While most collectors are familiar with Golden Age super-hero and horror comics, there are many more genres that newer collectors and investors are just beginning to pay attention to.  One of the most prolific from the earliest of the Golden Age through the Bronze Age – and even into the Copper Age – was war comics.  Let’s take a look at the key Golden Age war comics and series that collectors should target.

The First War Comics

Launching in what most collectors now consider the Platinum Age, Don Winslow of the Navy #1, published by Merwil in 1937, is considered to be one of the first comics focused on military action and adventure.

In this era, the vast majority of comics were reprints of popular newspaper comic strips – in this case, the Don Winslow comic strip created by Frank Martinek and distributed to American newspapers through the Bell syndicate.

The first comic to be solely devoted to original war stories was the appropriately named War Comics #1, published by Dell in May 1940.  Both of these are incredibly rare books.  There are two copies of Don Winslow of the Navy #1 in the CGC census, a 7.5 and a 7.0.  Both last sold for above $2,600 six years and four years ago, respectively.

There aren’t that many more of War Comics #1 – only 19 in the CGC census, but there is a 9.0 that sold a decade ago for $1,912.  Needless to say, you would be hard-pressed to find either of these graded.  You would likely have better luck searching for raw copies and sending them in for grading.  Considering the historical importance of both books, they’re pretty affordable for key issues.

War Comics Take to the Air

The first ongoing war series to have lasting staying power began with Wings Comics #1, published by Fiction House in September 1940.  Wings Comics would stay in publication continuously through 1950, and then sporadically through 1954.

Of the early war series, Wings Comics was among the most popular, and, while nowhere near as well-known among collectors as World War II-era super-hero comics, many of the issues are much prized among war comics aficionados.

Wings Comics #1 is the clear favorite among collectors.  There are 57 copies in the CGC census. There's even one in the 9.8 grade. It last sold in 2018 in a Heritage Auction for $28,680.  The exact same copy had sold in a previous Heritage Auction in 2015 for $15,535.  Not a bad return on investment in three years!  The most recent sale was an 8.5 graded copy, which sold for $1,920 in a September 2020 Heritage auction, down from its peak of $2,520 in March of that same year.

Other issues in the series that are sought after by collectors are Wings Comics #2 (for obvious reasons), the first appearance of Captain Wings in Wings Comics #16; a couple of issues with covers by Gene Fawcette - Wings Comics #20 and Wings Comics #26; the first appearance of the Ghost Patrol in Wings Comics #66; the first appearance of the Phantom Falcon in Wings Comics #68; and a number of good girl art covers by Bob Lubbers, beginning with Wings Comics #89, with issues #90 and #91 being the most prized.

Quality and Blackhawk

Blackhawk and the Blackhawk Squadron, one of the earliest teams of air aces (appearing less than a year after Wings), made their debut in Military Comics #1, published by Quality Comics in August 1941.  The Blackhawks are one of a select few World War II-era comic creations to stay in print continuously through the entirety of the Golden Age and into the Silver Age.

Later moving to DC in the late 1950s upon DC’s first lease, and then purchase, of Quality Comics characters, some iteration of at least the Blackhawk name has stayed in publication through the present day.

So, what do the numbers tell us regarding Military Comics #1?  There are 35 graded copies in the CGC census, fairly evenly spread from grades 9.6 to 0.5.  The only 9.6 copy sold for $45,620 in March 2020.  Curiously, the only 9.4 sold for more - $52,580 in May 2018.  Both sales were in Heritage Auctions.  Make of that what you will, but your guess as to why is as good as mine.

The most recent sale took place in June 2021 when a 7.0 sold for $9,000, again in a Heritage Auction.  On the low end, a 3.0 sold for $2,500 on eBay in February 2019.  So, this is clearly a rare and highly valued book.


It’s hard to talk about World War II-era comics without mentioning Alex Schomburg.  He’s near the top of nearly everyone’s list of favorite Golden Age cover artists, if not at the very top, and his cover for Real Life Comics #3 is one of the most sought-after war comics.

A biographical comic series in the Nedor/Better/Standard line and focused on historical figures, the “Emperor of Hate” cover, published in March 1942, is striking in its depiction of Hitler.

Despite its age, there are 56 copies in the CGC census, with the top grade being a 9.0.  The most recent sale was the only 8.5-grade copy, which sold for $33,600 in a Heritage Auction on April 11, climbing 16.7% from its previous high of $28,800 set in a Heritage Auction in November 2019.

On the low end, we have a 3.0 that sold for $4,300 in a ComicConnect auction on March 18.  Compared to many of Schomburg’s Timely covers of the same era, this is a fairly affordable book.

Next Time: Atomic Age War Comics

Join us next time as we explore war comics in the years between World War II and the start of the Silver Age.

Want to read more about war comics?


Do you collect war comics?  If so, what are some of your favorites?  Let us know below. 

*Any perceived investment advice is that of the freelance blogger and does not reflect advice on behalf of GoCollect.