Marvel Comics

Last updated
Marvel Comics
MarvelLogo.svg
Parent company Marvel Entertainment, LLC
(The Walt Disney Company)
StatusActive
FoundedJanuary 12, 1939;80 years ago (1939-01-12) (as Timely Comics)
April 16, 1947;72 years ago (1947-04-16) (as Magazine Management)
February 19, 1961;58 years ago (1961-02-19) (as Marvel Comics)
Founder Martin Goodman
Country of originUnited States
Headquarters location135 W. 50th Street, New York City
Distribution Diamond Comic Distributors
Hachette Client Services [1]
Key people
Stan Lee (Former EIC, publisher, writer)
Publication typesComics/See List of Marvel Comics publications
Fiction genres
Imprints imprint list
Official website www.marvel.com

Marvel Comics is the brand name and primary imprint of Marvel Worldwide Inc., formerly Marvel Publishing, Inc. and Marvel Comics Group, a publisher of American comic books and related media. In 2009, The Walt Disney Company acquired Marvel Entertainment, Marvel Worldwide's parent company.

American comic book Comic book originating in the USA

An American comic book is a thin periodical originating in the United States, typically 32 pages, containing comics content. While the form originated in 1933, American comic books first gained popularity after the 1938 publication of Action Comics, which included the debut of the superhero Superman. This was followed by a superhero boom that lasted until the end of World War II. After the war, while superheroes were marginalized, the comic book industry rapidly expanded and genres such as horror, crime, science fiction and romance became popular. The 1950s saw a gradual decline, due to a shift away from print media in the wake of television and the impact of the Comics Code Authority. The late 1950s and the 1960s saw a superhero revival and superheroes remain the dominant character archetype in the 21st century.

The Walt Disney Company American mass media corporation

The Walt Disney Company, commonly known as Walt Disney or simply Disney, is an American diversified multinational mass media and entertainment conglomerate headquartered at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California.

Marvel Entertainment entertainment company in the USA

Marvel Entertainment, LLC is an American entertainment company founded in June 1998 and based in New York City, formed by the merger of Marvel Entertainment Group, Inc. and ToyBiz. The company is a wholly owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, and is mainly known for its Marvel Comics, Marvel Animation, and Marvel Television units. Marvel Studios, formerly under the Marvel umbrella, became a subsidiary of The Walt Disney Studios, where it develops and produces a shared universe of films that shares continuity with some of the shows produced by the television unit.

Contents

Marvel started in 1939 as Timely Comics, [2] and by the early 1950s had generally become known as Atlas Comics. The Marvel era began in 1961, the year that the company launched The Fantastic Four and other superhero titles created by Steve Ditko, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and many others. The Marvel brand had been used over the years, but solidified as the company's only brand within a couple of years.

Timely Comics American comic book publisher

Timely Comics is the common name for the group of corporations that was the earliest comic book arm of American publisher Martin Goodman, and the entity that would evolve by the 1960s to become Marvel Comics.

Atlas Comics (1950s) 1950s comic book publishing company

Atlas Comics is the 1950s comic-book publishing label that evolved into Marvel Comics. Magazine and paperback novel publisher Martin Goodman, whose business strategy involved having a multitude of corporate entities, used Atlas as the umbrella name for his comic-book division during this time. Atlas evolved out of Goodman's 1940s comic-book division, Timely Comics, and was located on the 14th floor of the Empire State Building.

Steve Ditko American comic book artist

Stephen John Ditko was an American comics artist and writer best known as the artist and co-creator, with Stan Lee, of the Marvel Comics superheroes Spider-Man and Doctor Strange.

Marvel counts among its characters such well-known superheroes as Spider-Man, the Hulk, Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Wolverine, Black Panther, Doctor Strange, Captain Marvel, Black Widow, Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye, Daredevil, the Silver Surfer, Ant-Man and Deadpool, such teams as the Avengers, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, the Defenders, and the Guardians of the Galaxy, and supervillains including Doctor Doom, Thanos, Magneto, Ultron, Doctor Octopus, Green Goblin, Red Skull, Loki, Abomination, Kang the Conqueror, Venom, Mystique, the Mandarin, Kingpin, Apocalypse and Galactus. Most of Marvel's fictional characters operate in a single reality known as the Marvel Universe, with most locations mirroring real-life places; many major characters are based in New York City. [3]

Spider-Man Fictional Marvel superhero

Spider-Man is a fictional superhero created by writer-editor Stan Lee and writer-artist Steve Ditko. He first appeared in the anthology comic book Amazing Fantasy #15 in the Silver Age of Comic Books. He appears in American comic books published by Marvel Comics, as well as in a number of movies, television shows, and video game adaptations set in the Marvel Universe. In the stories, Spider-Man is the alias of Peter Parker, an orphan raised by his Aunt May and Uncle Ben in New York City after his parents Richard and Mary Parker were killed in a plane crash. Lee and Ditko had the character deal with the struggles of adolescence and financial issues, and accompanied him with many supporting characters, such as J. Jonah Jameson, Flash Thompson, Harry Osborn, romantic interests Gwen Stacy and Mary Jane Watson, and foes such as Doctor Octopus, Green Goblin and Venom. His origin story has him acquiring spider-related abilities after a bite from a radioactive spider; these include clinging to surfaces, shooting spider-webs from wrist-mounted devices, and detecting danger with his "spider-sense".

