Batman and Superman are currently locked in a heated popularity contest, driven by the much-anticipated movie, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. But while fans debate the merits of each superhero, comic collectors are asking: who’s the shrewder investment?

Batman Gia On The Move comic books

Both characters got their start in comic books. Superman burst on the scene in 1938 in Action Comics #1. Batman debuted in 1939 in Detective Comics #27.

“Timing is key. Superman is the world’s first comic book superhero, he influenced all who followed, including Batman,” says Vincent Zurzolo, co-owner of Metropolis Collectibles, the world’s largest vintage comic book dealership, and its online auction site.

“Comics featuring a character’s first appearance are typically the most valuable. For these reasons, I believe that Action Comics #1 will always be the gold standard.”

In the last decade, four high-grade copies of Action Comics #1 have sold for over $1 million—the highest for an unprecedented $3.2 million. In contrast, only one Detective Comics #27 has broken the seven figure threshold, and just barely.

Superman Gia On The Move comic books

So is Batman a weak comic book investment? “By no means, if a high-grade copy of Detective Comics #27 came on the market today, it would perform very well,” says Zurzolo.

In fact, when it comes to compelling supervillains, Batman overpowers Superman, and that also impacts comic book values.  The Joker, Riddler, Penguin, Catwoman, Two Face…Batman has a deep bench of great villains.  But try to name one well-known Superman villain besides Lex Luthor. Most people can’t.

So, which character should aspiring comic book collectors choose?

A rule of thumb is to collect what you love, so pick the character that appeals to you.  Or collect both. Just do your homework. Make sure you’re buying from a reputable seller, paying fair prices, and most of all, having fun.

Photo (above) courtesy of Warner Bros.