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The most expensive comic books seen on Pawn Stars

If you're looking to figure out how much a comic book is worth, there are plenty of options. One of the most well-known collector resources is the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide, which lists just about any comic you can think of. There are online price guides, and there's always the tried and true method of just going on an auction site and searching for the comic to see how much it's selling for. But ultimately, like everything else, a comic book is worth what someone's willing to pay for it. Overstreet can tell you a comic is worth $5,000 but if no one's willing to give you that much for it, it's not like the guide's publisher is going to send out a covert strike team to make someone pay their listed price. 

It's a lesson a number of people learn on History Channel's Pawn Stars. Over the course of the series, the proprietors of Las Vegas's Gold & Silver Pawn Shop have had plenty of comics brought to their store, and usually if there's any interest at all they call in an expert to give them an idea of what's being offered. Sometimes the hopeful sellers leave with smiles on their faces, and other times they hear numbers a lot smaller than they were expecting. Regardless, it gives the rest of us a chance to see some wonderful artifacts from the comic book industry. Here are the most expensive comic books seen on Pawn Stars.

Superman vs. Muhammad Ali

In Pawn Stars' 15th season, a guy named David brings in a copy of the DC Comic Superman vs. Muhammad Ali, looking for $300. Hitting stands in 1978 — the same year Ali retired for the first time as well as the year Richard Donner's Superman premiered – Superman vs. Muhammad Ali remains one of the most beloved DC comics of the '70s. 

Why would these two even fight? In the comic, an alien warlord named Rat'lar challenges Earth to a championship battle, and if Earth loses it will be destroyed. Superman and Ali fight for the privilege of representing Earth. The match takes place on a planet orbiting a red star, which temporarily robs Superman of his super strength and durability so the bout will be fair. As the superior fighter, Ali wins and goes on to defeat Rat'lar's alien champion while Superman — healed and his powers restored — destroys Rat'lar's space fleet.

In the Pawn Stars episode, Corey calls Toy Shack owner Johnny Jimenez to the store for an expert opinion, and Jimenez calls the comic one of his "personal favorites." After geeking out over the artwork, the condition, and some of the trivia surrounding its production — including the gaggle of celebrities drawn on the cover — Jimenenz values the comic between $150 and $175. Corey buys the comic for $135 — less than half of the seller's asking price — but David seems happy regardless. 

Moby Dick

 Xan's father collects books about whales and whaling, but apparently comic books don't cut the mustard. So Xan brings the 1942 Moby Dick comic originally meant for his father to Gold & Silver Pawn Shop and tries to get $600 out of Chumlee for it. 

The comic Xan brings to the shop is part of a long series of literary adaptations published by Classics Illustrated. Between 1941 and 1969, Classics Illustrated adapted 169 different works to the panels including novels, Shakespeare plays, and even early science fiction stories like H.G. Wells' The Time Machine and Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth. It also produced Classics Illustrated Junior which dealt mainly with fairy tales. 

Chumlee calls CGC Grading's Paul Litch for a consultation, and Litch says this particular comic is known for a rare variant interior cover with what he calls a "free promo kind of thing." When he opens the comic, unfortunately for Xan it's the standard version, but Xan doesn't go away empty-handed. In spite of Xan's copy appearing — by his own admission — "well read," Litch's estimate isn't far below the asking price. Litch puts the value of the book at $550, and after some haggling Xan lets it go for $375. 

Giant Size X-Men #1

In Season 11, a hopeful seller brings a couple of valuable comics to the Pawn Stars shop, including 1975's Giant Size X-Men #1 for which he's asking $1200He tells Rick he got the valuable comic from a trade for original art, though he doesn't go into more details. 

While the saga of Marvel's mutants begins in 1963's Uncanny X-Men #1, many of the franchise's most popular characters are introduced in Giant Size X-Men #1. Nightcrawler, Storm, Colossus, and Magik all make their first appearances in the later comic. While Wolverine makes his first appearance a year earlier in the final panel of Incredible Hulk #180, it isn't until Giant-Size X-Men #1 that we learn he's a mutant or that we see some of the surly attitude he's known for.

