PHILADELPHIA >>Up, up and away is synonymous with Superman and may have a new meaning for collectors, too, as an ultra-rare and pristine copy of Action Comics No. 1 goes up for auction online Friday.
The issue, featuring the first appearance of Superman, is expected to surpass the $1.5 million record set in 2010.
"It’s an iconic milestone of the 20th century," said Stephen Fishler, CEO of ComicConnect.com and Metropolis Collectibles, of the issue, which was published in 1938 and cost just 10 cents. The auction at www.comicconnect.com lasts through Nov. 30.
The issue for sale has a story of its own that wouldn’t be out of place in the pages of a comic book plot, either. Twice before it set the record for the most expensive book ever — it sold for $86,000 in 1992 and then $150,000 in 1997. That, Fishler said, was a nod to its near mint condition.
"It is clearly one of the finest and that it’s held the record for the most expensive book ever sold, speaks to that," he said of the issue, which is graded a 9.0.
In March 2010, a copy Action Comics No. 1 — graded at 8.5 — sold for $1.5 million, just a few weeks after another copy of the issue sold for $1 million.
Neither of those issues are in as good a condition as the issue that goes on sale Friday. There are about 100 copies of Action Comics No. 1 believed to be in existence, and only a handful in good condition.
After it was stolen in 2000 Fishler said collectors figured it would never be found or, worse, would be destroyed.
"It was so recognizable that the risk was that the person who stole it could have tried to destroy it," Fishler said of the comic, whose owner he’s not identifying. "I felt there was a chance that it would never turn up."
But turn up it did, earlier this year, in a storage shed in California, that had been purchased in an auction.
"When we were contacted in April and saw a picture of the book, we were shocked," Fishler said. "After spending so many years looking for the book, I was blown away when it appeared."