The Top 15 Marvel Rookie Cards to Scoop Up on eBay

The most valuable and rare first cards from your favorite Marvel characters

mobile marvel copy
Jason Koeppel // ONE37pm

Sports cards are on our minds a lot these days – especially rookie cards – but what are the top Marvel rookie cards? There’s nothing better than landing a gem mint copy of your favorite Hall of Famer in the closing seconds on eBay—and bonus points if it’s a flagship card from that player’s rookie season. Do Marvel fans find similar joy collecting cards of their favorite characters?

Rookies tend to be the most coveted of all players' cards among collectors, and from the investment side, they also tend to inflate the most when things are going well. Whether it’s Prizm in basketball, 1st Bowmans in baseball or Young Guns in hockey, when it comes to rookies, those familiar with the hobby know right where to go.

But have you ever given non-sports rookie cards a chance? Not just the first edition Pokémon cards that are out there, but the “superhero gold” from storied brands like Marvel?

In this guide, I’ll break down the top Marvel trading card “rookies” to keep your eye on. But first...

RELATED: The 82 Most Expensive Trading Cards Ever Sold

Why You Should Collect Marvel Trading Cards:

marvel cards

I can think of many reasons. Here are three of the best:

  1. Collectibility: Like the comics themselves, superhero cards are art.
  2. Cultural Relevance: There are always new movies and shows premiering.
  3. Limited Risk: Your favorite hero will never miss an at bat.

Given the above, I see a lot of upside, especially in the long term. Don’t get me wrong, there’s short-term value here too, especially if you follow a particular character’s hype.

But forget the movie release calendar for just a moment and consider this: Superhero rookie cards aren’t like sports cards; there hasn’t been a ton of them graded to date. As kids, we didn’t really think to take care of them either, so there can’t be very many gem mint 10s.

Does it feel like I’m building a pretty solid case yet? Let’s dive into it a bit further.

What Set Do the Most Valuable Marvel Cards Come From?

impel box

When you search eBay for “Marvel rookie PSA” cards, you might be as surprised as I was to discover that most of the popular cards that come up are all from the very same set.

I did some digging, and as it turns out, the first of four sets from Impel (and SkyBox as they later became), happens to contain the inaugural “rookie” cards of all your favorite Marvel superheroes and villains. That should make things easy, right? Let’s get into it.

The 1990 set has a 162-card checklist. The first half is dedicated to individual hero cards, while the second half includes several subsets. There are even six cards labeled "rookies" that could prove to be a play if you’re a Ghost Rider or Guardians of the Galaxy fan.

You could flip a high-grade version of pretty much any card from this set because they’re all quite rare. And since it’s the de facto Marvel rookie release, you can bet there are a lot of collectors out there trying to piece together the whole thing.

Here are a few of the favorites, listed in order of increasing price.

Shop 1990 Impel Marvel Universe Series I Boxes!

15. 1990 Marvel Universe Spider-Man #2 PSA 10

spiderman 2

Kicking the list off, we have your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. Here he’s rocking the black suit, courtesy of his Secret Wars storyline with archnemesis Venom. In fact, if you’re into this card, you might want to look into picking up the graded comic book (Secret Wars #8) too.

Spider-Man #2 is the most abundant Spidey card in the whole set, with a PSA 10 population count of 462. Lately, it seems to sell for between $75-100.

T-14. 1990 Marvel Universe Venom #73 PSA 10


With two standalone films now, Venom has been a fixture in popular culture for decades. For this card, there are 338 PSA 10s floating around, and they typically trade in the $100-125 range.

One thing to note: Carnage is not featured in this 1990 Impel set. The 1992 Marvel Universe set, however, does feature him.

T-14. 5. 1990 Marvel Universe Wolverine #10 PSA 10


Wolverine is always a safe rookie card bethe tends to be featured a lot in movies and is many people’s favorite character among all the X-Men. He has multiple cards to choose from as well in terms of this particular set.

The #10 card has a PSA 10 population of 466  and sold recently for $115. Card #23, however, arguably features better artwork and a cheaper resell value.

