AIRBANKS, Alaska (AP) — A longtime Alaska comic book buff is selling one of the gems in his vast collection, a rare copy of Batman No. 1 published 70 years ago.

Mike Wheat of Fairbanks has put the 1940 comic book on the auction block through Dallas-based Heritage Auction Galleries, where it's expected to fetch more than $40,000. Online bids already have climbed to $35,000 for the book, believed to be one of fewer than 300 still in existence.

Online bids will compete with a live auction set for Thursday.

The second and fourth Batman issues also will be part of Thursday's auction. They are expected to bring more than $5,000 combined.

Wheat, a city wastewater treatment plant operator, says he considers the Batman comics an investment. He says it feels like the right time to sell.

[Editor's note: To bid yourself, click here.]

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.