A copy of 1939's Detective Comics 27 sold Thursday for $1.5 million the highest price ever realized for any Batman comic book.
The issue containing the Dark Knight's debut was sold during the first session of Heritage Auctions
' four-day Comics & Comic Art event that runs through Nov. 22. Thursday's sale of this unrestored copy, which is graded Fine/Very Fine 7.0 by Certified Guaranty Company, broke a decade-old record for a Batman title.
Previously, the highest price paid for an issue of Detective Comics No. 27 was set on Feb. 25, 2010, when Heritage Auctions sold an 8.0-graded copy of the book for $1,075,000.
Detective Comics No. 27 is now the most expensive comic book ever sold by the Dallas-based auction house, the world's leading auctioneer of comic books and original comic art. For the last year, that title belonged to the CGC 9.4 copy of Marvel Comics No. 1 that sold in November 2019 for $1.26 million.
There are only two 7.0 copies of Detective Comics No. 27 in CGC's census. And, only five known unrestored copies have graded higher in the service's census, which makes the issue that sold Thursday something of a Holy Grail offering. Even before the live auction opened at noon CT Thursday, online bidding for Detective Comics No. 27 had already exceeded $1 million even without the buyer's premium.
"I'm not at all surprised at the result," says Barry Sandoval, Heritage Auctions Vice President. "After all, this is one of the best copies you will ever see of one of the most important comic books ever published."
Detective Comics No. 27 is but one star of this week's Comics & Comic Art event, which also serves as one of the world's finest Batman sales ever as it also features The Alfred Pennyworth Collection compiled by Randy Lawrence. Not only is his a CGC award-winner, but Lawrence's was the collection whose theft in January 2019 made international headlines. Its return, and Lawrence's decision to auction it through Heritage, has been no less newsworthy, and on Thursday his copy of Batman No. 2 sold for $63,000.
Batman may have been conceived as a hybrid of several predecessors, among them The Shadow, the Green Hornet and Zorro. But artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger's six-page story "The Case of the Chemical Syndicate," found in this record-setting book, already included the hallmarks of the Caped Crusader to come: his secret identity as wealthy playboy Bruce Wayne, his friendship with Commissioner Jim Gordon, and the cape and cowl and costume that rendered him "the most flamboyant masked avenger of them all," in the words of Batman and DC Comics historian Les Daniels.
It's little wonder that Detective Comics No. 27 currently sits at No. 2 on the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide's Top 100 Golden Age Comics List, behind only Superman's bow in Action Comics No. 1.
But for today, at least, Superman has to take a back seat to the Batman.