10 Rare Comic Books That Are Worth a Fortune

iStock.com/crisserbug
iStock.com/crisserbug

If you’ve been collecting comic books since you were a kid, now is the time to list them on eBay. Blockbuster movie franchises from Marvel and DC have made superheroes more popular than ever, and characters that were once only beloved by die-hard comic fans are now mainstream. Here are some of the rare issues that may have been gathering dust—and value—in your attic for years.

1. Action Comics No. 1

The inaugural issue of Action Comics marked the first appearance of Superman and helped kick off the superhero genre. In 2014, a pristine issue of the 1938 comic, with its original price of 10 cents still on the cover, sold on eBay for $3.2 million, making it the most valuable comic book of all time. Action Comics No. 1 also holds the record for second-biggest comic book sale, with a copy previously owned by Nicholas Cage bagging $2.16 million in 2011. It’s believed that 50 to 100 copies of this first issue are still out there.

2. Amazing Fantasy No. 15

Before Spider-Man became the star of multiple comic books series, TV shows, and movie franchises, he was a special character introduced in issue No. 15 of Amazing Fantasy. The comic’s publisher was so underwhelmed by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s character that he only agreed to feature him because it was the series’s last issue. But the web-slinging hero turned out to be a hit with readers after he debuted in 1962, and he remains so popular today that a private collector paid $1.1 million for his first comic in 2011.

3. Detective Comics No. 27

A year after Superman hit the scene, Batman made his first appearance in the 27th issue of Detective Comics. In 2010, an anonymous buyer purchased a well-preserved copy of the 1939 comic for $1 million in an online bid. According to experts, 100 to 200 copies have survived to the present day.

4. All Star Comics No. 8

You wouldn’t know it by looking at the cover, but issue No. 8 of DC’s All Star Comics marked Wonder Woman’s first appearance. The story centers on the Justice Society of America, but it also features the origin story of one of the fiercest superwomen in comics. A copy sold for $936,223 on eBay in 2017.

5. X-Men No. 1

In 2012, the debut issue of X-Men from 1963 sold for $492,937 at auction. The near-mint copy earned a 9.8 out of 10 on the CGC scale, the metric used by collectors to determine the quality of vintage comics. The issue introduced Cyclops, Beast, and Magneto (Wolverine wouldn’t show up for another decade).

6. Tales of Suspense No. 39

Iron Man was considered a B-list Marvel superhero for years—until 2008, when the film adaptation thrust the character into the spotlight. The buzz around Iron Man made his debut issue from 1963, Tales of Suspense No. 39, one of the best-selling comics from the era when it sold for $375,000 in 2012.

7. Marvel Comics No. 1

Today Marvel seems to dominate every realm of pop culture, but the behemoth had to start somewhere. Marvel Comics No. 1 came out in 1939, decades before the X-Men, Spider-Man, and the Incredible Hulk were conceived. But the inaugural issue from the company that would eventually become Marvel Comics did feature an early version of one of the brand’s core characters: the Human Torch. In 2001, a copy of the comic book sold for $350,000.

8. The Incredible Hulk No. 1

The Incredible Hulk’s first comic was listed for 12 cents when it hit stands in 1962, but today it can earn collectors a few hundred thousand bucks. In 2014, The Incredible Hulk No. 1 sold for $320,000 at auction. This early version of the antihero was gray, but due to printing press issues giving him a greenish tint, the creators eventually decided to make the Hulk green on purpose.

9. All American Comics No. 16

The Green Lantern’s origin story is told in issue No. 16 of the DC series All American Comics from 1940. The issue is considerably rarer than other important comics from this era, with just 21 to 50 thought to remain in existence. Those factors led to a copy of the issue fetching over $200,000 at auction in 2013.

10. Suspense Comics No. 3

The third issue of Suspense Comics—a short-lived horror/thriller title—became the most valuable non-superhero comic book ever when a copy sold for $173,275 in 2015. The provocative cover (featuring a bound young woman about to be slain by hooded figures wearing swastikas) meant that some vendors opted not to sell the issue when it first came out in 1944, and today surviving copies are scarce as a result.