Hulk Superhero appearing in Marvel Comics publications and related media

The Hulk is a fictional superhero appearing in publications by the American publisher Marvel Comics. Created by writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby, the character first appeared in the debut issue of The Incredible Hulk. In his comic book appearances, the character is both the Hulk, a green-skinned, hulking and muscular humanoid possessing a vast degree of physical strength, and his alter ego Dr. Robert Bruce Banner, a physically weak, socially withdrawn, and emotionally reserved physicist, the two existing as independent personalities and resenting of the other.

Iron Man Superhero appearing in Marvel Comics publications

Iron Man is a fictional superhero appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character was co-created by writer and editor Stan Lee, developed by scripter Larry Lieber, and designed by artists Don Heck and Jack Kirby. The character made his first appearance in Tales of Suspense #39, and received his own title in Iron Man #1.

History

Timely Publications

Marvel Comics #1 (Oct. 1939), the first comic from Marvel precursor Timely Comics. Cover art by Frank R. Paul. MarvelComics1.jpg
Marvel Comics #1 (Oct. 1939), the first comic from Marvel precursor Timely Comics. Cover art by Frank R. Paul.

Pulp-magazine publisher Martin Goodman founded the company later known as Marvel Comics under the name Timely Publications in 1939. [4] [5] Goodman, who had started with a Western pulp in 1933, was expanding into the emerging—and by then already highly popular—new medium of comic books. Launching his new line from his existing company's offices at 330 West 42nd Street, New York City, he officially held the titles of editor, managing editor, and business manager, with Abraham Goodman (Martin's brother) [6] officially listed as publisher. [5]

Martin Goodman was an American publisher of pulp magazines, paperback books, men's adventure magazines, and comic books, launching the company that would become Marvel Comics.

Western fiction literary genre

Western fiction is a genre of literature set in the American Old West frontier and typically set from the late eighteenth to the late nineteenth century. Well-known writers of Western fiction include Zane Grey from the early 20th century and Louis L'Amour from the mid-20th century. The genre peaked around the early 1960s, largely due to the popularity of televised Westerns such as Bonanza. Readership began to drop off in the mid- to late 1970s and has reached a new low in the 2000s. Most bookstores, outside a few west American states, only carry a small number of Western fiction books.

Editing process of selecting and preparing media to convey information

Editing is the process of selecting and preparing writing, photography, visual, audible, and film media used to convey information. The editing process can involve correction, condensation, organization, and many other modifications performed with an intention of producing a correct, consistent, accurate and complete work.

Timely's first publication, Marvel Comics #1 (cover dated Oct. 1939), included the first appearance of Carl Burgos' android superhero the Human Torch, and the first appearances of Bill Everett's anti-hero Namor the Sub-Mariner, [7] among other features. [4] The issue was a great success; it and a second printing the following month sold a combined nearly 900,000 copies. [8] While its contents came from an outside packager, Funnies, Inc., [4] Timely had its own staff in place by the following year. The company's first true editor, writer-artist Joe Simon, teamed with artist Jack Kirby to create one of the first patriotically themed superheroes, [9] Captain America, in Captain America Comics #1 (March 1941). It, too, proved a hit, with sales of nearly one million. [8] Goodman formed Timely Comics, Inc., beginning with comics cover-dated April 1941 or Spring 1941. [10] [2]

<i>Marvel Mystery Comics</i>

Marvel Mystery Comics is an American comic book series published during the 1930s–1940s period known to fans and historians as the Golden Age of Comic Books. It was the first publication of Marvel Comics' predecessor, Timely Comics, a division of Timely Publications.

The cover date of a periodical publication such as a magazine or comic book is the date displayed on the cover. This is not necessarily the true date of publication. For some publications, the cover date may not be found on the cover, but rather on an inside jacket or on an interior page.

Carl Burgos was an American comic book and advertising artist best known for creating the original Human Torch in Marvel Comics #1, during the period historians and fans call the Golden Age of comic books.

While no other Timely character would achieve the success of these three characters, some notable heroes—many of which continue to appear in modern-day retcon appearances and flashbacks—include the Whizzer, Miss America, the Destroyer, the original Vision, and the Angel. Timely also published one of humor cartoonist Basil Wolverton's best-known features, "Powerhouse Pepper", [11] [12] as well as a line of children's funny-animal comics featuring characters like Super Rabbit and the duo Ziggy Pig and Silly Seal.

Retroactive continuity, or retcon for short, is a literary device in which established facts in a fictional work are adjusted, ignored, or contradicted by a subsequently published work which breaks continuity with the former.

Whizzer (Robert Frank)

The Whizzer is a fictional superhero appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. He first appeared during the period that fans and historians call the Golden Age of Comic Books.

