Search This Site

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Top Ten Most Valuable Iconic Comic Villains

Well, when we're dealing with a top ten anything list, it's mostly executed in a subjective fashion based on opinion. If I'm going to do one, I'm going to largely base it on value and popularity since the two often go hand in hand.

Not always the case, though. Some minor characters and their 1st appearances are lumped into an extremely important key, and it's common sense in which collectors should realize that the key issue is sought out and valuable for other reasons than the 1st appearance of whatever very minor villain that just happens to be lumped into that key. I won't be dealing with those for the most part.

Regardless of rarity, popularity or demand still plays a role, because these villains are iconic. I'm using the term iconic in a sense that even most people inside comic fandom will know who they are.

Once again, that plays a part, but it's not the main part. This list will be based on value and the most recent sales of the highest graded CGC copies. Once again, common sense comes into play here.

If a villain is not that popular or iconic enough of a villain but happens to be in an extremely valuable comic, I'll omit it. For example, Starro in Brave and the Bold #28. Yeah, most comic fans know of Starro, but is he really a popular recurring villain for the Justice League of America over-all?

However, if it's a popular or iconic villain that happens to be in an issue where the main hero or a team of heroes also make their 1st appearance...well, who ever said things are fair? Oh, yes, and this will only encompass the super-hero genre of comics.

No war comics, or horror comics. Just super-hero comics. Let's see what we come up with.

1st appearance of Joker
1st appearance of Catwoman

This is a bit of cheating here, or is it? I mean, this comic is the first issue to the first Batman titled series for one. Pretty big reason it's in-demand for sure.

However, I would say that the two 1st appearances in this issue also adds to the reason this comic is extremely valuable. I would even go as far to say, the 1st appearances definitely outweigh the whole #1 issue bit.

These two extremely iconic Batman villains first introduced are the Joker and Catwoman. It would be interesting if the Joker's 1st appearance was a solo one in a different issue to see just how valuable or less valuable it would be though.

But, things didn't work out that way for Joker and Catwoman, and both have their 1st appearances in this mighty issue. Yeah, so a whole lot of key issue goodness for two iconic DC villains, and most people outside of fandom know who these two brats are.

The highest graded Batman #1, a CGC 9.2, sold in 2013 for a whopping $567,625 at Heritage. It had previously sold a year earlier for $850,000 in a private sale at Heritage as well.

When it comes to the most valuable comic book villains that are highly popular still today, the Joker and Catwoman are the king and queen of baddies.

1st appearance & origin of X-Men
1st appearance & origin of Magneto

Once again, who said things were fair? So the arch enemy of the X-Men also makes his 1st appearance a long with the X-Men in this issue.

Key issues with the 1st appearance of the main hero or heroes and their arch nemesis isn't all that common like the 1st appearance of a hero or villain and their origin contained in the same issue. Maybe Magneto isn't the most popular or favorite within the Marvel Universe, but he is definitely up there, and at least in the top 5.

You can be sure that any reboot of an X-Men movie franchise will have Magneto in it somewhere. Definitely the big bad of the X-Men mythos, and he is pretty much my all-time favorite comic villain since I am an X-Men fan. 2nd is definitely Sabretooth since I'm also a big Wolverine fan.

It definitely has more to do with it than that, and I'll get to that later in this post. I believe I've already explained why in earlier articles.

A CGC 9.8 sold in 2012 for a whopping $492,937.50 in 2012. Impressive, indeed. The previous record breaker was a CGC 9.6 of this issue that sold for $200,000 in April of 2011.

1st appearance of the Red Skull

The Red Skull, the most iconic and notorious big bad for Captain America. This Nazi agent has had his hands in many schemes of world domination. Hey, who doesn't want to rule the world?

The issue here has the 1st appearance of this villain, and George Maxon was the original Red Skull. The more popular version of the villain we are familiar with first appeared in issue #7, and that version is Johann Shmidt.

Yeah, it doesn't take a super-genius to realize this is a pretty rare comic. However, a CGC 9.2 copy sold for $343,000, but that was back in 2011. It's also not the highest grade either. There is a 9.8 in the CGC Census. Yowza!

