Marvel Comics is gearing up to celebrate 60 years of Spider-Man in 2022, marking his August 1962 debut in Amazing Fantasy #15 - a date Marvel observes on August 1, designated 'Spider-Man Day' by the publisher. To mark Spider-Man Day 2021, Marvel began teasing big plans for Spider-Man's sexagenary birthday next year. But the beloved Friendly Neighborhood Wall-Crawler is hardly the only important and enduring character to debut in 1962, the second historical year of the Marvel Universe.
1962 marked a major expansion of the Marvel Universe, beyond the 1961-debuting Fantastic Four, which formed the building blocks of the burgeoning continuity. In addition to new Fantastic Four villains such as Doctor Doom (who first appeared in July 1962's Fantastic Four #5) and the Puppet Master (who debuted in November 1962), the publisher also began ramping up the number of heroes running around.
Believe it or not, Marvel's first new hero of 1962 was none other than the original Ant-Man, Hank Pym, who debuted as a civilian scientist in January 1962's Tales to Astonish #27, taking up the superhero identity Ant-Man later that year in Tales to Astonish #35. His sidekick, the winsome Wasp, wouldn't appear until June 1963.
Marvel didn't slow down, with Fantastic Four and Ant-Man creators Stan Lee and Jack Kirby going the other direction for their next character, Bruce Banner/the Hulk, whose monstrous form debuted in June 1962's Incredible Hulk #1. The issue also introduced Hulk's long-running supporting cast of Rick Jones, Betty Ross, and General Thaddeus 'Thunderbolt' Ross, all of whom have since built their own legacies in Marvel Comics.
Next came the mighty Thor, debuting in August 1962's Journey Into Mystery #83. Alongside Thor and his alter ego Donald Blake, later established as his own character entirely, the title's subsequent issue Journey Into Mystery #84 expanded the title's cast with the introduction of Thor's love interest Jane Foster, who would go on to become Thor herself, and later Valkyrie (her current superhero identity). Jane will take on the mantle of Thor in the MCU in 2022's Thor: Love and Thunder, just in time for the God of Thunder's 60th anniversary.
Following Thor, Spider-Man debuted just a short time later in August 1962's Amazing Fantasy #15, which also introduced Peter Parker's beloved Aunt May and tragically fated Uncle Ben, the key building blocks of his origin as a hero. Though Spidey's cast would quickly grow to encompass a whole world of villains and supporting characters, oddly enough it was original high school bully and future Venom/Anti-Venom Flash Thompson who would be the only other major Spider-Man character to debut in 1962, also in Amazing Fantasy #15.
Though Spider-Man, Thor, Hulk, Ant-Man, Doctor Doom, and many of the supporting characters introduced in 1962 have remained among the most important building blocks of the Marvel Universe, with whole corners of continuity springing up around Spidey and Thor especially, the so-called "world outside your window" was still very much in its infancy.
Characters such as Iron Man, Doctor Strange, the X-Men, and the Avengers as a team wouldn't debut until 1963, with 1964 subsequently bringing in Captain America (created in the '40s by Marvel precursor Timely Comics) to finally solidify what could be considered the full foundation of the Marvel Universe.
In other words, Marvel is just getting started with annual celebrations of its major characters, kicking off with a celebration of 60 years of Spider-Man in 2022. But while you're toasting Peter Parker, don't forget to raise a flagon of mead for Thor, Hulk, and Ant-Man as well - while also preparing to celebrate Doctor Strange, Iron Man, the X-Men, the Avengers, and more in 2023.
Despite facing such stiff competition, Newsarama named Spider-Man the best Marvel character to debut in 1962. Find out who the other top characters of the decade are with our Marvel Yearbook: The Best Character to debut each year - the '60s.