Holy smoke, Batman!

10 April 2018
batman-27219.jpg Batman
Comics are cheap and cheerful pulp fiction ephemera, right? Wrong.

Comics are cheap and cheerful pulp fiction ephemera, right?


When a comic is tipped to make anything between US$0.5-1m (yes, one million dollars), then collectors sit up and start to take notice. US auction house Hake’s March sale offered a huge selection of pop culture, rare comics, historical and entertainment memorabilia – and one very expensive read.  A fortnight before the sale took place, Hake’s had recorded in excess of US$1m in absentee bids, so clearly this was going to be an exceptional event.

“This is unprecedented,” confirmed Hake’s President, Alex Winter. “It’s a clear indication that rare comic books and blue chip pop culture and entertainment memorabilia has a rapidly expanding fan base worldwide. It also tells us that collectors have listened to the experts. They’re going for rarity and the best quality they can afford.”  

That rarity, of course, translates into just one thing: expensive artefacts. No surprise, then, that this sale was eagerly anticipated.
Four lots really encapsulate the sort of material that came under the Hake’s hammer on the day. First off, that Detective Comics publication, which dated from May 1939, and marked the first  appearance of Bat Man (as he was then known): a total of 24 bids were made, pushing this iconic superhero’s publication to US$569,000.

Content continues after advertisements

A whopping US$124,023 was also bid on a December 1938 Action Comics which carried the second cover appearance of Superman. In the world of the comic collector, art and the hero is everything, it seems. Third, an encapsulated 3.75 inch tall unpainted prototype of the legendary rocket-firing Boba Fett action figure from Kenner's popular 1979 range also had bidders in a lather: 26 bids later, this extremely rare toy closed on US$86,383. Finally, still on Star Wars, a 12 Back blister-carded 4.25 inch tall action figure of Darth Vader from 1978 had the double telescoping lightsabre contained within. This went all the way to US$64,900, comfortably exceeding the US$50,000 upper estimate.

May the force (and the bank balance) be with you…