Marvel Mystery Comics

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Marvel Mystery Comics
First cover appearance, the Sub-Mariner: Marvel Mystery Comics #4 (Feb. 1940). Art by Alex Schomburg.
Publication information
Format Ongoing series
Genre
Publication date October 1939 – August 1957
Number of issues 159

Marvel Mystery Comics (first issue titled simply Marvel Comics) is an American comic book series published during the 1930s-1940s period known to fans and historians as the Golden Age of Comic Books. It was the first publication of Marvel Comics' predecessor, Timely Comics, a division of Timely Publications.

Publication history[edit]

Premiere issue: Marvel Comics #1[edit]

In 1939, pulp-magazine publisher Martin Goodman expanded into the newly emerging comic book field by buying content from comics package Funnies, Inc.. His first effort, Marvel Comics #1 (cover-dated Oct. 1939), from his company Timely Publications, featured the first appearances of writer-artist Carl Burgos' android superhero, the Human Torch, and Paul Gustavson's costumed detective the Angel.[1] As well, it contained the first generally available appearance of Bill Everett's mutant anti-hero Namor the Sub-Mariner, created for the unpublished movie-theater giveaway comic, Motion Picture Funnies Weekly earlier that year, with the eight-page original story now expanded by four pages.

Also included was Al Anders' Western hero the Masked Raider; the jungle lord Ka-Zar the Great, with Ben Thompson adapting over the first five issues the story "King of Fang and Claw" by Bob Byrd in Goodman's eponymous pulp magazine Ka-Zar #1 (Oct. 1936);[2] the non-continuing-character story "Jungle Terror," featuring an adventurer named Ken Masters, written by the quirkily named Tohm Dixon;[3] "Now I'll Tell One", five single-panel, black-and-white gag cartoons by Fred Schwab, on the inside front cover; and a two-page prose story by Ray Gill, "Burning Rubber", about auto racing.[1] A painted cover by veteran science fiction pulp artist Frank R. Paul featured the Human Torch,[1] looking much different than in the interior story.

That initial comic quickly sold out 80,000 copies, prompting Goodman to produce a second printing, cover-dated November 1939 and identical except for a black bar in the inside-front-cover indicia over the October date, and the November date added at the end. That sold approximately 800,000 copies.[4] With a hit on his hands, Goodman began assembling an in-house staff, hiring Funnies, Inc. writer-artist Joe Simon as editor. Simon brought along his collaborator, artist Jack Kirby, followed by artist Syd Shores.

As Marvel Mystery Comics[edit]

The Torch and the Sub-Mariner would continue to star in the long-running title even after receiving their own solo comic-book series shortly afterward. The Angel, who was featured on the covers of issues #2-3, would appear in every issue through #79 (Dec. 1946).[5]

Other characters introduced in the title include the aviator the American Ace (#2, Dec. 1939), with part one of his origin reprinted, like the first part of the Sub-Mariner's, from Motion Picture Funnies Weekly #1; the Ferret; and writer-artist Steve Dahlman's robot hero Electro (appearing in every issue from #4-19, Feb. 1940 - May 1941). Issue #13 saw the first appearance of the Vision, the inspiration for the same-name Marvel Comics superhero created in 1968. The original Vision appeared in solo stories through Marvel Mystery Comics #48.[5]

As Marvel Tales[edit]

In 1949, with the popularity of superheroes having waned, the book was converted into the horror anthology Marvel Tales from issue #93-159 (Aug. 1949 - Aug. 1957), when it ceased publication.[6] Note: This is a different Marvel Tales than that published by Marvel in starting in the 1960s and primarily reprinting Spider-Man stories.

Reprints[edit]

  • Marvel Comics #1: 70th Anniversary Edition (reprints #1 with modern coloring, 2009)
  • Golden Age Marvel Comics Omnibus (Marvel Comics #1; Marvel Mystery Comics #2-12)
  • Marvel Masterworks: Golden Age Marvel Comics Vol. 1 (Marvel Comics #1, Marvel Mystery Comics #2-4)
  • Marvel Masterworks: Golden Age Marvel Comics Vol. 2 (Marvel Mystery Comics #5-8)
  • Marvel Masterworks: Golden Age Marvel Comics Vol. 3 (Marvel Mystery Comics #9-12)
  • Marvel Masterworks: Golden Age Marvel Comics Vol. 4 (Marvel Mystery Comics #13-16)
  • Marvel Masterworks: Golden Age Marvel Comics Vol. 5 (Marvel Mystery Comics #17-20)
  • Marvel Masterworks: Golden Age Marvel Comics Vol. 6 (Marvel Mystery Comics #21-24)

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Marvel Comics #1 at the Grand Comics Database
  2. ^ Ka-Zar at Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Archived from the original on April 21, 2011. The Ka-Zar here, who would appear in every issue through Marvel Mystery Comics #27 (Jan. 1942) is unrelated to the Marvel Comics jungle lord Ka-Zar introduced in The X-Men #10 (March 1965).
  3. ^ Marvel Masterworks: Golden Age Marvel Comics Volume 1 (Marvel, 2004) ISBN 0-7851-1609-5, as given in the contents page and as signed on the first page of the story, reprinted on pp. 46-51
  4. ^ Per researcher Keif Fromm, Alter Ego #49, p. 4 (caption)
  5. ^ a b Marvel Mystery Comics at the Grand Comics Database
  6. ^ Marvel Tales (Marvel, 1949 Series) at the Grand Comics Database