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Nicolas Cage's national treasure recovered

A rare Superman comic book stolen from the actor in 2000 resurfaces and detectives are taking action.

April 12, 2011|By Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times
  • A copy of Action Comics No. 1 became the first million-dollar comic book at a 2010 auction.
A copy of Action Comics No. 1 became the first million-dollar comic book… (Timothy A. Clary, AFP/Getty…)

Maybe the Man of Steel should step in and help police unravel the mystery of the Man of Steal.

An original copy of the first Superman comic book that was stolen a decade ago from actor Nicolas Cage has been recovered, and Los Angeles authorities are searching for the thief. Action Comics No. 1 — a 1938 comic book now worth as much as $1.5 million — was taken from Cage's West Los Angeles home in 2000 and discovered last month in a San Fernando Valley storage locker.

The highly sought-after first edition is now in an LAPD evidence safe as the department's art detail detectives try to bring the thieves to justice. "We have it protected in a safe and it isn't going anywhere until we finish our investigation," Det. Donald Hrycyk said Monday.

The Superman comic book, which cost 10 cents new, was part of a collection of vintage comics stolen from Cage.

The first edition depicted Superman hoisting a green sedan in the air as he breaks up the kidnapping of his Daily Planet newspaper co-worker, Lois Lane. The storyline explains how the infant Superman, known as Kal-El, was sent by his parents from a dying planet to grow up on Earth.

Hrycyk did not identify the man who claims to have discovered the rare comic book after buying the contents of an abandoned storage container at auction. The veteran art detail detective said he's still checking out the story of the man, who has been unable to identify the exact place from where the comic came.

"He claims he doesn't know the exact storage locker," Hrycyk said.

Another newspaper — the Ventura County Star, not the Daily Planet — reported that a Simi Valley liquidation company owner set up a meeting last week with New York comic book expert Stephen Fishler, who operates Metropolis Collectibles. Fishler had sold Cage the copy of Action Comics No. 1 in 1995 and said it was authentic. Aware of the theft, he alerted authorities.

Cage said Monday that he can't wait to get Superman back. "It is divine providence that the comic was found and I am hopeful that the heirloom will be returned to my family," the actor said in a statement.

The comic book was insured, but Hrycyk said that in such thefts the insurer will usually allow the original owner the right to buy back the item before auctioning it off publicly to recover the payout.

Cage has indicated in the past that he has a soft spot in his heart for the Man of Steel and comic books in general. In the 2000 theft, he also lost a 1937 Detective Comics No. 1 and a 1939 Detective Comics No. 27.

Clark Kent hasn't been heard from in the unfolding mystery. But he might be out checking the whereabouts of Lex Luthor. And maybe he should enlist the aid of Batman.

The still-missing Detective Comics No. 27 featured the first appearance of the Batman character.

richard.winton@latimes.com

Times staff writer Bob Pool contributed to this report.

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