'Holy Grail' of comic books sets million dollar record

Superrman Action Comics No. 1 The first edition of "Action Comics," featuring Superman's debut that sold for 10 cents in 1938, set an out-of-this-world auction record Monday, leaping to an astonishing $1 million dollar value in a single bound, or online bid, as the case may be.

Sold to an anonymous, private bidder by an anonymous, private New York seller, Steven Fishler, co-owner of the US auction website Comic Connect, told BBC News that the super sale happened within minutes of putting the comic book up for auction. "The opportunity to buy an un-restored, high-grade Action One comes along once every two decades. It's certainly a milestone," said Fishler.

The book is one of only two known copies that exist in 8.0 grade -- "very fine" condition. It's not something you want the kids leafing through, and in fact, the book's significance goes beyond mere entertainment value.

Geoff Boucher, creator of the wildly popular Los Angeles Times, Hero Complex blog, told WalletPop why Superman is worth a super sized sum. "In the summer of 1938, with the United States on the precipice of war, pop culture changed forever with a strange new hero who looked like a walking flag with his blue suit and red cape. Two young guys from Cleveland, Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, created a landmark moment in publishing and in youth entertainment by creating a Man of Steel. That changed everything, " said Boucher, and the American comic book was born.

"This book is the Holy Grail for collectors," said Boucher, "and despite that steep price, it's a good investment since Warner Bros. is poised to revive the movie franchise and take the hero to even greater heights in the public imagination in the 21st century."

Can you imagine what it's like to own a million dollar comic book? Maybe I would invite my friends over just to look at it sitting under glass on the coffee table. No touching, no smoking, no breathing.

Boucher points out that the first superhero has defined our American culture in ways that are inseparable from our national identity. What little kid doesn't want a red cape and super powers? Boucher adds, "It's amazing how much of the familiar mythology was in the first issue -- the baby rocketed from a doomed planet Krypton, the Daily Planet, Lois Lane, Clark Kent and so many touchstone elements of the American equivalent to the Hercules myth."

Superman turns 72 this year and he's definitely still got it. I wonder if Harry Potter will age as well? In the meantime, I'm going to take another look at what's on my bookshelf ...
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