Marvel Database

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Marvel Database
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History

Marvel Comics is a comic book company charged of writing and publishing the adventures of various real-life super-heroes from New York City.

Origins[]

Taking inspiration from the success of Robert Maxwell's Purple Pig Comics #1, and newspaper stories about the Human Torch and the Sub-Mariner, pulp magazine publisher Martin Goodman believed comic books about these extraordinary beings would prove profitable.[1] Having already interviewed Professor Horton for a feature in the pulp magazine Marvel Science Stories, Goodman made a deal with the professor for the rights to produce "authorized, authoritative stories" about the Torch, who would grace the cover of Marvel Comics #1. Goodman had also made contacts in the NYPD when developing features for the pulp magazine Star Detective Stories, and used these connections to get stories about the Sub-Mariner and the Angel.[1] The success of Marvel Comics #1 (later renamed Marvel Mystery Comics) led to a rapid expansion of Goodman's Timely Comics division.

Jim Hammond (Earth-616), Thomas Halloway (Earth-616), and Monako (Earth-616) from Free Comic Book Day 2023 Spider-Man Venom Vol 1 1 001

Some of Timely Comics' featured characters

A journalist for Mystic Comics, another Marvel Comics publication,[6] interviewed the Williams brothers about their robot, Flexo, the Rubber Man, although the story recounted wasn't fully accurate to life, as the Williams claimed Dr. Otto Murdo had survived.[7]

World War II[]

Thanks to Goodman's connections in the War Department, Timely Comics acquired the rights to the declassified adventures of Captain America (although Joe Simon and Jack Kirby were able to collate rumors into surprisingly accurate accounts of some of Captain America's classified activities as well), which were used to help garner support for the war effort. Captain America Comics, the result of this partnership, saw great success as, unlike Biljo White's fictional Major Victory,[8] Captain America's stories were true-to-life.[1] Proceeds from Captain America Comics went towards the underwriting of the non-profit, pro-American youth organization Sentinels of Liberty, several members of which would become the Young Allies, who had fictionalised adventures later published by Timely Comics as Young Allies.[9]

Timely's arrangement with the War Department was later used to directly confuse the Axis, as certain details were changed or made-up.[1]

The success of Captain America Comics led to the production of a serial, The Adventures of Captain America, in 1944, which starred Glen Reeper. This serial was plagued by accidents and eventually investigated by the real Captain America, who uncovered a plot by the Red Skull and special effects artist Lyle Dekker to sabotage the production.[10]

Post-War[]

After the war the lack of modern "Marvels" in action led to Timely, now renamed Atlas Comics, broadening their horizons. Historical features about western heroes like the Two-Gun Kid, Kid Colt, the Rawhide Kid, and the Phantom Rider and WWII's Howling Commandos were produced and licencing deals were made with Hanover Modeling Agency as well as much of the population of Centerville, California to produce Millie the Model, and Patsy Walker.[1]

Stories about alleged encounters with 'monsters', like Goom, Oog, Groot were also published by Atlas at this time, although they faced varying success. One title in particular, Incredible Hulk,[11] based on the accounts of soldiers stationed near Los Diablos Missile Base, was cancelled after only a few issues.[1] Other encounters were from primary sources, like writer Charles Bentley's tale about X, the Thing That Lived, which he had accidentally brought to life with a magical typewriter,[12] artist Frank Johnson's tale about Zzutak, who he had accidentally brought to life with magical paints,[13] and Lee and Kirby's The Grotesque Grey Gargoyles from Alpha Centauri, which was inspired by Lee's abduction by the Other.[14]

The Modern Age of Marvels[]

As part of a plot to destroy the Fantastic Four, Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner's SM Studios acquired the rights to their adventures[15] and approached Atlas editor Stan Lee about publishing a comic book about the four.[1] After Lee learned about the depth of Namor's plans, he offered to rescind the deal but, since the Human Torch was a fan of artist Jack Kirby, having collected Captain America Comics in his youth,[16] a publishing agreement was arranged.[1][17]

Fantastic Four, the result of this arrangement, was billed as "The World's Only 100% Authorized Comics Magazine", and was held to this claim by monthly meetings with the Fantastic Four wherein their latest adventures would be recounted.[1]

Marvel Comics' role as a "chronicler" of the Fantastic Four would sometimes lead to staff becoming directly involved in their adventures. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby were forced to summon the Fantastic Four at the behest of Doctor Doom,[17] the Impossible Man tried to pitch his own title,[18] and John Byrne was summoned by the Watcher to witness the Trial of Reed Richards.[19]

The success of Fantastic Four led to Lee changing the name from Atlas to Marvel Comics, inspired by both Goodman's first publication from 1939, and the term for superhumanity, "Marvels", as popularized by Phil Sheldon.[20] Lee quickly began to broaden Marvel's range of comics, making deals with the Maria Stark Foundation to publish Iron Man and Avengers.[1] Titles like Avengers were "only 69% authorized", however, as the Maria Stark Foundation had to approve all stories, and the Avengers' alter egos were not available to the public, meaning Lee had to extrapolate their private lives from the little information available to him.[1]