Rick calls CGC's Paul Litch to consult on the comics, and the seller clearly isn't happy with Litch's estimate on Giant Size X-Men's value. While the appraiser actually gives it similar condition grade, he puts the value between $550 and $600. When Litch is gone and the seller says he needs $900 for it, Rick doesn't even bother trying to haggle and passes on it entirely. 

Adventures of Bob Hope #1

Season 13's "Silver Stash Pawn" shows us not only one of the most valuable comics to be seen on Pawn Stars, but one of the most unexpected. The seller Xan brings 1950's Adventures of Bob Hope #1 to the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop. 

After World War II, the popularity of superhero comics waned and didn't rise again until the '60s. Some of the most popular superhero comics continued to be published during the '50s, but companies like DC looked in new directions for comic book properties including licensing celebrity comics — hence Adventures of Bob Hope. Most issues featured Hope in a comically calamitous situation similar to the plots of his movies. Toward the end of the series' run, Hope's fictional nephew Tadwallader Jutefruce was introduced as the ridiculous superhero Super-Hip, who would go on to become part of DC Comics canon.

CGC's Paul Litch comes by and — in a rare turn of events — values the comic $100 higher than Xan's asking price, at $600. Rick seems doubtful the comic will sell considering Bob Hope is not only not an action hero but not even a comedian most younger people would recognize, and he haggles Xan down to $325.

While Bob Hope may seem like a bizarre subject for a comic book, keep in mind 109 issues of Adventures of Bob Hope were published between 1950 and 1968. Considering most new DC and Marvel comics don't even hit their 100th issue these days, Adventures of Bob Hope must have been doing something right.

Mad #1

Whether it's just a part of his poker face or it's genuine skepticism, Rick rarely seems as instantly impressed with comics as he does when a woman named Holly presents him with a copy of 1952's Mad #1. Holly asks $2500 for the comic so, as per usual, Rick calls in an expert for an estimate — in this case, CGC Primary Grader Paul Litch. 

Originally published by EC Comics, Mad published 23 issues before changing to its more well-known magazine format. Litch and Pawn Stars' factoid graphics tell us the format change came because of greater scrutiny focused on comics in the '50s, inspired by Frederic Wertham's book Seduction of the Innocent which claimed comic books contributed to juvenile delinquency. However, Mad co-founder William Gaines claimed in a 1992 interview with Gauntlet Magazine (via Comic Art) that this was an urban legend. Mad was changed to a magazine format, Gaines insisted, to retain writer and artist Harvey Kurtzman, who had expressed interest in magazine work and was considering a "lucrative offer" from the magazine Pageant. Gaines did admit that Mad was protected from the restrictive Comics Code Authority because of the format change. 

Regardless of how or why it stopped being a comic book, Litch agrees Holly's Mad #1 is a rare find and values it at $2000. Holly ultimately refuses to part with it yet, asking for $1500 while Rick won't go above $1400. 

Star Wars #3

Chumlee finds himself with a situation a little more complex than just grading a comic in Season 14's "If the Pawn Don't Fit." A young woman named Lindsey — hoping to use the sale to pay for her $4000 wedding dress — brings in a copy of 1977's Star Wars #3 from Marvel's original run of the title. What makes this comic book sale a little different is that the cover includes signatures supposedly from Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill.

This time, before a comic book expert shows up, Chumlee talks to autograph authenticator Steve Grad who not only says the autographs are genuine, but believes he knows exactly when and where they come from — a 1977 Canadian comic book shop signing. He gives an estimate of $3000 for the comic. Meanwhile CGC's Paul Litch puts his own estimate at around $50, based solely on the comic's condition and not the autographs. 

Sadly, it appears this isn't the comic Chumlee was looking for. Lindsey leaves the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop with the comic and without the money she needs for her wedding dress. She refuses to take anything below $3000 while Chumlee won't give anything above $1500. We hope she found a more generous buyer and wasn't forced to appear as a scruffy-looking nerf herder on her wedding day.

A New Peanuts Book Featuring Snoopy

In Season 9's "I'll Be Doggone," it almost looks like Chumlee's going to be too busy reading the copy of A New Peanuts Book Featuring Snoopy a potential seller brings in to bother figuring out whether or not he's willing to buy it. But eventually he pulls himself away from Snoopy's antics long enough to call in an expert, though it isn't someone we usually see on Pawn Stars helping with comic book sales. Since this comic is published in a paperback book, and particularly because it's Charles Schulz, Chumlee calls in Rebecca Romney — manager of Bauman Rare Books of Las Vegas.

