Key Comic Books From 2003

March 1, 2021

2003

Key comics from 2003

[ Note: in 1999 Marvel made a conscious decision to walk away from the newsstand model and a newsstand rarity estimate of 4.25% exists for this year for Marvel.  If you are not already in-the-know about the difference between newsstand and direct edition comics see the following: Comic Book Newsstand Editions: Understanding The Difference ]

There are two main ways I’ve seen online lists of key comic books presented by year: (1) personalized lists based upon judgment calls of what is “key” (thereby omitting any comic books the particular writer doesn’t happen to consider key — or doesn’t know about), and (2) lists based upon high sales price data (also a flawed method because high prices can just as easily be caused by a non-key book happening to grade a 10 at CGC)

The top 100 key comic books from 2003 list you’re about to see is neither of those other types.

Instead, to briefly repeat the introduction I gave on the main 2000’s page, the list I’m about to present is essentially “crowd-sourced”… by the crowd of collectors sending comics to CGC. All I’ve done here is to rank the universe of comic books published in 2003, according to how many copies of each issue have passed through CGC’s doors to date (as of 1/19/2021) to reveal the comic books with the highest census counts — that’s it!

This exercise should “tease out” a very interesting list of important and/or key comic books from 2003, but this will not necessarily be an all-encompassing list (if very few copies were created for a given key, for example, that restricted supply could keep the count of CGC submissions low even though the comic is very important — this exercise will unfortunately see such comics sort themselves off of the bottom through no fault of their own). So essentially, you should think of this list as just one more tool in your tool-belt of researching key comic books from 2003.

Key Comic Books From 2003:

