Marvel comics started its superhero line with the Fantastic Four, adding other great heroes over the years. When Marvel began publishing, it took over characters and a few books published by Atlas Comics and Timely publications, creating a comic like no other on the market. It also took some inspiration from DC to develop a different kind of heroes through books like “Journey Into Mystery” and “Amazing Fantasy.” The first Marvel comic came with a family of superheroes and followed by monsters and scientists.
Fantastic Four (1961)
The first comic book by Jack Kirby and Stan Lee featured a scientist experimenting on a rocket ship. The scientist then took his girlfriend, best friend, and brother on unauthorized rocket flight exposing them to cosmic rays that gave them superpowers.
Generally, the book focused on the four detailing their journey as explorers, differences as a family, and growth as people. The Fantastic Four remain popular even today and will join the MCU soon.
Initially, “Tales to Astonish” appeared more sci-fi, similar to “The Twilight Zone.” Each issue came with sci-fi stories that featured scientists daring disastrous explorations. In 1962, Marvel introduced a brand-new superhero in what looked like a basic tale for the book. Tales to Astonish #27 featured Hank Pym testing a new serum that took him to the dangerous world. Pym returned as Ant-Man 8 issues later, making it the debut of the first Avengers member in Marvel’s Silver age.
The Incredible Hulk came in his own comic book in 1962 introduced as Bruce Banner, a scientist conducting a gamma-ray test for the government. The trial involved a bomb test in the Arizona desert. Unfortunately, Banner was bombarded with gamma rays as he tried to help a trespassing teenager. The concept was similar to the Fantastic Four, where the scientist gained powers through radiation, but in this case, Hulk became the first horror-themed antihero. Hulk’s classic horrors, including “Jekyll and Hyde,” prove that he is unique and crucial for Marvel Comics today.
The sci-fi anthology debuted in 1961 as “Amazing Adventures” to later change the name in issue #7. It was perhaps the most famous issue as it introduced Spider-Man. It was the last issue, but Spider-Man had become so popular that Marvel created his own series the following year. By then, Spider-Man blended perfectly with most teenage readers of that era. Besides, he was different from other teen heroes and is now the most popular Marvel superhero.
The comic book started with a horror theme but changed into sci-fi and fantasy over time. This made “Journey into Mystery” the perfect platform to introduce mythological gods. In issue #83, Marvel introduced Thor and a unique world. The first issue saw Thor hosted by Donald Blake, but Marvel slowly brought others before creating a series for the character.
The earliest superheroes discussed here emanate from Marvel’s promotion of ideas from preceding comics. The superheroes have become a household name and remain vital for Marvel as we advance.