Perhaps the biggest selling point of the book is the Schulz signature and Lucy sketch in the beginning of the book. Romney explains that because of the unfortunately crowded field of Schulz forgeries, buying or selling Schulz collectibles can be tricky. Thankfully for the seller, Dyan, Romney authenticates the signature and sketch. She values the book between $3200 and $3500 — pointing out it could grab more if the sketch was of Snoopy rather than Lucy. 

Dyan gets $1400 for the book from Chumlee, which isn't close to what she wants. But it might be enough for some stuffed Snoopy dolls or maybe some Red Baron goggles.

Avengers #1

In Season 11's "Avengers Assemble," a seller asks $4600 for a copy of 1963's Avengers #1 — the very first story about the Marvel Comics team that grew to be a media powerhouse. 

When Rick calls CGC's Paul Litch in to give his two cents, the expert explains that Avengers owes a large part of its existence to a missed deadline. According to Marvel Comics editor Tom Breevort, in the early '60s comics publishers reserved their print time "way ahead of time — and if your book wasn't ready, you paid for the printing time anyway." So when Bill Everett fell behind on his deadline for Daredevil #1, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby quickly brainstormed the first issue of Avengers featuring Thor, the Hulk, Ant-Man, the Wasp, and Iron Man as the founding lineup. Ironically, though you could argue he's the reason the Avengers exist, it took until 2011's New Avengers #16 for Daredevil to join the team. 

Litch places the value of Avengers #1 fairly close to the seller's acting price — between $4000 and $4200. Unfortunately, Rick and the seller can't come to an agreement. Rick offers to buy at $3200, the seller goes as far down as $3300, and neither will budge. 

To give you an idea of how many factors contribute to a rare comic book's price, three years before Rick and this seller find themselves haggling over the difference of $100, a high grade copy of Avengers #1 sold for $274,850

Amazing Fantasy #15

Not all valuable first appearances are #1 issues. Marvel's own webhead Spider-Man first appears in 1962's Amazing Fantasy #15 and in season 8's "The Amazing Chumlee," a potential seller named John brings a copy of the sought-out issue to the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop, though he's unpleasantly surprised at the comic's appraisal. 

Corey calls in Toy Shack owner Johnny Jimenez to look at the comic, who puts its value at around $10,000 less than John's asking price — between $6000 and $7000. The main problem, according to Jimenez, is the cover, which includes a prominent Santa Fe shipping stamp as well as stains and creases. After Jimenez leaves, John tries to get Corey to go as high as $10,000, but the most the "Big Hoss" will offer is $7,000. 

John's disappointment is understandable. Two years earlier, a high-grade copy of Amazing Fantasy #15 sold for $1.1 million. In 2016 a copy of it sold at auction for $454,100, and two years later another copy sold for $415,000. Unfortunately for John, in comic book collecting there is a huge gap between mid-grade and high grade. 

Incredible Hulk #1-#6

In season 14's "The Pawnshine State," restaurant owner Tommy brings in Incredible Hulk #1-6. In a story that is equal parts miraculous and terrifying to any comic book collector, Tommy says he found them while he was building his restaurant in Brooklyn — specifically "in the basement behind a whole bunch of garbage." 

Tommy's comics actually represent the entire first Incredible Hulk series. It only lasted six issues due to low sales, though the Hulk would stay in the Marvel Universe — helping to found the Avengers and some other guest appearances, including a huge battle with the combined forces of the Avengers and the Fantastic Four in 1964's Fantastic Four #25-26. The Hulk later shared the Tales to Astonish title first with Giant Man and later Sub-Mariner starting with the 58th issue. Tales to Astonish ends with its 101st issue and — to the temporary confusion of every comic book collector — gave the Hulk his own title again starting with #102. 

Tommy wants $40,000 for the comics and when CGC's Paul Litch comes by the appraise them, the number he gives — $36,000 — is in the same ballpark. Corey and Tommy can't cut on a deal, though. Corey tops off at $20,000 while Tommy doesn't seem interested in haggling and wants his asking price. The restaurant owner seems content with the outcome; confident, perhaps, that he'll get another opportunity to get that 40k or even more.