As an individual who experienced childhood during the 80s and endured the less-than-stylish attire of that era, there was one solace that brought a smile to my face – comics. The 80s, known for its iconic pop culture and nostalgic treasures, gave rise to a plethora of remarkable comic book issues that have become highly sought after by collectors and enthusiasts alike. In this article, I will delve into the realm of my nostalgia and unveil the top 12 most valuable comic books from the 80s, taking a captivating journey through a decade that shaped the comic book industry and left an indelible mark on popular culture.
12. The Sage of Swamp Thing NO.37 (1985) $300
Written by the one and only Alan Moore, The Saga of Swamp Thing No. 37, marks the first appearance of John Constantine; a character who would go on to become a beloved and iconic figure in the DC Comics universe.. The story takes a pivotal turn as Swamp Thing discovers shocking revelations about his true nature. He encounters a mysterious figure named John Constantine, a chain-smoking occult detective, who reveals the truth about Swamp Thing’s origin. Alan Moore’s run on “The Saga of the Swamp Thing” is widely acclaimed for its dark, mature themes. Moore’s take on the character elevated Swamp Thing’s status and solidified his place in the comic book landscape. As a significant milestone in Swamp Thing’s mythology, the demand for the issue has contributed to its scarcity. Over time, the limited supply of this issue, combined with its importance, has driven up its value among collectors.
11. G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero No. 21 (1983) $325
One of the most valuable comic books from the 80s, this issue is often referred to as “The Silent Issue” because it features minimal dialogue and tells a mostly wordless story. In “G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero” No. 21, the focus is on the character Snake Eyes, a ninja and one of the fan-favorite members of the G.I. Joe team. The issue follows Snake Eyes as he infiltrates the fortress of the enemy organization Cobra. Throughout the issue, readers witness Snake Eyes’ silent and deadly actions as he takes on numerous Cobra soldiers. This phenomenal issue is known for its experimental storytelling technique, as it features minimal dialogue. In addition to all that, this particular issue also introduces the character of Storm Shadow, a powerful and skilled super-ninja!
10. Wolverine Volume 2: No.1 (1988) $850
Wolverine Volume 2: No. 1 features the first solo ongoing series for the popular Marvel character, Wolverine. This issue was written by Chris Claremont and illustrated by John Buscema. The story of the issue follows Logan as he embarks on a new adventure. It explores Wolverine’s past, his struggle with his animalistic instincts, and his ongoing quest for redemption. The issue introduces new supporting characters and sets the stage for the ongoing Wolverine series. Besides marking the start of Wolverine’s first solo ongoing series, the combination of writer Chris Claremont and artist John Buscema is highly regarded in the comic book industry. Claremont’s storytelling skills and Buscema’s dynamic artwork helped establish a compelling and visually stunning narrative. As with many key issues, the initial print run of Wolverine was relatively limited. The limited availability of this issue, especially in high-grade conditions, has contributed to its value among collectors.See also: Top 5 Comics Based on Video Games and Movies
9. Gobbledygook No. 1 (1984) $1,100
Published in 1984, Gobbledygook No. 1 is a comic book anthology created by the independent publisher Mirage Studios. The issue features various short stories and artwork from different creators within the independent comics scene of that time. While the issue does not contain a full-length story featuring the TMNT, it is notable for having the first published appearance of the Turtles on its back cover. This appearance is in the form of a small black and white advertisement that showcases the Turtles’ distinct design and provides their name, creators, and a brief description. As the Turtles grew in popularity and their own comic book series gained success, the limited appearance (only 50 were printed) in Gobbledygook No. 1 became a collectible piece for fans.
8. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns No.1 (1986) $1,350
Written and drawn by the amazing Frank Miller, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns No. 1 was published in June 198, as part of a four-issue. It is considered one of the most influential and acclaimed Batman stories of all time. The story of The Dark Knight Returns takes place in a dystopian future where an older Bruce Wayne comes out of retirement to don the cape and cowl once again. As Gotham City is plagued by crime and corruption, Batman faces off against familiar foes and confronts a new threat. The series presented a darker version of Batman and ushered in a more mature and sophisticated approach to superhero storytelling. Batman: The Dark Knight Returns” is highly sought-after by collectors due to its critical acclaim, cultural significance, and enduring popularity. The series represents a milestone in Batman’s history, making it a desirable addition to any comic book collection.