12. 1990 Marvel Universe Captain America #1 PSA 10

captain america
  • Price Range: $125-150
  • Highest Sale Price: $4,050
  • PSA 10 Supply: 456

Leading off the set, as one might expect, is “the Cap” himself: Captain America.

This card only carries a PSA 10 population count of 456, and it peaked during the pandemic boom with a sale price of over $4,000.

Fun fact: There’s a Captain Britain rookie card in this set as well, card #40. 

11. 1990 Marvel Universe Thor #18 PSA 10


You may have noticed you can find a lot of key Avengers rookie cards throughout this set. Thor is no exception. This one’s tough to find, but it is a worthy pickup for any serious Marvel collector. In today’s market, these trade in the $150 range when graded a PSA 10.

10. 1990 Marvel Universe Thanos #79 PSA 10


In recent years, the Marvel cinematic universe helped put Thanos on everyone's minds and on everyone's maps. As such, the value of his rookie card has already skyrocketed. Of the 216 gem mint copies, one actually sold for over $1,600 during the market’s boom.

9. 1990 Marvel Universe Black Panther #20 PSA 10

black panther

Black Panther is one of the most iconic superheroes of this century, and Chadwick Boseman immortalized the character with his portrayal in the 2018 film. This card, which is #20 in the set, trades today around the $200 range.

8. 1990 Marvel Universe Stan Lee #161 PSA 10

stan lee

Here we have Mr. Marvel himself. The next-to-last card in the entire set (minus the checklist), no Marvel rookie set would be complete without Stan Lee.

There are nearly 500 PSA 10 copies of this card, and they typically go for between $200-225. Rightfully sorespect to the man who started it all.

7. 1990 Marvel Universe Punisher #47 PSA 10

1990 marvel universe Punisher

While not in the traditional MCU, Frank Castle, aka “The Punisher,” has garnered an immense fandom. The character was played by Jon Bernthal in a Netflix TV series, bringing the antihero into the 21st century. This card from the 1990 set is still highly sought-after, with an average sale price of $300.

6. 1990 Marvel Universe Iron Man #42 PSA 10

iron man

You might’ve been wondering when we were going to see Tony Stark in this set! That’s right, you know Iron Man’s rookie has to be worth a lot. With just 85 PSA 10 copies, you’re looking at paying $300-350 for this card.

5. 1990 Marvel Universe Hulk #3 PSA 10


Next up is everyone’s favorite green monster, the Hulk. Hulk’s rookie card last sold at auction for a cool $450. This is Bruce Banner’s first appearance on cardboard, featuring colorful artwork of what appears to be a patented Hulk Smash!

Fun fact: There's a Gray Hulk iteration rookie card at #17. The PSA 10 POP count is over double, however.

4. 1990 Marvel Universe Cosmic Spider-Man #30 PSA 10

spiderman 30

With just 111 PSA 10 copies, “Cosmic” Spider-Man isn’t very easy to find either, which is why I’m featuring the third base Spider-Man rookie here as well. Personally, I like the look of this classic Spidey card better and the extra level of rarity goes a long way.

Also, this card comes in a super tough hologram variation at a rate of 1:36 packs. If you factor in that it’s just 1 of 5 chase cards in the hologram set, then your odds are more like 1:180 packs.

3. 1990 Marvel Universe SIlver Surfer vs. Thanos #116 PSA 10

1990 Marvel Universe Silver Surfer Thanos

The only dual card on this list features the suave Silver Surfer and the towering Thanos. With crisp artwork and a low pop count, it makes sense why this one still sells well over $500.

2. 1990 Marvel Universe Spider-Man #29 PSA 10

spiderman 29

Now, this may be the second official Spidey card in the set, but it’s actually the first to feature him in his classic blue and red uniform. That alone makes this one a hidden gem.

Interestingly enough, over 150 of these cards have gemmed in the last two years. In 2021, there were less than 30 PSA 10s. As the set has grown more popular, many uncovered some of these Spidey rookies and sent them off for grading.

1. 1990 Marvel Universe Galactus #75


The top of this list may surprise you. Even still, Galactus arguably wields more power than any other character in the set, and finding a PSA 10 of this card is nearly impossible. Today, this card still sells around $1,500, and if the villain makes an appearance into the new phase of Marvel films, we could see this price increasing.

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