Excelsior! 10 Marvel Comics Release Dates That Changed The Industry
When it comes to Marvel Comics there is no shortage of important release dates. Over the years, the company had released more important comics than most other companies combined.
Of all the decades, none were arguably as important and the 1960s and 1990s. This isn’t to say that the other decades didn’t release anything noteworthy. Instead, it speaks to the volume of industry-changing comic books that were released. This also doesn’t say that the below dates exclude other decades…because they don’t. In fact, of the many decades since their inception, one particular one treated Marvel Comics very well.
What is it, you ask?
Read on and find out.
Here are 10 Marvel Comics Release Dates That Changed The Industry.
10. Spider-Man #1 – August 1990
So why Spider-Man #1 and not The Amazing Spider-Man #1?
Because Spider-Man #1 by Todd McFarlane ushered in a new age of comics. This age, different from those before it, proved that the artists and creators were just as, if not more important than the companies that published their works.
Spider-Man #1 released alongside a few other titles. However, none were given the treatment that Spider-Man received. It debuted with two different covers and poly bagged variants for each.
With so many to choose from, the race was on for collectors to scoop up what they could. And they did. Fans flooded the stores in droves to get their hands on the relaunch of Spider-Man and its variants. The dealers, stores, and distributors didn’t seem to care. Each drove prices sky high claiming riches beyond imagination for any who snagged a copy. Fans and non-fans alike smelled money and the greed of the industry made the book catch like a wildfire.
Upon its release, Spider-Man #1 sold over 2,000,000 copies. Within weeks books that should sell for $1.00 were selling for $20.00. And the insanity was just beginning.
9. X-Men #1 – October 1991
Like Spider-Man #1 by Todd McFarlane, X-Men #1 is easily one of the Marvel Comics release dates that changed the industry. Unlike Spider-Man #1 by Todd McFarlane, X-Men #1 by Jim Lee sold a staggering 6,000,000 copies. The book was a monumental success and to this day remains the highest-selling comic book of all time.
X-Men #1 changed so many things about the X-Men title. It changed the costumes that they wore, the members of the team, the style of art in the title, and helped launch other comic book titles, television shows, toy lines, and more. If you’re wondering why X-Men #1 of 1963 isn’t in this spot, it’s because it didn’t do what X-Men #1 by Jim Lee did. If there was an X-Men book that did what this book did, it’s Giant-Size X-Men #1…and it may or may not already be on this list of Marvel Comics release dates.
You may not agree with me, but there isn’t an X-Men book of the last 40 years more influential than this one.
8. The Incredible Hulk #1 – May 1962
In May of 1962, Marvel Comics unleashed its version of Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde in the world. That character, the Incredible Hulk, would spawn a series of rip-off and copycat characters that would never go on to achieve the level of success that he would.
As one of the most timeless characters in comics, his story is fairly well known. Bruce Banner was a scientist trying to find a way to harness the power of Gamma Rays. Unfortunately, while working and testing the rays (in the form of a bomb), his friend walked into the test field. Rather than stand by and watch his friend die, Bruce rushed into the test area and pushed them out of the way just before the bomb detonated. The accident left Bruce forever changed and as a result, each time his adrenaline rose, he uncontrollably changes into the Incredible Hulk.
Aside from launching one of the most lovable characters in comics, without May of 1962, the world wouldn’t have one of the most interesting and complex superheroes ever created.
7. Giant-Size X-Men #1 – December 1974/January 1975
1975 was the year that changed the fortunes of the X-Men forever. This year marked the release of Giant-Size X-Men #1.
The book was written by Len Wein, illustrated by Dave Cockrum, and was released in 1975. The issue saw the original X-Men (Cyclops, Jean Grey, Iceman, and Angel), along with on and off again recruits Havok and Polaris, disappear on the island of Krakoa. Worried about his students, Charles Xavier embarks on a mission to recruit mutants from all over the globe. Over the course of a handful of pages, he successfully recruits:
Little did anyone know but these characters changed the course of the X-Men title forever. The book plucked the X-Men from the verge of cancellation and helped pave the way for its meteoric rise to superstardom. Aside from being the second (third, depending on if you consider The Incredible Hulk #180 as the first) appearance of Wolverine, the book also introduced fan-favorites like Storm and Nightcrawler.
6. Amazing Spider-Man #121 – June 1973
There are very few comics as famous as Amazing Spider-Man #121. As the story goes, Stan Lee was leaving the office for a number of days. When asked about killing off Gwen in his absence, he inadvertently greenlit the project.
