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“Sean Howe’s history of Marvel makes a compulsively readable, riotous and heartbreaking version of my favorite story, that of how a bunch of weirdoes changed the world…That it’s all true is just frosting on the cake.”
“Exhaustively researched and artfully assembled, this book is a historical exploration, a labor of love, and a living illustration of how the weirdest corners of the counterculture can sometimes become the culture-at-large.”
— Chuck Klosterman
Operating out of a tiny office on Madison Avenue in the early 1960s, a struggling company called Marvel Comics introduced a series of superhero characters with eye-catching bright costumes, smart banter, and compellingly human flaws that thrilled not just children but also pop artists, public intellectuals, and campus radicals: The Fantastic Four. Spider-Man. The Hulk. The X-Men. Iron Man. Thor. Daredevil. All of them interacted in the same epic universe, weaving a tapestry of stories that, taken together, would become the most elaborate fictional narrative in history and serve as a modern American mythology for millions of readers.
For the first time, Marvel Comics tells the stories of the men who made Marvel, including Martin Goodman, the self-made publisher who forayed into comics after a get-rich-quick tip in 1939; the late Stan Lee, the energetic editor who would shepherd the company through thick and thin for decades; Jack Kirby, the WWII veteran who’d co-created Captain America in 1940 and, twenty years later, developed with Lee the bulk of the company’s marquee characters in a three-year frenzy of creativity that would be the grounds for future legal battles and endless debate. Incorporating more than one hundred original interviews with those who worked behind the scenes at Marvel over a seventy-year-span, Marvel Comics packs anecdotes and analysis into a gripping narrative of how a small group of people on the cusp of failure created one of the most dominant pop cultural forces in contemporary America.