Artithmeric 9 Issue #2

16 At the time of the so-called Atlas Implosion of 1958 when Atlas/Timely, the proto-Marvel Comics Group faced near extinction through a severe and extended distribution crisis, the day of the 1940’s costumed comic-book superhero was already looking like it was pretty much nearly over. Indeed, the highly successful tactic that Atlas had employed through the whole of the 1950s, literally flooding the market with me-too comic-book titles had seen a plethora of horror stories, westerns, war stories, romance stories, mystery stories and practically every comic-book genre, but hardly any superheroes. Had the 1958 implosion not happened it seems unlikely the 1960s output from Atlas would have been any different. We would not have been left with the same mix of latent creativity and punishing publishing necessities that came together to bring about the advent of the Fantastic Four and all that followed on from that in what became the Marvel Age of comics and the MCU of the 21st century. The interesting thing is that the first issues of the book that renewed and extended the costumed superhero tradition in the United States did not feature costumed superheroes at all, but simply continued the 1950s custom of seeing ordinary people transformed by (and subjected to) extraordinary events. The heroes were indeed super and were gifted great powers, SQUARED POW Fantastic Four #1, published in November 1961, three years on from the disastrous implosion, was then and is now the most significant comic-book ever produced in terms of the revival and renewal of the superhero genre in the late 20th century and the early 21st.