The night that Gwen Stacy died shook the world and still does 45+ years later. Gwen’s death was a sign of the times. In the 1970’s comic book publishers were pushing the boundaries of what was acceptable. Drugs, racism, sex, and death were becoming more and more prevalent. On their way out were the innocent stories that the 1960s conjured up. Much to the chagrin of those who opposed comics, readers all over were soaking it up like dry grass on a hot day.
In short, her death signified the end of innocence and the beginning of a darker time for comics. Amazing Spider-Man #121, more than any before it, ushered in a level of change that no one was prepared for.
5. Journey Into Mystery #83 – July 1962
Who could’ve ever predicted that a title that had a giant scorpion on the cover just one issue earlier, would about-face and place a Norse God on its next issue and never look back?
July of 1962 changed the trajectory of the Journey Into Mystery title. That month saw Marvel Comics introduce their version of Thor. After introducing Thor, the title began to rapidly introduce many other Norse characters and themes.
- Winged horses
Since his debut, Thor has gone on to become an integral part of the Marvel Universe. In addition to appearing in various Avengers titles, Thor has also appeared in his own solo book and the various spin-offs of it.
4. Captain America #1 – February 1941
February 1941…a day that will live in infamy.
In February of 1941 and before the United States entered World War 2, Marvel Comics, then Timely Comics, successfully predicted that if they were to enter, the United States would change the tides of war.
And how did they do this, you ask?
They did this by boldly placing their Symbol of America on a comic book cover punching Adolf Hitler in the face.
Captain America #1 (Jack Kirby and Joe Simon) marks the first appearance of both Captain America and Bucky Barnes. Although superhero comics would, for a time, lose their place in popular culture resulting in the disappearance of Captain America and Bucky, when the superhero resurgence occurred, they quickly returned.
Captain America #1 is one of the most important Marvel Comics release dates simply because, without it, Timely Comics would’ve folded. And remember, without Timely, there’d be no Marvel.
3. Avengers #1 – September 1963
After watching DC successfully team up their most important characters in the Justice League of America, Marvel was left without choice about doing it with theirs.
The Avengers first appeared as a team in The Avengers #1 back in 1963. The team was initially made up of Ant-Man, Iron Man, Thor, Wasp, and The Incredible Hulk. Even though the story was very much a sign of the time’s type story, it laid the groundwork for what was to become a powerhouse Marvel comic book.
Over the years, there has been a rotating cast of characters. These characters vary in their importance. Some (Moondragon, Two-Gun Kid, Starfox, Firebird, Stingray, and others) aren’t very memorable or important). Others, however, have gone on to become some of those most important characters at Marvel. These characters (Captain America, Black Panther, Black Widow, Vision, Wolverine, Spider-Man, Daredevil, and more) have allowed Marvel to make money hand over fist.
The Avengers #1 of 1963 is one of the most important Marvel Comics release dates of all time… period.
2. Fantastic Four #1 – August 1961
There are very few books as important as Fantastic Four #1. As far as Marvel is concerned, Fantastic Four showed them that they A) could create a team-based book, B) could center the book around a family dynamic, and C) could have drastically different personalities and abilities for their characters.
Fantastic Four #1 (August 1961), changed the world of comics. It was the first time in history that the various members of a team were also related. Mr. Fantastic was married to the Invisible Girl. The Invisible Girl was the sister of the Human Torch. And The Thing was the longtime best friend of Mr. Fantastic. The book was a monumental success because different from other superhero books of the time, it was relatable. No matter what happened in the larger-than-life battles the team often found themselves in, at the end of the day they had to do the laundry, clean the house, pay the bills, and live with one another.
Fantastic Four #1 was the first time that superheroes didn’t always appear so super.
1. Amazing Fantasy #15 – August 1962
Just in case you didn’t know, Amazing Fantasy #15 introduced the world to Peter Parker/Spider-Man. The issue set the tone for why he was and continues to be so popular… taking down criminals all the while balancing his personal life and school studies.
The Amazing Spider-Man has gone on to become not only the most popular superhero at Marvel, but he’s arguably one of the most popular in all of comics. Marvel Comics built their empire around him and will continue to do so as long as they own his comic book rights. He’s so important that after selling his cinematic rights to Sony, Marvel Studios negotiated with the company to bring him into their movies.
The company who created him sold him off only to go back and have to profit share.
And that’s it. 10 Marvel Comics Release Dates That Changed The Industry. What do you think? Which Marvel Comics release dates would you have chosen?