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First Superman comic book now up for auction on eBay

The bidding for Action Comics No. 1 -- the "most sought after comic book in the world" -- is at $1,600,100 but promises to soar higher by the time the auction ends August 24.

Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

eBay bidding on a copy of Action Comics No. 1 is now officially up, up, and away.

Flying onto eBay's auction block on Thursday, the comic book that introduced the Man of Steel to the world is now officially available to anyone who prequalifies as a buyer and has at least a couple of million dollars to spare. Published in June 1938 and created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, Action Comics No. 1 marked the first appearance of mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent who fought crime in Metropolis and around the world under the guise of Superman.

The copy of Action Comics No. 1 up for auction on eBay is considered the "holy grail" of comic books not just for its place in history but for its condition. The issue was awarded a grade of 9.0 from the Certified Guaranty Company, the highest grade ever assigned to a copy of Action Comics #1 issue by CGC and a sign that the 76-year-old comic is still in super condition.

"The quality and preservation of this Action No. 1 is astounding," Paul Litch, CGC Primary Grader, said in a statement last month. "The book looks and feels like it just came off the newsstand. It is supple, the colors are deep and rich and the quality of the white pages is amazing for a comic that is 76 years old."

So just how much might a buyer spend on this historic comic book?

The only other copy of Action Comics No. 1 that garnered a CGC rating of 9.0 went for $2,161,000 in 2011. Sold by actor and Superman fan Nicolas Cage, that issue had cream-colored to off-white pages, while the issue now on auction through eBay has pure white pages and is deemed in "pristine" condition.

The description on eBay calls the issue "the finest known copy of the most sought after comic book in the world. A 1938 museum piece with PERFECT WHITE pristine pages." As such, the bidding could soar as high as $3 million, which would be the highest price ever paid for a comic book.

Diehard comic book collectors and millionaires who want to bid on the book first have to preregister with Auction Cause, a celebrity and brand auction management agency handling bidder prequalification. The purpose of the prequalification page is to prescreen people to make sure they're legitimate bidders.

Part of the proceeds of the auction will go toward the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation. The issue itself is being auctioned by collectibles dealer Darren Adams, who took to the eBay page to tout the worth and historic value of the comic book:

For sale here is the single most valuable comic book to ever be offered for sale, and is likely to be the only time ever offered for sale during many of our lifetimes. There are no second chances. This is a NO RESERVE auction.

This is THE comic book that started it all. This comic features not only the first appearance of Superman, Clark Kent and Lois Lane, but this comic began the entire superhero genre that has followed during the 76 years since. It is referred to as the Holy Grail of comics and this is the finest graded copy to exist with perfect white pages. This is .... the Mona Lisa of comics and stands alone as the most valuable comic book ever printed.

Since Thursday, the auction has picked up more than a dozen bids beyond its listing price, starting at a cool million and resting now at $1,600,100. Tune in again, faithful viewers, to see how high the bidding goes before the winner is unmasked on August 24.