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The HISTORY of MARVEL - Part 2

As what must be evident from the title, this is the second part of the blog series "The HISTORY of MARVEL". If you haven't read the first part, you can read it here

Tough Times: 1950s

After World War II came to an end, comics and superheroes started to lose popularity. In 1951, Timely Comics re-branded the company to Atlas Comics. Comics faced a lot of opposition in the 50s. They were blamed of Juvenile Delinquency and were said to be depicting dark stories with plots revolving around revenge and vengeance. Parents were afraid that such comics would have a bad impact on their children and mothers literally started throwing away their children’s comic books.

People from the industry believed that 1950s were the time when parents had become mostly paranoid. They thought of almost every entertainment medium as a threat to their children’s upbringing. They thought of television as bad, comics as bad, even chewing gum was considered to be bad by parents.

"Public hysteria had ended the golden age of comics," said Stan Lee in one of his interviews. The surviving books were mostly boring and sales hit an all-time low for Atlas comics. But things were not as bleak because Marvel too had something in their bag; the duo of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. They enthralling stories of Stan Lee and the artistic work of Jack Kirby revived the comic book industry. Jack Kirby who had left returned to Timely now know as Atlas Comics in 1959. Soon Atlas comics would be re-branded again and this time for good and for long. 

Silver age: 1960s & 1970s

In 1961, the renaissance of comics began as comic publishers looked to revive their characters and business. In 1961, Atlas Comics was re-branded Marvel Comics. In the early 60s, DC Comics successfully ran its Justice League of America comics and this gave Marvel the idea that instead of depicting Heroes in comics, people would be much more receptive if they depict superheroes. This was the beginning of the superhero comics and the Fantastic Four was published with great success. Later on, Marvel released Spider-Man, The Hulk, Iron Man, The X-Men, and The Avengers series that helped the company grow and establish its reputation.

The release and success of The Incredible Hulk in 1962 opened the floodgate and many artists like Steve Ditko, John Ritter joined Marvel who later played a huge role in the company’s success. Spiderman was created in the August of 1962. While DC Comics had many teenage sidekicks, Stan Lee wanted teenage superhero. Till date, Spiderman is the most well-received superhero of all time. It can also be said that most of Marvel’s business in the silver age came from Spiderman.  

Stan Lee wanted to create superheroes that had human flaws. His idea was that such superheroes would connect well with the audience. This can be seen in Spider-Man, a superhero who is always out of luck, trying to make ends meet, and who often fails with women. Stan Lee’s perspective on superheroes created a major point of differentiation for Marvel Comics. Marvel’s superheroes remain unique to this day due to the influence of historical events, socio-political issues, and the characters’ humanity. For example, Blank Panther was the first African-American superhero, the Wasp was a female superhero well received by feminists and in the reflection of the Cold War, Iron Man fought Russian villains in the comic series. 

In spite of all these successes, there was one thing that comic books were denied and that was prestige. In part 3, I discuss what brought prestige to the comic book industry and also talk about the comic book bubble of the 1980s. Continue reading the history of Marvel in "The HISTORY of MARVEL - Part 3". 

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