The Top 25 Bestselling E-Books on Amazon Right Now

Is she reading Harry Potter for the 15th time?
Is she reading Harry Potter for the 15th time?
grinvalds/iStock via Getty Images

Right now, the ability to access books on your tablet or phone—without leaving your house or waiting days for an order to arrive in the mail—seems more magical than ever. With just about every book at your fingertips, however, it might be a little difficult to decide which one to choose.

You could ask for recommendations from friends and family, or use this website, which specializes in personalized reading lists based on books you’ve already read and loved. Or you could check out Amazon’s current list of bestselling e-books—updated by the hour—to see what the general population just can’t get enough of. As of this morning (March 31), Elle Marr’s highly anticipated thriller The Missing Sister sits in the number one spot; since its publication date isn’t until April 1, that means it’s gotten to the top of the list on pre-orders alone.

There are several other riveting thrillers on the list, including Dean Koontz’s latest, In the Heart of the Fire, and Christopher Greyson’s murder mystery The Girl Who Lived. Plenty of other genres are well-represented, too, from Stephen R. Covey’s classic self-help book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People to Jory John’s charming children’s story The Bad Seed.

And, of course, it would hardly seem like a bestseller list if Harry Potter didn’t make an appearance or two. According to this data, more than a few people are spending their quarantine time reading (or re-reading) J.K. Rowling’s beloved series—Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets are at number seven and number 17, respectively.

Look through March 31’s top 25 below:

  1. The Missing Sister by Elle Marr // $5
  1. Girl, Stop Apologizing by Rachel Hollis // $13
  1. Wall of Silence by Tracy Buchanan // $5
  1. The Bad Seed by Jory John // $13
  1. The Overdue Life of Amy Byler by Kelly Harms // $2
  1. Where the Forest Meets the Stars by Glendy Vanderah // $5
  1. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling // $9
  1. The Last Bathing Beauty by Amy Sue Nathan // $5
  1. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey // $6
  1. When We Believed in Mermaids by Barbara O’Neal // $5
  1. Rough Edge by Lauren Landish // $4
  1. The Library at the Edge of the World by Felicity Hayes-McCoy // $1
  1. If You Tell by Gregg Olsen // $2
  1. Now, Then, and Everywhen by Rysa Walker // $5
  1. The Girl Who Lived by Christopher Greyson // $10
  1. Rain Will Come by Thomas Holgate // $5
  1. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling // $9
  1. The Other Family by Loretta Nyhan // $5
  1. In the Heart of the Fire by Dean Koontz // $2
  1. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng // $10
  1. Pete the Cat and the Missing Cupcakes by James Dean // $8
  1. The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson // $15
  1. Unlimited Memory by Kevin Horsley // $10
  1. Lift Her Up by T.S. Joyce // $1
  1. In an Instant by Suzanne Redfearn // $5

At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.

The Origins of 62 Last Names

SasinParaksa iStock via Getty Images
SasinParaksa iStock via Getty Images

Last names. You've probably got one or two, and they definitely came from somewhere. Whether it's ancient or modern, signifies the beauty of nature or an abstract concept or a job, or is something Grandma came up with on the fly, last names are intimate things that anchor us to our heritage.

Here are the meanings and origins of 62 last names (maybe including yours).

1. Green

Woman in a forest with binoculars
Soft_Light/iStock via Getty Images

Welcome, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia fans. Did you know that the last name Green has been around since before the 7th century? You could have gotten that name by playing the role of the "green man" on May Day, which involved dressing in green clothing and leaves. But people were also given the name Green if they just liked wearing the color green a lot. So if you're interested in changing your last name, look no further than your closet.

2. Smith

Blacksmith forging a horseshoe
amoklv/iStock via Getty Images

Smith is an old English name given to those who worked with metal. It's probably related to a word that meant "to strike" or "to smite," which means it may have referred to a soldier or to the person hitting metal to form it into armor.

3. Schmidt

Wrought iron detail on wooden door
wernerimges/iStock via Getty Images

Similarly, Schmidt is basically the German version of Smith, which also derives from the word smitan, which pre-dates written history.

4. Lopez

Red wolf
SonyaLang/iStock via Getty Images

The popular Spanish last name Lopez came from lupus, the Latin word for wolf.