I wonder what it would that 9.8 go for now if it were flung back into the market. Would it beat the highest graded Batman #1 or come close at least

Back in 2001, that 9.8 Allentown pedigree sold for $260,000 whoppers. Makes you wanna drool, eh. However, that high grade issue of this comic sold in the near future just might beat the highest recorded sale of X-Men #1.

That hasn't happened yet, so Magneto remains on top for the time being.

Red Skull initially didn't have any super-powers, just a high intellect and a quest for villainy. Later his mind inhabited a clone of Steve Rogers which was enhanced by the super-soldier formula and gave him the same super-strength, speed endurance, durability and reflexes that Cap had.

This is one of the examples where rarity plays a pretty big part. There's only two 9.4s and one of them is a restored copy. Yeah, I know that this comic is more sought out because it has the 1st appearance of Captain America and Bucky, but the 1st appearance of the Red Skull added into this key issue isn't nothing to neglect either.

Once again, who said things are fair when an iconic villain debuts a long side a major and iconic comic hero? Because of that, Red Skull is one of the most valuable comic villains. 

1st appearance of Thunderbolt Ross

What? Where you going with this, man?

Okay, so not exactly a super-villain, but General Ross has been a main arch enemy of the Hulk for a long, long time. The TV show starring Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno didn't have Ross in it, but the character is definitely acknowledged by Hulk and comic fans.

He was an antagonist in both Hulk movies, and he'll be in Captain America Civil War as an minor antagonist as well. In the comics as well as the movies, Thunderbolt Ross is obsessed in capturing Bruce Banner and the Hulk, since he learned they are one in the same.

What's even worse is that he's the father of Bruce Banner's main love interest Betty Ross. Talk about a hard spot to be in when in it comes to getting the approval of Betty's father to date her, right?

Hey, I'm Bruce. I get angry, I turn into a hulking monster and smash things, a lot of things. So I'm asking for permission to marry your daughter. Whatta you think?

In later comics, Ross would up his pursuit of the Hulk with a major vendetta against him since Bruce's irradiated DNA ends up killing Betty when they interact with hers. Ross would end up becoming the Red Hulk in 2008.

As for this particular issue, which is one of Marvel's earliest Silver Age keys, the highest graded  Incredible Hulk #1 is so far four CGC 9.4s. However, three of them are Restored, so there's only one Universal copy of this issue.

I was not able to find any recent sales records for that 9.4, but a CGC 9.2 Northland pedigree sold in 2014 for a whopping $326,000.00. A non-pedigree 9.2 sold for $320,000.00 two months earlier than the Northland copy.

Like I said, a major villain ends debuting with a major super-hero still gets placement on this list. Yep, we do know that this issue is a lot more desired because it's the 1st appearance of the Hulk rather than the 1st General Ross.

Regardless, General Ross is still a major foil for Bruce Banner, and he's on this list like it or not.

1st appearance & origin of Doctor Doom

Well, if Victor von Doom or Doctor Doom isn't an iconic Marvel villain, I don't know who is then. Most noted or connected to a mischief maker for the Fantastic Four, Doctor Doom has been known to stir up trouble for a lot of Marvel superheroes.

I've always said that Doom has a wide cross-over appeal, and the mad inventor has done so quite a few times. My favorite is the Fantastic Four vs. The X-Men limited series done in 1987 and written by none other than Chris Claremont.

He is definitely a great Marvel villain and even the name implies fear inspired menace. He is the armored version of Death or the Grim Reaper, but it's a shame that the movies have yet to do him right.

This badboy even outdone other Fantastic Four villains such as the Mole Man, Galactus, and even Namor the Sub-Mariner himself. I don't really count Namor as a super-villain, though. He's more of an anti-hero and always been such. So with that, Doom is without a doubt the king of Fantastic Four villains.

The highest recorded CGC grade for Fantastic Four #5 are 2 CGC 9.6s. Back in February, 2015 ComicLink sold a CGC 9.6 for a record breaking $96,267.