(Top 100 list based on census data as of January 19, 2021)
Rank CGC Count Issue Publisher/
Date
1. 3,267 Walking Dead #1 Image
10/03
  1st appearance of Rick Grimes, Shane Walsh, Morgan & Duane Jones.
2. 1,662 Batman #612 D.C.
4/03
  Superman, Catwoman, Poison Ivy, Lois Lane & Krypto appearance. “Black & Bruised” coupon included.
3. 1,503 Walking Dead #2 Image
11/03
  1st appearance of Lori & Carl Grimes & Glenn. “Heaven’s War” preview.
4. 1,312 Walking Dead #3 Image
12/03
  1st appearance of Allen, Donna, Billy, Ben, Jim, Dale, Carol, Sophia, Amy & Andrea.
5. 1,201 Invincible #1 Image
1/03
  1st full appearance of Invincible & Omni-Man. Invincible pin-up by Tony Moore.
6. 1,168 Amazing Spider-Man #500 Marvel
12/03
  Doctor Strange appearance.
7. 1,110 Superman/Batman #1 D.C.
10/03
  Two different covers exist.
8. 1,103 Batman 612 Second Printing D.C.
4/03
  Superman, Catwoman, Poison Ivy, Lois Lane & Krypto appearance. Sketch cover.
9. 998 Batman #609 D.C.
1/03
  1st appearance of Tommy Elliot (Hush). Poison Ivy & Huntress appearance.
10. 996 Ultimate Spider-Man #33 Marvel
2/03
  Eddie Brock appearance.
11. 729 Batman 619 Variant Cover D.C.
11/03
  2 different variant double gatefold covers exist. Harvey Dent, Huntress, Catwoman, Superman & Riddler appearance.
12. 715 JLA/Avengers #1 D.C.-Marvel
9/03
  Wraparound cover.
13. 700 Donald Duck Adventures-Free Comic Book Day nn Gemstone/ANA Variant Gemstone
5/03
  Flip cover.
14. 678 Runaways #1 Marvel
7/03
  1st app. of the Runaways (Alex Wilder, Nico Minoru, Chase Stein, Karolina Dean, Gertrude Yorkes & Molly Hayes).
15. 662 Wolverine v3 #1 Marvel
7/03
  Greg Rucka story. Darick Robertson art. Esad Ribic cover.
16. 647 Batman #614 D.C.
6/03
  Joker, Harley Quinn & Catwoman appearance.
17. 618 Flash #197 D.C.
6/03
  Origin & 1st appearance of Zoom.
18. 595 Batman #613 D.C.
5/03
  Tommy Elliot, Catwoman, Harley Quinn & Joker appearance.
19. 560 Superman/Batman 1 Retailer Incentive Edition D.C.
10/03
  Diamond/Alliance Retailer Summit promotional issue.
20. 505 Teen Titans #1 D.C.
9/03
  Superman, Batman & Flash appearance. 2 different covers exist, 1 by Mike McKone & 1 by Michael Turner.
21. 467 Teen Titans 1 Fourth Printing D.C.
9/03
  Superman, Batman & Flash appearance. Sketch cover.
22. 459 Batman #615 D.C.
7/03
  Batman reveals identity to Catwoman. Nightwing, Riddler & Joker appearance.
23. 431 Batman #610 D.C.
2/03
  Killer Croc, Tommy Elliot & Catwoman appearance.
24. 391 Invincible 1 Limited Edition Image
1/03
  Larry’s Wonderful World of Comics exclusive. Back cover pin-up by Rich Woodall & Matt Talbot.
25. 388 NYX #1 Marvel
11/03
  1st appearance of Kiden Nixon.
26. 372 Avengers/JLA #2 D.C.-Marvel
10/03
  Wraparound cover.
27. 372 Ultimate War #1 Marvel
2/03
  Mark Millar story. Chris Bachalo & Tim Townsend art.
28. 355 JLA/Avengers #3 D.C.-Marvel
12/03
  Wraparound cover.
29. 345 Batman #617 D.C.
9/03
  Catwoman, Robin, Huntress & Scarecrow appearance.
30. 342 Marvel 1602 #1 Marvel
11/03
  Neil Gaiman’s first Marvel work.
31. 337 Batman #616 D.C.
8/03
  Talia, Ra’s Al Ghul, Lex Luthor, Catwoman & Lady Shiva appearance. Direct Sales edition has “Navy” insert.
32. 333 Batman #611 D.C.
3/03
  Tommy Elliot, Green Lantern, Icicle, Catwoman, Talia, Poison Ivy, Lois Lane & Superman appearance.
33. 330 Batman #618 D.C.
10/03
  Clayface, Catwoman & Robin appearance.
34. 326 Ultimate Spider-Man #34 Marvel
3/03
  Eddie Brock appearance.
