Recently, a copy of Action Comics #1, the first appearance of Superman sold for $1.5 million. A copy of Fantastic Four #1 is worth as much as $41,000, depending on the condition. Comic books remain, recession or no recession, one of the finest niche market investments around. Since the majority of us cannot afford to invest in early appearances of our favorite comic book heroes, Bronze Age comics are an excellent place to begin.
The history of comic books is divided into ages: Golden, Silver, Bronze and Modern. Each has their own distinct character. The Silver Age for instance, was the era of new super heroes groups in colorful costumes. The Bronze Age, which began in the early seventies and lasted until the mid-eighties continued this tradition; however with one distinct difference: the willingness to take on more serious subject material such as drug abuse or alcoholism or relevant issues such as feminism and racism.
One of the definitive comic books of the early Bronze Age is Green Lantern/Green Arrow #85 from October, 1971 which featured a storyline in which a sidekick became addicted to heroin. A near mint copy is worth about $140. The murder of Gwen Stacey by the Green Goblin in Amazing Spiderman #122 is a seminal early Bronze Age issue as well. Hero's girlfriends were not supposed to die. This comic is worth about $350 in near mint condition. Tony Stark, Iron Man was revealed to be an alcoholic in the infamous cover of issue #128 (near mint copy-only $18, but still a valuable addition to any collection).
The reinvention of X-Men in 1975, a superhero group created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1963, catapulted this comic book and it's spin-offs into a cultural force which is felt even today, with novels, cartoons and, of course, feature length movies still being produced-the most recent, last years X-Men Origins: Wolverine. This new version of X-Men, first introduced in Giant Size X-Men #1 introduced a writing style which focused on character development and not just the crisis of the moment. This is one of the priciest Bronze Age issues worth as much as $1200 in near mint condition.
The best way to start learning about investing in comic books is to pick up the latest edition of Overstreet's Comic Book Price Guide. It gives an overview of what is going on in the comic book industry as well as a detailed pricing of all comics ever published. These prices are averages culled from reports from comic book dealers all over the country. This Price Guide is considered the "bible" for comic book collectors.
This was just a taste of the importance comic books and the issues mentioned contribute to our pop culture history. Collecting comic books for investment is fun, interesting and can be financially rewarding. By starting with Bronze Age comic books the chances of finding issues in better condition are better as well. There is a demand for the more popular issues in any condition-and prices do drop considerably for issues that are not near mint. Good luck and enjoy!