Miss America (Madeline Joyce)

Miss America is a fictional character appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. She first appeared in Marvel Mystery Comics #49, and was created by writer Otto Binder and artist Al Gabriele for Timely Comics, the 1940s precursor of Marvel, in the period fans and historians call the Golden Age of Comic Books.

Goodman hired his wife's cousin, [13] Stanley Lieber, as a general office assistant in 1939. [14] When editor Simon left the company in late 1941, [15] Goodman made Lieber—by then writing pseudonymously as "Stan Lee"—interim editor of the comics line, a position Lee kept for decades except for three years during his military service in World War II. Lee wrote extensively for Timely, contributing to a number of different titles.

Goodman's business strategy involved having his various magazines and comic books published by a number of corporations all operating out of the same office and with the same staff. [2] One of these shell companies through which Timely Comics was published was named Marvel Comics by at least Marvel Mystery Comics #55 (May 1944). As well, some comics' covers, such as All Surprise Comics #12 (Winter 1946–47), were labeled "A Marvel Magazine" many years before Goodman would formally adopt the name in 1961. [16]

Atlas Comics

The post-war American comic market saw superheroes falling out of fashion. [17] Goodman's comic book line dropped them for the most part and expanded into a wider variety of genres than even Timely had published, featuring horror, Westerns, humor, funny animal, men's adventure-drama, giant monster, crime, and war comics, and later adding jungle books, romance titles, espionage, and even medieval adventure, Bible stories and sports.

Goodman began using the globe logo of the Atlas News Company, the newsstand-distribution company he owned, [18] on comics cover-dated November 1951 even though another company, Kable News, continued to distribute his comics through the August 1952 issues. [19] This globe branding united a line put out by the same publisher, staff and freelancers through 59 shell companies, from Animirth Comics to Zenith Publications. [20]

Atlas, rather than innovate, took a proven route of following popular trends in television and movies—Westerns and war dramas prevailing for a time, drive-in movie monsters another time—and even other comic books, particularly the EC horror line. [21] Atlas also published a plethora of children's and teen humor titles, including Dan DeCarlo's Homer the Happy Ghost (similar to Casper the Friendly Ghost ) and Homer Hooper (à la Archie Andrews). Atlas unsuccessfully attempted to revive superheroes from late 1953 to mid-1954, with the Human Torch (art by Syd Shores and Dick Ayers, variously), the Sub-Mariner (drawn and most stories written by Bill Everett), and Captain America (writer Stan Lee, artist John Romita Sr.). Atlas did not achieve any breakout hits and, according to Stan Lee, Atlas survived chiefly because it produced work quickly, cheaply, and at a passable quality. [22]

The Fantastic Four #1 (Nov. 1961). Cover art by Jack Kirby (penciler) and unconfirmed inker. Fantastic Four Vol 1 01 Cover.jpg
The Fantastic Four #1 (Nov. 1961). Cover art by Jack Kirby (penciler) and unconfirmed inker.

Marvel Comics

The first modern comic books under the Marvel Comics brand were the science-fiction anthology Journey into Mystery #69 and the teen-humor title Patsy Walker #95 (both cover dated June 1961), which each displayed an "MC" box on its cover. [23] Then, in the wake of DC Comics' success in reviving superheroes in the late 1950s and early 1960s, particularly with the Flash, Green Lantern, and other members of the team the Justice League of America, Marvel followed suit. [n 1]

In 1961, writer-editor Stan Lee revolutionized superhero comics by introducing superheroes designed to appeal to older readers than the predominantly child audiences of the medium. Modern Marvel's first superhero team, the titular stars of The Fantastic Four #1 (Nov. 1961), [24] broke convention with other comic book archetypes of the time by squabbling, holding grudges both deep and petty, and eschewing anonymity or secret identities in favor of celebrity status. Subsequently, Marvel comics developed a reputation for focusing on characterization and adult issues to a greater extent than most superhero comics before them, a quality which the new generation of older readers appreciated. [25] This applied to The Amazing Spider-Man title in particular, which turned out to be Marvel's most successful book. Its young hero suffered from self-doubt and mundane problems like any other teenager, something with which many readers could identify.

Lee and freelance artist and eventual co-plotter Jack Kirby's Fantastic Four originated in a Cold War culture that led their creators to revise the superhero conventions of previous eras to better reflect the psychological spirit of their age. [26] Eschewing such comic-book tropes as secret identities and even costumes at first, having a monster as one of the heroes, and having its characters bicker and complain in what was later called a "superheroes in the real world" approach, the series represented a change that proved to be a great success. [27]

Marvel often presented flawed superheroes, freaks, and misfits—unlike the perfect, handsome, athletic heroes found in previous traditional comic books. Some Marvel heroes looked like villains and monsters such as the Hulk and the Thing. This naturalistic approach even extended into topical politics.

