Marvel Posts

Who is Ant-Man and Where Did He Come From?

A Guest Blog Post by Peter Huggins
This article was originally written for Rareburg, who in 2016,  joined forces with hobbyDB to provide an excellent source of collectible knowhow for the community. 

After all of the hype and publicity the new Ant-Man film has finally opened in UK cinemas. Marvel‘s marketing campaign has been so good that even my better half has shown some interest in the movie and asked me questions about the Ant-Man character that, as a life-long comic fan, I am ashamed to admit that I did not know the answers to – other than that he is a small little character who has an affinity with ants and fights the  bad guys. So, who is Ant-Man and where did he come from? Or should I say Ant-men? 

Now, ask me about DC Comics‘s Atom and I am your man but Ant-Man, mmm, other than a few childhood memories of the odd Ant-Man story I might have read from a friend’s collection I know very little about this new movie character that, I suspect, is going to grab hold of many people’s imaginations, both young and old, in the weeks and months to come. So, to be able to answer any further questions about Ant-Man from my other half  and to satisfy my own comic fan curiosity I thought I would do a spot of reading up on the little guy and fascinating and informative it proved to!

Tales to Astonish #27

Tales to Astonish #27

Ant-Man has been around for quite a while and is older than he looks, at least in his original guise. He was created by writer Larry Lieber and famed comic book artists Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers and first appeared in a one-shot story called “The Man in the Ant Hill” in Marvel’s Tales To Astonish #27 (Jan 1962 VF/NM $13,330 – although that was a 2014 price and any would-be buyer of this key issue can expect to see far higher prices in the wake of the film). In the story we are introduced to scientist Henry Pym (yet to design his iconic costume) who shrinks himself to the size of an insect. Sales were unexpectedly heavy, so much so Henry Pym was brought back as a series star in Tales to Astonish #35 (Sep 1962 VF/NM $3,200), in a costume, and given the name Ant-Man. The story was aptly named “Return of the Ant-Man” and this time had Stan “The Man” Lee on writing duties  – Kirby and Ayers retained the artistic chores.

These early Tales To Astonish  Ant-Man stories with their strong insect theme and the opportunity for some dynamic Kirby artwork, depicting such a small character in a world of giant-like humans, have a certain appeal but the series soon needed a bit of a shake-up. In Tales To Astonish #44 (Jun 1963 VF/NM $685) Janet Van Dyne arrived as Ant-Man’s partner, the Wasp, and did an excellent job of livening up Henry Pym’s rather staid and boring scientist character.

Tales to Astonish #49

Tales to Astonish #49

A second major change came in Tales To Astonish #49 (Nov 1963 VF/NM $350) in “The Birth of Giant-Man”. The title of the story says it all! Henry Pym discovers how to grow as well as shrink – a piece of Marvel one-upmanship over DC’s Ray Palmer Atom character  – and Ant-Man now becomes Giant Man. His first outing as Giant Man sees him pitted against the wonderful villain, The Living Eraser – check out the great cover.

Ant-Man and the Wasp, as well as starring in Tales to Astonish, were founding members of Marvel’s new super-hero team, The Avengers, appearing alongside Thor, Iron Man and the Hulk in Avengers #1 (Sep 1963 VF/NM $13,400). Ant-Man only remained an Avenger for the first issue. With Avengers #2 Ant-Man is replaced by Henry Pym’s new alter-ego, the aforementioned Giant Man.

It appears that Giant Man and the Wasp did not capture the reading public’s imagination as much as the likes of Thor, the Hulk, Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four, Iron Man  – to name but a few of Marvel’s ever growing stable of new super-heroes. Avengers #15 (Apr Jul 1965) was the last issue to feature the pair and Avengers #16 (May 1965 VF/NM $325) saw the arrival of Hawkeye, The Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver as Giant Man and the Wasp were dropped.

Confirming Giant Man and Wasp’s lack of commercial success, Marvel then dropped them from Tales To Astonish two months after their last Avengers appearance. Their final appearance was in a story entitled “Oh, Wasp, Where Is Thy Sting?” in Tales To Astonish #69 (Jul 1965 VF/NM $120) after which the Sub-Mariner featured alongside the Hulk.

