By Jacobus Dixon

By 1940, National Comics was sitting pretty. And why shouldn’t they have been? Superman and Batman were the highest selling comic-magazine characters, and they were both National’s. Superman alone was a sales powerhouse that just kept on chugging (they did say he was more powerful than a locomotive). He was the highlight of Action Comics, he had his own magazine, he had a newspaper strip (not actually published by National, but hey…market recognition), and an upcoming radio show to boot. The only real competition to Superman was the growing popularity of Batman, but since he was a National character too, it really didn’t count as competition. Timely had a niche audience with Namor the Sub-Mariner and the Human Torch, but not enough sales to really threaten Superman. Yes, other companies thought to churn out doppelgangers to the Man of Tomorrow (Superman’s first nickname for you kids out there). But none of them really stuck, due in part to National’s quick litigation team and just simply unappealing character designs that left readers with a “meh” sensibility. That is…until Captain Marvel came around in February of 1940.

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Marvel Comics #1

By Jacobus Dixon

By late 1939, comic book sales were dominated by Superman and Batman — both characters which happened to be owned by National Comics. What was a rival comic publisher to do? While many publishers decided to piggy-back off of the continuous popularity of Superman, there were a few who decided to stick with their particular characters. Timely Comics was one of those publishers. True, their magazine didn’t outsell Superman or Batman, but it was enough to attract a group of readers large enough to make a name for Timely Comics.

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