It all began with action comics #1

Metropolis Collectibles via AP

The makers of “Man of Steel” aren’t the only ones with a consuming interest in revisiting where it all began for Superman. Just look how obsessed people can be with his first comic book appearance, in Action Comics #1, way back in 1938.

When Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster’s landmark creation first hit the stands, 75 years ago, it was in an issue that sold for one thin dime. In December 2011, a copy of the ultra-rare comic sold in an online auction for a record $2.16 million.

Last month, a Minnesota man doing home renovations found a copy of the comic in his wall insulation — then promptly ripped it in an argument with a relative. Even so, auction bidding for the comic stood at over $140,000 at press time.


Warner Bros.’ last relaunch bid, “Superman Returns” (2006), includes a scene with Brandon Routh’s hero grabbing a careening car and holding it aloft — a re-creation of Action #1’s iconic cover image.

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Oh, yeah, about that $2 million copy — it was formerly, famously, owned by comics fan and onetime Superman casting consideration Nicolas Cage. The actor paid about $150,000 for it in 1997, only to have it stolen from his Los Angeles home three years later. The comic was recovered from an abandoned San Fernando Valley storage locker in April 2011.

Brandon Routh in a scene from 2006’s “Superman Returns.”

Coming soon, potentially, to a theater near you: “Action No. 1,” a comedy about the Cage heist, from “Night at the Museum” writers Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon. Have the duo ever handled a case this screwy before, even when they were playing clueless “Reno: 911!” deputies?


Tom Russo can be reached at