2022 marks the 60th anniversary of some of Marvel Comics’ biggest characters, from Thor, to Hulk, to even Spider-Man, and many more.
To mark these sexegenarian birthdays, the publisher is planning some big events including a celebration of Spider-Man, a big brawl between Hulk and Thor, and a newly announced Ant-Man story which brings together multiple heroes who have inhabited the role.
And that’s just scratching the surface of significant ’62 Marvel Comics debuts. Some of Marvel’s most popular and iconic heroes made the scene in the first year of the publisher’s historic expansion, most of whom are still icons to this day.
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While the Fantastic Four grew in scope in its own pages, forming the building blocks of the burgeoning continuity and adding household names like Doctor Doom (who first appeared in July 1962’s Fantastic Four #5 (opens in new tab)), Marvel also began ramping up the number of superheroes running around.
Believe it or not, Marvel’s first new hero of 1962 was none other than the original Ant-Man, Hank Pym, who debuted as a civilian scientist in January 1962’s Tales to Astonish #27 (opens in new tab), taking up the superhero identity Ant-Man later that year in Tales to Astonish #35 (opens in new tab). His sidekick, the winsome Wasp, wouldn’t appear until June 1963.
And as expected, Marvel will celebrate Ant-Man’s anniversary with a special new project.
But Marvel didn’t slow down, with Fantastic Four and Ant-Man creators Stan Lee and Jack Kirby going the other direction for their next character, Bruce Banner/the Hulk, whose monstrous form debuted in June 1962’s Incredible Hulk #1 (opens in new tab). The issue also introduced Hulk’s long-running supporting cast of Rick Jones, Betty Ross, and General Thaddeus ‘Thunderbolt’ Ross, all of whom have since built their own legacies in Marvel Comics.
2022 marked the launch of a new Hulk title from writer Donny Cates and artist Ryan Ottley, which has caught the attention of fans with its wild aesthetic and epic story.
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Next came the mighty Thor, debuting in August 1962’s Journey Into Mystery #83 (opens in new tab). Alongside Thor and his alter ego Donald Blake, later established as his own character entirely, the title’s subsequent issue Journey Into Mystery #84 (opens in new tab) expanded the title’s cast with the introduction of Thor’s love interest Jane Foster, who would go on to become Thor herself, and later Valkyrie (her current superhero identity).
Jane will take on the mantle of Thor in the MCU in 2022’s Thor: Love and Thunder, just in time for the God of Thunder’s 60th anniversary. As for Thor himself, it looks like his own 60th-anniversary celebration will be somewhat less joyous, as Marvel seems to be gearing up for Thor to die at the hands of Thanos.
Following Thor, Spider-Man debuted just a short time later in August 1962’s Amazing Fantasy #15, which also introduced Peter Parker’s beloved Aunt May and tragically fated Uncle Ben, the key building blocks of his origin as a hero. Though Spidey’s cast would quickly grow to encompass a whole world of villains and supporting characters, oddly enough it was original high school bully and future Venom/Anti-Venom Flash Thompson who would be the only other major Spider-Man character to debut in 1962, also in Amazing Fantasy #15.
Though Spider-Man, Thor, Hulk, Ant-Man, Doctor Doom, and many of the supporting characters introduced in 1962 have remained among the most important building blocks of the Marvel Universe, with whole corners of continuity springing up around Spidey and Thor especially, the so-called “world outside your window” was still very much in its infancy.
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Characters such as Iron Man, Doctor Strange, the X-Men, and the Avengers as a team wouldn’t debut until 1963, with 1964 subsequently bringing in Captain America (created in the ’40s by Marvel precursor Timely Comics) to finally solidify what could be considered the full foundation of the Marvel Universe.
And this is all not even mentioning the 50th anniversaries of Luke Cage and Ghost Rider, 40th of Rocket Racoon, Monica Rambeau, and the New Mutants, 30th of the Infinity Watch and Spider-Man 2099, and 25th of the Thunderbolts that will be celebrated in 2022.
In other words, Marvel is just getting started with annual celebrations of major characters and franchises, kicking off with a celebration of 60 years of Spider-Man in 2022. But while you’re toasting Peter Parker, don’t forget to raise a flagon of mead for Thor, Hulk, and Ant-Man as well – while also preparing to celebrate Doctor Strange, Iron Man, the X-Men, the Avengers, and more in 2023.
Despite facing such stiff competition, Newsarama named Spider-Man the best Marvel character to debut in 1962. Find out who the other top characters of the decade are with our Marvel Yearbook: The Best Character to debut each year – the ’60s.