All year long on Marvel.com, we’re celebrating Marvel’s 75th anniversary, and to fully appreciate the scope of that history, you need to go back to where it all began.
As the Golden Age of the 1940’s and 50’s gave way to the 1960’s, so did what had been Timely and Atlas Comics evolve into something more. Under the guidance of creators like Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko and others, the Marvel Universe emerged, bringing with it an explosion of heroes, villains and other concepts the likes of which had never been seen in the medium!
This week, we count down our top 10 Marvel heroes to debut during the 1960’s. Have your own thoughts? Let us know on Twitter using the hash tag #Marvel75!
2. THE FANTASTIC FOUR
First Appearance: FANTASTIC FOUR (1961) #1
Why They’re #2: “Initially misunderstood and even feared, the Fantastic Four nevertheless took up the challenge of their first adventure and bearded the malevolent Mole Man in his den underneath Monster Island. Big brain Reed Richards, test pilot Ben Grimm, and siblings Sue and Johnny Storm gained incredible powers from a barrage of cosmic rays while on an experimental orbital flight, and gained invaluable experience pitting them against the Mole Man’s hulking creatures, winning the day and saving an unknowing populace from the diminutive fiend’s revenge against humanity. The first super hero team to show true emotion and act like a family rather than a finely-tuned and flawless fighting unit, the FF would change—and set—the standard for all groups to come, kicking off the Marvel era of comics.” – Jim Beard
Digital Comics Spotlight: FANTASTIC FOUR (1961) #3
First Appearance: AMAZING FANTASY #15
Why He’s #1: “In August of 1962, a dime and a nickel bought readers AMAZING FANTASY #15 and three pennies back. The anthology saw acts of noble sacrifice, paranormal treachery, and Martian invasion. It also heralded the arrival of timid Peter Parker, the most relatable outsider in Midtown High. As the small change jangled in their pockets, young readers met an awkward teen burdened by mutual anxieties, a wallflower just trying to survive through 8th period. Burdened by incredible abilities through the bite of a radioactive spider, Peter became the quintessential funhouse mirror for teenage power fantasy, a pubescent allegory rendered at a feverish dot pitch.
“Equal parts teen idol, icon and iconoclast, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s friendly neighborhood Spider-Man went on to redefine the prerequisites for admission to the super hero table. Riding the crest of the late 50’s pop art revolution and anticipating the counter culture sensibilities of the mid-60’s, Spidey became the first rock and roll super hero, earning the adulation of the youth and the ire of the geezer. Teachers, parents and grizzled newspapermen just didn’t understand— which only made us love him all the more. Of course, Peter avoided descending into true anti-heroism. When his early vanity and arrogance cost him the life of his mentor and father figure Uncle Ben, Peter adopted his self-sacrificing philosophy.
“AMAZING FANTASY #15 changed everything, offering escapism but demanding some soul searching in return. Spider-Man’s origin had the audacity to forego a triumphant conclusion, ending instead with our hero walking off toward his destiny, nearly crumpled by the guilt of his inaction. With the arrival of Spider-Man, Marvel Comics challenged readers to look for heroes not up in the sky, but within themselves.” – Paul Montgomery
Digital Comics Spotlight: AMAZING SPIDER-MAN (1963) #1
Share your thoughts on Twitter with the hash tag #Marvel75 and keep up on Marvel’s 75th anniversary celebration at marvel.com/75