Most of us grew up seeing a caped crusader known as the Batman in our comics, TV shows or movies. Now, the book that launched a thousand Bats is going under the gavel.
Goldin has just listed an original copy of 1939’s Detective Comics no. 27 in which the shadow-lurking vigilante and billionaire playboy made his debut. In the six-page story of the issue dubbed “The Case of the Chemical Syndicate,” Bob Kane and Bill Finger introduce us to philanthropist Bruce Wayne and his alter ego Batman. The costumed hero went on to become a cultural touchstone worth millions. So too has the comic book.
As one of 36 originally printed, the literary grail is especially sought after among collectors. This particular example has been given a 6.5 grade by Certified Guaranty Company, a Florida-based comic book grading service, alongide just six others. According to Goldin, there are only eight copies that are graded higher.
As to be expected, these rarities pull in the big bucks, too. Heritage Auctions sold a 7.0-grade copy of the book for $1.5 million in 2020—the highest price ever realized for any Batman comic book. The auction house also sold a 8.0-grade copy for $1.1 million in 2010. This example, meanwhile, is sitting at $950,000 at the time of this writing, with 12 days left on the sale.
A look at issue #27’s backside. Courtesy of Goldin
Detective Comics, known today as DC Comics, was launched in 1937 by Malcolm Wheeler-Nicholson, who was not only an American pulp magazine writer from Tennessee but also a distinguished military officer. The anthology series is now the longest continuously published comic book in the US, according to Goldin. It’s also responsible an array of beloved characters, such as Wonder Woman, Superman, Aquaman and more. Although it’s difficult to work out exactly how much DC is worth, the company’s superhero films have a box office average of $224 million per release, as reported by IndieWire.
The Dark Knight, in particular, continues to be incredibly popular with audiences. In fact, The Batman by Matt Reeves, which was released last March, has made more than $700 million worldwide.
And it all started with this book.