Comics historian Mike Benton also noted:

In the world of [rival DC Comics'] Superman comic books, communism did not exist. Superman rarely crossed national borders or involved himself in political disputes. [28] From 1962 to 1965, there were more communists [in Marvel Comics] than on the subscription list of Pravda . Communist agents attack Ant-Man in his laboratory, red henchmen jump the Fantastic Four on the moon, and Viet Cong guerrillas take potshots at Iron Man. [29]

All of these elements struck a chord with the older readers, such as college-aged adults. In 1965, Spider-Man and the Hulk were both featured in Esquire magazine's list of 28 college campus heroes, alongside John F. Kennedy and Bob Dylan. [30] In 2009, writer Geoff Boucher reflected that,

Superman and DC Comics instantly seemed like boring old Pat Boone; Marvel felt like The Beatles and the British Invasion. It was Kirby's artwork with its tension and psychedelia that made it perfect for the times—or was it Lee's bravado and melodrama, which was somehow insecure and brash at the same time? [31]

In addition to Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four, Marvel began publishing further superhero titles featuring such heroes and antiheroes as the Hulk, Thor, Ant-Man, Iron Man, the X-Men, Daredevil, the Inhumans, Black Panther, Doctor Strange, Captain Marvel and the Silver Surfer, and such memorable antagonists as Doctor Doom, Magneto, Galactus, Loki, the Green Goblin, and Doctor Octopus, all existing in a shared reality known as the Marvel Universe, with locations that mirror real-life cities such as New York, Los Angeles and Chicago.

Marvel even lampooned itself and other comics companies in a parody comic, Not Brand Echh (a play on Marvel's dubbing of other companies as "Brand Echh", à la the then-common phrase "Brand X"). [32]

The Avengers #4 (March 1964), with (from left to right), the Wasp, Giant-Man, Captain America, Iron Man, Thor and (inset) the Sub-Mariner. Cover art by Jack Kirby and George Roussos. Avengers4.jpg
The Avengers #4 (March 1964), with (from left to right), the Wasp, Giant-Man, Captain America, Iron Man, Thor and (inset) the Sub-Mariner. Cover art by Jack Kirby and George Roussos.

Cadence Industries ownership

In 1968, while selling 50 million comic books a year, company founder Goodman revised the constraining distribution arrangement with Independent News he had reached under duress during the Atlas years, allowing him now to release as many titles as demand warranted. [18] Late that year, he sold Marvel Comics and its parent company, Magazine Management, to the Perfect Film and Chemical Corporation, with Goodman remaining as publisher. [33] In 1969, Goodman finally ended his distribution deal with Independent by signing with Curtis Circulation Company. [18]

In 1971, the United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare approached Marvel Comics editor-in-chief Stan Lee to do a comic book story about drug abuse. Lee agreed and wrote a three-part Spider-Man story portraying drug use as dangerous and unglamorous. However, the industry's self-censorship board, the Comics Code Authority, refused to approve the story because of the presence of narcotics, deeming the context of the story irrelevant. Lee, with Goodman's approval, published the story regardless in The Amazing Spider-Man #96–98 (May–July 1971), without the Comics Code seal. The market reacted well to the storyline, and the CCA subsequently revised the Code the same year. [34]

Goodman retired as publisher in 1972 and installed his son, Chip, as publisher. [35] Shortly thereafter, Lee succeeded him as publisher and also became Marvel's president [35] for a brief time. [36] During his time as president, he appointed his associate editor, prolific writer Roy Thomas, as editor-in-chief. Thomas added "Stan Lee Presents" to the opening page of each comic book. [35]

Howard the Duck #8 (Jan. 1977). Cover art by Gene Colan and Steve Leialoha Howard The Duck -8.jpg
Howard the Duck #8 (Jan. 1977). Cover art by Gene Colan and Steve Leialoha

A series of new editors-in-chief oversaw the company during another slow time for the industry. Once again, Marvel attempted to diversify, and with the updating of the Comics Code published titles themed to horror ( The Tomb of Dracula ), martial arts ( Shang-Chi: Master of Kung Fu ), sword-and-sorcery ( Conan the Barbarian in 1970, [37] Red Sonja ), satire ( Howard the Duck ) and science fiction ( 2001: A Space Odyssey , "Killraven" in Amazing Adventures , Battlestar Galactica , Star Trek , and, late in the decade, the long-running Star Wars series). Some of these were published in larger-format black and white magazines, under its Curtis Magazines imprint.

Marvel was able to capitalize on its successful superhero comics of the previous decade by acquiring a new newsstand distributor and greatly expanding its comics line. Marvel pulled ahead of rival DC Comics in 1972, during a time when the price and format of the standard newsstand comic were in flux. [38] Goodman increased the price and size of Marvel's November 1971 cover-dated comics from 15 cents for 36 pages total to 25 cents for 52 pages. DC followed suit, but Marvel the following month dropped its comics to 20 cents for 36 pages, offering a lower-priced product with a higher distributor discount. [39]

In 1973, Perfect Film and Chemical renamed itself as Cadence Industries and renamed Magazine Management as Marvel Comics Group. [40] Goodman, now disconnected from Marvel, set up a new company called Seaboard Periodicals in 1974, reviving Marvel's old Atlas name for a new Atlas Comics line, but this lasted only a year and a half. [41] In the mid-1970s a decline of the newsstand distribution network affected Marvel. Cult hits such as Howard the Duck fell victim to the distribution problems, with some titles reporting low sales when in fact the first specialty comic book stores resold them at a later date.[ citation needed ] But by the end of the decade, Marvel's fortunes were reviving, thanks to the rise of direct market distribution—selling through those same comics-specialty stores instead of newsstands.

