While a summer isn't complete these days without a superhero blockbuster bringing in millions of dollars to the box office, this week has seen two of DC's most popular comic book heroes earning big bucks back where they all started - in their first issues.
Earlier in the week, Superman's debut in a 1938 edition of Action Comics No 1, which originally sold for 10c, was sold by a private seller to a private buyer for $1 million, taking the title of the most expensive comic book in the world.
However this morning, the comic book world was shaken with news that the debut issue of Batman, 1939 copy of Detective Comic No 27, had been sold for more than $1 million at an auction in Dallas, placing the Caped Crusader above the Man of Steel in the wealth ranks.
Speaking to the BBC, Barry Sandoval, of auction house Heritage, claimed it was the biggest price on record for a comic book.
"It pretty much blew away all of our expectations," he said. "We can really say that Batman has nosed out Superman, at least for now."
With comic book heroes now a major business, with Disney studios buying Marvel's entire backlog of characters to make films from, and superhero film adaptations regular tent-pole movies for studios, investment in comics has never been more profitable. Shirrel Rhoades, former publisher and executive vice president of Marvel Comics, added that the two sales were likely to keep prices buoyant.
"We're probably seeing a little bit of a feeding frenzy," he said, adding that comic books are seen as a sound investment.
With that in mind, if you have the following comic books, it would probably be best to lock them away. Apart from the above two, the most valuable comic books are;
Marvel Comics No.1 – $367,00: Published in October 1939, the first-ever Marvel Comic included the first appearance of Carl Burgos' android superhero the Human Torch.
Batman No.1 – $359,000: The first comic book in his self-titled series, and the first in which Robin appeared, was released in the spring of 1940.
More Fun Comics No.52 – $316,000: More Fun was a 1935-1947 American comic book anthology. The No.52 issue introduced The Spectre for the first time.
With a third Batman film directed by Christopher Nolan currently being planned, and a new Superman script being penned by The Dark Knight's writer David Goyer, the profitability of these characters is expected to only go up over the next few years.
Superman, in particular, provides a lucrative revenue for DC Comics and Warner Brothers Studios, who own the film rights. Numerous spin-offs such as Lois and Clark and Smallville, not to mention a host of merchandise, has seen the Superman franchise valued at over a $1 billion in recent years.
To quote Steve Younis, editor of the Superman Homepage, "You're talking about everything from action figures, peanut butter, magnets, T-Shirts, coffee mugs, posters, keyrings, waste paper baskets, calendars [...] you name it, they've slapped an "S" on it in the 70-plus years that Superman has been around."
With a Green Lantern film coming out next year, directed by Casino Royale's Martin Campbell, and Robert Downey Jr returning for Marvel's Iron Man sequel this summer, you can also expect the value of those characters to also increase, but for now - at least in terms of profit - it seems Superman and Batman rule the comic world.
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