Marvel Comics introduced great characters over the years, but there are some that existed before Marvel started that the company brought back.
Over the last six decades, Marvel created some of the most iconic heroes in the history of comic books. From Hulk and Iron Man to Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four, Marvel has more than its fair share of icons for comic fans.
However, what some fans might now know is that there are several superheroes that existed before Marvel was even a company. Before Marvel, the company was Timely Comics and then Atlas Comics. It was in 1961 when Marvel started up and by the first year, they had brought in some classic heroes from Timely and Atlas and over the years more arrived, bringing the past into the future of Marvel Comics.
The Human Torch that most people know from Marvel Comics is Johnny Storm, a member of the Fantastic Four and one of the first superheroes introduced in Marvel Comics. However, he wasn’t the first Human Torch. Jim Hammond, the android Human Torch, was the first superhero Timely Comics introduced. He was part of the Invaders, an American superhero team fighting in World War II.
This character had a basis on many things in Marvel Comics. He was originally thought to be the body used to build The Vision. That was later proven to be incorrect, and Jim Hammond actually returned as a part of Marvel Comics in 1989 when he was reactivated and became a member of the West Coast Avengers.
The Fantastic Four brought back another Timely superhero in Namor, the Sub-Mariner. Much like Jim Hammond, Namor made his debut in 1939 as one of the first superheroes in the company. He was also a member of The Invaders with Jim and other heroes, including Toro, Captain America, and Bucky Barnes.
In Fantastic Four #4 in 1962, Johnny Storm discovered a man living on the streets and soon realized this was the legendary war hero, the Sub-Mariner. He helped Namor recover his memories and after a battle with the Fantastic Four, he returned to the seas and soon became one of the most powerful antiheroes in the Marvel Universe.
The most famous character that Marvel Comics brought in from the past was the man known as Captain America. Steve Rogers made his first appearance in Captain America Comics #1 in 1941 and he was one of the biggest heroes for Timely Comics during World War II. Cap stopped Red Skull and disappeared for many years, with the world believing he was dead.
Cap returned for Marvel Comics in Avengers #4 when he was found in suspended animation in a block of ice. Once rescued, he was back, without aging a day since he was lost. Captain America has become one of the most important superheroes to exist in Marvel Comics.
In The Invaders, two of the main superheroes had sidekicks. Jim Hammond had Toro and Captain America had a man named Bucky Barnes. Young Bucky was there from the beginning with Captain America, appearing first in Captain America Comics #1 in 1941 and he apparently died before Cap disappeared.
There was once a saying that no one stayed dead in comics except Uncle Ben and Bucky Barnes. That changed in 2005 when a new villain showed up known as The Winter Soldier. This was Bucky, who returned after six decades and he has once again become a loyal ally to Captain America.
One of the weirdest returns for Marvel Comics came with the character of Patsy Walker. This is because she wasn’t a superhero of any type in her original appearance. She debuted in the book Miss America Magazine #2 in the story “Introducing Patsy Walker.” The story was just about a high school girl who had trouble with boys.
This was a different return. Patsy Walker returned as part of Marvel Comics in Fantastic Four Annual #3 in 1965. She eventually became Hellcat, a member of the Defenders and a current supporting character in Iron Man comics. However, Patsy Walker from Timely Comics was a fictional character written by author Dorothy Walker, based on her real daughter. Patsy was her daughter and grew up to become a superhero.
While the Sub-Mariner didn’t have a sidekick, he did have relatives and allies in Atlantis and one of them was Namora. She was Namor’s cousin from Atlantis and she made her first appearance in Marvel Mystery Comics #82 from Timely Comics. She also had her own solo series from Timely in 1948.
Namora finished her Timely Comics run when it was believed she died, her body placed in a sealed coffin in the ruins of Atlantis. Namora returned to life in 2006 in Marvel Comics when Jimmy Woo and his Agents of Atlas decided she could still be alive and found her, bringing her back after almost 50 years.
Frankenstein’s Monster is clearly not a Marvel original and his first appearance in comics also wasn’t in Marvel. The first appearance of the Monster came in the Atlas Comics book Menace #7. This was a horror comic with the original creature as the original monster.
There was a tease of Frankenstein’s Monster when Marvel Comics started, a robot version appearing to battle the X-Men, and a flashback scene in a Silver Surfer comic. His official return came in The Monster of Frankenstein in 1972 and he ended up as part of the All-New Howling Commandos with other Marvel monsters.
Jack Monroe was part of the world of Captain America in the classic Timely Comics. He made his first appearance in the comic Young Men #24 in 1953. This was after Steve Rogers was assumed dead and a new man took on the role of Captain America. This was William Burnside and he had his own Bucky in Jack Monroe.
The duo was placed in suspended animation until they were needed again and then the world forgot about them. A janitor found them and the two ended up released from the suspended animation and ended up battling Captain America and Falcon. Eventually, they got help and rehabilitation and Jack went on to become Nomad until the original Bucky, now known as The Winter Soldier, returned and killed him.
Gorilla-Man most recently was a member of The Avengers, working mostly with tech in Avengers Mountain as a support member of the team. However, Gorilla-Man is someone who was around before Marvel Comics became a company. He made his first appearance in Men’s Adventures #26 in 1953.
He made his return to Marvel Comics over 50 years later when he showed up in Nick Fury’s Howling Commandos #1 along with other monsters like Frankenstein’s Monster, Vampire by Night, Living Mummy, and more.
Jimmy Woo made his first appearance in 1956 in the Atlas Comics’ book Yellow Claw #1. The book showed the adventures of an FBI agent named Jimmy Woo and his battles against a Communist organization known as Yellow Claw.
He made his first appearance in Marvel Comics in 1967 in Strange Tales #160 with Doctor Strange and here he was a member of S.H.I.E.L.D. Over the years since, Jimmy Woo has become even more important. He started the team Agents of Atlas and even went on to have a big role in the MCU in both Ant-Man and The Wasp and WandaVision.
NEXT: 10 Biggest Ways Spider-Man Has Changed Since His Introduction In Comics
Shawn S. Lealos is a senior writer on ScreenRant who fell in love with movies in 1989 after going to the theater to see Tim Burton’s Batman as his first big screen experience.
Shawn received his Bachelor’s degree in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma with a minor in Film Studies. He has worked as a journalist for over 25 years, first in the world of print journalism before moving to online media as the world changed. Shawn is a former member of the Society of Professional Journalists and current member of the Oklahoma Film Critics Circle. He has work published in newspapers such as Daily Oklahoman and Oklahoma Gazette and magazines such as Vox Magazine, Loud Magazine, and Inside Sports Magazine. His work on the Internet has been featured on websites like The Huffington Post, Yahoo Movies, Chud, Renegade Cinema, 411mania, and Sporting News.
Shawn is also a published author, with a non-fiction book about the Stephen King Dollar Baby Filmmakers and has begun work on a new fiction series as well. Visit Shawn Lealos’ website to learn more about his novel writing and follow him on Twitter @sslealos.