Marvel ventured into audio in 1975 with a radio series and a record, both had Stan Lee as narrator. The radio series was Fantastic Four. The record was Spider-Man: Rock Reflections of a Superhero concept album for music fans. [42]

Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #1 (May 1984). Cover art by Mike Zeck. Secretwars1.png
Marvel Super Heroes Secret Wars #1 (May 1984). Cover art by Mike Zeck.

Marvel held its own comic book convention, Marvelcon '75, in spring 1975, and promised a Marvelcon '76. At the 1975 event, Stan Lee used a Fantastic Four panel discussion to announce that Jack Kirby, the artist co-creator of most of Marvel's signature characters, was returning to Marvel after having left in 1970 to work for rival DC Comics. [44] In October 1976, Marvel, which already licensed reprints in different countries, including the UK, created a superhero specifically for the British market. Captain Britain debuted exclusively in the UK, and later appeared in American comics. [45] During this time, Marvel and the Iowa-based Register and Tribune Syndicate launched a number of syndicated comic strips The Amazing Spider-Man , Howard the Duck , Conan the Barbarian , and The Incredible Hulk . None of the strips lasted past 1982, except for The Amazing Spider-Man, which is still being published.

In 1978, Jim Shooter became Marvel's editor-in-chief. Although a controversial personality, Shooter cured many of the procedural ills at Marvel, including repeatedly missed deadlines. During Shooter's nine-year tenure as editor-in-chief, Chris Claremont and John Byrne's run on the Uncanny X-Men and Frank Miller's run on Daredevil became critical and commercial successes. [46] Shooter brought Marvel into the rapidly evolving direct market, [47] institutionalized creator royalties, starting with the Epic Comics imprint for creator-owned material in 1982; introduced company-wide crossover story arcs with Contest of Champions and Secret Wars ; and in 1986 launched the ultimately unsuccessful New Universe line to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Marvel Comics imprint. Star Comics, a children-oriented line differing from the regular Marvel titles, was briefly successful during this period.

Marvel Entertainment Group ownership

In 1986, Marvel's parent, Marvel Entertainment Group, was sold to New World Entertainment, which within three years sold it to MacAndrews and Forbes, owned by Revlon executive Ronald Perelman in 1989. In 1991 Perelman took MEG public. Following the rapid rise of this stock, Perelman issued a series of junk bonds that he used to acquire other entertainment companies, secured by MEG stock. [48]

Marvel's logo, circa 1990s. Marvel Comics 1990 logo.svg
Marvel's logo, circa 1990s.

Marvel earned a great deal of money with their 1980s children's comics imprint Star Comics and they earned a great deal more money and worldwide success during the comic book boom of the early 1990s, launching the successful 2099 line of comics set in the future ( Spider-Man 2099 , etc.) and the creatively daring though commercially unsuccessful Razorline imprint of superhero comics created by novelist and filmmaker Clive Barker. [49] [50] In 1990, Marvel began selling Marvel Universe Cards with trading card maker SkyBox International. These were collectible trading cards that featured the characters and events of the Marvel Universe. The 1990s saw the rise of variant covers, cover enhancements, swimsuit issues, and company-wide crossovers that affected the overall continuity of the Marvel Universe.

Spider-Man #1, later renamed "Peter Parker: Spider-Man" (August 1990; second printing). Cover art by Todd McFarlane. Spiderman1cover.jpg
Spider-Man #1, later renamed "Peter Parker: Spider-Man" (August 1990; second printing). Cover art by Todd McFarlane.

Marvel suffered a blow in early 1992, when seven of its most prized artists — Todd McFarlane (known for his work on Spider-Man ), Jim Lee ( X-Men ), Rob Liefeld ( X-Force ), Marc Silvestri ( Wolverine ), Erik Larsen ( The Amazing Spider-Man ), Jim Valentino ( Guardians of the Galaxy ), and Whilce Portacio ( Uncanny X-Men ) — left to form Image Comics [51] in a deal brokered by Malibu Comics' owner Scott Mitchell Rosenberg. [52] Three years later Rosenberg sold Malibu to Marvel on November 3, 1994, [53] [54] [55] who acquired the then-leading standard for computer coloring of comic books (developed by Rosenberg) in the process, [56] but also integrating the Ultraverse into Marvel's multiverse and ownership of the Genesis Universe.