A CGC 9.4 sold at Heritage for  $65,725 back in February, 2012! Yeah, so a pretty valuable villain in the Marvel Universe indeed. 

Stack up his value to other Marvel villains and many don't even come close...well, unless they also 1st appear along with a major hero or team like X-Men #1.

1st appearance of Sandman
Origin of Sandman

Most known as his alias Flint Marko, real name later revealed to be William Baker, the Sandman has been a constant and iconic recurring foe in Spidey comics and has already made his on screen debut in the highly criticized and panned Spider-Man movie.

But forget about the movie, Sandman is a popular Spider-Man foe and will most likely make any top Spider-Man lists out there. Another original member of the Sinister Six, Sandman makes his debut in Amazing Spider-Man #4, and his origin story is also told in this issue for the 1st time.

In May of 2011, a CGC 9.6 Twin Cities pedigree sold at Heritage for $77,675.00. The highest grades for this key issue is so far 9.6 NM+s and there are currently 5 copies. 2 of them are a Qualified label and one Restored label.

This comic at that grade even beat the more recent highest sale for Amazing Spider-Man #2 and the 1st appearance of the Vulture that sold in 2015. Then again, the ASM #4 that sold for such a high amount is a pedigree copy. However, a Twin Cities pedigree Amazing Spider-Man #2 sold in 2011 and during May as well sold for $65,725.00. Once again, the sale was at Heritage.

So, Amazing Spider-Man #4 and the 1st appearance and origin of Sandman trumps ASM #2 for the time being. 

1st appearance of the Vulture
Origin of the Vulture

CGC 9.6 copy of Amazing Spider-Man #2 sold for $72,895.00 at Heritage back in November, 2015. Hold on a second, though!

There is one CGC 9.8 in the CGC Census, but it looks like the owner has put a stranglehold on that sucker for now, and I don't blame him or her. I wonder if that 9.8 goes back in the market, will it sell higher than the highest graded Fantastic Four #5?

Might be, but then again, what if a CGC 9.8 Fantastic Four #5 suddenly pops up? Which one will be worth more out of these two comics?

Something interesting to think about. The Vulture is the 2nd super-villain character Spidey faces in comics. The first non-super powered villain is obviously the burglar but let's be realistic here. He's not really considered an iconic recurring Spidey villain if you're honest about it.

The 1st recurring villain was the Chameleon in Amazing Spider-Man #1, but he was just a regular non-powered human that was a master of disguise in his early appearances. Later, the character would be given powers, but let's face it. Amazing Spider-Man #1 isn't sought out because of the 1st appearance of the Chameleon.

Amazing Spider-Man #2 is sought out in large part because it does hold the 2nd appearance of the Vulture. Sure, it also holds the 3rd appearance of Spider-Man as well, but it is a triple whammy key issue that also tells the origin of the Vulture.

Adrian Toomes as the villainous Vulture is an iconic Spidey villain without a doubt, and this character has provided enough mischief for our favorite Webslinger for sure.

He is also a member of the Sinister Six, Spidey's most iconic super-villain team of rogues. This one definitely deserves to be one of the most valuable comic book villains.


1st appearance of Lex Luthor

This one is a bit weird and a shocker to me. The more and more we learn about Earth One and Earth Two, the more we learn about the muddled mess between Golden Age DC Characters and Silver Age DC Characters.

There's no doubt that Lex Luthor is an iconic Superman villain. He's an iconic DC villain period.

However, during the Golden Age, it seems that Luthor did not use the name of Lex. He was only referred to as Luthor during the Golden Age.

It was later revamped that the red-haired Luthor was the Earth-Two counter-part of Earth One Lex Luthor. The Earth-Two Luthor was renamed Alexei Luthor and the Earth-One Luthor was named Alexis Luthor.

As we all should know by now since I've talked about it here and there, the Golden Age Superman (Kal-L) did not have a career as Superboy. Only the Earth-One Super-Man (Kal-El) did.

The 1st Silver Age origin of Lex Luthor is in Adventure Comics #271, and that comic issue is the first time the name "Lex" is used for the character. It also tells the origin of his hair-loss, which was caused by Superboy's heroics.

