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Book Value

Nicolas Cage auctions off his comic books for $1.6 million. The Oscar winner hocks his collection of 400 Golden Age issues, including the first appearances of such heroes as Superman and Robin

Nicolas Cage never got to play Superman in Tim Burton's aborted relaunch of the franchise a few years ago, but he still got paid for the Man of Steel -- some $86,250, to be exact. That may not be much for an actor who earns eight figures per movie, but it's a lot for a comic book. That's how much Cage netted on Thursday when he auctioned off a rare copy of Action Comics No. 1, the 1938 issue that marked Superman's debut, with the winning bidder paying about $15,000 more than the comic's estimated value. And that was only one of 400 vintage comic books Cage sold at the auction, which earned the ''Windtalkers'' star a windfall of $1.6 million, the Associated Press reports.

''This was a real treasure trove of high-quality material from the Golden Age of comics,'' said John Petty, director of Heritage Auctions, which sold Cage's collection at the Dallas ComiCon, a three-day event for comics and sci-fi fans. Cage, who's such a comics fan that he took his professional name from Marvel hero Luke Cage (the actor's real surname, of course, is Coppola; his uncle is ''Godfather'' director Francis Ford Coppola), owned the first issues of several other heroes besides Superman. Cage's copy of Detective Comics No. 38 (1940), which features the inaugural appearance of Batman's sidekick Robin, went for nearly $132,250, AP reports. His All-Star Comics No. 3, from the same year, features the debut of the Justice Society of America, the first superhero team, with Green Lantern, Hawkman, and the Flash. It fetched $45,000, Reuters reports. Other issues sold included the debuts of Batman and Captain America.

Cage, who married Lisa Marie Presley just days after the August announcement that he was putting his comics up for auction, did not attend the auction and has given no reason for the sale. But it can't be because he's short of cash. The ''Leaving Las Vegas'' Oscar winner, who reportedly earned $20 million apiece for ''Gone in Sixty Seconds'' and ''Windtalkers,'' just signed on for another big-budget action spectacle. According to the Hollywood Reporter, in the sci-fi thriller ''Back Up,'' he'll play a slain cop who is brought back to life and tries to solve his own murder. Hmmm, that sounds like a good idea for a comic book…

Originally posted Oct 14, 2002