Superman comic worth $100,000 found in walls of abandoned house

May 24, 2013 | 12:23 p.m.
Superman made his first appearance in "Action Comics" No. 1 in June 1938. It is considered one of the world's most valuable comic books. (DC Comics)

Superman made his first appearance in “Action Comics” No. 1 in June 1938. It is considered one of the world’s most valuable comic books. (DC Comics)

Here’s something that might make you wish you had X-ray vision. A Minnesota man found a rare copy of “Action Comics” No. 1 in the walls of an abandoned home. Turns out, the Superman comic is worth more than $100,000.

David Gonzalez, 34, paid $10,100 for the dilapidated house with a torn-up roof in Elbow Lake, Minn., aiming to put his decade of construction and remodeling experience to use. While he was gutting the house for renovation, he found a comic book amid old newspapers that had been used to insulate the walls. The comic was from June 1938, and the cover featured Superman lifting a car over his head.

It was “Action Comics” No. 1, which marked Superman’s first comic book appearance 75 years ago.

“I knew it was worth money,” the father of four told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “But I had no idea how much.”

PHOTOS: 75 images of Superman

How much turns out to be at least $137,000, the current high bid for the Gonzalez’s find on ComicConnect.com, a New York online auction house. The auction runs through June 11.

This is like a virgin comic in this instance,” Vincent Zurzolo, a co-owner of ComicConnect, told the Star Tribune. “It’s so hard for anyone to fathom that, in this day and age, you could still discover a comic book that nobody has known about because this book was in a wall of a house for more than 70 years. It’s pretty miraculous that it even survived and it’s only had one owner.”

Gonzalez’s comic would have been worth more if it weren’t for a family tiff; Gonzalez brought his in-laws to see the house, he told the Star Tribune, and his wife’s aunt excitedly grabbed the book. When he grabbed it back, the back cover tore.

“That was a $75,000 tear,” ComicConnect co-owner Stephen Fishler told the Star Tribune. After its decades as wall insulation, the comic book would have graded out at 3.0 on a 10-point scale without the rip, Fishler said. With the rip, it’s graded at 1.5.

QUIZ: How well do you know the Man of Steel?

Gonzalez says he’s not angry about the tear.

“I am a humble working guy,” he told the Star Tribune. “Money won’t buy you happiness.”

But his share of the sale (about half) will help pay off his house, Gonzalez told the New York Daily News, as well as his truck and his wife’s education.

“And I always wanted a 1992 Camaro IROC Z28,” he said. “I think I have enough money to buy my Camaro now.”

Click through the gallery below for a look at Superman’s 75-year history.

superman collage Superman comic worth $100,000 found in walls of abandoned house

Superman has been saving the world for more than 75 years. What follows is a salute to the Man of Steel, courtesy of the L.A. Times' and DC Comics' media libraries. (Credits, clockwise from upper left: Warner Bros., DC Comics, Associated Press and DC Comics. Center: Getty Images. Gallery by Rene Lynch.)

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Superman made his first appearance in "Action Comics" No. 1 in June 1938. It is considered one of the world's most valuable comic books. (DC Comics)

superman 38 Superman comic worth $100,000 found in walls of abandoned house

The character proved to be so popular that Superman later earned his very own comic book series. (Associated Press / Sotheby's)

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He goes by many nicknames, including "The Last Son of Krypton." We turned to DC Comics' encyclopedia for more facts -- some well known, some not so much -- about the world's most famous superhero. (DC Comics)

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So let's start with some of the basics: Superman is the most powerful being on Earth. (Warner Home Video)

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His original name? Kal-El. His legal name is Clark Joseph Kent. (Jim Lee / DC Comics)

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His place of birth: Kryptonopolis, Krypton, a foreign planet. So, technically, he is an alien. (Getty Images)

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Superman's origin story -- as well as his artistic look and costume -- have evolved over the years with each reboot. But DC Comics documents one strain of his origin story thusly: The child Kal-El was sent to Earth by his scientist parents, Jor-El and Lara Lor-Van. (Wizard)

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The reason they sent their son away: The planet Krypton was facing doom, and Kal-El's parents wanted to give their son a chance at life. (Warner Bros.)