Although Ant-Man  – and then Giant Man – did not enjoy the success that Marvel would have hoped for after the initial fan interest, the short run of Tales To Astonish #35-48 that Ant-Man appears in are very collectable issues now, particularly with the new film having been released. Apart from #35 and #36, the rest of the run are still reasonably affordable and in the higher grades, I am sure, will be a sound investment in the years ahead.

Stan Lee must have seen something in the Hank Pym character because not long after his being dropped from both Tales To Astonish and Avengers he resurfaces as Goliath. After the Wasp has been kidnapped by Attuma and the Collector he re-joins the Avengers in Avengers #28 (May 1966 VF/NM $175) to help rescue her in the tale “Among Us Walks… a Goliath”.

Avengers #59

Avengers #59

The Marvel script writers definitely had it in for Hank Pym. Not content with three super-hero identities Pym is given a fourth change when, experimenting in his lab, an accident changed his personality. He experiences increasing mental strain, claims that he had murdered Pym and adopts the identity of Yellowjacket making his first appearance in Avengers #59 (Dec 1968 VF/NM $50). He married the Wasp in the very next issue although they were to divorce later.

Pym reappears as Ant-Man in the now classic Avengers #93 (Nov 1971 VF/NM $135). Written by Roy Thomas and illustrated beautifully by Neal Adams, Pym answers a call for the original Avengers team to gather and as he says to Thor “..it was Ant-Man then… so it’s Ant-Man now”. He then proceeds to take centre stage and single-handedly resurrects a seemingly dead Vision by entering his body and repairing the damage.

Ant-Man makes no further appearances in the Avengers but does appear in the lead stories in Marvel Feature #4-10 (Jul 1972 – Jul 1973) which feature some lovely covers by the likes of Herb Trimpe,  Jim Starlin, Gil Kane, and P. Craig Russell. Marvel Feature #6 sees the Wasp make an appearance and the two resume their team-up of old while #8 tells the origin of Ant-Man and the Wasp. The full seven issue run would probably cost you about $200 in VF/NM condition and would make a very nice little reading-and-financial investment.

What followed for Henry Pym was a series of minor appearances in his Yellowjacket persona during the 1980s after which he gives up any costumed role completely joining the West Coast Avengers in #21 (Jun 1987 VF/NM $3) as the scientist and inventor he originally started out as. This is a very quiet and forgettable period in Pym’s checkered Marvel career.

Heroes Return The Avengers 1st issue

Heroes Return The Avengers 1st issue

Once again, little is seen of Henry Pym until the events of Secret Invasion, the major crossover storyline event for Marvel in 2008. During Secret Invasion it is revealed that the Henry Pym who married the Wasp was a Skrull impostor. The real Henry Pym returns only to see the Wasp die in an explosion (seemingly – as she was really sent into a spatial warp by Thor’s hammer). After accepting Janet’s death, Hank Pym takes on yet another super-hero identity by renaming himself the Wasp in honor of Janet in Secret Invasion: Requiem #1 (Jan 2009 VF/NM $3 ). He re-joins the Avengers in Mighty Avengers #21 (Mar 2009) and eventually leads the team.

Avengers Academy #1

Avengers Academy #1

In Dark Reign, which deals with the aftermath of the “Secret Invasion” storyline, Pym formed his own team of renegade Avengers to work against Norman Osborn. With Osborn’s downfall, Pym felt he could do most good by teaching the next generation of super-heroes how to use their powers and to this end he established the Avengers Academy in Avengers Academy #1 (Aug 2010) and appeared as a supporting character throughout the run until the final issue, Avengers Academy #39 (Jan 2013). In the meantime, Pym appeared as his regular self in Secret Avengers #22-37 (Apr 2012-Mar 2013) and returned as the Wasp in the Ant-Man & Wasp mini-series (Jan 2011)  while a certain Eric O’ Grady was the Ant-Man.