5. Thomas

Twin babies crying
leungchopan/iStock via Getty Images

It's from the ancient Aramaic word תאומא, meaning twin, but you can use it on singles or all three triplets.

6. Hill

A small white house on a green hill in the sun.
Antonel iStock via Getty Images

Hill is an English name referring to, you guessed it, someone living on a hill. Other people got the name not from location, but from the name Hildebrand or Hilliard.

7. Lynch

Man on a sailboat
nd3000/iStock via Getty Images

In parts of England, Lynch meant someone who lived by a hill. In Ireland, though, it may have meant seaman

8. Murphy

Vikings rowing in boats
gorodenkoff/iStock via Getty Images

Slightly different, Murphy comes from the Irish term for a sea warrior, which is basically a Lynch during war time. There's most likely a Viking connection here.

9. Novak

Woman giving a casserole to a neighbor
Daisy-Daisy/iStock via Getty Images

Novak comes from the Slovak word for new or newcomer. Good to know if people start calling you that as soon as you get to Serbia. 

10. Gomez

Man kissing his toddler son
Halfpoint/iStock via Getty Images

Gomo, which comes from old Spanish, meant man, and the "ez" at the end there makes it mean "son of man."

11. Cook

A male chef's hand seasons a rack of ribs.
Mikhail Spaskov iStock via Getty Images

If your last name is Cook, you probably have some ancestors who did that for a living.

12. baker.

Man at potting wheel
JackF/iStock via Getty Images

Dating back before the 8th century, Baker could have referred to someone baking bread, running a communal kitchen, or owning a kiln for firing pottery.

13. Baxter

Man holding a loaf of bread
nndanko/iStock via Getty Images

Baxter is the masculine version of the word bakester, which originally meant a woman who bakes.

14. Becker

Small house by a forest stream
Riekkinen/iStock via Getty Images

Becker is the German word for baker, and the name might have sprung up for the same reasons Baker and Baxter did in England, but it's also possible that the last name denoted someone living by a stream, or bach.

15. Hall

Long old-fashioned hallway
piovesempre/iStock via Getty Images

They were the people who worked in a house or a hall. Or even if you just lived near one.

16. Adams

Stained glass depiction of Adam and Eve in the garden with a snake.
Richard Villalon/iStock via Getty Images

Adams means "son of Adam" in England and Scotland. They borrowed the Adam part from Hebrew, of course.

17. Rogers

Statue of Athena holding a spear
Privizer/iStock via Getty Images

Rogers means "son of Roger." Roger isn't the first man in an alternate version of the Bible, though: His name comes from the legend of the Danish king Hrothgar, who can be found in Beowulf. Hrothgar, by the way, means "famous spear."

18. Thompson

Celtic crosses in old graveyard
egal/iStock via Getty Images

There are of course, a ton of these "son"s. Let's just get a bunch out of the way. Thompson, which is Celtic, means either "son of Tom" or refers to a place called Thompson in Norfolk.

19. Robinson

European robin in a snowy tree
Chris Rogers/iStock via Getty Images

You would be correct in assuming that Robinson means "son of Robin." Or Robert.

20. Roberts

Sunlight through clouds
IgorKirillov/iStock via Getty Images

Roberts means "son of Robert," and Robert means "fame" and "bright."

21. Johnson and Jones

Mosaic of John the Baptist
Tramont_ana/iStock via Getty Images

Johnson and Jones both mean "son of John." The name John comes from the Hebrew Yohanan, which means "Yahweh has been gracious."

22. Jackson

Statue of John the Baptist on the Charles Bridge in Prague
Vladimir Vinogradov/iStock via Getty Images

The name Jack is also derived from Yohanan, so Jacksons and Johnsons are really kinda the same.

23. Evans

Warrior holding a sword and shield
Massonstock/iStock via Getty Images

Evans—besides meaning "son of Evan"—is a name that changes definition depending on your background. In Welsh, it also evolved from Yohanan. In Celtic, it means "young warrior." We're learning a lot about what people used to value: warriors, fame, religion, hills.

