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Marvel History: It's in the Cards

Explore 70 years of Marvel Comics' history with the new Marvel 70th Anniversary trading card set from Rittenhouse Archives

By Craig Tello

Marvel 70th Anniversary sketch card by Daniel Campos
The entire Marvel Universe and its rich, 70-year history can be in your hands. No Infinity Gauntlet required.

In celebration of Marvel Comics' platinum anniversary, Rittenhouse Archives' latest trading card series flashes back through time, covering all 70 years since the House of Ideas' birth.

Consider Rittenhouse's Marvel 70th Anniversary trading card to be like Dr. Doom's time machine. Just, not used for evil.

"There have been many, many trading card sets made for Marvel Comics over the years, but there has never been a card set like this that chronicled the history of Marvel from its inception," says Rittenhouse Archives President Steve Charendoff. "It's not entirely focused on any one character or any one era, or just the super heroes. It's really just a terrific history of Marvel Comics overall."

Marvel 70th Anniversary sketch card by Jerry Gaylord
The basic 72-card set goes year by year, featuring stunning comic cover artwork on each card's front, as well as key bullet points on the backs highlighting the big moments of that period. The card collection commemorates and showcases the evolution of Marvel, its bullpen and celebrated creators.

"It's a set that differentiates itself from pretty much any other card set that's ever been done," Charendoff proudly states. "The history of the company, characters and artists--and how they all fit together over a timeline--is not just compelling, it's important."

He continues, "When I actually had the set finished and read through it...I was amazed by how much of it I didn't know and how much of it flowed together."

Marvel 70th Anniversary sketch card by Brandon Kenney
Of course, it all begins in 1939 and the introduction of Marvel Comics' earliest published works, a period which contemporary fans might not be familiar.

"Horror, science fiction, romance stuff...[the set has a] variety of things represented in these key eras when super heroes were not real big," explains Rob Kohlbus, Vice President of Operations at Rittenhouse.

As Kohlbus details, while a thrilling task, producing the series was also a sizeable challenge. The difficulty lies particularly in the selection process to determine which singular images would wholly represent some years--especially earlier periods--in which in so many impactful events took place in Marvel lore.

Marvel 70th Anniversary sketch card by Alex Magno
"[The set contains] everything from DARK REIGN to CIVIL WAR to the death of Captain America," Kohlbus says. "The Fantastic Four formation, Avengers' formation and the Marvel 2099 universe are highlighted in there. In certain eras, it was really easy to figure out, [but] it's very hard to find a piece of artwork that wasn't featuring Sub-Mariner or Captain America or Human Torch for the early years.

"Nonetheless, we did," interjects an enthusiastic Charendoff.

Across a broad canvas comprised of a basic card set, plus subsets such as Tribute, Retro Sticker and "Clearly" Heroic acetate chase cards, Rittenhouse has generated a comprehensive narration of Marvel Entertainment's colorful history.

Marvel 70th Anniversary sketch card by Ryan Orosco

"There's a certain cool factor in printing these cards," Charendoff details. "We wanted to mix it up with some elements that [had a] throwback style and some that looked like they were from a more modern era. There's a mix of media in terms of what we printed, what the characters look like in the different subsets, the physical features of the cards as well as the visual features of the cards."

And then there are the sketch cards. Open a pack of Marvel 70th Anniversary cards and in addition to a handful of history, you may find an original sketch of Deadpool or possibly Patsy Walker peeking back at you.

Beyond the character variety, the one-of-a-kind pieces feature the masterful work of 99 different artists. Among them is Warren Martineck, who personally created a 150-sketch card timeline of Marvel--yet another feat that's never been accomplished before in any other trading card set.

Marvel 70th Anniversary sketch card by Dan Quiles

"This art is just stunning," proclaims the Rittenhouse president. "We try to encourage the artists to give us their own interpretations of the characters throughout the years...and cover the entire history without limiting them in what they could draw."

Charendoff and Rittenhouse have tilted a very brilliant spotlight toward the most emphatic instances, major storylines and unforgettable characters of Marvel Comics. Not to mention the House of Ideas' growth into an entertainment juggernaut.

As Marvel prepares its march toward its next 70 years, rabid fans, collectors and newbies alike are invited to explore every single marvelous milestone with these impressive Marvel 70th Anniversary trading cards--a chronological encapsulation of the greatest comic publisher on the planet.

For more information on the latest series from Rittenhouse Archives, visit scifihobby.com.

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      These are pretty awesome! Shocked to see so many Spider-man 2099s! Love Kenny's Deadpool card. lastly, nice to see Squirrel Girl included!