As is the case with literary novels or record albums, an original first edition comic represents a collector's Holy Grail. Whether it is from the financial value assured by the issue's relative scarcity or the sentimental value provided by a beloved character's debut, the addition of a first edition bolsters the worth of any comic collection. Some, however, have proven more elusive and therefore more valuable.
Action Comics #1
As perhaps the most recognisable superhero in the world, the placement of Spiderman atop this list should come as no surprise. In addition to giving birth to one of the two most popular characters in the DC Comics stable, experts frequently cite Action Comics #1 as the genesis of the superhero genre. Contrary to later incarnations, the powers Superman has in Action Comics #1 came with considerable restrictions. Rather than fly, he could leap up to 200 m high. His speed, estimated as capable of outpacing a speeding train, fell somewhat short of that necessary to reverse the rotation of the Earth as he did in the 1978 film.
Though he officially made his debut in Detective Comics #27, Batman did not headline his own series of comic books until a little over a year later. While the earlier series established much of his mythos, the latter contributed such indispensable characters as the Joker, Catwoman, and loyal butler Alfred Pennyworth. The first instalment consists of five separate stories, spanning from the childhood murder of his parents that motivated Bruce Wayne to pursue a life of crime-fighting all the way to the arrival of his eventual arch nemesis, the Joker, in Gotham City. Other stories include the debut of Catwoman, who uses her feminine wiles to convince Batman to allow her to escape after being caught stealing an emerald necklace, and the creation of a growth serum that puts the evil Dr. Hugo Strange in charge of an army of mutated asylum inmates.
The X-Men #1
Though not necessarily commissioned as a direct response to the popularity of the previous two entrants, the X-Men proved an invaluable boost to the waning popularity of industry rival Marvel Comics. The first issue introduced readers to Professor Xavier and his school of so-called gifted youngsters, each exhibiting superhuman traits as the result of genetic mutation. Owing to the timing of its release as well as its subject matter concerning the treatment of group deemed "different" by those deemed "normal", scholars often cite the X-Men as a commentary on the United States Civil Rights movement.