In late 1994, Marvel acquired the comic book distributor Heroes World Distribution to use as its own exclusive distributor. [57] As the industry's other major publishers made exclusive distribution deals with other companies, the ripple effect resulted in the survival of only one other major distributor in North America, Diamond Comic Distributors Inc. [58] [59] Then, by the middle of the decade, the industry had slumped, and in December 1996 MEG filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. [48] In early 1997, when Marvel's Heroes World endeavor failed, Diamond also forged an exclusive deal with Marvel [60] —giving the company its own section of its comics catalog Previews. [61]

In 1996, Marvel had some of its titles participate in "Heroes Reborn", a crossover that allowed Marvel to relaunch some of its flagship characters such as the Avengers and the Fantastic Four, and outsource them to the studios of two of the former Marvel artists turned Image Comics founders, Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld. The relaunched titles, which saw the characters transported to a parallel universe with a history distinct from the mainstream Marvel Universe, were a solid success amidst a generally struggling industry, [62] but Marvel discontinued the experiment after a one-year run and returned the characters to the Marvel Universe proper.

Marvel Enterprises

In 1997, Toy Biz bought Marvel Entertainment Group to end the bankruptcy, forming a new corporation, Marvel Enterprises. [48] With his business partner Avi Arad, publisher Bill Jemas, and editor-in-chief Bob Harras, Toy Biz co-owner Isaac Perlmutter helped stabilize the comics line. [63]

In 1998, the company launched the imprint Marvel Knights, taking place just outside Marvel continuity with better production quality. The imprint was helmed by soon-to-become editor-in-chief Joe Quesada; it featured tough, gritty stories showcasing such characters as the Daredevil, [64] Inhumans and Black Panther.

With the new millennium, Marvel Comics emerged from bankruptcy and again began diversifying its offerings. In 2001, Marvel withdrew from the Comics Code Authority and established its own Marvel Rating System for comics. The first title from this era to not have the code was X-Force #119 (October 2001). Marvel also created new imprints, such as MAX (an explicit-content line) and Marvel Adventures (developed for child audiences). In addition, the company created an alternate universe imprint, Ultimate Marvel, that allowed the company to reboot its major titles by revising and updating its characters to introduce to a new generation.

Some of its characters have been turned into successful film franchises, such as the Men in Black movie series, starting in 1997, Blade movie series, starting in 1998, X-Men movie series, starting in 2000, and the highest grossing series Spider-Man , beginning in 2002. [65]

Marvel's Conan the Barbarian title stopped in 1993 after 275 issues. The Savage Sword of Conan magazine had 235 issues. Marvel published additional titles including miniseries until 2000 for a total of 650 issues. Conan was pick up by Dark Horse three years later. [37]

In a cross-promotion, the November 1, 2006, episode of the CBS soap opera The Guiding Light , titled "She's a Marvel", featured the character Harley Davidson Cooper (played by Beth Ehlers) as a superheroine named the Guiding Light. [66] The character's story continued in an eight-page backup feature, "A New Light", that appeared in several Marvel titles published November 1 and 8. [67] Also that year, Marvel created a wiki on its Web site. [68]

In late 2007 the company launched Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited, a digital archive of over 2,500 back issues available for viewing, for a monthly or annual subscription fee. [69]

In 2009 Marvel Comics closed its Open Submissions Policy, in which the company had accepted unsolicited samples from aspiring comic book artists, saying the time-consuming review process had produced no suitably professional work. [70] The same year, the company commemorated its 70th anniversary, dating to its inception as Timely Comics, by issuing the one-shot Marvel Mystery Comics 70th Anniversary Special #1 and a variety of other special issues. [71] [72]

Disney conglomerate unit (2009-present)

Writers of Marvel titles in the 2010s include (seated left to right) Ed Brubaker, Christos Gage, Matt Fraction, and Brian Michael Bendis. 6.21.10BrubakerGageFractionBendisByLuigiNovi1.jpg
Writers of Marvel titles in the 2010s include (seated left to right) Ed Brubaker, Christos Gage, Matt Fraction, and Brian Michael Bendis.

On August 31, 2009, The Walt Disney Company announced a deal to acquire Marvel Comics' parent corporation, Marvel Entertainment, for $4 billion [73] or $4.2 billion, [74] with Marvel shareholders to receive $30 and 0.745 Disney shares for each share of Marvel they own. [73] As of 2008, Marvel and its major, longtime competitor DC Comics shared over 80% of the American comic-book market. [75] As of September 2010, Marvel switched its bookstores distribution company from Diamond Book Distributors to Hachette Distribution Services. [76]

Marvel relaunched the CrossGen imprint, owned by Disney Publishing Worldwide, in March 2011. [77] Marvel and Disney Publishing began jointly publishing Disney/Pixar Presents magazine that May. [78]

Marvel discontinued its Marvel Adventures imprint in March 2012, [79] and replaced them with a line of two titles connected to the Marvel Universe TV block. [80] Also in March, Marvel announced its Marvel ReEvolution initiative that included Infinite Comics, [81] a line of digital comics, Marvel AR, a software application that provides an augmented reality experience to readers and Marvel NOW!, a relaunch of most of the company's major titles with different creative teams. [82] [83] Marvel NOW! also saw the debut of new flagship titles including Uncanny Avengers and All-New X-Men . [84]

