In 1984, DC Comics characters were reaching new levels of media exposure through Kenner’s Super Powers toy line.
1984 comic book ad for Kenner’s Super Powers Collection
The success of the toys prompted a revival of the Super Friends Saturday morning cartoon, the first new episodes of the series to be produced since 1979. The season premiere pitted the Super Friends against Darkseid and his minions for the first time.
In New York City, anything is possible! Anything can happen … and it usually does.
— Stan Lee, Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends S1E2 (“The Crime of All Centuries”)
Stan Lee was a pest. He liked to irk people and it was one thing I couldn’t take. … He hasn’t changed a bit.
— Jack Kirby, The Comics Journal #134 (Feb. 1990)
There are no two comic creators more fascinating to me than Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Kirby passed away in 1994, while Lee today is most visible through his perennial cameos in films based on Marvel characters.
Part 4 of a series. Catch up on Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.
Tracing the histories of comic book companies in the 1930s and ’40s can be difficult for a number of reasons. Virtually all the first comic book publishers emerged from the business of pulp fiction – cheaply produced, illustrated periodicals that contained serialized stories in a variety of genres, most often science fiction, fantasy, horror, westerns, and detective thrillers. The genres represented in pulp fiction hardly counted as respectable literature, and the people who ran the pulp publishing companies were rarely respectable people.
I shall smash the gates of the Netherworld, right down to its dwelling,
to the world below I shall grant manumission,
I shall bring up the dead to consume the living,
I shall make the dead outnumber the living.
— the goddess Ishtar, in The Epic of Gilgamesh
The Epic of Gilgamesh is the oldest story known to humanity. It began as a collection of episodic poems written about Gilgamesh, a legendary Mesopotamian king, around 2000 BCE. These were then compiled into a single, cohesive narrative (from which the above quote is taken) by 1100 BCE. Although it’s often difficult to pinpoint exact dates so far back in history, Gilgamesh quite likely precedes the writing of the Hebrew Bible by several centuries.