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Employing a gestation chamber, they sent Kal-El to Earth. There, the advantages were many: Exposure to the sun would "supercharge" his cells and give him his amazing abilities. (DC Comics)

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Upon his arrival on Earth, the infant was found by a kindly couple, Jonathan and Martha Kent, of Smallville, Kan. (Handout)

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The Kents raised the infant as their own, keeping his unusual arrival a secret. (Warner Bros. Pictures)

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But it was increasingly clear that Clark was... different. His superpowers grew as he did. Among them: super strength. (The WB)

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His adoptive parents finally told him the truth when he turned 18. (Associated Press / DC Entertainment)

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Clark Kent made the decision that he would keep his superpowers secret. (Associated Press)

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But Clark -- instilled with high moral ideals by his adoptive parents -- decided he would still use his superpowers to fight for truth and justice. One of the most famous Superman covers of all-time: Fred Ray's original art from the issue of "Superman" No. 14, in 1942, showing a signature wartime image of the "Man of Steel." (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

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With the help of his adoptive parents, Clark Kent moved into public life -- but under a secret identity. ("Max Fleischer's Superman" / Paramount)

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The costume did not include a mask -- so that the public would better trust him, his mother reasoned. (DC Comics)

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He decided to dramatically change his everyday physical appearance and mannerisms, "so that nobody would suspect" his true identity. (DC Comics)

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That cover? The absolutely adorkable mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent, of course. He was played to perfection by the late Christopher Reeve in "Superman." The 1978 film was one of many ways in which Superman and Clark Kent made the leap from comic books to films and more. [For The Record, 11:29 a.m. PDT March 28: A previous version of this caption said the film was released in 1987. It was released in 1978.] (Associated Press)

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Some other Clark Kent facts courtesy DC Comics: He graduated from Metropolis University. (Credit: Brandon Routh in "Superman Returns" Warner Bros. Pictures / David James)

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He later met with the lovely and ambitious reporter, Lois Lane. She would come up with the name "Superman" for the high-flying man in tights. (Image from the movie "Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut." Warner Bros. Entertainment)

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Some of Superman's finest adventures would involve Lois Lane, as in this edition, when she's forced to masquerade as a "lady dictator" in a bid to manipulate Superman. (DC Comics)

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While Clark was working alongside Lane and cub reporter Jimmy Olsen, he crosses paths with villian Lex Luthor -- at least according to one strain of Superman's origin story. (DC Comics)

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Luthor, a sinister businessman, tries to corrupt Superman, but of course it does not work. Thus starts the legendary feud that has lent fuel to Superman's story ever since. (Associated Press)

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Another origin strain has Lex Luthor and Clark Kent growing up as friends -- a plot twist played up in TV's "Smallville," which starred Michael Rosenbaum, left, as Lex Luthor and Tom Welling as Clark Kent. The boyhood friendship is destroyed after Luthor's father is killed in a fire, according to one story.

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Over the years, Luthor has tried to destroy Superman by many methods, among them: Green Kryptonite, which can steal a Kryptonian's superpowers. (DC Comics)

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Other Superman adventures over the years: He fought Muhammad Ali and lost. How's that? Because the fight took place on a distant planet whose properties temporarily rob Superman of all his superpowers, that's how. The battle was envisioned as a political statement, its creator, Neal Adams, told Hero Complex. (DC Comics)

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He also took on Titano, the Super-Ape, who has an ability to shoot Kryptonite rays from his eyes. (DC Comics)

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Some more biographical facts about the enduring character created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster ... (Reuters / Warner Bros. Studios)

superman 24 Superman comic worth $100,000 found in walls of abandoned house

Superman is 6 feet, 3 inches, 235 pounds. He has blue eyes and black hair. (Warner Bros. Pictures)

superman 19 Superman comic worth $100,000 found in walls of abandoned house

According the DC Comics' official guide to Superman, Clark Kent's favorite sandwich is peanut butter-and-jelly and his favorite sport is football. (Warner Bros. Pictures / Sony Pictures Imageworks)

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His birthday is Feb. 29. This makes Superman's zodiac sign Pisces.(Warner Bros. Pictures)

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His "base of operations"? Fortress of Solitude, Hall of Justice or Metropolis. Or where ever crime needs fighting. (DC Comics)

superman 33 Superman comic worth $100,000 found in walls of abandoned house

League members have changed over the years, but original members include Aquaman, Batman, the Flash, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, Superman and Wonder Woman. (Cartoon Network)

superman 9 Superman comic worth $100,000 found in walls of abandoned house

Even when the "S" is not visible, you can tell which one is Superman by the granite jaw. (Alex Ross / DC Comics)

superman 6 Superman comic worth $100,000 found in walls of abandoned house

Superman is quintessentially American, but he is a citizen of Earth as well. In this issue of "Action Comics" No. 900, Superman renounces his U.S. citizenship because of his concerns that his actions are seen as instruments of U.S. foreign policy. (Associated Press / DC Comics)

superman 51 Superman comic worth $100,000 found in walls of abandoned house

In other adventures, Superman, DC Comics, and UNICEF joined forces to help in a mine-sweeping campaign in Bosnia. Private agencies and a NATO-led peace force distributed the comic book, showing Superman swooping in to rescue two boys hunting for war souvenirs, in order to get the word out about the dangers of mines. (Associated Press / DC Comics / UNICEF)

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Superman's strengths are many, although the exact magnitude is unknown. (Warner Bros. Pictures)

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DC Comics says it is "generally accepted" that he has the ability to lift at least 1,000,000 tons. (Associated Press / DC Comics)

