First Riddler in Detective Comics #140 Hits Record $456,000 at Auction

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A Detective Comics #140 CGC 9.6 White Pages has just sold for $456,000 at this afternoon's session of this week's 2021 June 17 – 19 Comics & Comic Art Signature Auction from Heritage Auctions.  The October 1948 cover-dated release from DC Comics features the first appearance of popular Batman villain the Riddler in a story written by Bill Finger, drawn by  Dick Sprang and inked by Charles Paris, and with a cover by Win Mortimer.  This copy is from a collection of some 5,000 comics in blisteringly high grade known as the Promise Collection.

Detective Comics #140 featuring the first appearance of the Riddler, The Promise Collection Pedigree (DC, 1948)
Detective Comics #140 featuring the first appearance of the Riddler, The Promise Collection Pedigree (DC, 1948)

The $456,000 hammer price for this copy of the Riddler's first appearance surpasses the previous highest price ever paid for a Detective Comics #140 by a factor of ten.  A CGC 7.5 copy of this comic sold for $40,800 earlier this year.  This comic is virtually never available for sale in high grade, and this CGC 9.6 entry is the sole highest-graded copy on the CGC Census.

Results in the early going of this auction have been nothing short of stunning.  The first appearance of the Johnny Blaze version of Ghost Rider in Marvel Spotlight #5 CGC 9.8 from the Oregon Collection hammered at $264,000 yesterday, and today's Promise Collection results have been equally as strong across the board.  For example, several Joker covers on Detective Comics issues such as #69 (CGC 9.0 for $126,000), #114 (CGC 9.8 for $156,000), #124 (CGC 9.8 for $120,000), and #149 (CGC 9.6 for $102,000) all reached the six-figure mark.

The consignors of these comics wish to remain anonymous, but Heritage Auctions has revealed some details behind the origins of the Promise Collection and its name:

In the early 1950s, a young man called Robert was drafted by the Army to fight in Korea. His younger brother, known as Junie, enlisted in the hopes of keeping watch over Robert. Junie had but one request of his big brother – that Robert take care of his collection of funny books should anything happen to him in battle.

Robert knew how dear those books were to his brother. So he promised him: Yes, of course. He would take care of those funny books. If something happened. God forbid.

Then Junie was killed in action. He was 21 years old.

Robert came home from the war and fulfilled his promise to his brother.  The comic books were carefully boxed up and put in an attic, where they stayed for over half a century.  Stay tuned to Bleeding Cool for what will certainly be more record results from this auction.

Detective Comics #140 featuring the first appearance of the Riddler, The Promise Collection Pedigree (DC, 1948)
Detective Comics #140 featuring the first appearance of the Riddler, The Promise Collection Pedigree (DC, 1948)

Detective Comics #140 The Promise Collection Pedigree (DC, 1948) CGC NM+ 9.6 White pages. Look for some very stiff competition when bidding on this newly crowned single highest-graded copy of the origin and first appearance of the Riddler (Edward Nigma), one of the Dynamic Duo's most enduring foes. He became so popular that the Riddler was chosen as the first villain to star on Batman's new TV show, back in 1966 (as played by the incredible Frank Gorshin). This impossible copy nearly brought tears to our eyes when we received it. The NM+ 9.6 is shocking, considering that just six copies have ever been given a grade above VF 8.0! The books is one of Overstreet's Top 100 Golden Age Comics, and of course, it features Batman and Robin on the Win Mortimer cover and inside, where Dick Sprang and Curt Swan added art. The sky's the limit when this Promise Collection copy crosses the auction block! Overstreet 2020 NM- 9.2 value = $42,000. CGC census 6/21: 1 in 9.6, none higher.

View the certification for CGC Certification ID 1973696020 and purchase grader's notes if available.

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About Mark Seifert

Co-founder and Creative director of Bleeding Cool parent company Avatar Press. Bleeding Cool Managing Editor, tech and data wrangler. Machine Learning hobbyist. Vintage paper addict.
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