Detective Comics Price Guide

Detective Comics Price Guide
by Christopher Tanis and Ashley Cotter-Cairns

Detective Comics is the longest continuously-published comic book in United States history.

This is almost certainly due to the fact that Detective introduced and provided the first regular monthly appearances of a certain Caped Crusader, of whom more later.

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In March of 1937, Detective made its first appearance.

The title began its life as an anthology series, mostly featuring just what the title and the times promised: detective stories of the 'hard-boiled' variety, with no superheroes, as such, appearing for the first 26 issues.

Detective Comics #1: A Hard-Boiled Beginning

Detective Comics #1: A very rare comic book in any condition. Click for values
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Record sale: $45,000
Minimum value (poor but complete): $4,000

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Detective #1 is where it all began. It's an extremely rare comic book.

Everything has to start somewhere, and while this issue, as explained above, does not contain any important first appearances of characters or key events in an important superhero's life, it is, above all else, the single comic with which DC Comics came together.

There are only 13 graded copies by CGC (unrestored) in any condition! The best known to date is CGC 6.5. A further 15 restored copies are known.

Links to Other Detective Comics Price Guides

  • Detective Comics #1 - #10
  • Detective Comics #11 - #20
  • Detective Comics #21 - #30
  • Detective Comics #31 - #40
  • Detective Comics #41 - #50
  • Detective Comics #51 - #60
  • Detective Comics #61 - #70
  • Detective Comics #71 - #80
  • Detective Comics #81 - #90
  • Detective Comics #91 - #100
  • Detective Comics #101 - #110
  • Detective Comics #111 - #120
  • Detective Comics #121 - #130
  • Detective Comics #131 - #140
  • Detective Comics #141 - #150
  • Detective Comics #151 - #160
  • Detective Comics #161 - #170
  • Detective Comics #171 - #180
  • Detective Comics #181 - #190
  • Detective Comics #191 - #200

Alternatively, click here to read about key issues from Detective #27 and on.

Detecive Comics #27: First Appearance of Batman

Detecive Comics #27: First Appearance of Batman. Super-rare and valuable! Click for values
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Record sale: $2,100,000
Minimum value (poor but complete): $80,000

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Much has been said about the May, 1939 debut of Batman in Detective Comics #27. The fact that more than one copy of Detective #27 has broken the million dollar barrier pretty much trumps whatever else can be said about it.

Depending on whom you ask, it is either Detective #27 or Action #1 that is the most valuable comic book ever printed. (Action #1 currently holds the record, at $3.2m.)

Worth noting is that The Bat-Man, as he was still known at this juncture, is introduced here by his creator, Bob Kane, in an iconic cover illustration.

Detective Comics #33: Batman's Origin Revealed

Detective Comics #33: Batman's Origin Revealed. Click for values
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Record sale: $83,000
Minimum value: $4,000

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While any early Golden Age appearance of Batman is considered 'key', there are some that are "more key" than others, if that makes any sense.

One such is Detective #33, in which we are treated to the story of the Caped Crusader's origin, told via flashback as a prologue to the main story, all courtesy of the Golden Age Batman team extraordinaire, Finger and Kane.

Detective #33 is tremendously desirable to collectors, even in rough shape.

Detective Comics #38: First Appearance of Robin, the Boy Wonder

Detective Comics #38: First Appearance of Robin, the Boy Wonder. Click for values
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Record sale: $107,000
Minimum value: $2,600

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April, 1940's Detective #38 marks the first appearance of Batman's sidekick Robin, and of course, of Bruce Wayne’s youthful ward, Dick Grayson.

The Boy Wonder remains the most important sidekick in comic book history, and the high prices that even tattered copies of Detective #38 sell for is proof of that.

Bruce sees so much of his own story in young Dick's that he takes the boy on as his ward to raise him like a son, and takes him on as a crime-fighting partner.

Detective Comics #40: First Appearance of  Clayface

Detective Comics #40: First Appearance of Clayface. Click for values
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Record sale: $32,000
Minimum value: $500

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Detective #40, from June, 1940, introduces one of the most often-recurring Batman villains, Clayface.

This issue is also notable, because it contains a full-page advertisement for Batman #1, which would hit the stands at around the same time, and which provided the Caped Crusader with two simultaneous starring titles of his own.

By now, Batman was on the cover of every issue of Detective Comics, and while there were other, shorter features in each issue, it was clear who the star was.

Detective Comics #58: First Appearance of The Penguin

Detective Comics #58: First Appearance of The Penguin. Click for values
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Record sale: $15,000
Minimum value: $300

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Love him or hate him, The Penguin is a key Batman villain, and his first appearance, in the pages of Detective #58, makes it a key issue.

