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Publisher: Marvel
Years in Operation: 1939 - ?
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Country: Flag United States Web Site: http://marvel.com Brands: 151 Indicia Publishers: 119 Series: 10013 Printings: 87483 (53674 Issues) Disclose Notes: Marvel was started in 1939 by Martin Goodman under a number of corporation and imprint names that have collectively become known as Timely, and by 1951 had generally become known as Atlas. The "Marvel era" began in 1961, the year that the company launched The Fantastic Four and other superhero titles created by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko and many others. The Marvel brand, which had been used over the years, was solidified as the company's primary brand.

Marvel counts among its characters such well-known superheroes as Spider-Man, Iron Man, the Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Ant-Man, the Wasp, Black Widow, Wolverine, Captain Marvel, Black Panther, Doctor Strange, Ghost Rider, Blade, Daredevil, the Punisher and Deadpool. Superhero teams exist such as the Avengers, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four and the Guardians of the Galaxy as well as supervillains including Doctor Doom, Magneto, Thanos, Loki, Green Goblin, Kingpin, Red Skull, Ultron, the Mandarin, MODOK, Doctor Octopus, Kang, Dormammu, Annihilus and Galactus. Most of Marvel's fictional characters operate in a single reality known as the Marvel Universe, with most locations mirroring real-life places; many major characters are based in New York City. Additionally, Marvel has published several licensed properties from other companies. This includes Star Wars comics twice from 1977 to 1986 and again since 2015.

Distribution variants:

Whitman: For issues cover dated February 1977 to around May 1979, Marvel produced non-newsstand editions that were sold mainly in packages. Some, but not all of these, were sold by Western and, because of the branding on the similar DC and Gold Key comics, are generally known as Whitman variants. For the most part they have a square diamond price and either a barcode or a white space where the barcode should be. Some issues from this time have the narrower diamond but it is not currently known if this means they were distributed differently or if it was simply because of the design of the original cover. There is definitely uncertainty between the end of the Whitman comics and the beginning of the Direct comics.

Direct: Starting with issues cover dated around April 1979, Marvel started producing non-newsstand editions to be sold in the direct market. For the most part they have a narrower diamond price and the barcode has a line through it (until February 1980 when they started putting a Spider-Man head and eventually other artwork in the UPC box area).

Direct Edition: In July 1993, Marvel started putting a barcode on the issues sold to the Direct market. They included the words "Direct Edition" in the barcode box.
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