In April 2013, Marvel and other Disney conglomerate components began announcing joint projects. With ABC, a Once Upon a Time graphic novel was announced for publication in September. [85] With Disney, Marvel announced in October 2013 that in January 2014 it would release its first title under their joint "Disney Kingdoms" imprint "Seekers of the Weird", a five-issue miniseries. [74] On January 3, 2014, fellow Disney subsidiary Lucasfilm announced that as of 2015, Star Wars comics would once again be published by Marvel. [86]

Following the events of the company-wide crossover "Secret Wars" in 2015, a relaunched Marvel universe began in September 2015, called the All-New, All-Different Marvel. [87]

Marvel Legacy was the company's Fall 2017 relaunch banner starting in September. The banner had comics with lenticular variant covers which required comic book stores to double their regular issue order to be able to order the variants. The owner of two Comix Experience stores complained about the set up of forcing retailers to be stuck with copies they cannot sell for the variant that they can sell. With other complaints too, Marvel did adjust down requirements for new titles no adjustment was made for any other. Thusforthly MyComicShop.com and at least 70 other comic book stores were boycotting these variant covers. [88] With a handful of Marvel movies, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 , Logan , Thor: Ragnarok and Spider-Man: Homecoming , in theaters, none of those characters' titles were in the top 10 and even the Guardians of the Galaxy comic book series was canceled. Thus films do not affect comic book sales. [89] Conan Properties International announced on January 12, 2018 that Conan would return to Marvel in early 2019. [37]

On January 19, 2018, Joshua Yehl, editor of ign.com, speculated on potential changes if Disney's proposed acquisition of 21st Century Fox went through. He expects Fox franchises licensed out to other firms would be moved to Marvel and that Fox's Marvel film properties would be treated better by the publishing division. [90] However, Marvel had licensed Archie Comics to publish Marvel Digests collections for the newsstand market. [91] While Disney has licensed IDW Publishing to produce the classic, all-ages Disney comics since the Marvel purchase [92] and a Big Hero 6 comic book to go along with the TV series despite the fact that the Disney movie was based on a Marvel Comic book. Then on July 17, 2018, Marvel Entertainment announced the licensing of Marvel characters to IDW for a line of middle-grade reader market comic books to start publishing in November 2018. [91]

On March 1, 2019, Serial Box, a digital book platform, announced a partnership with Marvel. They will publish new and original stories that will be tied to a number of Marvel's popular franchises. The first series will be about the character Thor and is set to be released Summer 2019. [93]

Officers

Publishers

Editors-in-chief

Marvel's chief editor originally held the title of "editor". This head editor's title later became "editor-in-chief". Joe Simon was the company's first true chief-editor, with publisher Martin Goodman, who had served as titular editor only and outsourced editorial operations.

In 1994 Marvel briefly abolished the position of editor-in-chief, replacing Tom DeFalco with five group editors-in-chief. As Carl Potts described the 1990s editorial arrangement:

In the early '90s, Marvel had so many titles that there were three Executive Editors, each overseeing approximately 1/3 of the line. Bob Budiansky was the third Executive Editor [following the previously appointed Mark Gruenwald and Potts]. We all answered to Editor-in-Chief Tom DeFalco and Publisher Mike Hobson. All three Executive Editors decided not to add our names to the already crowded credits on the Marvel titles. Therefore it wasn't easy for readers to tell which titles were produced by which Executive Editor … In late '94, Marvel reorganized into a number of different publishing divisions, each with its own Editor-in-Chief. [99]

Marvel reinstated the overall editor-in-chief position in 1995 with Bob Harras.

Executive Editors

Originally called associate editor when Marvel's chief editor just carried the title of editor, the title of the next highest editorial position became executive editor under the chief editor title of editor-in-chief. The title of associate editor later was revived under the editor-in-chief as an editorial position in charge of few titles under the direction of an editor and without an assistant editor.

Associate Editor
Executive Editor

Ownership

Parent corporation

Offices

Located in New York City, Marvel has had successive headquarters:

Market share

In 2017, Marvel held a 38.30% share of the comics market, compared to its competitor DC Comics' 33.93%. [107] By comparison, the companies respectively held 33.50% and 30.33% shares in 2013, and 40.81% and 29.94% shares in 2008. [108]

Marvel characters in other media

Marvel characters and stories have been adapted to many other media. Some of these adaptations were produced by Marvel Comics and its sister company, Marvel Studios, while others were produced by companies licensing Marvel material.

