Marvel counts among its characters such well-known characters as Spider-Man, Iron Man, the X-Men, Wolverine, the Hulk, the Fantastic Four, Captain America, Daredevil, the Punisher, Ghost Rider, and many more. Most of Marvels fictional characters operate in a single reality known as the Marvel Universe, with locales set in real-life cities such as New York. The comic book arm of the company started in 1939 as Timely Publications, and by the 1950s had generally become known as Atlas Comics. Marvels modern incarnation dates from 1961, with the launching of Fantastic Four and other superhero titles created by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, and others. Marvel has since become the largest American comic-book publisher, surpassing its longtime competitor DC Comics. On December 31, 2009, The Walt Disney Company acquired Marvel Entertainment for $4.24 billion.
Founded in 1934 as National Allied Publications, DC is one of the largest and most popular companies. It is the publishing division of DC Entertainment Inc., a subsidiary company of Warner Bros. Entertainment, which itself is owned by Time Warner. DC Comics produces material featuring a large number of well-known characters, including Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, Green Lantern, Captain Marvel, the Teen Titans, Green Arrow, the Justice League and the rest of the DC Universe.The initials "DC" came from the companys popular series, Detective Comics, which subsequently became part of the companys official name. DC Comics is a major, longtime competitor to Marvel Comics, and the two companies share over 80% of the American comic book market.
Dark Horse Comics is the largest independent American comic book publisher. Mike Richardson, the owner of several comic book shops in the Portland, Oregon metropolitan area, began to publish in 1986 with an anthology series called Dark Horse Presents, investing profits from his stores into Dark Horse Comics. Dark Horse publishes many licensed comics, including comics based on Star Wars, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Aliens, Predator and Who Wants to be a Superhero? Dark Horse also publishes creator owned comics such as Frank Millers Sin City and 300, Mike Mignolas Hellboy, Stan Sakais Usagi Yojimbo, Katsuhiro Otomos Akira and Michael Chabons The Escapist. Today, the comic arm of the company flourishes despite no longer having their own universe of superpowered characters.
Image Comics is an American comic book publisher founded in 1992 by seven high-profile illustrators as a venue where creators could publish their material without giving up the copyrights to the characters they created, as creator-owned properties. Along with DC, Marvel and Dark Horse, Image Comics is one of the four largest comic book publishers in America. Its best-known series include Spawn, Pitt, The Savage Dragon, Shadowhawk, Youngblood, Supreme, WildC.A.T.s, Genął, Wetworks, Cyberforce, Witchblade, The Darkness, Invincible, the third volume of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and The Walking Dead.