Marvel Comics had particular issues with trying to maintain a narrative about Tony Stark's bodyguard, Iron Man, as Stark appeared to keep hiring different Iron Men to replace their predecessors whenever one was killed, injured, or deemed unworthy of the position.[1] This culminated in the Armor Wars, when Stark's most recent Iron Man was seemingly killed by government agent Firepower.[21]

Early Lawsuits[]

Noting the popularity of the Daily Bugle's many stories about Spider-Man, Lee placed an ad in the newspaper with a hotline, which would provide Marvel with semi-accurate stories for their Spider-Man title. Early on in its publication, the comic featured noted Spider-Man detractor J. Jonah Jameson who sued Marvel for their use of his name and likeness. The suit was dropped after Lee and Jameson met, with Marvel Comics' Spider-Man now featuring T.T. Thomas, publisher of the Daily Clarion.[1][22]

Another case involved Bruno Horgan, the Melter, who sued Marvel over their negative depiction of him, which he claimed would influence the jury of his own criminal trial. Because Marvel were able to prove that their stories were based only on news reports of his actions, and the fact they never used the Melter's real name in the book, the judge made a landmark ruling: anonymous costumed identities could not be libeled, as they were public figures.[1]

Thanks to this ruling, Lee was able to publish a title about Mutants, called the X-Men. This book was based on left-wing and right-wing theories and opinions on the Mutants, in an attempt to be as balanced as possible on the 'Mutant issue'.[1][23]

Other Media[]

As Lee's fame as a de-facto 'superhuman spokesman' rose, he left control of the company to a succession of editors, including Archie Goodwin,[24] Jim Shooter,[25] and later Bob Harras, and began to focus on Marvel's forays into other media, including a guest appearance on Saturday Night Live.[26]

An attempt was made to produce a live-action Fantastic Four movie, produced[27] and directed[1] by Dino Lorenzo, but it fell through when Lorenzo tried to write out the Human Torch. A cartoon series was later produced, featuring HERBIE instead of the Human Torch, as he was unavailable when the contracts were signed.[1]

Joseph L. Jusko and Miracle Studios attempted to produce a Hulk television series, which fell through when the real Hulk took offence to his portrayal and wrecked the soundstage. Miracle Studios also tried to create Thing in the Family, a show about the Thing, but this was also very short-lived.[28]

Controversies[]

Marvel's occasional inaccuracies created a real problem for the company when they attempted to rush out a book about new vigilante, Nighthawk, but, when it was soon revealed that Nighthawk was a criminal posing as a hero, Marvel was hurt badly in the public eye.[1]

Other controversial decisions from Marvel came about after the Onslaught event, which had culminated in a major battle in Central Park where many of the subjects of Marvel's comics were seemingly killed.[29] Having lost many of their 'bread-winners', Marvel took a foray into pure fiction, hiring some of the comic book industry's top creators to write new, entirely fictitious, stories about the lost heroes.

A new 'accurate' book was also written about the Thunderbolts, who were later revealed to be the Masters of Evil in disguise.[30] This reveal had less blowback than the Nighthawk affair, as much of the general public had been fooled by the Thunderbolts for much longer.[1]

Legal documents[]

With the establishment of the Comics Code of America, Marvel Comics could be certified as admissible records in a court of law, so long as they bore the CCA stamp.[31] These proved especially useful in 'Superhuman Law' cases, and were often used by Goodman, Lieber, Kurtzberg & Holliway in order to win major cases.

The Cosmic Comic[]

When Mysterio obtained the Cosmic Comic, an artifact of power that could alter reality itself, Spider-Man ripped it to pieces, inadvertently causing everybody to be 'trapped' in comic books.[32] With the help of the Comic, and a reader outside reality, Spider-Man went to Marvel Comics, hoping to produce a comic which would tell the story of everybody getting out of the comics.

Marvel's staff helped Spider-Man write the comic, teaching Spider-Man about the many jobs involved in producing a Marvel Comic. As Spider-Man and Naomi, an editor, approached the letterer, Ileana to finish their story, they found that Mysterio had created his own, less polished, comic.[33] A battle ensued, and the two costumed characters jumped into the Cosmic Comic, battling through different comic books in different formats throughout history.[34] As the battle culminated with Spider-Man and Mysterio returning to the present and Mysterio gaining reality-altering powers once again, Naomi managed to get Spider-Man's story, Spider-Man and the Golden Web published, and the power of the millions of readers was able to revert Mysterio to normal.[35]

The Roxxon Age of Comics[]

Dario Agger (Earth-616) and Marvel Comics (Earth-616) from Immortal Thor Vol 1 4 001

Roxxon's acquisition of Marvel Comics

Seeking to be the "Skald" of Midgard, CEO Dario Agger of Roxxon acquired Marvel.[4] He was soon approached by the Executioner and the Enchantress,[36] who introduced him to the concept of "Skald-Magic".[37]

While the Roxxon Age of Comics began with events like Absolute Absolution and Wealth Wars,[38] one of it's main titles was Roxxon Presents: Thor, which portrayed the God of Thunder as a bumbling fool.[39][38] Due to the sheer volume of Roxxon-era Thor stories pumped out by the company, the weak "Skald-Magic" each issue held began to adversely affect Thor's wisdom and intelligence.[39]

Trivia

  • The reality depicted by Marvel Comics' fictional Marvels Comics was Earth-20007.

See Also

Links and References

References

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