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Marvel Comics

Comic Books

Publisher: Timely

Marvel Comics #1 The original Marvel Comics series published by Timely Comics is one of the most important in comic book history, rivaling DC’s Action Comics. In fact, at times over the past few decades, Marvel Comics #1 has ranked as the most valuable comic book of all, although it now ranks #5 on The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide list of Top 100 Golden Age Comics. Characters The first issue of Marvel Comics introduced an android superhero known as the Human Torch, a costumed detective named the Angel, and a mutant anti-hero named Namor, more commonly known as the Sub-Mariner. Although many other characters were featured in this and ensuing issues, it was these three around which the Timely/Marvel universe revolved. Storyline The storyline in Marvel Comics begins with Professor Horton holding a press conference to reveal his creation of the first android. He reveals that there is a problem associated with his discovery, and reveals a man in a glass cage who he calls the Human Torch. When any air enters the chamber, the man's body starts on fire. Although Horton agrees to seal the man into a steel tube, the tube later explodes because there is a leak in the tube that allows air inside. The Human Torch then runs through the city, confused about why everything he touches starts on fire. The series continues to follow the Torch and other characters, including the Angel, a detective who did not possess super powers but wore a super hero costume, and Namor the Sub-Mariner, who is the superhero son of a sea captain and a princess of Atlantis. Artists The primary artists early-on were Carl Burgos on the Human Torch, Paul Gustavson on the Angel, and Bill Everett on Namor, the Sub-Mariner. The first two were making their first appearance in Marvel Comics #1, while the Sub-Mariner had already appeared in an unpublished movie-theater comic. All three became synonymous with the characters they had introduced. Notable Details The first issue’s initial pressing of 80,000 copies sold out, prompting a second printing, which has the original October date blacked out and replaced by a November date. With issue #2, the title became Marvel Mystery Comics and would run for 92 issues over 10 years. Collecting the Marvel Series The original Marvel series was printed in 1939 and is very rare. Overstreet currently estimates a low-grade, but complete copy (GD 2.0) as valued at $24,000 and a near pristine copy (NM- 9.2) at $525,000. In real world terms, the book consistently fetches higher than Overstreet guide values. In 2015, for instance, Heritage sold a copy in VG 4.0 for over $65,000, and a copy in PR (Poor) .5 with a detached cover for over $22,000. In contrast, the last issue is rated by Overstreet as $383 in GD 2.0 and $6,700 in NM- 9.2. Considering that the direct lineage of Marvel Comics #1 includes 1960s-era Marvel Age titles/characters such as Fantastic Four, The Incredible Hulk, The Amazing Spider-Man, Iron Man, Thor, Ant-Man, Dr. Strange, and the X-Men, all of whom are enormously popular even today, it is difficult to overestimate the importance of the 1939 comic book that started it all.

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