Ever since his debut, Wolverine has been a fantastic character. He's played many roles, from staunch hero to antihero to villain, and taken on the mantles of mentor, leader, Phoenix, and much more across the thousands of books he's been in. He's fought just about everyone, come back from death, and worse, and there are very few comic fans who don't feel at least a little excitement at the iconic "snikt" sound effect.
Comic fans love Wolverine, and that's great for comic collectors and investors. Wolverine comics are enduring and often go up in price whenever a new movie or tie-in starring the character is announced. He's one of the icons of the X-Men, so he comes up frequently enough to make it always worthwhile to watch his keys.
So, what are the most valuable keys, and how much are they going for at auction these days? Let's dig in and find out more.
Incredible Hulk #180
First up, we have issue 180 of… the Incredible Hulk. In this issue, Hulk fights one of his long-running villains with the now-less-than-ideal name of Wendigo.
So, why is this comic on the list of most valuable Wolverine comics? It's not his book, and he doesn't star in it, after all.
Well, comics fans, X-Men fans, Hulk fans, and Wolverine fans all know the answer already: it's technically Wolverine's first appearance. As one of the most noteworthy Key Issues in Wolverine canon, it's a much sought-after issue of Hulk and carries a relatively high price.
This issue is a bit contentious amongst Wolverine fans. For one thing, it's not a full appearance. Wolverine only appears as a single panel at the end to break up the fight between Hulk and Wendigo. In his iconic yellow outfit, he's revealed as Weapon X, there to get in fights (and maybe solve problems.)
While this is undeniably the first comic appearance of Wolverine, it's not the first significant issue starring the character, so a lot of people don't put as much value on it as they would the next item on this list. As such, the record sale price for a high-grade copy is $40,000, and you can get a 9.6-grade copy for around $6,000.
Incredible Hulk #181
Now we're talking. Some people even consider this issue the first real appearance of Wolverine and think of 180 as a cameo. If nothing else, Hulk 181 is the first full issue featuring Wolverine all the way through, and that has to count for something. He's even on the cover; the full title of the book is The Incredible Hulk And Now The Wolverine.
There's a lot more demand for this issue than there is for 180, and as the first full appearance of the character, it fetches a much higher price. The record sale for Hulk 181, a 9.9-grade copy, was $150,000. High-grade copies can run you between $10,000 and $30,000 today, depending on their condition. Great news for people with graded copies, but less so for those looking to buy in today. In fact, it's one of the most valuable comics printed in the whole of the 1970s.
Note: Fraud and fakery is a frequent problem in comics, and investors need to be very careful with the comics they buy and sell. Hulk 181 has been targeted by fake producers, and there are known bad copies floating around. Be cautious, and always try to inspect the books you buy ahead of time (or be ready to dispute a transaction.)
Fans of comics know that the most important issue for most characters is their first appearance, and that's usually going to be their most popular and valuable issue. It's no different with Wolverine; Hulk 181 is the go-to, top-of-the-line issue, and it's all "downhill" from here. That's not to say there aren't other valuable Wolverine comics, of course; just that this is the high water mark.
Incredible Hulk #182
Wolverine has dipped in and out of Hulk comics for decades, and the two have been at odds with one another in a wide range of different storylines. It all comes back to this very first appearance. While 180 is a single-panel cameo, and 181 is the full engagement between the two, 182 is the conclusion of that fight in another brief appearance, followed by more unrelated Hulk story.
Wolverine collectors who want to pick up complete storylines and full runs will still seek this issue to complete the "trilogy" started in 180, but it's a very distant third in terms of price; you can get a decent copy of 182 for a mere $700, and the record sale is only $3,200. While that's still a lot of money for a comic book when the average sits in a $1 bin, it's still quite cheap for a key issue of any sort.
Giant-Size X-Men #1
Wolverine fans know a lot about the character, and one thing they're usually pretty familiar with is the fact that it was quite a while before he got a book of his own. Giant-Size X-Men was the relaunch and reconfiguration of the popular X-Men team, and it's the moment when Wolverine joined them for the first time. It's also the fourth time in comics that Wolverine appeared at all, with the first three being that trilogy of Hulk issues above.
This issue of X-Men is a key issue not just for Wolverine but for several different characters (including Storm, Colossus, Nightcrawler, and Thunderbird) and the X-Men team as a whole. As such, demand for it is pretty high compared to a lot of other comics, and the price reflects that fact. The record sale was just over $38,000, and a 9.0 copy can be found in the $5,000-6,000 range these days. A lot of people seek this issue, so if you find a good deal on one, snap it up; it's bound to increase in price more than many other comics of its era.
Removing the "giant-size" from the cover, this issue follows Giant-Size X-Men #1 and is the second appearance of those aforementioned characters and the third appearance of Wolverine.