It's obvious that the Lex Luthor in Adventure Comics #271 is the Earth-One Luthor. I do not think it's his first Silver Age appearance. Some sources say the 1st Earth One Luthor is in Action Comics #199, and that's 2 years before Showcase #4.

Highest grade is a CGC 8.5 VF+ for Action Comics #23, and it sold for $65,725 at Heritage in 2015. Looks to me that a lot of DC Comics keys are over-looked and under-valued.

Compare this comic fairly to Magneto's 1st appearance at the same grade of an 8.5, this issue beats it hands down. It's definitely more rare as well, and it doesn't include the 1st appearance of the main hero as well.

But like I said before, things aren't fair, and I'm not going by Overstreet. I'm going by the highest graded copy of a 1st appearance villain versus the highest graded copy of another 1st appearance villain, regardless of what other key goodness might be present in the same issue.

I'm also going by the most recent highest grade sold, so there will be some disparities when it comes to the years a particular high grade 1st appearance villain was sold compared to another. I am shocked that this bad boy is not more valuable.

1st appearance of Green Goblin

I didn't really grow up with the Green Goblin as the iconic Spider-Man villain. I wasn't even born yet when he was created, so I started reading the titled comic series much later.

However, I did learn quite quick that Gobby is the iconic and over-all fan-favorite villain of Spider-Man. He may not be my all-time favorite, but he is definitely my 2nd favorite Spidey villain of all time.

As most know, the original Green Goblin is Norman Osbourne. He's one of the few villains who do not reveal his origin a long side his 1st appearance.

After all, Green Goblin was suppose to be a mystery for Spidey during his early appearances. Imagine the size of the dookie in Spidey's pants when he learned Gobby was Norman Osbourne, his best bud's pops.

Absolutely no doubt that the 1st appearance of Green Goblin is one of the most sought-out and valuable of Marvel Silver Age villains. A CGC 9.8 sold last November in 2015 for $54,970.00 bucks at Heritage.

To this date, this is the only 9.8 copy in the CGC Census, but there are 2482 total submitted CGC copies at the time of this writing. Like I said, demand is demand and sometimes it beats out the rarity of other important 1st appearances.

1st appearance & origin of Doctor Octopus

Doctor Octopus is definitely an iconic Spider-Man and comic book villain. Most everyone knows him from the DC side of fans as well as Marvel.

However, what's pretty unbelievable is that the highest graded sale for this comic sold below both ASM #4 and ASM #14. A CGC 9.6 sold at Heritage for $43,020 in November of 2015.

This is not the highest graded copy though. There is one lone 9.8 in the CGC Census at the time of this writing.

Doctor Octopus is definitely in the top ten of popular Spidey villains. He is the villain who formed the original Sinister Six and has been leader of the group several times in battling Spider-Man.

He almost beat the Black Cat to death and in recent times became the Superior Spider-Man. It's no surprise that he is on this list as one of the most iconic valuable villains in super-hero comics.

If I went solely on Overstreet Guide Prices, this list would look very different if you matched up the highest grade of 9.2 NM minus to these comics listed here, or even if you matched them up to comics not on here.  The 1st appearance of Solomon Grundy in All-American Comics #61 definitely trumps Amazing Spider-Man #14 if you compare 9.2 values.

In real life, though, a CGC 9.4 All-American Comics #61 sold at ComicConnect for $15,700 back in 2010. It's not the highest recorded grade. The highest recorded grade is a 9.8 and there's only one of them.

There's only one 9.4 and 9.2 also. So far, there is no 9.6 recorded in the CGC Census for All-American Comics #61. The 1st Solomon Grundy would even trump Amazing Spider-Man #2, #3, and #4 if we went by the highest graded value according to Overstreet.

However, this list isn't based on Overstreet. It's based on actual recorded sales, and the for the highest graded sale that could be found. So, definitely not 100% accurate and remember that the listing could be changed at any given time when another sale happens.

