As Marvel’s first comic book fetches $1.26 million, here are five things to know about the superhero business


(Lena Rose, Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Charlotte Edmond, Senior Writer, Formative Content

  • Marvel’s first comic book just sold for $1.26m.
  • Movies have contributed to the enduring popularity of superheroes, bringing in new audiences.
  • The printed comic is still big business, worth over $1bn in North America alone.

Kapow! Thwack! Boom! Who knew the price tags on comics could pack such a punch?

A 1939 Marvel comic book just sold at auction for $1.26 million – and it’s not even the most expensive comic out there.

The copy of Marvel Comics No 1 is the most expensive Marvel issue ever sold. It introduces characters such as Marvel’s very first superhero, the Human Torch, and its first mutant, Namor the Sub-Mariner.

It was originally purchased by a Pennsylvania mailman, and its condition has been rated as 9.4 on a scale of 1 to 10.

Original marvel comic
The near-pristine Marvel comic reached a record price.
Image: Heritage Auctions

With superhero movies and paper comic books seemingly as popular as ever, here are five more things to know about the industry.

First Superman comic
Superman was created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.

1. Superman tops the comic book charts

Superman’s debut in the number 1 edition of Action Comics, released in 1938, holds the crown for the most expensive comic. It was sold on eBay in 2014 for $3.21 million. Three years earlier, actor Nicholas Cage sold another copy of the same edition for $2.16 million. Only 200,000 copies were originally printed.

Avengers films draw huge revenues at box offices worldwide.
Image: IMDB

2. The Avengers top the box office

The four Avengers films are the highest-earning superhero films, together bringing in nearly $8bn at the worldwide box office. Avengers Endgame is the highest-grossing movie to date.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean they are the most popular superheroes out there. Batman has had 11 different films made in his name, with four different directors.

Comic book films highest grossing
The Marvel Cinematic Universe films were the highest grossing film series of all time, in October 2019.
Image: Statista

3. The printed comic market is still big business

Research suggests the comic book industry has been growing steadily since the early 1990s, driven in part by the profitability of licensing and advertising. But since 2017 the market has started to slip. Total graphic novels and comic sales dipped 6.5% in the United States and Canada in 2017, but nonetheless remain in excess of $1bn.

Luke Cage comic debut
Luke Cage later got his own Netflix series.
Image: Marvel Fandom

4. First black superhero to have his own comic

Luke Cage was the first black superhero to get his own comic book. In 1972, Marvel created this man with unbreakable skin – the Hero for Hire – in the wake of the popularity of films like Shaft and Superfly.

A recent survey leaves the public divided on the diversity of superhero movies, but a surprising number of people can relate to the characters as depicted in films.

5. Marvel vs DC

It’s a divisive topic among fans, with both empires using TV and film to expand their fan base.

In the cinematic universe, Marvel films are undeniably more prolific, with characters such as Spiderman, Ant Man, Iron Man and The Avengers on the big screen.

According to a 2018 YouGov survey, more people prefer Marvel over DC.

Marvel and DC public preference
When asked, more people preferred Marvel media to DC.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

China is a renewable energy champion. But it’s time for a new approach

250+ senior claims leaders under one roof, exchanging transformation strategy

More needs to be done to bridge the digital gender divide

Parliament commemorates the liberation of Auschwitz 75 years ago

Upgraded EU visa information database to increase security at external borders

Khashoggi murder trials must public and meet international standards, UN expert urges

How LA plans to be 1.6°C cooler by 2050

Seize the opportunities of digital technology to improve well-being but also address the risks

Women’s work faces the greatest risk of automation, says new research

Is a deal over EU budget possible today?

‘Global sisterhood’ tells perpetrators ‘time is up’ for pandemic of violence

WEF Davos 2016 LIVE: “CO2 is not the problem, it is the symptom”, the pilots who crossed the world using solar energy cry out from Davos

“The Belt and Road Initiative should be mutually beneficial for EU and China and every participating country”, Vice-President Papadimoulis of the European Parliament underscores from European Business Summit 2018

Single Market Scoreboard 2020: Member States need to do more to ensure the good functioning of the EU Single Market*

This is what the UK’s major supermarkets say about plastic packaging and the environment

MEPs demand an end to migrant deaths across the Mediterranean Sea

Pakistan’s digital revolution is happening faster than you think

Syria still suffering ‘staggering levels’ of humanitarian need, Security Council hears

From low-earth orbit, ‘envoys’ of humanity join UN space forum

Find unity ‘to halt Libya’s senseless unraveling’, UN envoy urges Security Council

Burnout is a pandemic. Why don’t we talk more about it?

UN chief extends condolences to families of China landslide casualties

Quashing myths on 2019-nCoV for better public management

DR Congo Ebola centre attacks could force retreat against the deadly disease, warns UN health chief

EU-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement sees the light as Moscow’s reaction once more looms

How speaking ‘parentese’ to your child could make them a faster learner

Five-year low inflation for Eurozone and now Mario has to finally wake up the Germans

Idai disaster: Stranded victims still need rescue from heavy rains as UN scales up response

EU-China: Council authorises signature of the agreement on geographical indications

War in Syria: ‘Carnage’, flouting of rights and international law, must stop: Guterres

Youth Forum welcomes European Commission proposal to speed up financing for youth employment

MasterCard at European Business Summit 2015: A focus on innovation will drive inclusive economic growth for Europe

Is technology key to improving global health and education, or just an expensive distraction?

Rule of Law: European Commission refers Poland to the Court of Justice to protect judges from political control

What is behind the wide reach of  fake news about Coronavirus?

EU-Vietnam trade agreement enters into force

Why impoverishment and social exclusion grow in the EU; the affluent north also suffers

COVID-19 and nature are linked. So should be the recovery.

Corporate tax remains a key revenue source, despite falling rates worldwide

Residents and visitors to this Dutch neighborhood could share a pool of cars and bikes

Europe might not avoid new partitioning on Ukrainian crisis

Draghi to hold on zero interest rates until he leaves ECB

This is how drones and other ‘tradetech’ are transforming international trade

Empathy and human connection: how businesses can respond to COVID-19

UNICEF reports uneven progress in 30 years of child rights treaty

3 important lessons from 20 years of working with social entrepreneurs

United States: UN chief ‘deeply saddened’ by deadly California wildfires

Coronavirus: Commission Statement on consulting Member States on proposal to further expand State aid Temporary Framework to recapitalisation measures

Europe united in not supporting a US attack on Syria

These are the world’s 10 most competitive economies in 2019

Apple’s tax avoidance scheme remains as creative as their new iPhone

Practicing healthcare: Skills of a good healthcare professional and its effects

The European Sting live from the World Economic Forum 2015 in Davos

How global tech companies can champion ethical AI

Parliament wants to suspend EU accession negotiations with Turkey

‘Fire-fighting approach’ to humanitarian aid ‘not sustainable’: Deputy UN chief

This is the critical number that shows when housing breaks down

Horn of Africa: UN chief welcomes Djibouti agreement between Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia

Guterres appeals for ‘maximum restraint’ over Jammu and Kashmir, as tensions rise

More Stings?


Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s