At least 8,186,500 copies were sold of X-Men #1 in 1991. This makes it a strong contender for the best-selling single-issue comic book in history. Yes, that wiggle room does matter. To figure out which comics have sold the most over time, the data isn’t clear, so it’s hard to figure out the exact list.
For a long time, the comics industry only counted how many issues of Superman and Captain America newsstands bought. This left historians with only hard sales numbers from 1997 and up. Even without taking into account the fact that America’s single issues method of distribution isn’t the same as, say, Japan’s weekly anthology magazines that look like doorstops.
In order to base everything on confirmed numbers, there are a lot of caveats that you have to make sure you add to your plans. What you end up with is “The 10 best-selling American single issue comic books of all time that we know for sure about.”
So we did that.
Comichron has done a great job compiling detailed lists of the best-selling comic book categories. The site’s post about the difficulties of naming the “best-selling comics ever” is worth reading. We also owe a grudging debt to Diamond Comics distributors, who took over the American comic book shipping market and have been reporting on pre-order sales of comic books for years now.
With that in mind, here are the top 10 best-selling single-issue comic books in the United States, based on the most accurate numbers in the comic book industry’s short history.
1. ACTION COMICS #1000 (2018)
With this one celebrating Superman’s 80th birthday, and with Action Comics, we’ve got two of the youngest comics on our list. You can see this trend in Action Comics #1000. It’s a big anniversary issue, which is what we’re going to see a lot of on this list.
If you’re going to make a big comic book like this one, you’re going to make 11 different covers for it. Action Comics #1000 was a big deal because it marked a big moment in the history of comics, as well as because DC was able to get a lot of great artists to write for it.
In the issue, Superman wore his classic costume with his underwear on the outside for the first time in seven years. The issue also had the first few pages of Brian Bendis’ run on Superman, a big change for the legendary Marvel Comics creator.
2. DETECTIVE COMICS #1000 (2019)
Detective Comics #1000 is the first comic book with a four-digit number. Batman celebrated his 80th birthday a year later thanks to a little editorial shuffle.
As in the first verse, the issue was an 80-page monster that had a who’s who of Batman writers and artists on every page. But it didn’t have the power of a long-time Marvel Comics writer’s first DC Comics work in years, or a costume change, to make the deal even better.
How can the book sell 22 thousand more copies than Action Comics #1000? People are more likely to like Batman because he is better known.
3. AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #583 (2009)
The reason why an otherwise uninteresting issue of Mark Waid and Barry Kitson’s Amazing Spider-Man is on this list has been worked out. In 2009, it came out on January 15, 2009.
It’s likely that you already know what I’m talking about. There were a lot of people talking about how the issue’s presidential tie-in story and different cover came out at the same time that Barack Obama became the 44th president of the United States on January 20, 2009. The story “Spidey Meets the President” was in the back of the issue. The Chameleon used his skills at mimicry to try to take then-Senator Obama’s place and be sworn in as President.
What does Peter Parker do at the inauguration? As Spider-Man, he asks the Chameleon what his high school’s varsity basketball team nickname was. Only the real Obama can answer this question: “What did you call me on the varsity basketball team?” As time went on, Amazing Spider-Man #853 was on this list.
4. SECRET WARS #1 (2015)
One of the first and most famous Marvel Comics crossovers ever was called Secret Wars in 1984. In 2015, Secret Wars was a follow-up to that one.
In that story, all of Marvel’s most popular heroes and villains were taken to an alien planet where they had to fight to the death. The 2015 version kept the “everyone is here” theme going by destroying the Marvel multiverse, which was a big part of the theme. Leftovers from all the Marvel universes were put together on a planet called Battleworld, and then things moved on from there.
There was a promise that the crossover would end a 15-year era when it came out. Or, it could have been because there were more than four dozen different versions of the cover.
5. The Beano by DC Thomson
Beano is the longest-running British comic book series. Dennis the Menace, Minnie the Minx, and the Bash Street Kids are some of the characters in the Beano. There has been a push recently to change the message of the comics so that they don’t show bad things like robbery and bullying. We also have a list of the 30 Most Hilarious Celebrity Books.
6. Superman by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster
This series was the first time this fictional superhero was made. After its debut, Superman was an instant hit with newspaper strips, video games, and many movie and TV shows. Now, it’s one of the best comics ever. You can also check out The Untold Story Behind the Death of Superman for even more Superman facts!
7. Batman by Bob Kane and Bill Finger
Bruce Wayne, the second-best superhero in a cape, was made a year after Superman. Similar to its predecessor, Batman was a big hit right away. This led to more versions of the comic book series. Check out these 40 Books Every Man Over 40 Should Have on His Bookshelf for more books about men.
8. One Piece by Eiichiro Oda
One Piece is a Japanese TV show that follows the adventures of Monkey D. Luffy, a superhero in his own right after he ate a Devil Fruit that made his skin a lot like rubber. To find the “One Piece,” Monkey goes on a search with his crew of pirates, the Straw Hat Pirates.