black and white comic book would sell. It's said that some of these comic books were hand-assembled, which is possible since there are so few of them around.

New Fun Comics 3

Less Than 25 Copies in Existence

Third DC Comic Book (1935)

Highest Sold Price $8,400

New Fun Comics 3 is the third DC comic book (before they were called DC). Early DC Comics are among the rarest, but in our research we found New Fun Comics 3 to be among the toughest comic books to find today (New Fun Comics 4 comes close). This is possible because the first issue had a higher print run and sold slightly better than the second or third issues. This comic book is not a regular size issue (measuring 10" x 15") which means that CGC does not grade it. It can be hard to figure out grades, but it is said that the best copy in existence is a VG+ (4.5).

New Fun Comics 3

Detective Comics 1

16 Unrestored Copies on the CGC Census

Highest Sold Price $108,000

Detective Comics would be the title that would provide us with the first appearance of Batman (issue 27), but most collectors know that any pre-Batman Detective Comics are extremely rare. Issue number 1 in particular can be very tough to find in any grade if you factor in demand as well. The highest price a Detective Comics 1 sold for is $108k, but that copy that recently sold was a CGC graded 5.0 with slightly brittle pages. That shows that this comic (that rarely goes up for sale) can sell for big money in any grade since most collectors usually shy away from brittle pages. There are currently only 16 unrestored copies on the CGC census (we don't expect many more to show up).

Detective Comics 3

14 Copies in Total on Both the CGC and CBCS Census

Highest Sold Price $20,0000

Gerber Rating of 9

Detective Comics 3 is an early issue and seems to be one of the toughest of an already difficult-to-find run. Most single-digit Detective Comics are very rare, but Detective Comics 3 remains one of the rarest. Note that the other single-digit issues of this title also rarely go up for sale. It's tough to say which of the early Detective Comics can lay claim as the rarest, but our research seems to favor this issue. Most of the early issues have less than 50 copies in existence today. There are only 14 graded copies in total of Detective Comics 3 on both the CGC and CBCS census (both restored and unrestored).

Marvel Mystery Comics Annual

5 Copies in Existence

Highest Sold Price CGC 6.5 $28,500

The Marvel Mystery Comics 132 Page Variant is said to be one of the toughest Timely (Marvel) comics to find. This variant of an already rare comic was said to only be distributed in New York. This comic reprints the stories from Captain America Comics 22 and Marvel Mystery Comics 41 in black and white and has the cover from Marvel Mystery 33 as well. Overstreet Price Guide notes that there are multiple versions of this comic book, and says the "regular" version only has 5 copies in existence and that this variant might have less than that (making it a contender for one of the rarest comic books in the world). Note that while the cover says 128 pages, there are 132 pages if you count the covers. CGC won't grade this comic due to the thickness, so there are no census numbers.

Suspense Comics 3

46 Copies in Total on Both the CGC and CBCS Census

Classic Cover

Highest Sold Price CGC 6.0 $280,0000

Gerber Rating of 9

Suspense Comics 3 has recently gotten a major price boost due to the great cover combined with its rarity. This comic has a classic cover that Golden Age collectors just love. There aren't many unrestored copies of this comic book out there (23 on the CGC census and 5 from CBCS), which makes it pretty expensive whenever it goes up for sale. The Gerber rating on this isn't quite accurate as there are about 46 graded copies in total on both the CGC and CBCS census (restored and unrestored), but many of them are very low-grade. We initially thought this comic was rarer, but through our research, discovered that there are more copies than we initially thought. It just seems that most owners are reluctant to sell their copies. We'll leave it on this list as an honorable mention.

Star Comics 8

6 Copies on the CGC Census

Gerber 8

Comic books published by the short-lived publisher, Centaur, can be very tough to find and almost all of them are very rare. Most rarely go up for sale and many issues don't even have higher-grade copies out there. Note that some of the rarest comics from Centaur include: Star Comics, Funny Pages, Amazing Man Comics, and many more. Also note that there are many more Centaur comics that can make the list, but we decided to go with one of the hardest-to-find issues based on our research (Star Comics 8). There are only 6 copies of Star Comics 8 on the CGC census (both restored and unrestored).