Eric O’ Grady as the Ant-Man? Not surprisingly, with Henry Pym’s long term absence as the Ant-Man, Marvel saw fit to keep the hero in the public eye but through other characters. To date, there have been two successors to the Ant-Man role.

Marvel Premier #47

Marvel Premier #47

The first was Scott Lang who is the Ant-Man of the current movie played by the actor Paul Rudd. We first meet Scott in Avengers #181 (Mar 1979 VF/NM $15). Lang was an electronics expert who turned to crime for a short while to help support his family. He was caught and served time in prison. After his release his wife divorced him but Scott was given custody of his daughter Cassie. Cassie had a serious heart condition and the only surgeon who could treat her had been kidnapped. Lang turned once again to crime and burgled Hank Pym’s home where he stole Pym’s old Ant-Man costume and shrinking formula. Lang rescued the surgeon who saved his daughter’s life. Lang turned himself in but Pym decided to allow him to continue as Ant-Man. Lang’s first appearance in the Ant-Man costume came in Marvel Premiere #47 (Apr 1979 VF/NM $45). He subsequently often aided the Avengers and eventually joined the team in Avengers (Volume 3) #62 (Feb 2003 VF/NM $2).

Scott was later killed in Avengers (Volume 3) #500  (Sep 2004) during the Avengers Disassembled storyline when a zombified Jack of Hearts, under the control of an insane Scarlet Witch, explodes himself in the grounds of Avengers Mansion – along with Scott Lang. Very few heroes stay dead for long and, true to form, The Young Avengers rescue Scott from his death by traveling back in time in the mini-series Avengers: The Children’s Crusade (Sep 2010  – May 2012) and returning him to the present before the explosion. He then saw his daughter killed by Doctor Doom who then went on to revive her in the AXIS event of 2014.

Although he had been given a job at Stark International, Scott desperately wanted to be with his newly-resurrected daughter and turns down The Stark International post – following Cassie to Miami. This is where he currently resides, having set up his own detective agency Ant-Man Security Solutions, and his current adventures and misadventures can be followed in the Ant-Man (Volume 2) series that came out in March 2015.

Irredeemable Ant-Man #1

Irredeemable Ant-Man #1

Ant-Man number three was Eric O’Grady. Eric was a low-level agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. His best friend and fellow S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Chris McCarthy had been chosen to wear Dr. Henry Pym’s latest prototype of the Ant-Man suit. When McCarthy was killed during a HYDRA attack on S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters, Eric immediately stole the armor from his best friend’s dead body. Eric was a cowardly man with very few morals, the willingness to lie and steal and do anything to suit his own selfish ends, Eric was created by writer Robert Kirkman and artist Phil Hester in 2006 when he first appeared in Civil War: Choosing Sides #1 (Dec 2006 VF/NM $3) – a one-shot that serves as a prequel for Thunderbolts #110, Irredeemable Ant-Man #1, Immortal Iron Fist #1, Omega Flight #1 and also a Howard the Duck story. He then appeared in his own title with The Irredeemable Ant-Man #1 (Dec 2006 VF/NM $2) which went on to have a short 12 issue run. The title tells us all we need to know about his character..!

After various ill-conceived adventures, O’Grady took a job with Damage Control in Irredeemable Ant-Man #7 (Jun 2007) VF/NM $2) using a fake ID and a new super-hero identity, Slaying Mantis. Damage Control is the engineering and construction company that specializes in repairing property damage caused by superhero conflict. Later, in Avengers: The Initiative #8 (Feb 2008 VF/NM $3) Eric became a part of the Initiative, the program created to train people with powers and abilities where individuals that pass have a chance of being assigned to one of the fifty officially sanctioned super-hero teams – one for every state.

