Marvel Comics was started by pulp publisher Martin Goodman in 1939 with the anthology comic book title Marvel Comics (which was changed to Marvel Mystery Comics with issue #2). During the golden age of comics, the publisher developed a popular core of characters including Captain America, Bucky, Human Torch, Submariner, Miss America, Golden Girl, Red Skull, and many others by creators such as Jack Kirby, Joe Simon, Bill Everett, Stan Lee, and others.
Goodman used a number of corporate brands for Marvel throughout his tenure, including Timely Publications, Atlas Comics.
During the years following World War II, like many comic book publishers, the company transitioned to horror, crime, romance, and western titles among others. Marvel titles from this era include Journey into Mystery, Marvel Tales, Strange Tales, Venus, and countless others.
But the 1961 debut of The Fantastic Four signalled the start of the Marvel Universe we’re familiar with today. Characters and teams such as Hulk, Ant Man, Wasp, Avengers, X-Men and more by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, John Romita, and others became the foundational characters which Marvel has expanded upon since that time.
In 1968, a company called Perfect Film and Chemical Corporation acquired Marvel from founder Martin Goodman. Marvel was acquired by film and media company New World Entertainment in 1986. New World sold the publisher to Ronald Perelman in 1989, who took the company public.
After riding high on a booming comics market and trading cards and other merchandise through the next few years, but its fortunes quickly turned with a slumping industry and other factors, and Marvel filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in December 1996.