Remember, there are the highest graded copies of a certain 1st appearance of a villain that are still kept away in someone's vault that have yet to hit the market recently. Wonder Woman #1 from the Golden Age has the 1st appearance of Ares and the highest graded copies in the census are 9.0s.

The same holds true for Superman #30 and the 1st appearance of Mister Mxyzptlk. There's a CGC 9.4 that hasn't hit the market recently either.

However, just for shits and giggles, let's see how this list would stack up to Overstreet.

  1. Batman #1 (Joker & Catwoman) NM 9.2 $500,000
  2. Captain America Comics #1 (Red Skull) NM 9.2 $330,000
  3. Incredible Hulk #1 (Thunderbolt Ross) NM 9.2 $150,000
  4. Detective Comics #36 (Hugo Strange) NM 9.2 $45,000
  5. X-Men #1 (Magneto) NM 9.2 $44,000
  6. Action Comics #23 (Luthor) NM 9.2 $30,000
  7. All-American Comics #61 (Solomon Grundy) NM 9.2 $20,000
  8. Showcase #8 (Captain Cold) & Detective Comics #40 (Clayface) NM 9.2 $19,500
  9. Fantastic Four #5 (Doctor Doom) NM 9.2 $18,500
  10. Amazing Spider-Man #2 (Vulture NM 9.2 $12,200

So, if you're going by Overstreet, some of the comics according to recent highest grade sales don't even make the top ten list. The odd thing is that Detective Comics #36 that bears the 1st appearance of Hugo Strange has the highest grade of a 9.0 in the CGC Census. It's also a Restored copy as well.

Seems strange that there would be raw 9.2s out there since that is definitely a comic most collectors and comic investors, if not all, would deem worthy of getting slabbed at high grades. Things that make you go hmmm?

Also, Showcase #8 tops this list, but when it comes to the highest grade most recently sold, Showcase #8 CGC 9.2 sold at ComicLink in November-December of 2013 for $29,000. There are 2 in the census and are so far the highest grades for the 1st appearance of Captain Cold and 2nd appearance of Barry Allen as the Silver Age Flash.

When it comes to Detective Comics #40 and the 1st appearance of Clayface, a 9.4  is the highest recorded grade concerning that comic. It sold back in 2003 for $36,200 at Heritage, beating Showcase #8's highest recorded and most recent sale.

Obviously, Luthor's highest recorded sale compared to Overstreet Street is off if you look at the data. A 9.2 is almost half the value less of the highest CGC graded sale so far of an 8.5 VF+.

Despite that fact, it's pretty clear that his 1st appearance ever in comics is pretty under-valued if you compare it to other lesser scarce 1st appearance villains. Like I said, though, demand is demand.

It's a bit of fun to research CGC or graded record sales and compare them to ole Overstreet. Since this is a top ten most valuable, iconic comic villains in the super-hero genre, some aren't definitely what you'd expect.

I thought the first appearance of Lex Luthor would be more valuable. I also thought more Golden Age Batman villains would be on the list as well.

Not surprised the Spidey's iconic villains made the list, but am surprised that ASM #3 sold lower than #4 and #14. Anyways, take from it what you will. 

I did omit Fantastic Four #1 and the 1st appearance of Mole Man. The character is the 1st villain for Marvel's 1st Family, recurs often and is in the top ten of Fantastic Four villains, but you know me. 

If you wanna know and think Mole Man should be on this list, a CGC 9.4 sold for $300,000 by Metropolis Comics back in 2011. In 2008, a CGC 9.4 traded hands in a deal worth $450,000.

So, FF #1 and Mole Man would be right under X-Men #1 on this list, and Amazing Spider-Man #3 and Doc Ock would be knocked off this list entirely. CGC 9.6s for FF #1 are the highest in the census so far and there are two.

As for my personal top ten comic villains that have nothing to do with value. I'd have to say they are:

1. Magneto 2. Joker 3. Sabretooth 4. Mystique 5. Venom
6. Green Goblin 7. Kingpin 8. Sinestro 9. Reverse Flash/Professor Zoom 10. Catwoman


  1. Nice change up Mayhem. Going to the S.C. con next weekend, Neal Adams, and George Perez will be there. Gonna try to snag FF 48.!