35. 324 Invincible #2 Image
2/03
  1st appearance of Robot, Rex Splode, Atom Eve & Dupli-Kate. 5 page “Shadows” preview.
36. 305 Ultimate Spider-Man #38 Marvel
5/03
  Eddie Brock as Venom appearance.
37. 299 Amazing Spider-Man v2 #52 Marvel
6/03
  Amazing Spider-Man #493 Digger appearance.
38. 298 Emma Frost #1 Marvel
8/03
  Karl Bollers story. Randy Green & Rick Ketcham art. Greg Horn cover.
39. 293 Amazing Spider-Man v2 #50 Marvel
4/03
  Amazing Spider-Man #491 Captain America & Doctor Doom appearance.
40. 290 Fantastic Four 500 Director’s Cut Edition Marvel
9/03
  Dr. Doom & Dr. Strange appearance. Two page story by Fred Hembeck. Foil cover. Fantastic Four v3 #71
41. 286 Batman 619 Second Printing D.C.
11/03
  Harvey Dent, Jim Gordon, Huntress, Catwoman, Superman & Riddler appearance.
42. 284 Ultimate Spider-Man #35 Marvel
3/03
  1st full appearance of Ultimate Venom. Eddie Brock appearance.
43. 282 Venom #1 Marvel
6/03
  Daniel Way story. Francisco Herrera & Carlos Cuevas art. Sam Kieth cover.
44. 251 Batman #619 D.C.
11/03
  Harvey Dent, Jim Gordon, Huntress, Catwoman, Superman & Riddler appearance.
45. 243 Amazing Spider-Man v2 #51 Marvel
5/03
  Amazing Spider-Man #492 Origin & 1st appearance of Digger.
46. 239 Mystique #1 Marvel
6/03
  Forge, Jean Grey & Professor X appearance.
47. 230 Goon #1 Dark Horse
6/03
  Zombie Priest & Buzzard appearance.
48. 227 Superman: Red Son #1 D.C.
2003
  Mark Millar story. Dave Johnson & Andrew Robinson art. Dave Johnson cover.
49. 224 Ultimate Spider-Man #36 Marvel
4/03
  Eddie Brock appearance.
50. 207 Ultimate Spider-Man #32 Marvel
2/03
  3 page Incredible Hulk #50 preview by Bruce Jones & Mike Deodato Jr.
51. 201 Spectacular Spider-Man #1 Marvel
9/03
  Venom appearance.
52. 197 Ultimate Spider-Man #31 Marvel
1/03
  Brian Michael Bendis story. Mark Bagley & Art Thibert art. Mark Bagley cover.
53. 196 Ultimate Daredevil and Elektra #1 Marvel
1/03
  Greg Rucka story. Salvador Larroca & Danny Miki. cover & art.
54. 195 Wizard Ace Edition: Amazing Spider-Man #1 Marvel-Wizard Pub.
1/03
  Forward by Alex Alonso. Acetate cover.
55. 184 Ultimate Spider-Man #39 Marvel
6/03
  Nick Fury & Dr. Connors appearance.
56. 183 Transformers: Generation 1 v2 #1 Retailer Incentive Edition Dreamwave Productions
4/03
  Brad Mick story. Pat Lee & Rob Armstrong art. Pat Lee cover.
57. 179 Thanos #1 Marvel
12/03
  Adam Warlock appearance.
58. 179 G.I. Joe 21 Turner Variant Cover Image
8/03
  Silent issue. Renegar Edition.
59. 173 Supreme Power 1 Special Edition Marvel
10/03
  J. Michael Straczynski story. Gary Frank & Jon Sibal art. Joe Quesada & Richard Isanove cover.
60. 172 Ultimate Spider-Man #37 Marvel
5/03
  Eddie Brock as Venom appearance.
61. 163 Ultimate Spider-Man #41 Marvel
7/03
  Geldoff appearance.
62. 162 Capes #1 Image
9/03
  5 page “Walking Dead” preview by Robert Kirkman & Tony Moore.
63. 159 Ultimate Spider-Man #30 Marvel
1/03
  Brian Michael Bendis story. Mark Bagley & Art Thibert art. Mark Bagley cover.
64. 152 Born #1 Marvel
2003
  Garth Ennis story. Darick Robertson & Tom Palmer art. Wieslaw Walkuski cover.
65. 149 Superman/Batman #2 D.C.
11/03
  Captain Atom appearance. “Navy” insert included.
66. 148 Invincible #3 Image
3/03
  Robert Kirkman story. Cory Walker cover & art.
67. 141 Aspen Sketchbook 1 Convention Edition Aspen
2003
  Two different covers exist, one by Michael Turner & one by Talent Caldwell.
68. 135 New X-Men #134 Marvel
1/03
  1st appearance of Quentin Quire.
