Marvel Comics 1 torches record with $1.26M sale at auction

If Professor X and Peter Parker sent their DNA to Ancestry.com, they would find out their family history had a price tag: about $1.26 million.

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That's about how much the first comic book ever produced by Marvel, the magazine that spawned a generation of iconic superheroes and a later a billion-dollar movie empire, sold for at a public auction Thursday in Dallas.

The rare copy of Marvel Comics No. 1 from 1939, which has been dubbed the "Big Bang of the Marvel Comics Superhero Universe," sold to an anonymous buyer, according to Heritage Auctions.

The sale of the comic book set a world record for the most expensive Marvel comic ever sold at public auction, the auction house said.

Ed Jaster, senior vice president at Heritage, calls it “a historic copy of a historic comic book.”

Front of Marvel Comics No. 1 -- Heritage Auctions, HA.com

“Without question, this is the granddaddy of all Marvel Comics, without which we would not have the characters and stories we enjoy in today’s comics and feature films,” Jaster said.

Back of Marvel Comics No. 1 -- Heritage Auctions, HA.com

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The comic book was first published by Timely Comics, created by Martin Goodman, which later became Marvel. The issue features the first appearances of characters such as the Human Torch, Ka-Zar, Angel and the Sub-Mariner.

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Heritage says the comic book was first purchased at a newsstand by a Uniontown, Pennsylvania, mail carrier who made a practice of buying the first issue of comic books and magazines. Jaster says that since then, the issue has only changed owners a handful of times.

The comic book is in near-mint condition with a rating of 9.4 out of 10, making it the best condition ever found, according to the auction company.

But this wasn't the first time a Marvel comic book's sale topped a million dollars.

The previous record for the most expensive Marvel comic ever sold was a 1962 issue featuring the first appearance of Spider-Man. It sold for a little more than $1 million in 2011, according to Reuters.

In 2014, a copy of Action Comics No. 1, in which Superman made a first appearance, sold on eBay for $3.2 million, according to Wired.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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