Yes, 2009 is the 70th anniversary of Marvel Comics. It all began with Marvel Comics # 1 published by Timely Comics in 1939. The issue featured the first appearances of The original Human Torch and Sub-Mariner in Timely Comics. But prior to being purchased by Timely, the Sub-Mariner had first appeared in the extremely rare black-and-white Motion Picture Funnies Weekly, a promotional comic given away in movie theaters for eight issues. The first issue featured the Sub-Mariner (now worth about $30,000).
The Sub-Mariner's first adventure was reprinted, expanded, and colored for the first issue of Marvel Comics which became Marvel Mystery Comics with the second issue. The story was later reprinted in 1977's The Invaders # 20. Marvel Mystery Comics was a super-hero anthology featuring the ongoing adventures of Sub-Mariner, Human Torch, and later the original Angel. (The first issue, Marvel Comics, is worth about $400,000).
Of course we know that Timely Comics finally evolved into the company now known as Marvel Comics. So how are they celebrating their 70th year in business? Surely there will be hype and some "retro" products to remember the Golden Age. Yes, there will!
In May we have DeFalco and Burnham's Marvel Mystery Comics # 1 Anniversary Special with Sub-Mariner, Human Torch, and the Angel fighting Nazis during WW II. The back-up story will be a Golden Age reprint.
And in June, Ed Brubaker is writing a series which finally tells the true definitive origin of the Marvel Universe. The epic will cover the Depression era through Pearl Harbor and include the aforementioned characters. It's an eight-issue series called The Marvels Project. While the ever-popular Marvels was more of a survey of Marvel's history from an onlooker's perspective,The Marvels Project will offer an insider's look on how the whole super-hero phenomena came about in the Marvel Universe. I'm sure it will be reprinted in trades, but I'm too excited to wait.
I love revivals of Golden Age characters and especially when they are featured in a Golden Age setting. I loved The Invaders as a child and Marvels as an adult. The current Avengers / Invaders is also worth reading. I'm hopeful that these new projects will not disappoint.
(Image from the The Comic Vine).