More Fun Comics 52

22 Unrestored Copies in Total on Both the CGC and CBCS Census

First Appearance of the Spectre

Highest Sold Price CGC 9.2 (Larsen Pedigree) $119,500

Gerber 8

More Fun Comics 52 is among the rarest of the DC Golden Age mega-keys as we rarely see copies go up for sale. It features the first appearance of the Spectre, who would eventually become one of the most overpowered characters in the DC Universe. This comic might not sell for the highest prices when compared to books like Action Comics 1 (although an unrestored More Fun 52 hasn't gone up for sale in a while), but when an unrestored copy goes up for sale it grabs the attention of collectors. There are only 22 unrestored copies in total between the CGC and CBCS census and we don't expect many more to show up. More Fun Comics is rated as a Gerber 8 on the scarcity index.

Jumbo Comics 1

Less than 50 Copies in Existence

First Appearance of Sheena and First Jack Kirby Comic Book Work

Gerber 8

Jumbo Comics 1 is a very rare comic and also has a good amount of significance. It is the first comic book work from the great Jack Kirby (who would go on to co-create many very important Marvel characters). It also features the first appearance of Sheena Queen of the Jungle. Finally, it is the first comic book by the popular publisher from the 1940s, Fiction House. It can be tough to determine how many copies of this book are out there, but there are very few, to say the least. CGC also will not grade this comic since it is oversized. Note that all single-digit Jumbo Comics are very tough to find, and most of them very rarely go up for sale. Some will argue that issue 7 is the rarest of the run as it is a Gerber rating of 10.

New Adventure Comics 26

9 Copies in Total on Both the CGC and CBCS Census

Gerber 7

Many consider New Adventure Comics 26 to be the rarest regular-release DC comic book. We've only seen it go up for sale a couple of times and there are only 9 copies in total between the CBCS and CGC census (both restored and unrestored). Gerber rates the issue at a 7 on the scarcity index, but this is another case where we find the index to be slightly off (we would put this comic at a solid 9). This comic isn't the most valuable, but it hasn't gone up for sale in a few years.

Many comic book titles/issues are rare, but most of them have one thing in common; they are from the Platinum and early Golden Age of Comics (1933 thru the early 1940s). Comic books from this period are generally the toughest to find and coming across them in any condition can be rare, to say the least. Some of these rare comics don't even exist in high grades. Why are these comic books in particular so rare? There are a few answers to that question.

First, comics in the 1930s were not meant to be kept and collected. Many purchased them as fun reading material and since comic books were a new medium, no one considered any of these comics to be worth anything. Kids would buy these comics from the newsstand, read them, and throw them away. There are also pictures of comics such as Action Comics 1 sitting on newsstands with little interest from the shoppers.

Also note that America was going through the Great Depression when these comics were being printed, so the 10-cent price tag on these books was too much for many to afford. For many people, putting food on their table was far more important than buying a comic book featuring characters they never heard of.

Finally, those who would purchase these comics didn't keep them and would dispose of them. This was especially true when World War II came around as priorities shifted. Paper and other materials were needed and recycled for more important uses. This means that even if some people kept their comics for a few years as reading material, they still eventually threw them away so they can focus on the more important matter at hand.

This article makes it clear that Golden Age comics are rare, but will modern comic books ever be as rare as comics from the 30s and 40s? That answer is tough to say since we have so many "manufactured rare" collectibles in the world today. There have been many comic books (and other collectibles) that intentionally have a low print run to excite buyers to think they are buying something very collectible. These comics are rare, but they are meant to be this way. So it's up to the collecting community to figure out if these newer comic books should be considered rare in the same sense as Golden Age comic books.

If you have an average Silver, Bronze, or Modern Age comic book (with a high printing), then know that it will never be as rare as Golden Age comic books. The print runs on newer comics are much higher and many of the books from these periods were preserved. Finding these comics is usually pretty easy unless you're looking for the very best grades of certain issues (a good example of this would be Amazing Fantasy 15). What drives prices on these comics is demand, not the rarity.

Note that this list is for entertainment purposes only and if you feel like you have any comics listed here, then you should always do thorough research (using multiple, reliable sources) and make sure you have an original. There are many facsimiles and reprints out there, so finding an original can be almost impossible outside of major auctions. If you need any advice on your comic book collection or want to sell your collection, be sure to give us a call, text, or email. We provide any advice you might need, completely free of charge.

Note that we also buy comic book collections, from Motion Pictures Funnies Weekly 1 to Spawn 1. We pay fair cash prices and travel to you. If you're ready to sell comics or just need to be pointed in the right direction, be sure to let us know and we can do our best to help.


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