69. 133 Truth Red, White & Black #1 Marvel
1/03
  Robert Morales story. Kyle Baker cover & art.
70. 126 Transformers: Generation 1 v2 #1 Dynamic Forces Edition Dreamwave Productions
4/03
  Brad Mick story. Pat Lee & Rob Armstrong art. Bill Sienkiewicz cover.
71. 126 Superman/Batman #3 D.C.
12/03
  Green Lantern, Starfire, Katana, Black Lightning, Power Girl & Major Force appearance.
72. 124 Ultimate Six #1 Marvel
11/03
  Doctor Octopus, Electro, Sandman, Norman Osborn & Kraven appearance.
73. 124 Hulk: Gray #1 Marvel
12/03
  Jeph Loeb story. Tim Sale cover & art.
74. 124 Darkness: Prelude 1 Dynamic Forces Edition A Image/Top Cow
1/03
  Paul Jenkins story. Jae Lee cover & art.
75. 124 Transformers: Generation 1 v2 #1 Holofoil Edition Dreamwave Productions
4/03
  Wraparound cover.
76. 121 Batman: Hush Double Feature #nn D.C.
3/03
  Collects Batman #608-609
77. 120 Ultimate X-Men #34 Marvel
8/03
  Brian Michael Bendis storyline begins. Peter Parker & Mary Jane appearance.
78. 118 Wonder Woman #189 D.C.
4/03
  “Black & Bruised” coupon included.
79. 117 Supreme Power #1 Marvel
10/03
  J. Michael Straczynski story. Gary Frank & Jon Sibal art. Gary Frank & Richard Isanove cover.
80. 113 Ultimate Spider-Man #47 Marvel
12/03
  Kingpin appearance.
81. 113 Ultimate Spider-Man #44 Marvel
10/03
  Geldoff & X-Men appearance.
82. 111 Wanted 1 Wizard World Texas Edition Image/Top Cow
12/03
  “Death” of The Killer. 1st appearance of Wesley Gibson, The Professor & The Fox. Wizard World Texas 2003 exclusive.
83. 111 Ultimate Spider-Man #45 Marvel
11/03
  Brian Michael Bendis story. Mark Bagley & Art Thibert art. Mark Bagley cover.
84. 104 Wizard Ace Edition: Incredible Hulk #1 Marvel-Wizard Pub.
5/03
  Acetate cover. Foreword by Bruce Jones.
85. 103 Daredevil: The Target #1 Marvel
1/03
  Bullseye appearance.
86. 103 Wanted #1 Image/Top Cow
12/03
  “Death” of The Killer. 1st appearance of Wesley Gibson, The Professor & The Fox.
87. 102 Superman: Red Son #2 D.C.
2003
  Batman & Wonder Woman appearance.
88. 101 Marvel 1602 #2 Marvel
11/03
  Neil Gaiman story. Andy Kubert & Richard Isanove art. Scott McKowen cover.
89. 100 Ultimate Spider-Man #46 Marvel
11/03
  Sandman appearance.
90. 99 Ultimate Spider-Man #48 Marvel
12/03
  Kingpin appearance.
91. 99 Incredible Hulk #50 Marvel
4/03
  Abomination appearance.
92. 98 Amazing Spider-Man v2 #58 Marvel
11/03
  Amazing Spider-Man #499 Dr. Strange, Thor, Iron Man, Cyclops, Fantastic Four & Dormammu appearance.
93. 95 Invincible #5 Image
6/03
  1st appearance of Allen the Alien.
94. 95 Zatanna: Everyday Magic #nn D.C./Vertigo
2003
  John Constantine appearance.
95. 95 Superman: Red Son #3 D.C.
2003
  Green Lantern & Wonder Woman appearance.
96. 94 Michael Turner Presents: Aspen 1 Wizard World East Edition Aspen
7/03
  Wizard World Philadelphia 2003 exclusive Pin-up by Talent Caldwell. Soulfire poster by Michael Turner.
97. 93 Ultimate Spider-Man #40 Marvel
7/03
  1st appearance of Geldoff.
98. 91 Wanted 1 Silvestri Variant Cover Image/Top Cow
12/03
  “Death” of The Killer. 1st appearance of Wesley Gibson, The Professor & The Fox.
99. 90 Flash #200 D.C.
9/03
  Barry Allen, Hal Jordan & Zoom appearance. Wraparound cover.
100. 87 Michael Turner’s Fathom Beginnings 1 Wizard World Chicago Edition Aspen
2003
  Two different covers exist, one by Michael Turner & one by Talent Caldwell. Wizard World Chicago 2003 exclusive.
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