FEDERAL WAY, Wash. - As owner of a card and collectibles store, Darren Adams has held some pretty valuable things before but never anything quite like this.
"This is somewhat like the Declaration of Independence for comic books," he said, referencing a new-looking book sitting in a silver case. "It's the Mona Lisa of comic books."
For now, Adams owns Action Comics No. 1, an extremely rare book published in June 1938. He's auctioning it off on eBay and on Tuesday, a bid pushed it above the $2 million mark.
"The book has got to hit passed $2.18 million in order to set the world record, so we're about $180,000 short," he said.
Why is it so valuable? For one thing, it's the first time America met the Man of Steel.
"This character evolves from the minds of 2 teenagers. It's something that blows everybody away," Adams said. "It's the very first superhero ever created. Without Superman, there's no Batman. There's no Spiderman."
The fact this comic survived like it did is a story in itself. Adams said it starts in West Virginia after a man who lived in the hills there bought the book off a newsstand.
"So you had high altitude," Adams said. "Then he stored the book in a cedar chest. So you had no sunlight, no air."
The conditions turned out to be perfect, including the fact he placed it below a big stack of other books.
"The pressure and the weights of the other books kept it flat. It's incredible," Adams said. "It remained there for 40 years."
Then, a man who bought the comics from the estate realized how precious it was.
"He built another cedar chest just like the guy had and he stored the book in there."
Recently a dealer contacted Adams to see if he was interested. He said he was in the right place at the right time.
"Less than 10 people in the hobby even knew this book existed," Adams said. "There were over 200,000 copies of this book produced. Currently, there are 34 copies that exist that are un-restored … and only 2 with perfect white pages."
The auction ends Sunday, August 24 at 6:00 p.m. Flip through the pages yourself here.