Secret Avengers #23

Secret Avengers #23

After the Secret Invasion, Eric “graduated” from the Initiative and was placed on Norman Osborn’s newest formation of the Thunderbolts in Thunderbolts #128 (Mar 2009 VF/NM $2). He later betrayed the Thunderbolts when they were sent to obtain the Spear of Odin for Norman Osborn to use to kill Thor. O’Grady turned on his Thunderbolt teammates to make sure Osborn did not get the Spear. Never a dull moment, Steve Rogers, better known as Captain America, then invited O’Grady to join the Secret Avengers in Thunderbolts #143 (Jun 2010) $2). Just as it seemed the irredeemable Ant-Man could be redeemed Eric was beaten to death in Secret Avengers #23 (Apr 2012 VF/NM $3) heroically defending a young child from a group of androids who were part of the Descendant group of machines created by the villain known as Father. A rather inglorious and checkered career as Ant-Man being brought to a seemingly premature end – I am cynical enough to think that he could be brought back in some way!

So, there is a lot more to know about the Ant-Man than one might at first think. Indeed, we are not even talking about one character but three – all very different to each other but all very interesting in their own ways. For the comic collector and enthusiast there is a wealth of material surrounding the character(s) to go out and read and buy. For the larger budgets there are some mouth-watering Tales to Astonish and early Avengers to pick up. What I would not give to be able to pick up Tales to Astonish #27 – even in a FN grade! Then there is the much more recent material, Irredeemable Ant-Man, The Secret Avengers, Scott Lang Avengers issues – all available for $2-3 an issue. All great reads. And if reading the comics is not your thing, go out and simply enjoy the movie. I know I will!

Here are the 10 Weirdest Crossover Comics

Weirdest comics

Comic events are pretty much a staple of reading comic books lately. If there isn’t an event going on it feels sort of weird. Event fatigue is real — so we went looking for something fun to take our minds off of it. We stumbled onto a veritable jackpot of weird and wonderful crossover comics. What makes a crossover comic so special is watching two very different universes forced to reconcile with the other’s existence. It also forces you to imagine a world where Colonel Sanders is a Green Lantern or where Sonic and Spawn both exist and interact. To help you recover from your own event fatigue, we are going to recommend you read something weirder and even more unlikely. These are our top 10 favorite crossover comics. All of these made us at least giggle, and some of them are actually pretty good. But we aren’t going to be talking about why these ridiculous comics are good — just why we think you should read them.

Eminem and the Punisher

Weirdest comics eminem punisher

Eminem has been a long-time comic book fan. He has talked about it in several interviews and doesn’t try to hide his love of superheroes. So when he was offered a crossover in one of his favorite comics, The Punisher (of course it would be The Punisher), he jumped at the chance. Now, this exists in the real world. If we have to know about its existence so do you. Should you read it? Well, if you want to own a piece of weird pop-culture history, or you collect all things punisher. Sure! If you love Eminem, also sure! But otherwise? It’s wacky, and that’s enough for us.

The Avengers on Late Night With David Letterman

avengers david letterman

David Letterman was on the air for so long that most people’s grandparents watched him. He was the talk show favorite by pretty much everyone. When he retired a few years back and passed his torch on to Colbert — who has done a pretty good job taking on his legacy. Now he’s interviewing people on Netflix and growing an incredible beard. This comic harkens back to a simpler time and allows him to star in a comic alongside the Avengers — well some of them. More like B-list heroes (though Black Panther, Hawkeye, and Black Widow have all been upgraded thanks to the movies).

The plot is convoluted and includes a villain whose motivation is that he is mad his application to join the Avengers was rejected. It ends with Letterman foiling the guy with a giant prop doorknob. Honestly, it’s hilarious and if you can find a copy, definitely read it.

Green Lantern co-starring Colonel Sanders

colonel sanders green lantern

Hm. Where do we even start with this one? The premise alone is so out there it’s hard to put your finger on precisely what makes you want to read it. And yet we felt compelled. First off the fact it makes us imagine a universe in which Colonel Sanders has the qualities that would make him a Green Lantern. Secondly, in this universe, Colonel Sanders isn’t just a fictional mascot but a real person — which has some weird implications. They make good use of catchphrases and have so much KFC product placement you will never want to see a chicken again — but it’s a wild ride all the way through. It’s worth it if you can find it for the cover price.

colonel sanders green lantern

Super Sonic Special #7 Starring Spawn

sonic spawn

If we had to list two franchises as far apart as possible, Spawn and Sonic would probably be on that list. Spawn is known for adult themes, gore, and extreme violence. Sonic is known for coins, robots, and talking animals. The two have nothing in common. Nothing. And yet, someone had the idea to jam the two together and convinced other people it was a good enough idea to get it printed. Somewhere along the line, there was a lot of bad decisions, and we assume a lot of alcohol.

