Welcome to the History of the "First" Marvel Universe

     Around 2012 I found myself fortunate enough to have access to every Marvel Comic published in its first three decades. Naturally, with great power (or big collections) comes great responsibility, and so I took on the project of creating a comprehensive year-by-year historical timeline of the Marvel Universe, reading every single issue of every comic published from 1961 to 1986. Similar Marvel Universe projects were already in existence (most notably SuperMegaMonkey’s deeply-researched site and Robert Wicks' "pre-FF 1" history) but I decided to go ahead anyways and create something less synopsis-based and more “timeline-formatted".

     Looking back one has to "marvel" at how a super-powered explorer-family comedy comic (crossed with Outer Limits fantasy and Ray Harryhausen special effects) eventually grew to become the most intricately threaded, fictional universe ever executed. It was especially a true miracle, being that it was developed over decades by over a dozen major writers, artists and editors. Nonetheless, the bulk of the credit has to go to Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko, and moving into the ‘70s, Roy Thomas. Of course, the way Marvel opened up the channels of communication to their readers - and treating them like "pals" – allowed fandom itself to help out in the regulation of “Earth 616”. Remember those No-Prizes?

     In any case, rereading 25 years of Marvel Comics and trying to keep everything in my head eventually proved to be too much for me and I ended my run at 1986. This was a personally significant year as by that time I was well into college and had essentially made a full transition to independents (for example “Cerebus”). Also they had brought Jean Grey back. And later, of course, Elektra. With all of these resurrections, it was pretty difficult to maintain a straight face and call this a consistent “universe”. Therefore my last researched entry is 1986.

     However, in preparation for diving into the longboxes, I had created a master timeline going up to 2013, derived from various “official” published sources (ie - “Marvel Year By Year”) as well as from pages created by Wicks and SMM. The way I handled each Marvel year was to review my notes describing a specific year and then read every comic in that year, making any corrections to the “official” story. I think in the end that there are enough differences in my accounting than the others to justify the existence of this resource - also the pictures are nice...

     Although I stopped “fact-checking” all of my research notes with comprehensive comics-reading after the 1986 books, my research notes are in the appendix. Who knows, maybe I’ll get a second wind someday, but really, a story built up over 25 years really needs to end someday. And considering the insane gyrations the MU has been going through in the last 20-30 years…don't get me started.

     In summary, if you are looking for a 25 page history of the Marvel Universe with cited comic issue numbers, then this is a good place to start. Additionally, the tabs below Uatu's warning (top of page, natch!) lead to heavily cited timelines of the Marvel Universe before 1961. Enjoy!

     In the beginning there was Reed, Sue, Ben and Johnny...turn the page to 1961.