Back in 1962, just a hair shy of 50 years ago, a copy of Amazing Fantasy #15 cost a pretty penny — 12 of them, to be exact. In 2021, the price has gone up just the teensiest bit, having increased $US3,599,999.88 ($4,878,000) over the last half-century. That’s inflation for you!
The comic, which includes the first appearance of Marvel Comics’ most popular (and lucrative) superhero Spider-Man, was bought for a cool $US3.6 ($5) mil earlier this morning at a Heritage Auctions. To be fair, this was an issue in incredibly great shape for its age — it was rated Near Mint+ 9.6 by the Certified Guaranty Company, one of only four copies of the comic to reach this score, and there are no known copies in better condition.
Still, $US3,600,000 ($4,878,000) is a lot, especially if you consider other major comic auction prices over the last decade or so. The previous record-holder was Detective Comics #27, which was released in 1939 and featured the first appearance of Batman — Batman — but was bought this past November for a comparatively meager $US1.5 ($2) million. And the record-holder before that was a 9.4-rated issue of Marvel Comics #1, also from 1939, which sold for $US1.26 ($2) million in November 2019.
Even wilder, there was another copy of Amazing Fantasy #15, rated NM 9.4, that was bought this morning for a paltry $US264,000 ($357,720). And back in November of 2016, one of those other 9.6 Amazing Fantasy #15s was sold by Heritage Auctions for only $US262,900 ($356,230)!
It’s tempting to chalk up the price increase to how popular Spider-Man currently is, and that’s surely part of it. But it’s not like Spidey was unpopular in 2016. Not only had the Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield movies come out, but Tom Holland’s instantly beloved take on the character also premiered earlier in the year in Captain America: Civil War. He still had oodles of cartoons and toys and merchandise available. It’s just kind of mind-blowing.
But perhaps not as mind-blowing as how Heritage Auctions describes the events of Amazing Fantasy #15 and Peter Parker in the press release announcing the sale: “In Lee and Ditko’s story, the embittered, selfish wallflower is bitten by that radioactive spider, climbs on walls and into the wrestling ring, then bears the responsibility when his beloved Uncle Ben is killed as a result of his willful inaction.”
I’ve never thought of the character as an “embittered, selfish wallflower” before. It feels like a description that’s been passed through Google Translate… or maybe J. Jonah Jameson is moonlighting in PR at the moment?