Mike Gold: Marvel’s 75-Year Marvel

Marvel 75th Anniversary MagazineIf you can find a decent magazine rack near you, or you are lucky enough to live near a bone fide comic book store, you might want to check out Marvel’s 75th Anniversary magazine, conveniently pictured to our left.

Oh, look! Rocket Raccoon and Star Lord and Groot and Nova! And no Sub-Mariner or Human Torch! Man, 75 years go by so fast we forget our roots.

Look, these magazines are rarely more than the team programs they sell us as we walk into sports stadia, and by that measure this one is a lot more attractive than most. It’s good for what it is – an opportunity to get people excited about new talent, new media and new movies. In other words, it’s really more about Marvel’s next 75 years than it is a tribute to its past. Not a lot about Bill Everett, Carl Burgos, Steve Ditko or even Jack Kirby here.

A real Marvel history would run a hell of a lot more than four-dozen pages, and there are plenty of such histories in the bookstores to prove that. The only real “history” is the article about Marvel’s golden age written by ComicMix’s own Robert Greenberger.

Bobby, as we affectionately call him, was once DC Comics’ own Robert Greenberger. And Marvel’s own Robert Greenberger. And Starlog’s own Robert Greenberger. And Star Trek’s own Robert Greenberger. He’s also been my friend long enough to deserve a medal for perseverance. Oh, and his daughter is getting married this month, so he’s The Father-of-the-Bride Kathleen Michelle’s own Robert Greenberger. And, as pictured here, he’s also Deb Greenberger’s Robert Greenberger. Woof.B&DGreenberger

OK. Enough fawning about a talented old buddy. I’m embarrassing him. (OK, I’ve been doing that for three decades. Hey, it’s a living.)

His piece is called “The Timely Birth of Marvel.” Get it? Timely Comics begat Atlas Comics which begat Marvel Comics which is now the Pac Man inside the Disney empire. It’s worth the price of admission. I said it was about the golden age, but to be clear Bobby’s piece is not just about the Golden Age – it’s about the company’s founding right up to the founding of the contemporary Marvel Universe.

There’s a hell of a lot of information in this article. It is the Secret Origin of Marvel Comics, which is vaguely ironic in that Bobby edited DC’s Secret Origins title.

Marvel survived on enthusiasm. Bigger publishers – Fawcett and Dell/Gold Key, to be sure – went blooie in the mid-1950s, as did Quality, EC, Gleason, Gilberton (Classics Illustrated), Charlton, Harvey and a great, great many others. Only DC and Archie join Marvel in its unbroken timeline from the beginnings of the Golden Age, and it survived by respecting the readers’ intelligence while consistently catering to our sense of wonder.

You did ‘em justice, pal.