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A Brief Word on Marvel’s Golden Age

April 8, 2013

Back during the 40’s, Marvel was known as Timely. They had three big sellers – Captain America (created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby), the Human Torch (created by Carl Burgos), and Namor the Sub-Mariner (created by Bill Everett). They also had a host of other characters that they published with varying degrees of success.

Timely’s Golden Age characters mostly beat up on criminals and Nazi sympathizers, with the exception of Namor, who waged war on the surface world. I’m not sure if the idea of the super-villain had been invented yet or not, but if it had, it found no purchase at Timely. The Red Skull is one of the few (if not the only) villainous creations of that time that saw the light of day after the Golden Age, and he was basically just a guy in a mask.

Timely also didn’t catch onto the idea of the super-team until the All-Winners Squad, but that was post-WWII. And so in the 70’s, Golden Age-loving Roy Thomas created the Invaders, a WWII-era team composed of Timely’s biggest characters (Cap, Torch, Namor, and their sidekicks) that fought the evil Axis powers. But it was all a retcon. Thomas also created a lot of Axis-loving super-villains for the Invaders to fight, since there weren’t any to draw upon from the actual Golden Age books.

As a result, a lot of my writeups will be based on more modern sources than the actual Golden Age comics (which, in some cases, I don’t even have access to). Thomas’ Invaders series is the main point of reference, but there have been some other Marvel comics that have filled in details of the WWII characters as well.

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