Honestly, it’s more than we could have expected from this weird mishmash of properties. It sticks more to the Sonic tropes, making Spawn and his crew feel slapstick compared to their usually grim demeanors. It’s worth a read just to scratch your head at the backflips they do to justify these characters existing in the same world.

Archie vs. The Predator

archie vs predator

Archie and his friends are many things, but master hunters are not one of them. So going toe to toe with The Predator, if you ask us, should have ended in every single one of those kids dead in a heap. That’s not very family-friendly though — so Archie Comics went a decidedly different route. It does make for more exciting reading than slaughter in the first three pages, and it’s amusing from start to finish. It feels more like Hijinks than a Predator comic should, but it’s a good time and a quick read. If you’re a Predator fan, get it for posterity’s sake, and also pick up Batman vs. The Predator for a darker take on the Yautja.

Alien vs. Predator vs. Terminator

alien predator terminator

A lot of people became aware of the Alien vs. Predator comics thanks to the movies. Sure they weren’t anything groundbreaking, but if you wanted a wild ride full of nonstop action — they were perfect. Apparently, it wasn’t enough for some people. So they amped it up and added the Terminator. Seemingly, two Alien races hell-bent on destroying each other wasn’t enough for some people. Some people wanted to add robots into the mix.

Which, I mean, Arnold Schwarzenegger does bind Terminator and Predator together like a shredded Austrian glue, but that doesn’t mean their universes touch. Well, it does now. We’re wondering what the max number of Franchises can touch before they create a black hole anti-logic. For now, read this. It’s a guns blazing, acid dripping, cloaked out good time. Please. Just. Do it.

Batman and TMNT

batman teenage mutant ninja turtles

So, we’re going to tame it down a bit with this one. If you thought it would just be more and more universes combined until the #1 entry on our list — you were wrong. However, there is something so uncomfortably jarring about Batman wandering around with giant sentient turtles who happen to be ninjas. It’s gritty and dark in all the usual Batman ways, but the Turtles just happen to be there. Lines like the one above make the whole thing feel like a surrealist art piece and honestly we couldn’t be happier about it. This isn’t as weird as some of the crossovers on our list, but the commitment to the bit is what makes it worth the read. Cowabunga Batsy.

Star Trek and the X-Men

Star Trek and X-Men

Is it weirder that this comic happened, or weirder that they made more than one for different series of Trek? Whichever it might be. This is real, and it’s completely batshit. The plot makes more sense than a lot of these crossover comics do. It feels less cobbled together given mutant abilities. The X-Men follow a rogue mutant with the ability to travel through universes through a portal and end up meeting Kirk and the crew. Much like Batman and TMNT, it all feels a little surrealist. But, it works in its own quirky way and is a delightfully strange romp through space to apprehend the dimension-hopping jerk so the X-Men can get home.

Infestation

G.I.Joe Star Trek Transformers Ghostbusters

So this is it, the most ridiculous crossover we could find. IDW has a lot of franchises, and sometimes they like to jam them together in as many team-ups as possible. Other times they just dump them in a pit and wait to see what happens. That is the case with Infestation. It stars G.I.Joe, Star Trek, Transformers, and the Ghostbusters. It takes a lot of suspended disbelief to imagine these four very different groups of people… er… bots and people, ending up together and especially working together. If you can wrap your head around the premise, it really is worth it to see Spock and Optimus prime hold a conversation. It’s bizarre, it’s confusing, frankly, it’s art. Read it, try to digest it, because it doesn’t get more franchise busy than this.

