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DC Comics, Inc. is an American comic book publisher. It is the publishing unit of DC Entertainment, a company of Warner Bros. Entertainment, which itself is owned by Time Warner. DC Comics is one of the largest and most successful companies operating in American comic books, and produces material featuring numerous well-known characters, including Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, Aquaman, Shazam, Hawkman, and Green Arrow. The fictional DC universe also features teams such as the Justice League, the Justice Society and the Teen Titans, as well as well-known villains such as the Joker, Lex Luthor, Catwoman, Darkseid, Ra's al Ghul, Deathstroke, Sinestro, and Brainiac. The company has also published non-DC Universe-related material, including Watchmen, V for Vendetta and many titles under their alternative imprints Vertigo and America's Best Comics.
The initials "DC" came from the company's popular series Detective Comics, which featured Batman's debut and subsequently became part of the company's name. Random House distributes DC Comics' books to the bookstore market, while Diamond Comic Distributors supplies the comics shop specialty market. DC Comics and its major, longtime competitor Marvel Comics (owned by The Walt Disney Company, Time Warner's main rival, since 2009) together shared over 80% of the American comic book market in 2008.
Detective Comics is the title used for two American comic book series published by DC Comics. The first, published from 1937 to 2011, was best known for introducing the superhero Batman in Detective Comics #27 (cover dated May 1939). A second series of the same title was launched in the fall of 2011. The original series is the source of its publishing company's name and with Action Comics, the comic book launched with the debut of Superman, one of the medium's signature series. The original series published 881 issues between 1937 and 2011 and was the longest continuously published comic book in the United States.
Action Comics is an American comic book series that introduced Superman, one of the first major superhero characters as the term is popularly defined. The publisher was originally known as Detective Comics, Inc., and later as National Comics and as National Periodical Publications, before taking on its current name of DC Comics. Its original incarnation ran from 1938 to 2011 and stands as one of the longest-running comic books with consecutively numbered issues; a second volume of Action Comics, beginning again with issue #1, was launched in 2011 and is currently in publication as of 2015.
Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster saw their creation, Superman (also known as Kal-El, originally Kal-L), launched in Action Comics #1 on April 18, 1938 (cover dated June), an event which began the Golden Age of Comic Books. Siegel and Shuster had tried for years to find a publisher for their Superman character originally conceived as a newspaper strip without success. Superman was originally a bald madman created by Siegel and Shuster who used his telepathic abilities to wreak havoc on mankind. He appeared in Siegel and Shuster's book Science Fiction. Siegel then commented, "What if this Superman was a force for good instead of evil?" The writer and artist had worked on several features for National Allied Publications' other titles such as Slam Bradley in Detective Comics and were asked to contribute a feature for National's newest publication. They submitted Superman for consideration and, after re-pasting the sample newspaper strips they had prepared into comic book page format, National decided to make Superman the cover feature of their new magazine. After seeing the published first issue, publisher Harry Donenfeld dismissed the featured strip as ridiculous and ordered it never to be on the cover of the series again. However, subsequent reports of the first issue's strong sales and follow up investigations revealed that Superman was the reason, thus the character returned to the covers, becoming a permanent presence in issue 19 onward.
Timely Comics, initially Timely Publications, was the earliest comic book arm of American publisher Martin Goodman, and the entity that would evolve by the 1960s to become Marvel Comics.
During this era, called the Golden Age of comic books, "Timely" was the umbrella name for the comics division of pulp magazine publisher Goodman, whose business strategy involved having a multitude of corporate entities all producing the same product. The company was founded in 1939 as Timely Publications, based at his existing company in the McGraw-Hill Building at 330 West 42nd Street in New York City. In 1942, it moved to the 14th floor of the Empire State Building, where it remained until 1951.
Atlas Comics is the 1950s comic book publishing company that evolved into Marvel Comics. Magazine and paperback novel publisher Martin Goodman, whose business strategy involved having a multitude of corporate entities, used Atlas as the umbrella name for his comic book division during this time. Atlas evolved out of Goodman's 1940s comic book division, Timely Comics, and was located on the 14th floor of the Empire State Building.
This company is distinct from the 1970s comic book company, also founded by Goodman, that is generally known as Atlas/Seaboard Comics.
Marvel Worldwide Inc., commonly referred to as Marvel Comics and formerly Marvel Publishing, Inc. and Marvel Comics Group, is an American publisher of comic books and related media. In 2009, The Walt Disney Company acquired Marvel Entertainment, Marvel Worldwide's parent company. Marvel started in 1939 as Timely Publications, and by the early 1950s had generally become known as Atlas Comics. Marvel's modern incarnation dates from 1961, the year that the company launched The Fantastic Four and other superhero titles created by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko and many others.
Marvel counts among its characters such well-known properties as Spider-Man, Wolverine, Iron Man, Captain America, the Hulk, Thor, the Silver Surfer, Daredevil, Ghost Rider, teams as the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, the Guardians of the Galaxy, and X-Men, and antagonists such as Doctor Octopus, Green Goblin, Kingpin, Magneto, Doctor Doom, Loki, Thanos, Hydra, and the Red Skull. Most of Marvel's fictional characters operate in a single reality known as the Marvel Universe, with locations that mirror real-life cities. Characters such as Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four, the Avengers, Daredevil and Dr. Strange are based in New York City, whereas the X-Men have historically been based in Salem Center, New York and the Hulk's stories often have been set in the American Southwest.
In 2013, Marvel held a 33.50% share of the comics market, compared to its competitor DC Comics' 30.33% share. By comparison, the companies held 40.81% and 29.94% shares in 2008, respectively.
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