Incredibly rare Batman debut Detective Comics could sell for $1.5M

This comic book could bring in some batty prices.

A rare, unrestored copy of Detective Comics #27— Batman’s 1939 debut — is on the auction block, and the final bid could approach the rare issue’s record price of $1.74 million, according to an independent seller.

“$1.5 million is not an unreasonable guess,” said Ted VanLiew, owner of Super World Comics in Holden, Mass. “It may set a record. It’s so sought after that it’s gonna get crazy attention.”

Online bidding for the ultra-coveted piece of comics history, which received a 6.0 “Fine” rating from the Certified Guaranty Company, started at just $1 on March 8 through Heritage Auctions.

Already, the top bid has soared to $612,000 as of early Friday afternoon, with the auction ending March 30 via live bidding in Dallas. 

“There are basically two comics in existence that are the holy grails of comics,” VanLiew said. “One is Action Comics #1 from 1938, the first Superman, that started the superhero craze, and then Detective Comics #27, which came out the next year.”

Batman and Robin
Bidding for a copy of Detective Comics #27 — Batman’s debut — had reached $612,500 by Friday afternoon.
Heritage Auctions

Detective Comics #27 cemented its place in comics lore by introducing the world to Gotham’s millionaire orphan Bruce Wayne with “The Case of the Chemical Syndicate,” by artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger.

In the feature, Commissioner Jim Gordon invites the socialite Wayne to the crime scene of a murdered man named Lambert, who is the co-owner of Apex Chemical Corp., and whose son at first is believed to have knifed the man to death. Donning his disguise as Batman, Wayne tracks down Lambert’s real murderer: his greedy business partner who was killing fellow co-owners to gain control of their company.

CGC has graded just 75 copies of Detective Comics #27, with 14 unrestored books bearing a higher rating than the current one for sale. 

Page from the 1939 Detective Comics #27
The 1939 issue featured the debut of Gotham’s orphan millionaire Bruce Wayne.
Heritage Auctions

The copy up for grabs at auction is surfacing now because the unnamed seller needs the cash for a ritzy new pad, according to Ed Jaster of Heritage Auctions.

“This particular consigner is looking to purchase a new home, and it’s a multimillion dollar home, so some of his comic assets became available,” he said.

Another copy of Detective Comics #27 with a 6.5 grade fetched the record $1.74 million in May.

Superman No. 1, which raked in a colossal $5.3 million in a 2022 private sale, hold the record for most expensive comic book.

Cover of Superman #1
A high-grade copy of Superman #1 holds for the record for the highest comic book sale price of $5.3 million.
Heritage Auctions

Robert C. Storms of High Grade Comics said that the comics market broadly has chilled compared to the COVID years, in part due to uncertainty in the stock market and banking systems. Still, sales of “super high” items like Detective Comics #27 have been largely immune to such economic fluctuations. 

“​​There’s only a certain number of buyers that are gonna lay out that kind of money, so it really is about how comfortable are they with spending that kind of money,” Storms said. “The current economy won’t influence their sale.”

The Detective Comics #27 sale comes as part of a larger comic auction that includes copies of Batman #1 and Marvel Comics #1, and a restored Superman #1 book.