Godzilla vs. Charles Barkley

Godzilla vs Charles Barkley

Where do we even start with this? When we first discovered this comic we had so many questions. So many questions. Who knew Kaiju enjoyed Basketball? Why does Godzilla respect the rules of the sport? Who thought this was a good idea? Honestly, the premise was so far fetched we didn’t even for a moment wonder why Charles Barkley was as big as our favorite Kaiju. We just sort of accepted giant Charles Barkley as a fact of the universe. But upon reading this perfectly awesome comic, we realized that wasn’t the case.

Please. Please. Please read this comic. We need other people to experience it so we can talk about it to someone other than each other. It’s honestly one of the weirdest things we’ve ever laid eyes on, and if you can’t enjoy that, then you probably don’t know how to have fun. Also, you get lines like this…

Godzilla vs. Charles Barkley

The Most Valuable Marvel Comics Are Worth More Than Your House

Marvel Comic booksKnowing the worth of your collection is half the fun of collecting comics. The most valuable Marvel Comics are worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in some cases. The value of these comics is truly something to Marvel at….get it? ‘Marvel’ at? Okay, back to the issues!

Captain America 1Captain America #1 (1941)

Everyone’s favorite patriotic hero, Captain America comes in at number 5 on our list. Not only does this comic introduce his plucky sidekick Bucky, but it also has a cover of the Cap punching Hitler. That’s hands-down the best way to make an entrance into comics if you ask us. If you find one of these in your basement in perfect condition, you could get as much as $343,000 for it. Take that, Nazis!

incredible hulk 1Incredible Hulk # 1 (1962)

This comic introduces our favorite angry green…well, gray…hero. Hulk didn’t get his trademark green color until issue #2. For the first issue, the Hulk was gray (but please don’t mention it or you might make him angry). We don’t think it’s quite as fetching as his usual green, but the price tag doesn’t seem to agree! In fact, you could find yourself holding a lot of green if you have a copy in good condition. It sells for as much as $375,000.

x men 1X-Men #1 (1963)

Everyone’s favorite mutants had to start somewhere. This comic is as hard to find as Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. The original team was much smaller than the current cast and only had Cyclops, Marvel Girl, Beast, Angel, and Iceman in its ranks. Did we mention this issue also introduced Magneto? It’s a pretty stellar start to one of the biggest teams in Marvel. If you can find this superpowered first issue in good condition, you might spend as much as $492,000 to add it to your collection.

marvel comics 1Marvel Comics #1 (1939)

This is the beginning of the Marvel Universe. Okay well, the company wasn’t called Marvel yet– they went by Timely back then. Semantics aside, this issue kickstarted the brand we know and love as Marvel. This issue also has the first appearance of the Human Torch…well not that human torch. This one was an android, but he obviously inspired the Human Torch from Fantastic Four. This rare piece of comic history in great condition has sold for as much as $557,000.

amazing fantasy 1Amazing Fantasy # 15 (1962)

Just talking about this comic makes us tingle a little. How cool would it be to own Amazing Fantasy #15? Too cool! This is the most valuable comic Marvel has ever produced, and that’s because it’s the first appearance of Spider-Man. This issue really isn’t as rare as many Silver Age comics, but collectors love it. It’s also one of the top three most valuable comics in the world. The best condition copy known (so far) sold for an amazing $1.1 Million!!! We have to admit, he really does deserve the title ‘The Amazing Spider-Man.’

How Superheroes Have Stayed Popular After 80 Years

Whether you fancy yourself a fan of Marvel or DC, superheroes are as old as our grandparents and more popular than ever. Ever wonder how superheroes have stayed popular?

more superheroesIt’s surreal to think that the first Superman comic in 1938 would spark the comic-based empire we have today. Seven superhero movies are planned for release in 2016, and The Avengers remains the 4th top-grossing movie of all time. It’s not just movies either; comics books and graphic novels reached $870 million in sales in 2013, compared to $265 million in 2000. What is it about these stories and characters that have remained so timeless? Moreover, how has the industry maintained such rapid growth in spite of its age?

