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Superheroes, from Ancient Greece to Norse mythology, man has always been fascinated by the allure of beings possessing powers beyond human imagination. Something about gods and demigods brings awe, hope, and envy to our imagination. You may have heard of Spider-Man, The Hulk, Thor, etc. But did you ever hear about the Sub Mariner, or Street Poet Ray?  Enter the imagination of the man, the myth, the legend, Stan Lee and his empire of heroes and villains  in various universes. I will attempt to chronicle the humble start of Stan Lee’s comic empire to prove that it’s nothing less than the ‘super’ billing it's given. Without further ado, let’s dive in, going back 85 years to 1939.

World War II was slowly escalating, but, stateside, thanks to the so-called ‘protective bubble’ Woodrow Wilson had spread from sea to shining sea. In a country reeling from the aftermath of Prohibition and the Great Depression, with Nazi Germany a looming threat, heroes were needed, and one of the first, published in 1938’s Action Comics No.1, was a certain caped alien with a weakness to green rock. Meanwhile, a rival company, one Timely Comics, watched from afar. They had seen their rivals succeed with spandex-clad, muscle-bound heroes, so it was only natural for them to do the same. The first of these was designed by an obscure artist by the name of Bill Everett. Though his name holds little significance in history, his creation, Namor, the Sub Mariner, a pale-skinned, half Atlantean who wielded a trident, and for some odd reason, had wings on his ankles. (It is important to note, however, that this came from DC’s much more vaunted but similarly-themed Aquaman.) His first public appearance came in Marvel Comics No 1., a full year after Superman, and just a few short months after Detective Comics, which gave the world its first look at Batman, and inspired National Comics to unofficially be renamed DC. But still, in a world where superheroes were still the new fad, there was a cordial reception to the fishy fiend, which inspired Timely to work on others, like the Human Torch, an android with no relation to the Fantastic Four character that would appear 20 years later.

Eventually, their big break came in 1941: a star-spangled, boot-wearing guy with underwear on the outside--Captain America. Designed by an all-star writing team, and some guy called Stan, this was the killer comic. And on the front of issue number one? Cap socking Hitler. In the noggin. This was controversial, mainly because the USA hadn’t even joined the war yet. In fact, the New York police had to intervene, and Mayor La Guardia had to issue an official statement to the enraged packs of America-Firsters trying to swarm into the Timely offices. They had struck gold; there was no doubt about it. And, save for a brief dark age in the ‘50s, that was what propelled Marvel on its road to fame. And so, in the famous words of Stan Lee, “‘Nuff Said!”

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