Marvel dates to 1932, when magazine distributor Martin Goodman founded Western Fiction Publishing Co. in New York City. In August 1938, Goodman published Marvel Science Stories, a pulp magazine. The following year Goodman launched a separate comic book company, Timely Publications. In October 1939, Timely released the first issue of its 10-cent Marvel Comics. The comic was so popular that the same issue was reprinted the next month.
Marvel Comics No.1 featured two superheros, the Human Torch and Sub-Mariner that by 1941 had acquired their own comic books.
The first issue also featured The Angel, a non-superpowered detective who nonetheless wore a superhero costume; Western character Masked Raider with his horse Lightning; and pulp book character, the jungle-dwelling Ka-Zar the Great.
The Human Torch was created by Carl Burgos and made the cover of the historic first issue. The cover itself was painted by Frank Rudolph Paul. Although the name Human Torch implied he was human, he was not. Professor Phineas Horton created an android as an exact replica of a human. Unfortuneatly, the android burst into flames when exposed to oxygen so the professor sealed him in concrete. An air leak enabled the android to escape. After setting fire to everything, the android learned to control his flames. His hidden identity was as a police officer and he only became fiery when there were crooks to catch.
The Sub-Mariner was created by Bill Everett when he was 21-years-old. Namor the Sub-Mariner was a mystery man from beneath the sea. The mutant son of a human sea captain and of a princess of an undersea kingdom, Namor possessed the super-strength and aquatic abilities of the "Homo mermanus" race, as well as the mutant ability of flight, along with other superhuman powers. The first known comic book antihero, Namor was at first an enemy of America. Later, as the U.S. entered the Second World War, Namor would aid the Allies of World War II against Adolf Hitler and the Axis powers.
The Human Torch and the Sub-Mariner appeared infrequently after the end of World War II and the decline in popularity of superhero comics. In 1961 Stan Lee, the Marvel editor, head writer, and art director, created a team of superheroes, the Fantastic Four. A different character also called Human Torch became a founding member and Namor the Sub-Mariner was resurrected as a character in Fantastic Four #4 (May 1962).
Good copies of Marvel Comics No.1 sell at auction for twenty to thirty thousand dollars.