First Batman comic book emerges from original owner’s collection

Detective Comics #27, published May 1939 by DC Comics, features first appearance of ‘The Bat-Man.’ Image courtesy of Hake’s Americana

YORK, Pa. – An extremely rare and valuable example of Detective Comics #27, featuring the first appearance of “The Bat-Man,” has emerged from a recently discovered Golden Age comic book collection. CGC-graded 5.0 (VG/Fine), the 1939 comic book will headline Hake’s Americana’s March 13-15 online-only auction. According to Hake’s president, Alex Winter, the pop-culture classic might sell for as much as $700,000.

“All of the comics in the collection were purchased new off the rack during the 1930s and 1940s,” Winter said. “This issue is fresh to the market. It’s the first time it has been offered to the public.”

The comic includes the first appearance of not only Bruce Wayne’s alter ego Bat-Man — later changed to as “Batman,” without the hyphen — but also Commissioner James “Jim” Gordon.

“This example really delivers when it comes to eye appeal, with its historic Bob Kane cover instantly grabbing one’s attention,” said Winter. “The issue’s solid yellow background is ordinarily very prone to smudging, yet it is minimally affected in the example we’re offering. The red “Detective Comics” logo block is also prone to fading and discoloration, but the crimson color remains bold and bright. And while there is a one-inch spine split at the bottom of the book and some mild spine creasing, these issues are much less severe than in most other Detective No. 27s that have come to the marketplace. To top it off, this is a superb, original-state example, with no restoration of any kind.”

In any collecting category, there are certain items that every collector wants to own. For baseball card collectors, it would likely be a Honus Wagner 1909 T206 card. In the numismatics world, it might be a 1794 Flowing Hair Dollar coin. To comic book collectors, nothing compares to the Golden Age issues that introduce beloved superhero characters.

“The top comic book in the eyes of most collectors has always been ‘Action Comics’ No. 1. It features the first appearance of Superman, one of the first big superheroes and certainly among the most revered,” Winter said. “Auction prices for this historic issue continue to climb, with mainstream media taking note each time one of these coveted issues come to market.”

The first appearance of Batman in Detective Comics #27 is just a step behind the Man of Steel in terms of auction sales. “Many fans feel that, given the extreme popularity the Dark Knight enjoys, it’s only a matter of time before he eclipses Superman,” Winter said.

When first released in May of 1939, Superman and a few other now-obscure heroes were the only competition Batman had. In an era that was just coming out of the Great Depression, and which pre-dated superhero blockbusters by decades, comic books were just beginning to lay the groundwork for the juggernaut of media entertainment they have become today. Detective Comics #27 has cemented its position as one of the most important comics of all time, with Bob Kane and Bill Finger (finally credited as the character’s co-creator after decades of obscurity) producing a character that took the science-fiction and wonder of Superman and flipped it, giving the world a hero more grounded in reality, with a healthy dose of noir-tinged mystery.

Inspired by Douglas Fairbanks’ portrayal of Zorro, Lee Falk’s comic strip The Phantom, Leonardo da Vinci’s glider designs (which featured bat-like wings), mystery film The Bat Whispers and mystery novel The Circular Staircase, Batman quickly became one of the most widely appreciated superhero characters and has retained that claim for over 75 years, now, moving across all media, from TV shows to video games.

“Chances to acquire ‘Detective Comics’ No. 27, complete and unrestored, do not present themselves very often. The issue in our auction is of a grade that may not appear again for many years, and when it does, it will likely be at a considerably higher price point,” Winter said.

Watch for exciting updates on Auction Central News. Click to visit Hake’s Americana online.

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