24. Martinez

Statue of Roman god of war Mars
BMG_Borusse/iStock via Getty Images

It's a Spanish last name meaning "son of Martin," and "Martin" comes from the Roman god of war, Mars.

25. Anderson

Man lifting weights in a gym
twinsterphoto/iStock via Getty Images

The Greek word for "manly" gave us Anders and Andrew, and therefore Anderson, the son of Anders.

26. Wilson

Cat looking longingly at food
Chalabala/iStock via Getty Images

The Will part of Wilson is from the Germanic word meaning "desire." Gives an even deeper meaning to the Tom Hanks' best friend in Castaway.

27. Olsen

Old family photos for genealogy
Megan Brady/iStock via Getty Images

The name Ole came from an Old Norse word meaning "ancestors' descendants". So I guess the Olsens of the world are the "sons of ancestors' descendants."

28. Philips

Man and horse
Halfpoint/iStock via Getty Images

The Greek name Philippos, meaning "lover of horses", gave us the name Philip. Therefore, every Philips in your life is the son of a horse lover.

29. Fox

Sleeping red fox
AB Photography/iStock via Getty Images

The name Fox was taken from the animal's name. It's one of those last names that started out as a nickname. Usually, people who were called Fox were clever or else had red hair or both (probably just one or the other).

30. Russell

An intricate braid in the hair of a redheaded woman.
sUs_angel iStock via Getty Images

Then there's the name Russell, which is an Anglo-Norman word meaning "red haired" or even "red-skinned."

31. White

Curvy river in green landscape
wonganan/iStock via Getty Images

White probably referred to a person who had white hair or a very light complexion. It's also referred to people living near the bend in a river.

32. Brown

Man in brown suit holding a drink
Yana Tkachenko/iStock via Getty Images

The original Brown was someone with brown hair or who wore a lot of brown clothes. But really, wasn't that everyone in like the 5th century? I guess that explains why there are so many Browns.

33. Kim

Pile of gold bricks
JONGHO SHIN/iStock via Getty Images

Kim means "gold." It's also the most popular surname in South Korea. One in five people living there is a Kim.

34. Li

Bowl of plums
Sanny11/iStock via Getty Images

Li can mean "plum" or someone who lived near a plum tree. It's the second most popular surname on the planet.

35. Lee

A meadow filled with purple wildflowers
Raphael Comber iStock via Getty Images

The direct translation of Lee from Old English is "an open place," so it might have referred to a meadow or a water meadow.

36. Stewart

Butler at a door
Siri Stafford/iStock via Getty Images

The Scottish name would have denoted a guardian who handled administrative tasks for a big royal household. It comes from the ancient word "stigweard."

37. Clark

Vintage typewriter with paper
SimoneN/iStock via Getty Images

Clark means "professional scribe." So if I live near a hill and I'm something of a scribe, would be a Lynchclark?

38. Walker

Raw wool and tools
LuismiCSS/iStock via Getty Images

Walker could have been someone who did fulling, which was walking on cloth to improve its quality.

39. [Another] walker

Two park rangers
Thampapon/iStock via Getty Images

Another occupation related to that name: military officers who would monitor a forest area by, you know, walking.

40. Allen

Vellos in an orchestra
Lindrik/iStock via Getty Images

This name means "little rock" or "harmony." So please enjoy using your Harmony Wrench to build your next swanky piece of IKEA furniture.

41. Myers

A black sign with golden letters reading City Hall
pabradyphoto iStock via Getty Images

In English, Myers means "son of the mayor." It may have also been used as a nickname for someone pompous.

42. Singh

Regal lion
Andrew_Deer/iStock via Getty Images

Singh means "lion." Sikh in origin, it's given to a son on achieving manhood.

43. COHEN

Hot priest
Rawpixel/iStock via Getty Images

It's Hebrew for "priest." But the name might also come from Gaelic Irish where it meant "son of wild goose."

44. PARKER

Female park ranger with lions
aroundtheworld.photography/iStock via Getty Images

The original Parker was a gamekeeper. Or maybe a park keeper. Makes sense.

45. Wright

Woman using a power tool
PIKSEL/iStock via Getty Images

The name comes from an Old English word for "craftsman," and usually denoted someone who made things with wood, like windmills or wheels.