While there are numerous theories explaining how this is, below are the fundamental reasons why superheroes have stayed super after all these years.

flash mural1: We relate to the stories

No one gains super strength and stamina after a radioactive spider bite in real life, but that doesn’t mean superhero stories can’t resonate with the audience.

Putting the supernatural elements aside, many superhero stories follow a familiar formula: a person’s life is changed by destiny, and they use their newfound power to combat adversity. For characters such as Batman, this destiny can also be the result of trauma that inspires the hero to want to be better. In either case, stories of overcoming impossible odds have appealed to the masses for ages. It doesn’t matter if it’s a mountain of bad guys or a mountain of homework; we want the strength to defeat anything that crosses our paths.

According to Smithsonian Magazine, “superhero origin stories inspire us and provide models of coping with adversity, finding meaning in loss and trauma, discovering our strengths and using them for good purpose.” In other words, we can look up to superheroes as ideal versions of ourselves.

hulk figure2: Superheroes span all forms of media

Superheroes started out as comic book characters, but nowadays they are so much more. Films such as Adventures of Captain Marvel date back as early as 1941, and the industry has only ballooned from there. Video game fans have the critically acclaimed Batman: Arkham series, moviegoers have multiple films every year to look forward to, and collectors have over 40 years of action figures to chase. This is not even mentioning the likes of HeroClix, trading cards, and other superhero crossovers like the Avengers fighting titans from Attack on Titan. The span of the superhero multimedia empire is staggering, and it makes it easy to see how these characters can stay popular among so many fans.

By carrying these stories into so many different mediums, superheroes cast a wide net of appeal and mix fanbases in a way that would be otherwise impossible. A movie buff today could easily become a comic book reader tomorrow.

iron man figure3: The industry changes with the times

Adam West’s comic portrayal of Batman in the 1960s Batman series seems so inconceivable compared to Christopher Nolan’s gritty Dark Knight trilogy nearly 40 years later.

Yet in retrospect, both of these “Batmen” spoke to their audiences as best as they could. The 1960s Batman was inspired by other contemporary shows such as The Man from U.N.C.L.E, and it would become one of the most popular shows on TV in its time. Conversely, the Dark Knight trilogy appealed to an older generation who had grown up with Batman, and it wound up grossing more than a billion dollars worldwide. Superhero fans of one generation become the industry’s artists and creators for the next, and this new blood fosters ideas that grow their respective franchises while remaining faithful to the source material.

4: Superheroes are both new and nostalgic

Arguably more than any other franchise or character, superheroes can bring all generations together.

superman costumeAs fans of The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man grow older, they may find themselves leaving comic books behind to keep up with college studies or other adult responsibilities. However, once these same fans start families of their own, they are able to relive their fond childhood memories through their children. Kids can play with the action figures their parents collected so many years ago, and parents can enjoy building on their old collections with their sons and daughters. It’s a continuous loop that unites the young and old, regardless of age differences.

Superheroes are timeless characters that have become pop culture staples. As long as the industry continues to evolve these characters, we won’t soon forget those heroes who are faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, and able to leap tall buildings at a single bound.

Amazing Fantasy #15: The Million Dollar Spider-Man Comic Book

In 1962, Issue #15 of the monthly comic book anthology Amazing Fantasy introduced the world to Spider-Man, an awkward teenager who struggled as much with adolescence as he did with fighting crime. It sold for 12¢.

amazing fantasy 15In 2011, a copy of Spider-Man’s premiere comic sold for $1.1 million.

Since Amazing Fantasy #15 would be the final issue of the series, the editors decided to take a risk by featuring such an unconventional hero on their cover, unaware that Spider-Man’s success would legendarily add to a revival of Amazing Fantasy years later. However, even if Amazing Fantasy’s editors were unsure of how Spider-Man would resonate with audiences, no one can deny how legendary this comic is today.

So, what is it about Spider-Man’s first comic that makes it such a holy grail for collectors? If collectibles are only worth what collectors are willing to pay, what is it about Amazing Fantasy #15 that has continually driven its price to hundreds of thousands of dollars in decent condition? The answer is surprisingly simple: Spidey is one of the most beloved superheroes of all time, and the crazy prices for Amazing Fantasy #15 are a direct representation of just how much he means to all of us.