What's the deal here? X-Men ran from its launch up to issue number 66 in 1970. From there, issues 67-93 were reprints of older stories. Giant-Size X-Men #1 was an issue between X-Men 93 and 94 and served to introduce the coming plot and the new team, as X-Men was relaunched with new stories starting with #94.
Fans of X-Men seek out this book as the start of the new run, and it's still an important key for a lot of different characters. It's also the introduction of the living island Krakoa, which has been through many iterations and is playing an important role as a mutant haven in modern-day X-Men comics.
As you might expect, pricing generally reflects this interest. The record sale for X-Men 94 is $72,000, though that one was a stand-out rarity. Most high-9 graded copies are in the ballpark of $8,000, and you can get a beat-up copy for less than $100 if you like. Unlike comics from decades prior, they're scarce but not rare, so there are plenty of mid-quality copies floating around for interested collectors.
Also known as FOOM #10, this is an interesting book. FOOM stands for Friend Of Ol' Marvel, and it's an attempt by Marvel to create their own in-house fan club and fan magazine. "An" attempt because it's more like their second or third, and while it lasted for 22 issues, coming out once a quarter, it wasn't the most popular of offerings at the time.
Fun fact: FOOM's early issues included "design a character" contests, several of which ended up becoming Marvel characters. One submission was for a character called "The Wolverine," but the submitted character, despite coming out years before Wolverine's first appearance, was nothing like the character we all know and love.
FOOM 10 is moderately valuable, with record sales in the mid-$30,000 range. Meanwhile, you can get a 9.0 for $3,700 and a 9.5 for $12,000, largely due to the scarcity of the book compared to a lot of others in the era.
Wolverine Limited Series
How many years did it take for Wolverine to get his own self-titled book? Well, in the years since, over 300 issues have been published of Wolverine, but it all started in 1982, nearly a decade after Wolverine's first appearance in Hulk. The Limited Series was a four-issue story set in Japan, and it's considered iconic for a lot of Wolverine fans. It depicts the first of his many eventual entanglements with the Yakuza, the Hand, and assorted other far-east crime groups and villains.
Among other things, this series also introduces one of Wolverine's love interests, Mariko. Mariko has a lot of her own roles to play in various comics, and while she and Wolverine certainly had some chemistry, their relationship is all too frequently forgotten in modern comics. Ah, well, they can't all be enduring legacies, right?
The four issues of the Wolverine limited series individually are worth more than your average comic, but not by a lot. Record sale for a #1 10.0 is $17,000, but you can get a 9.6 for under $300. In fact, the full set of four can be had for under $500 if you don't mind the mid-9s for grades.
Following up the limited series, Wolverine finally got his own monthly series, starting with Wolverine #1. The book kicks off a long-running line that still runs today and contains many of the most popular Wolverine stories throughout his long history as a popular character.
Number one is a key for Wolverine, but it's also a key for the character Patch, and it stands as one of the most valuable comics of the 80s. Unfortunately, we're getting pretty deep into diminishing returns for Wolverine books; the record sale for this book is $17,640, but that's an exceptional 10.0 copy and is currently thought to be one of a kind. Most copies of this book can be found for well under that, with near-pristine 9.9s at a tenth of the cost and mid-9s averaging less than $200.
Other Wolverine Comics and Keys
At this point, listing out the specific details of other Wolverine comics isn't going to be as worthwhile an endeavor. Most of the remaining Wolverine key issues and notable comics are still under $100 and are probably going to remain that way for a while.
For example, Wolverine 2, 3, 4, and 5 are all available pretty cheap, with record sales under $500 for #2 and less for the rest. Wolverine #10 is a bit of a stand-out as an iconic battle with his nemesis Sabertooth, but even that isn't worth a whole lot more. There are also issues like #88 as a battle with Deadpool.
Another noteworthy source of value comes from variants. There are a few newsstand issues and other sources of variants, like the trading card mail-in variant or the Nabisco variant of #145. That one is one of the more valuable variants out there and has a pretty cool cover, so check it out!
What to Do with Valuable Wolverine Comics?
If you have some copies, graded or otherwise, of some of the more valuable Wolverine comics, what should you do with them? Well, our recommendation is generally to get them graded, first and foremost. Grading, especially for high grades, can be very valuable. You can also drop us a line and see what we think about your copies specifically. You probably aren't going to break any records, but you never know!
On the other hand, if you're looking to buy some of the more valuable Wolverine comics, you've also come to the right place. As a top-quality comics vendor, we're always seeing Wolverine issues come and go, so check out our new arrivals and see what catches your eye.
Whatever you do, know that we're comic fans just like you, and we're here to help. If you have any questions, just drop us a line!