As famous as he may be, The Penguin (real name Oswald Chesterfield Cobblepot) is, for some reason, often regarded as 'silly' by the legions of fans who prefer the darker Batman villians (The Joker, Ra's al Ghul, etc.).

Either way, The Penguin's first appearance makes Detecive #58 valuable, and the story in which he debuts, One of the Most-Perfect Frame-Ups, by Finger and Kane, is classic Golden Age Batman.

See our guide to Batman vs Penguin comic book values here.

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Detective Comics #66: First Appearance of Harvey Dent/Two Face

Detective Comics #66: First Appearance of Harvey Dent/Two Face. Click for values
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Record sale: $11,000
Minimum value: $200

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In this August, 1942 issue's lead story, The Crimes of Two-Face, Finger and Kane introduced Two-Face, aka Harvey Dent.

Even though in Detective #66, he is named, notably, Harvey Kent, which was later changed to avoid confusion with a certain Man of Steel's alter ego.

We are treated to Two-Face's origin story, in which crusading district attorney Harvey Kent is driven insane, after mob boss Sal Maroni throws acid at him during a trial, disfiguring half of his face.

Detective Comics #73 (March 1943): First Scarecrow Cover

Detective Comics#73 (March 1943): First Scarecrow Cover. Click for values
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Record sale: $4,400
Minimum value: $75

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Detective #73 was not the first appearance of the villain known as the Scarecrow, but it was the first time that he would grace the cover of Detective Comics.

The Scarecrow  (University Professor  Jonathan Crane, leading a life of crime to afford more rare books) may have been Batman's most frightening villain, or at least that was the idea.

He first appeared in World's Finest #3 in 1941, but by the time of Detective #73, he'd escaped from the prison cell the Caped Crusader had sent him to.

Detective #73 was written by Don Cameron and features art by Bob Kane, with a truly terrifying Bob Kane cover, in which the skeletal Scarecrow seems to have become 30 feet tall.

We have a full guide to Scarecrow Batman comics here.

Detective Comics #99 (may 1945): First Penguin Cover

Detective Comics #99 (may 1945): First Penguin Cover. Click for values
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Record sale: $16,000
Minimum value (poor but complete): $50

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Detective #99 marked the first appearance of Oswald Cobblepot on the cover.

The self-styled "Gentleman of Crime" is unique in the world of super villains, and his strange appearance and demeanor have made him a fan favorite since his first appearance, in Detective #58, back in 1941.

Detective Comics #100 (June 1945): Landmark Issue

Detective Comics #100 (June 1945): Landmark Issue. Click for values
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Record sale: $2,900
Minimum value: $50

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Detective Comics #140 (October 1948): First Appearance of the Riddler

Record sale: $35,000
Minimum value: $400

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The cover for Detective #140 introduces the Riddler. Complete with skintight green outfit covered in question marks, the Riddler is a unique alternative to the Joker or the Penguin.

Detective Comics #156 (February 1950): First Classic Batmobile

Detective Comics #156 (February 1950): First Classic Batmobile. Click for values
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Record sale: $1,500
Minimum value: $50

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The lead story of Detective #156 features the brand-new, incredibly-futuristic Batmobile of 1950!

Batman had been injured in a Batmobile accident that resulted in the old Batmobile being totaled. While he is laid up, Bruce Wayne secretly works on a new Batmobile, complete with plastic bubble top, a la the Jetsons.

Detective Comics #168 (February 1951): Origin of the Joker

Detective Comics #168 (February 1951): Origin of the Joker. Click for values
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Record sale: $7,700
Minimum value: $300

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Yes, Detective #168 contains the Joker's origin story. It's of massive importance.

Alan Moore drew heavily from Detective #168 when he wrote The Killing Joke graphic novel in the 1980s, and the popularity of the Joker makes this issue of Detective extremely desirable to collectors, even in poor condition.

Detective Comics #225 (1955):
First appearance of The Martian Manhunter (J'onn J'onzz)

Detective Comics #225 (1955): First appearance of The Martian Manhunter (J'onn J'onzz). Click for values
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Record sale: $14,000
Minimum value: $100

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Detective #225 is notable not for a Batman story, but for the first appearance of J'onn J'onzz (pronounced, if I'm not mistaken, as "John Jones"), otherwise known as the Martian Manhunter.

You can find our full guide to Martian Manhunter comic books here.

Detective Comics #233 (July 1956): First Appearance of Batwoman

Detective Comics #233 (July 1956): First Appearance of Batwoman. Click for values
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Record sale: $1,900
Minimum value: $30

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The first appearance of Batwoman (aka Katherine Kane) in Detective #233 is not worth anything near what the first appearance of J'onn J'onnz, just eight issues before is worth. Batwoman, aka bored Gotham socialite Kathy Kane decides to become Batwoman to fight crime and wear tight outfits.

Lest you scoff, she had acquired her incredible athletic and gymnastic ability during her careers as a circus trapeze artist and stunt cyclist, just like all the other wealthy heiresses who decide to put on spandex and fight crime.

Detective Comics #235 (1956): Origin of Batman's Costume

Detective Comics #235 (1956): Origin of Batman's Costume. Click for values
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Record sale: $1,550
Minimum value: $30

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In the cover story of Detective #235, entitled The First Batman, we watch as Bruce and Dick view an old home movie (somehow in color) that shows Thomas Wayne (the late Wayne patriarch) pretending to fight crime in a "Bat Man" suit at a costume party many years ago.

The costume is quite like Bruce's current one, aside from the lack of gloves, Robin-style boots, lack of bat emblem, and a mask instead of a cowl.

Detective Comics #267 (May 1959): First Appearance of Bat-Mite

Detective Comics #267 (May 1959): First Appearance of Bat-Mite. Click for values
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Record sale: $3,400
Minimum value: $30

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With Detective #267, DC introduced, well, um, ahhh, OK, they introduced Bat-Mite.

It seems that Bat-Mite was a nameless imp from another dimension who had idolized Batman from afar, and finally decided to visit his hero in Gotham, much to Bruce Wayne's chagrin.

Bat-Mite was a tiny and strangely androgynous man-child in a poorly-fitting, poorly-sewn imitation of a Batman costume, and his adulation led to his hindering the Dynamic Duo more than helping them.

Detective Comics #298 (December 1961): First Appearance of Clay-Face

Detective Comics #298 (December 1961): First Appearance of Clay-Face. Click for values
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Record sale: $2,200
Minimum value: $10

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Batman and Robin Defy the Menace of Clayface! So says the cover of Detective #298.

Matt Hagen, better known as Clay-Face, makes his first appearance here, although his origin would be better fleshed-out later.

Detective Comics #328 (June 1964): Death of Alfred

Detective Comics #328 (June 1964): Death of Alfred. Click for values
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Record sale: $2,550
Minimum value: $5

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Somehow, in Detective #328, Alfred gets it into his head that he's a crime fighter, and gets himself captured by the notorious Tri-State Gang.

Batman and Robin go to rescue him, and get captured as well. They all manage to escape, of course, but in all the confusion, Alfred saved the Dynamic Duo from being crushed by a ton of falling rocks, pushing them out of the way just in time, and taking the brunt of the rocks himself. 

Later, we would find out that he was merely "nearly dead," and was found, hovering on the brink of oblivion, by physicist Brandon Crawford, who somehow dug Alfred out and took him away without anyone noticing, and then treated him with a special kind of radiation in an attempt to cure him.

Detective Comics #359 (January 1967): First Appearance and Origin of Batgirl

Record sale: $18,000
Minimum value: $100

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Now we're talkin'! Batgirl, aka Barbara Gordon, is a Silver Age creation that had true staying power, although in various forms that did not always involve a bat in any way.

In Detective #359, Jim Gordon's daughter Babs was on her way to a policemen's charity masquerade ball, it seems, and made herself a "Batgirl" costume in honor of her father's close associate and Gotham's #1 hero.

Batgirl has gone on to feature in the New 52 and other stand-alone projects.

Detective Comics #400 (June 1970): First Appearance of The Man-Bat

Detective Comics #400 (June 1970): First Appearance of The Man-Bat. Click for values
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Record sale: $2,600
Minimum value: $10

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And the Silver Age starts to evolve into the Bronze Age a bit early here, as Neal Adams and Frank Robbins introduce the world to the Man-Bat with Detective #400.

Featuring an astounding and iconic Neal Adams cover, this issue straddles the old and new.

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Links to Other Detective Comics Price Guides

  • Detective Comics #1 - #10
  • Detective Comics #11 - #20
  • Detective Comics #21 - #30
  • Detective Comics #31 - #40
  • Detective Comics #41 - #50
  • Detective Comics #51 - #60
  • Detective Comics #61 - #70
  • Detective Comics #71 - #80
  • Detective Comics #81 - #90
  • Detective Comics #91 - #100
  • Detective Comics #101 - #110
  • Detective Comics #111 - #120
  • Detective Comics #121 - #130
  • Detective Comics #131 - #140
  • Detective Comics #141 - #150
  • Detective Comics #151 - #160
  • Detective Comics #161 - #170
  • Detective Comics #171 - #180
  • Detective Comics #181 - #190
  • Detective Comics #191 - #200

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