In the so-called “Silver Age of Comic Books” (roughly 1956 to 1970), Spider-Man was a breath of fresh air for the superhero genre. While most heroes of this time tended to be impossibly strong crime fighters with an unwavering sense of justice, Spider-Man was something of an antithesis of the established superhero tropes. Peter Parker, the boy under the suit, was awkward, insecure, and didn’t necessarily carry a solid moral compass. In fact, in his inaugural appearance in Amazing Fantasy #15, he in no way sees his power as a call to justice, and instead decides to “only look out for number one.” This leads him to search for fame and fortune by showcasing his powers in wrestling matches and photoshoots, and at one point he actually refuses to stop a petty criminal at an officer’s behest. It is only after his Uncle Ben – one of the few people he genuinely cares about – is shot and killed by that same criminal that Spider-Man transforms into a crime-fighting hero. Spider-Man’s story does not end happily in Amazing Fantasy #15, but instead lingers on a forlorn Parker, and the narrator introduces the moral lesson that would define the story of Spider-Man for years to come: “With great power there must also come — great responsibility!”

spider man comic booksblack spider man costumeSpider-Man’s origin is replete with a karmic irony that would be expected of a villain of the “Silver Age,” or possibly a sidekick. Additionally, Parker’s reaction to his powers remains so utterly and undoubtedly human that audiences can’t help but relate. You don’t have to be a “nerd” to know what it’s like to get blown off by the person you liked in High School, and who wouldn’t want to keep living a comfortable life after being blessed with superpowers? Spider-Man was willing to tap into these topics, allowing us all to see a little bit of ourselves in the boy under the spider costume. The decision to make Parker search for atonement rather than follow the conventional heroic stereotype of only “doing what’s right” was a risky, yet bold editorial choice that ultimately paid off in spades for the Amazing Fantasy creators.

Needless to say, the complexity of the story was not lost on readers at the time. Spider-Man quickly found favor with comic book readers, and only a few years later did Spider-Man become one of Marvel’s most commercially successful heroes. In many ways, Spider-Man’s uniquely successful narrative paved the way for other trendsetting comics to shake up the superhero genre years later. More than anything else, he felt like a superhero for the everyman, and his success was a direct reflection of that. Both hardcore comic book fanatics and casual comic book readers can look at Parker and say “he’s one of us.”

The_Amazing_Spider-Man 1Moreover, it doesn’t hurt that Spider-Man was created by an all-star cast of writers and artists. Amazing Fantasy boasts the talents of Jack Kirby, Don Heck, and Steve Ditko, and Spider-Man was written by none other than the legendary Stan Lee. In fact, Amazing Fantasy acted as the catalyst for the “Marvel Method” style of comic book creation: The writer (Lee in this case) would hand the artists (Kirby, Heck, or Ditko) a plot synopsis from which to create the entire comic, and then the book was given back to the writer to add dialog. The historical significance of the entire series makes Amazing Fantasy #15 an incredible collectible, even without regard to Spider-Man’s popularity.

As time progressed, Spider-Man continued to be rebooted and reinvented for newer audiences. The 1960s Spider-Man cartoon popularized a campier version of the iconic hero with a wisecrack ready for every situation, which would persist in numerous future iterations of the hero. In fact, with all the different ways that Spider-Man has been reimagined – comics reboots, or any of the major movie adaptations – anyone can find some element in this iconic hero to which they can relate. This perhaps explains why Spider-Man is the most collected comic book hero of all time (yes, even more than Batman and Superman).

Regardless of the amount Spider-Man has impacted each individual, it impossible to deny how much he’s impacted the world. Spider-Man’s face has been plastered onto lunch boxes, action figures, and even bed sheets for over 50 years now, and still, somehow, we’re not sick of the web-slinger yet! Both older comic book collectors and young kids alike continue to be enthralled with Spider-Man as a character. As long as we continue to hold Peter Parker’s story close to our hearts, we anticipate he’ll keep doing whatever a spider can for many years to come.