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
Premiere issue: Marvel Comics #1
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 (Oct. 1939), featured the first appearances
-artist Carl Burgos
' android superhero
, the Human Torch
, and Paul Gustavson
's costumed detective The Angel
who was to last to issue 79, even gaining the power of flight for a few issues. 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, created for the unpublished movie-theater giveaway comic, Motion Picture Funnies Weekly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) the non-continuing-character story "Jungle Terror," featuring an adventurer named Ken Masters, written by the quirkily named Tohm Dixon; "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. A painted cover by veteran science fiction pulp artist Frank R. Paul featured the Human Torch, looking much different than in the interior story.
That initial comic, cover-dated October 1939, 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. 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
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 #2 & 3, would appear in every issue through #79 (Dec. 1946).
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.
As Marvel Tales
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. Note: This is a different Marvel Tales
than that published by Marvel in starting in the 1960s and primarily reprinting Spider-Man
- Marvel Comics #1 (Oct. 1939)
- Marvel Mystery Comics #2-92 (Dec. 1939 - June 1949)
- Marvel Tales #93-159 (Aug. 1949 - Aug. 1957)
- Marvel Masterworks: Golden Age Marvel Comics, Vol. 1 (Marvel, 2004, ISBN 0-7851-1609-5)