This weekend's New York Comic Con is (so far) less of an entertainment hub than its counterpart in San Diego, and as a result, you'll likely get around to seeing more actual comics. If you were there on Thursday, you might actually have seen the world's most expensive comic book: a well-preserved copy of Superman debut Action Comics #1 that sold for $3.2 million this summer. For one day only, it was on the show floor, at the booth of Metropolis Comics and Collectibles. So what does a plastic-wrapped pamphlet worth more than a dozen Ferraris, first sold in 1938 for a dime, look like?
Honestly, almost exactly like the two Action Comics #1 issues flanking it. I had expected some kind of reverent separate framing — maybe a sign — but the only thing that distinguished it from the rest of the row was a number in the top left-hand corner: 9.0, one mark away from the highest possible ranking on the CGC comics grading scale. It's virtually pristine, the Metropolis representative at the counter said, almost like it just rolled off the press. Of course, to my untrained eyes, the ones next to it did too.
As I peered closer, I started to figure out what made it better than the two merely decent (by collector standards) 5.0 versions. The edge of one was a little ragged, the other's corners maybe slightly less square. Though I couldn't really see, I was told the page quality was slightly lower. They were, I was told, each worth about $500,000 or $600,000. But now, their incredibly expensive sibling will probably raise the value across the board, potentially giving them a boost of $100,000 or more. So if you missed out on seeing a $3 million comic, just find something in the nearest bargain bin, stare hard at it, and remember that value is arbitrary and money merely a kind of collective delusion.