Comic Books

Analyzing Iron Man’s First Comic Book Appearances

The Invincible Iron Man is a Silver Age comic book hero that has surged in popularity as films with the Tony Stark character took Iron Man to new heights. Collectors have multiple avenues to get their hands on the key issues of Iron Man’s first and key appearances. This also means that investors in collectibles can be in the game.

Collectors Dashboard analyzes and evaluates many aspects of the collectibles industry. It is now undeniable that collectibles have evolved from hobby into an alternative asset class. This puts investors looking to make money into the mix who compete directly against collectors who have a deep passion for these assets. In short, comic books and other collectibles (sports cards, fine art, coins, stamps, etc.) are attracting money that would have otherwise been invested into stocks, bonds or real estate.

The opportunity to include either the first appearance or the first edition of the Iron Man series is readily available in both population and sales on eBay and other auction platforms. This creates an opportunity that may not include as much scarcity as some of the other superheroes, but Iron Man’s future is also not known.

The contrast of his first appearance and the first issue as his own series helps the collector better understand where the value is within this superhero.

This particular superhero’s first appearance in Tales of Suspense #39 follows the trends of most early comic books by having CGC populations highest in lower grades. There was a second introduction of Iron Man in the form of the The Avengers #1 from September 1963 and that comic book has the lowest surviving population of all three issues. The first issue of The Invincible Iron Man from May 1968 has high CGC populations in all the grades.

Tales of Suspense #39 introduced the character Iron Man to the world in March 1963. The highest population of CGC graded examples are between CGC 3.0 with 217, CGC 4.0 with 222, and CGC 4.5 with 209. Record sale of the introductory issue was one of five that graded CGC 9.6 and was sold by Heritage Auctions in July 2012 for a price of $262,000.00. According to a CGC 4.0 in 2021 is worth $6,100.00. Recent sales in this range have been sold on eBay:

  • May 9, 2021 CGC 1.8 $5,899.99
  • May 12, 2021 CBCS 1.0 $5,300.00
  • May 22, 2021 CGC 4.0 $3,700.00
  • May 27, 2021 CGC 4.0 $7,000.00
  • May 29, 2021 CGC 1.8 $7,500.00

The Invincible Iron Man #1 came out in May 1968. Lower graded examples of The Invincible Iron Man #1 such as a CGC 5 have 492 examples. Uncommon are the 258 examples in CGC grade 9.4 that create lower prices paid. The website has a CGC 8.0 issue listed as sale pending for $1,700.00 and an asking price on another issue graded CGC 8.5 for $3,000.00 with the option to submit bids lower. Popular Auction site eBay lists the following recent sales of the issue:

  • May 30, 2021 ungraded VG $265.00
  • June 3, 2021 CGC 7.0 $1,247.00
  • June 6, 2021 ungraded VG+ $350.00
  • June 8, 2021 CGC 4.5 $1,004.97

Five examples are being auctioned this Summer (2021) through Heritage Auctions. High sales from Heritage Auctions have been seen as follows:

  • August 10, 2017 CGC NM/MT 9.8 off-white to white pages $19,120.00
  • November 21, 2019 CGC NM/MT 9.8 white pages $18,600.00
  • August 4, 2016 CGC NM/MT 9.8 white pages $15,535.00
  • May 10, 2012 CGC NM/MT 9.8 white pages $7,468.75
  • November 21, 2020 CGC NM 9.4 off-white to white pages $7,200.00
  • July 27, 2012 CGC NM/MT 9.8 white pages $7,170.00

The Avengers #1 has a CGC graded population of only 265 examples which is the greatest example for the large price difference among the other two introductions of the Iron Man character. Recent sales of The Avengers #1 from Heritage Auctions are listed as follows:

  • July 26, 2012 The Avengers #1 Pacific Coast pedigree CGC NM+ 9.6 off-white pages $274,850.00
  • November 19, 2015 The Avengers #1 CGC NM+ 9.6 off-white to white pages $215,100.00
  • February 18, 2016 The Avengers #1 CGC NM 9.4 off-white to white pages $98,587.50
  • May 18, 2017 The Avengers #1 CGC NM 9.4 off-white to white pages $89,625.00

It is not the norm to have three issues to compare prices from introductions to most other established characters. It is also not unheard of. The three variations create an instance where there are some very high priced comic books in the more scarce and highest conditions. It also allows for some very affordable comics in the more highly populated editions or in the lower graded examples.

Iron Man’s character remains popular with Hollywood and the collectors community should ultimately expect to see more from these three first examples of the character. There can always be other characters besides Tony Stark who wear the flying super-suit, and the Iron Man saga could always be rebooted with or without actor Robert Downey Jr.

As for whether or not more Iron Man films or Avengers films which will include Iron Man ahead, in light of the character having sacrificed himself at the end of Endgame, that remains to be seen.