Marvel Comics Turns 70

Marvel Comics has been celebrating their 70th Anniversary all year. The company started as “Timely Comics” in 1939, became “Atlas Comics” later, and then changed name again to the familiar “Marvel Comics” when “Fantastic Four #1” hit with the cover date of November 1961. The celebration thus far has included a number of 70th anniversary one shots for individual characters on the stands, the returns of Steve Rogers and Jim Hammond, and some user-voted website countdowns. The full celebration can be found here, along with the countdowns of the 70 greatest covers, comics, characters and moments.

6 replies on “Marvel Comics Turns 70”

  1. Well, when the voting opens for Best Character in on the 29th, I will be voting for Deadpool, Daredevil, and Spidey – I tend to like the Street Level heroes in the Marvel U more than the higher up ones.

    • Agree with the street level thing– though I would say Spidey, Wolverine, and Howard the Duck, at least, as Gerber wrote him.

      Spidey and the F.F. (the Thing, in particular) brought something suggesting realism into comics, when compared with previous comic book heroes, and characterization. This particular aspect influenced comics for generations.

      Howard reminded us that traditional comics are kind of silly, and fans shouldn’t take their four-colour heroes too seriously.

      Less silly is the death of Gwen Stacy, which brought a grim jolt of quasi-reality into comics. Again, the influence has been long-lasting, despite the fact that Marvel later messed with both her death and the Green Goblin’s.

      It also occurs at an interesting time in Marvel’s history. More or less until that moment, Marvel had been letting its characters age in real time (well, sort of). As the seventies continued, they adjusted that policy. The Marvel Universe was never as tight and believable (in a comic-book sort of way) after that– a fact that Marvels tacitly acknowledges.

      I think Gwen’s death qualifies as my Greatest Moment in Marvel comics history.

      • I’m with AceCaseOR on this. I’ve read Gerber’s Howard the Duck, and he can’t touch Deadpool for silly. Yes, he’s a walking, talking duck, but Deadpool is silly without the subtle.

        My top characters:
        1) Daredevil
        2) Deadpool
        3) Cyclops

        My top covers:
        1) Marko Djurdjevic’s cover to Daredevil Vol. 2 #100
        2-N) Every other cover by Djurdjevic and Alex Ross in some order.
        N+1 and on) Covers by anyone else.

        My top comics:
        1) Fantastic Four #1 changed the face of the industry.
        2) Amazing Fantasy #15 continued the tradition by making the teen sidekick the hero with Spider-Man.
        3) Daredevil Vol. 1 #227 kicks off “Born Again,” my single favourite comic book story of all time. That first issue was great when I first read it, and it gets better every time. It starts with a drug-addled and desperate Karen Page selling Daredevil’s secret identity, and then shows Kingpin’s systematic destruction of Matt Murdock’s life, simply to “test” said information. That last panel will haunt me for life.

        My top moments:
        1) The last panel of Daredevil Vol. 1 #227. See above.
        2) Deadpool narrates his own recap page in Cable and Deadpool #13, with a spoof of Law and Order that absolutely nails the character’s attitude.
        3) The end of X-Factor #68, where Cyclops’ son is threatened by Apocalypse. The rest of X-Factor and most of the Inhumans have been taken out. Cyclops protects his son by making one easy choice, and one hard one. The easy choice is to remove the dampening visor and hit Apocalypse with a full-force, unrelenting optic blast in a splash page that I still remember almost 20 years after the last time I read it. Then he makes the hard choice of entrusting a complete stranger to take his son to the future to heal, protect and raise him to save the world. (At this point, he didn’t know Cable was his son, returned from the future before he left.)

        • I’ve read Gerber’s Howard the Duck, and he can’t touch Deadpool for silly.

          Good calls– though the original Red Tornado precedes Deadpool and Howard as superhero-as-superhero-parody….

          2) Amazing Fantasy #15 continued the tradition by making the teen sidekick the hero with Spider-Man.

          …while the Star-Spangled Kid beat Spider-man to that precedent.

          However, neither work for Marvel, and neither have quite the following of either Deadpool or Spidey.

        • Oh man, I have that issue in a box somewhere. Truly epic. “You shouldn’t have signed it.” Miller did some amazing work with Daredevil.

  2. The Elf with a Gun.

    Seriously. An elf starts showing up at random moments and killing people for no apparent reason. And without any connection to the plot of the comic. Then he gets hit by a truck and dies. Bloody brilliant.

    Gerber wanted it make some kind of statement about the randomness of life. Later writers gave the elf some half-assed explanation, which kind of wrecks the whole thing.

    Forget the Web-slinger and ol’ Greenskin. The Elf with A Gun is the most brilliant thing Marvel ever did.

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