46. Carter

A donkey in front of a green cart that has a sack in it
tom-ster iStock via Getty Images

Carter is also English. It originally referred to a job in which someone would transport goods via cart, hence Cart-er.

47. Schneider

Female tailor
Artem Peretiatko/iStock via Getty Images

Schneider means "tailor" in German. The English version is, of course, Taylor.

48. Muller

Windmills and tulips
Olena_Znak/iStock via Getty Images

In German, Muller meant someone who operated a mill. The English version of that one is, also of course, Miller, and they both would have needed a wright to build their mill.

49. Cooper

Warehouse full of barrels
saiko3p/iStock via Getty Images

In England, a cooper was someone who made barrels. If you get a bunch of barrel makers together in tiny cars you have many coopers in Mini Coopers.

50. Moore

Yorkshire moors
Danielrao/iStock via Getty Images

Moore has multiple meanings. It may have meant someone who lived by a moor or someone who worked on boats, or someone who was dark-skinned, like Othello.

51. Perry

Close-up of a bunch of golden pears on the branch of a pear tree
PaulGrecaud iStock via Getty Images

In Old English, if you were named Perry, it meant that you spent a lot of time near pear trees. That sort of feels like a lazy nickname situation. In French, it was someone who worked in a quarry.

52. Turner

Wood being turned on a lathe
CarlosAndreSantos/iStock via Getty Images

Turner also has a couple different origins. It might mean "turn hare," or someone who can run faster than a hare. It could also mean "one who works with a lathe".

52. torres

Belem tower in Lisbon Portugal
FedevPhoto/iStock va Getty Images

In Portuguese and Spanish, Torres means "tower." So, someone with that last name was someone who lived by a tower.

53. Hoffman

Female farmer in a wheat field
dmbaker/iStock via Getty Images

In German, Hoffman meant someone who was a steward on an estate. Or someone associated with a farm. Either way, do not hassle the Hoffman. 

54. LEWIS

Cannon overlooking a river
Sean Pavone/iStock via Getty Images

Lewis comes from many cultures and has a few different meanings. An English Lewis was the son of a Lowis. Lewis also developed various first names in France and Germany and Normandy and so on. Those with the last name Llewellyn, in Welsh, usually becomes Lewis in English. They all came from the Frankish name Hludwig which meant "famous battle."

55. Young

Female teacher and children in preschool
Rawpixel/iStock via Getty Images

Young referred to the youngest child. You might also might have earned the surname if you were young at heart.

56. Weber

A woman weaving at a hand loom.
WichitS iStock via Getty Images

Weber is German for "weaver." It probably stemmed form the Old English word webbe, which meant "to weave."

57. King

Statue of King Edward VII
AmandaLewis/iStock via Getty Images

In English, King obviously means leader, but many people adopted it who weren't rulers, and it was used as a nickname quite often. You'll notice, for instance, that the Queen of England is not named Elizabeth Queen. But the name became popular among American immigrants from Ireland, and in the 16th century it was also common to give orphans in France the last name Roi, meaning "king."

58. Garcia

Brown bear cub climbing a tree
guyonbike/iStock via Getty Images

The etymology of Garcia isn't certain but most believe it came from a Basque word meaning "bear," or "young bear."

59. Rodriguez

Female chief executive officer
fizkes/iStock via Getty Images

Rodriguez means "famous chief." But it may also have come from a word meaning "red-haired one." So, if you're a famous red-haired chief, you're all set.

60. Campbell

Model of teeth with braces
zlikovec/iStock via Getty Images

Campbell derives from two Scottish-Gaelic words: cam meaning "crooked" and bell meaning "mouth." Shout out to all the crooked mouths out there.

61. Abdullah

Muslim women praying
Rawpixel/iStock via Getty Images

Abdullah means "servant of God." It's popular among Arabic Jews, Christians, and Muslims.

62. Mwangi

Tall skyscrapers
Elijah-Lovkoff/iStock via Getty Images

Mwangi is the most popular surname in Kenya, and it means "rapid expansion."

In this episode of The List Show, John Green examines the origins of 62 surnames. For a transcript, click here.

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER