Action Comics #1 available to read, for free, online

A copy of Action Comics #1 – arguably the single most sought after issue in the history of the medium – recently sold at (eBay) auction for $3,207,852, the most money ever paid for a single comic book by a margin of about a million dollars. Its nearest competitor? Another, less pristine copy of Action Comics #1, sold in 2011 for $2,161,000. Only 50 or so unrestored first run copies remain extant, and at those rates, anyone who wants to read the first appearances of Sticky-Mitt Stimson, Scoop Scanlon the Five Star Reporter (perfect name for a reporter between the wars, A+) and some dude named Superman in their original form needs to have some serious capital behind them.

For those of us who don’t have a spare $3 million lying around (or do but just find using it to buy comics gauche), however, the comic book grading service CGC – which bestowed upon the record-breaking issue a grade of 9.0, meaning near mint – has scanned and uploaded every page of that particular copy of Action Comics #1, that we all might bask in how pristine it is without sullying it further with our human oils, and also read about Superman and, more importantly, Scoop Scanlon. It’s available for free and you can read it right now.

First published in June 1938, the comic’s 13 page Superman story is credited with minting the superhero genre, making it something of a Rosetta stone for contemporary pop culture. Darren Adams, the comic’s eBay seller, describes it on the auction’s page as ‘THE comic book that started it all. This comic features not only the first appearance of Superman, Clark Kent and Lois Lane, but this comic began the entire superhero genre that has followed during the 76 years since. It is referred to as the Holy Grail of comics and this is the finest graded copy to exist with perfect white pages. This is …. the Mona Lisa of comics and stands alone as the most valuable comic book ever printed.’

Besides its wider cultural significance, the comic has also become a valuable shorthand signifier of ridiculously gaudy wealth.

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