7. The Crow No. 1 (1989) $1,400
The first issue of the comic book series The Crow revolves around Eric Draven, a musician who is brutally murdered along with his fiancée, Shelly, by a gang of criminals. After his death, Eric is resurrected by a supernatural force to seek revenge on those responsible for his and Shelly’s deaths. The comic follows Eric as he seeks to bring justice to the ones who took everything from him. At the time, The Crow stood out for its dark storytelling that delves into themes of grief and vengeance. The original comic book series had a relatively limited print run, making each issue, especially No. 1, rarer compared to more widely circulated comics. The Crow No. 1 became a cult phenomenon, spawning a successful film adaptation. In my view, this particular issue undeniably lives up to its hype. I’m sure it is likely to increase in value as time goes on.
6. Transformers No.1 (1984) $2,100
Published in September 1984, Transformers No. 1 is the first issue of the comic book series based on the popular toy line and animated television series. The comic book was published by Marvel Comics under their Marvel US imprint. The story in the issue introduces the conflict between two factions of alien robots—the heroic Autobots and the evil Decepticons—as they bring their battle to Earth. The comic follows the ongoing struggle between these transforming robots and the pursuit of their respective goals. The issue lays the foundation for the Transformers universe, introducing key characters and establishing their alliances and rivalries. Transformers have become a beloved and enduring franchise, encompassing toys, animated series, movies, and more. The issue serves as an integral part of the overall Transformers mythology, making the first issue highly sought-after by fans.See also: Top 12 Most Valuable Comic Books from the 90s
5. Superman: Bradman Family Special (1988) $3,750
It is quite astonishing, but there have been occurrences where custom-made comic books have been crafted for exclusive occasions or individuals. A striking example is the Superman: Bradman Family Special Edition, which was specially commissioned by Godfrey Bradman, a prominent British property baron, for his son Daniel’s Bar Mitzvah. This unique comic featured family members as the main characters, adding a personal touch to the story. According to reports, DC Comics’ special projects department produced fewer than 250 copies of this remarkable edition, rendering it one of the rarest Superman tales in existence. The comic holds considerable value due to its limited print run and its association with such a notable private event.
4. Albedo No. 2 (1984) $4,000
Published in November 1983, Albedo is a significant comic book in the independent comics scene. It is part of the “Albedo Anthropomorphics” series, created by Steve Gallacci. Albedo No.2 is the first publication to include the popular samurai rabbit, Usagi Yojimbo. The issue is a standout example of the independent comic book movement in the 1980s. It demonstrates the creative freedom and unique storytelling approaches that independent creators embraced during this time. The “Albedo Anthropomorphics” series had a relatively low print run compared to mainstream comic books. The fact that only 2,000 copies of Albedo No. 2 were printed contributes to the issue’s value among collectors.
3. Amazing Spider-Man No.300 (1988) $5,300
Amazing Spider-Man No. 300, published in January 1988, is highly regarded for its pivotal storyline and features the first full appearance of the iconic villain Venom. The story of the issue revolves around Peter Parker, also known as Spider-Man, as he faces a formidable new foe named Venom. The issue explores the intense conflict between Spider-Man and Venom. It also highlights the symbiotic relationship between Eddie Brock and the alien symbiote that grants him superhuman powers. This encounter marks the beginning of a long and complex rivalry between Spider-Man and Venom. Venom initially appeared in “Amazing Spider-Man” No. 299 in a cameo role. However, it is in issue No. 300 that Venom’s full form, backstory, and abilities are revealed. The combination of Venom’s significance and the milestone issue number has increased the demand for “Amazing Spider-Man” No. 300.
2. Daredevil No.168 (1980) $8,200
Daredevil No. 168, is a notable and valuable comic book issue in the Daredevil series. This issue features the first appearance of the character Elektra Natchios, a significant addition to the Daredevil mythos. Elektra, created by writer Frank Miller and artist Klaus Janson, made her debut in this particular issue. n “Daredevil” No. 168, Elektra is introduced as a highly skilled and dangerous assassin with a complex history and a personal connection to Daredevil. Her appearance in this issue marks a pivotal moment in the Daredevil series! Elektra’s presence adds an additional layer of intrigue, romance, and conflict to the narrative. This contributes to the value of the comic book issue, as Elektra has become a fan-favorite character in the MCU.
1. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1984) No. 1 $13,000
The debut issue of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic book series introduces the origin of the four anthropomorphic turtles—Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo, and Raphael—who are trained in the art of ninjutsu by their rat sensei, Splinter. The comic book series served as the launching pad for the TMNT franchise, which went on to become a global phenomenon. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” No. 1 was independently published by Mirage Studios, which adds to its unique appeal. The success of this self-published comic book, without the backing of a major publisher, has become legendary within the industry. Fans of the franchise hold a nostalgic connection to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles No. 1, driving up its value!