Top comic books through the ages

by Andrew Lang, Seattle Goodwill
January 6, 2017

Comic BooksAmerican comics have come a long way since being introduced to the U.S. in the 1930s. Originally made to help sell newspaper copies, comic strips have evolved into comic books and full-fledged Hollywood movie features have been paramount into defining popular culture through the superheroes they’ve spawned.

Since 2012, seven comic book-based movies have ranked among the top five yearly grossing movies in the U.S. That should prove something about comic book culture and today’s popularity of superheroes.

And while movie makers have extracted content from comic books for film usage, movies and the marketing that goes into major films has driven more fans back to comic books.

Seattle Goodwill offers a wealth of new, old and highly collectible comic books on our online and eBay store.

With so many comic books made during the past 80 years, what should new collectors look for when hunting for valuable comics? Here is a list of top selections broken down by comic book eras:

The Golden Age (1938-1949): Funnies on Parade, published in 1933, is widely regarded as the first ever comic book. It was mainly a collection of newspaper strip reprints. But what catapulted comics into mainstream was the publishing of Action Comics No. 1, which introduced the U.S. to Superman himself. Here are some of the era’s most valuable comics:

  1. Action Comics No. 1 (June 1938)
  2. Detective Comics No. 27 (May 1939)
  3. Superman No. 1 (June 1939)
  4. Batman No. 1 (April 1940)
  5. All-American Comics No. 16 (July 1940)

The Silver Age (1956-1970): With the comic book landscape not looking good, many superheroes were reborn and modernized, which led to a rebirth of sorts within the popularity of comics. Marvel created the Fantastic Four and added mainstream heroes such as Spider-Man, Thor, Hulk, Iron Man and the X-Men. Here are some of the era’s most valuable comics:

  1. Amazing Fantasy No. 15 (August 1962)
  2. Fantastic Four No. 1 (November 1961)
  3. X-Men No. 1 (September 1963)
  4. Tales of Suspense No. 39 (March 1963)
  5. The Avengers No. 1 (September 1963)

The Bronze Age (1970-1980): This new era of comics ushered in new creators, and comic book heroes began questioning their own motivations, exploring topics from Vietnam, to drug abuse, pollution, racism and poverty. The Green Lantern and Green Arrow were big and so were household names such as Spider-Man. Here are some of the era’s most valuable comics:

  1. Green Lantern No. 76 (April 1970)
  2. Star Wars No. 1 (1977)
  3. Incredible Hulk No. 181 (November 1974)
  4. X-Men No. 94 (August 1975)
  5. Giant-Size X-Men No. 1 (July 1975)

The Modern Age (1980-Present): There have been a lot of ups and downs for comics during this age. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were a large hit, but the industry struggled as the end of the century saw the rise of paperbacks. This changed how comic books were packaged and marketed. One of the biggest hits or the era was the Watchmen. Here are some of the era’s most valuable comics:

  1. The Walking Dead No. 1 (October 2003)
  2. Bone No. 1 (1991)
  3. Spawn No. 185 (2008)
  4. The Walking Dead No. 27  (2003)
  5. The Maxx Ashcan (1993)

Seattle Goodwill’s Online stores sell individual comics and various themed lots. When you purchase from Goodwill, you’re helping create jobs by supporting of our Job Training and Education programs.

*Comic book information obtained from and


Andrew is a Content Specialist for Seattle Goodwill and has a wealth of writing, communication and digital media experience. He loves all things sports related and owns a treasure trove of memorabilia. He also enjoys storytelling, the outdoors and sugar is his kryptonite.

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