Games

In June 1993, Marvel issued its collectable caps for milk caps game under the Hero Caps brand. [109] In 2014, the Marvel Disk Wars: The Avengers Japanese TV series was launched together with a collectible game called Bachicombat, a game similar to the milk caps game, by Bandai. [110]

Collectible card games

The RPG industry brought the development of the collectible card game (CCG) in the early 1990s which there were soon Marvel characters were featured in CCG of their own starting in 1995 with Fleer's OverPower (1995–1999). Later collectible card game were:

Role-playing

TSR published the pen-and-paper role-playing game Marvel Super Heroes in 1984. TSR then released in 1998 the Marvel Super Heroes Adventure Game which used a different system, the card-based SAGA system, than their first game. In 2003 Marvel Publishing published its own role-playing game, the Marvel Universe Roleplaying Game , that used a diceless stone pool system. [111] In August 2011 Margaret Weis Productions announced it was developing a tabletop role-playing game based on the Marvel universe, set for release in February 2012 using its house Cortex Plus RPG system. [112]

Video games

Video games based on Marvel characters go back to 1984 and the Atari game, Spider-Man . Since then several dozen video games have been released and all have been produced by outside licensees. In 2014, Disney Infinity 2.0: Marvel Super Heroes was released that brought Marvel characters to the existing Disney sandbox video game.

Films

As of the start of September 2015, films based on Marvel's properties represent the highest-grossing U.S. franchise, having grossed over $7.7 billion [113] as part of a worldwide gross of over $18 billion. As of May 2019 the 'MCU' has grossed over $20 billion.

Live shows

Prose novels

Marvel first licensed two prose novels to Bantam Books, who printed The Avengers Battle the Earth Wrecker by Otto Binder (1967) and Captain America: The Great Gold Steal by Ted White (1968). Various publishers took up the licenses from 1978 to 2002. Also, with the various licensed films being released beginning in 1997, various publishers put out movie novelizations. [114] In 2003, following publication of the prose young adult novel Mary Jane, starring Mary Jane Watson from the Spider-Man mythos, Marvel announced the formation of the publishing imprint Marvel Press. [115] However, Marvel moved back to licensing with Pocket Books from 2005 to 2008. [114] With few books issued under the imprint, Marvel and Disney Books Group relaunched Marvel Press in 2011 with the Marvel Origin Storybooks line. [116]

Television programs

Many television series, both live-action and animated, have based their productions on Marvel Comics characters. These include series for popular characters such as Spider-Man, Iron Man, the Hulk, the Avengers, the X-Men, Fantastic Four, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, the Punisher, the Defenders, S.H.I.E.L.D., Agent Carter, Deadpool, Legion, and others. Additionally, a handful of television movies, usually also pilots, based on Marvel Comics characters have been made.

Theme parks

Marvel has licensed its characters for theme parks and attractions, including Marvel Super Hero Island at Universal Orlando's Islands of Adventure [117] in Orlando, Florida, which includes rides based on their iconic characters and costumed performers, as well as The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man ride cloned from Islands of Adventure to Universal Studios Japan. [118]

Years after Disney purchased Marvel in late 2009, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts plans on creating original Marvel attractions at their theme parks, [119] [120] with Hong Kong Disneyland becoming the first Disney theme park to feature a Marvel attraction. [121] [122] Due to the licensing agreement with Universal Studios, signed prior to Disney's purchase of Marvel, Walt Disney World and Tokyo Disney Resort are barred from having Marvel characters in their parks. [123] However, this only includes characters that Universal is currently using, other characters in their "families" (X-Men, Avengers, Fantastic Four, etc.), and the villains associated with said characters. [117] This clause has allowed Walt Disney World to have meet and greets, merchandise, attractions and more with other Marvel characters not associated with the characters at Islands of Adventures, such as Star-Lord and Gamora from Guardians of the Galaxy . [124] [125]

Imprints

Defunct

See also

Notes

  1. Apocryphal legend has it that in 1961, either Jack Liebowitz or Irwin Donenfeld of DC Comics (then known as National Periodical Publications) bragged about DC's success with the Justice League (which had debuted in The Brave and the Bold #28 [February 1960] before going on to its own title) to publisher Martin Goodman (whose holdings included the nascent Marvel Comics) during a game of golf.

    However, film producer and comics historian Michael Uslan partly debunked the story in a letter published in Alter Ego #43 (December 2004), pp. 43–44
    Irwin said he never played golf with Goodman, so the story is untrue. I heard this story more than a couple of times while sitting in the lunchroom at DC's 909 Third Avenue and 75 Rockefeller Plaza office as Sol Harrison and [production chief] Jack Adler were schmoozing with some of us … who worked for DC during our college summers.... [T]he way I heard the story from Sol was that Goodman was playing with one of the heads of Independent News, not DC Comics (though DC owned Independent News). … As the distributor of DC Comics, this man certainly knew all the sales figures and was in the best position to tell this tidbit to Goodman. … Of course, Goodman would want to be playing golf with this fellow and be in his good graces. … Sol worked closely with Independent News' top management over the decades and would have gotten this story straight from the horse's mouth.
    Goodman, a publishing trend-follower aware of the JLA's strong sales, confirmably directed his comics editor, Stan Lee, to create a comic-book series about a team of superheroes. According to Lee in Origins of Marvel Comics (Simon and Schuster/Fireside Books, 1974), p. 16: "Martin mentioned that he had noticed one of the titles published by National Comics seemed to be selling better than most. It was a book called The[ sic ]Justice League of America and it was composed of a team of superheroes. … ' If the Justice League is selling ', spoke he, 'why don't we put out a comic book that features a team of superheroes?'"

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Further reading