    1. I think Neal Adams charges for autographs...When he was at some of the cons over this way, he charged for autos and sketches.

    2. Shoot…. got a mid grade x men 58 & 56 I was wanting him to sign, but don't know if it's worth paying for the sig because my books aren't worth getting slabbed. But I do have a nice Batman 200 thats like an 8.0 I might…. hummm, decisions, decisions…..

      LOL, Thanx Mayhem

  2. Also going to sc com next weekend. Can't wait. JW

    1. Nice JW! I think me and you go to the same cons every time! Rock on! Do you happen to know if Neal Adams will be charging or not? Went to the SC con the first year and Rob at Borderlands does a great job, can't wait to see how much its grown in just 3 years.

    2. Yeah rob does great. I've been everyone also amazing how much bigger it is getting. JW

    3. Not sure if he will charge. That con is going get bigger every year. JW

  3. Great read...FF #48 is a sweet ass book. I snagged an 8.5 earlier this year. Good Hunting!


  4. I could only afford F.F. 49 in 7.5. But what the heck - it has the first full appearance of Galactus! Plus the cover! Man, just look at it. Merry Marvel days those were, my friends...


  5. Where would you rate Loki? Thank you sir

    1. Loki, without rarity or being in the Golden Age, is definitely in the top ten of most valuable Marvel villains. Based on fandom and popularity, he's still in the top ten of Marvel villains concerning value.

      However, this list was based on value for iconic villains or at least well-known villains across the board, so I admit that it's pretty skewed. Marvel really came into it's own during the Silver Age. There weren't that many iconic super-heroes or even villains that Timely pumped out during the Golden Age.

      If this was based on popularity or fandom without value, Loki would still be up there in the top ten. Perhaps, I should do a poll, yeah?

  6. Very cool article. It would take me too long to think of a top 10. But I would definitely have the Joker as #1. That dude is seriously psycho. I'd have to have Galactus in there somewhere too. As for the comment above, I wouldn't even have Loki in the top 10, but that's just my own opinion.

  7. Hey M.,

    really like your personal top 5. I would change the order though. First Mr. J., then Magneto, Venom, Sabretooth & Mystique. When doing those lists I would prefer a separation into DC and Marvel. It can get confusing and unfair otherwise (You had 6 Marvel Villains in your Top 7). Just a thought from

    Max Rebo

    1. Dude I like Loki so I'm with ya. JW

    2. Loki is a classic villian IMO. I know he's not a Golden age one. But still the brother of Thor. Maybe it's just because I have JIM #85 lol. Jk. great list either way.

    3. Rebo, you definitely have a point there. If I had done this separating DC and Marvel Top Ten most valuable villains...the lists would definitely look very different.

      Most of Spidey's early villains would be in the top ten for sure on the Marvel side. I did state in the post that things aren't fair...and demand is demand.

      As for Loki, he definitely would have been in the top ten if it was just a the most valuable marvel villains...he's not a golden age character, and if he were, I bet he would be even more up there in value and probably one of the top ten most valuable villains in comics.

      I just wanted to show that even though many villains from the Golden Age are indeed a lot more rare when it comes to their firsts, there are Marvel Silver Age villains that are just iconic and in-demand and even beat out golden age villains like the Penguin, Clayface, and Riddler.

      Then again, if I did separate the two companies, DC's top ten list of most valuable villains would've compromised mostly of Batman villains for sure.

      I really don't like top ten lists based on bias, because everyone has their favorites and think they deserve to be on some top ten list. I think it's basically bullshit, so I based it indiscriminately on value...although, I did not put Fantastic Four #1 and the first appearance of Mole Man in there, and he is in the top 10 Fantastic Four villains.

      To be honest, I'd much rather have done a poll and let everyone decide who are the top villains in a democratic way based on pure fandom. It's all for fun anyway when it comes to these top whatever lists.

    4. yeah mayhem do a poll. in fact results of polls for upcoming topics would be cool. then we can all fight it out. JW

  8. Good article. I will be going through many
    of these issues as well..