Comic Book Club: Marvel Comics – The Untold Story (Part 2)

Welcome to week two of Comic Book Club! Each week, we will be covering a section of Sean Howe’s novel Marvel Comics: The Untold Story. This week, we are discussing Part II: The Next Generation (p. 109-202).

Highlights from this section include:

  • The first major transfer of power as both Martin Goodman and Stan Lee step out of their previous roles. Goodman retires while Lee is promoted to President and Publisher. Lee settles into the role of Company Man, frequently clashing with his comics staff over how they should be creating the illusion of change in order to preserve characters for licensing.
  • A round robin of leadership figures as Roy Thomas, Len Wein, Marv Wolfman, and Gerry Conway pass the buck on the Editor-in-Chief position at increasingly rapid rates between each other. Over the time, the position becomes less tenable and disorder becomes the norm as various creators in writer/editor roles reign over their own little fiefdoms.
  • The next generation of writers arrives as Steve Englehart, Jim Starlin, Steve Gerber, Don McGregor, Chris Claremont, and others join while the line expands tremendously.
  • Multiple creators defect to DC for a few years before returning to Marvel, including Jack Kirby himself.
  • A young upstart named Jim Shooter rises in the ranks and becomes Wolfman’s second-in-command and plants his feet there for some time before becoming EiC himself. The Shooter years will be covered in detail during next week’s reading.

Here are some possible starter questions for our discussion: 

What stands out to you about this era of comics? What behind-the-scenes stories shock you to this day? Of the comics covered here, what are your personal favorites? What supplemental media would you recommend from this era?

Upcoming Discussions:

  • January 22nd – Part III: Trouble Shooter (p. 203-300)
  • January 29th – Part IV: Boom and Bust (p. 301-376)
  • February 5th – Part V: A New Marvel (p. 377-434)