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His body is deemed "nigh-invulnerable." He survived a blast equivalent to a million nuclear warheads, for example. (DC Comics)

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According to DC Comics, his "greatest feat of durability" was withstanding the explosion of a sun -- although the blast did temporarily knock him out. (DC Comics)

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His super immune system makes him impervious to toxins and disease. (DC Comics)

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Superman's X-ray vision is played to great effect in "Superman Returns" for Xbox 360. (EA)

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He also has heat vision, the ability to fire beams of intense heat from his eyes. (DC Comics)

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He has a genius-level intellect and almost unimaginable analytical powers. He can "read information directly from machines (and, with careful usage of his heat vision, he can even reprogram machines)," according to his DC Comics bio. (DC Comcs)

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Superman also has an indomitable will, "completely free of evil or temptation." DC Comics adds: Superman "is very optimistic and never gives up, even when things look bad." (DC Comics)

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He can fly faster than "light speeds," tends to fly at Mach 10 and has flown into outer space. He can reach the moon in minutes, if he desires. (Associated Press)

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His superhuman stamina means he can hold his breath forever, and does not need to sleep or eat. He just needs exposure to the sun. (DC Comics)

superman 64 Superman comic worth $100,000 found in walls of abandoned house

This 1992 cover marked one of the most notorious moments in Superman's history. It proclaimed "The Death of Superman." (DC Comics)

superman 50 Superman comic worth $100,000 found in walls of abandoned house

Spoiler alert: Superman survives his battle with Doomsday, but not before the world mourns and several others try to take Superman's place. (Associated Press)

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Superman's personal life has been complicated, as might be expected. But there has been no shortage of female admirers. Here, he gets busy with Wonder Woman. (Associated Press / DC Entertainment)

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This 2006 cover of the Advocate kicked up controversy by suggesting that Superman might be miscast by the masses. (The Advocate)

superman cover no 7 Superman comic worth $100,000 found in walls of abandoned house

But, as everyone knows, Lois Lane is Superman's one true love -- even after she finds out the truth about his secret identity. (DC Comics)

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How symbolic and beloved is Superman? He infuses our culture through and through. When the NBA's Shaquille O'Neal wanted to send a message, he had Superman's "S" tattooed on his arm.(NBAE)

superman 48 Superman comic worth $100,000 found in walls of abandoned house

A Superman mural greets visitors to Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia for the Superman: Escape From Krypton ride. It's billed as the first ride to reach speeds of 100 mph, a feat theme parks had been trying to reach for decades. (Los Angeles Times)

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The ride begins in Superman's Fortress of Solitude and accelerates to 100 mph in seven seconds before shooting straight up a 41-story tower. (Los Angeles Times)

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There's no shortage of Superman toys, games and other memorabilia. (Sideshow Collectibles)

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...starring Bob Holiday in 1966's "It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Superman!" (Los Angeles Times archives)

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While Superman usually gets top billing, he played a sidekick in "The Adventures of Seinfeld & Superman," online-only shorts for American Express. In the films, the pair pal around, taking in a Broadway show and even fighting crime. (American Express)

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Actor George Reeves portrayed Superman in the 1950s television series. (Associated Press)

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Others playing Superman on TV included Dean Cain, here with costar Teri Hatcher in "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman." The series ran from 1993 to 1997. (ABC)

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His look has changed dramatically over the years. A cape just causes drag, right? This Superman costume upends the red-white-and-blue homage. (Reuters)

superman 55 Superman comic worth $100,000 found in walls of abandoned house

We'll close on that classic Superman pose. Here's to another 75 years, Superman! (Associated Press / DC Comics)

– Noelene Clark | @NoeleneClark

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Comments


9 Responses to Superman comic worth $100,000 found in walls of abandoned house

  1. sashe78 says:

    Cool story.
    Not mad about the back cover torn by some greedy "beech". Really? What if she tore it in half? Not mad then? I would NEVER speak to that person again. I would hope the rest of the family treats Mr. Gonzalez like a saint from now on…

  2. phil says:

    Oh the humanity

  3. lhulk says:

    I'm going thru all my adult kids' comic books I've been storing for years. Not telling anyone til I cash the big check. Anyone want to offer me $ for the boxes of them now?

  4. Leah says:

    I have one of these in great condition. How do I get it appraised? And trust someone to do it.

  5. James says:

    Leah: I’m about 99.9% sure you have a re print. There are only a handful of the originals left know to survive but the book has been reproduced many, many times. I would not get my hopes up at all if I were you.

  6. Gregory says:

    How much does a copyright of that comic book worth the Superman comic book

  7. Patricia suter says:

    Need a price on a old superman comic book 1943.

  8. John LaPierre says:

    I have (1) Exact Reprint of the original June 1938 1st edition ACTION COMICS THIS is a large copy. Featuring SUPERMAN LIFTING A CAR OVER HIS HEAD
    What is it worth to you.

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