The fact that Marvel Comics grew out of the entity called Timely is common knowledge among many comics fans, but what is often forgotten is the intermediary step Timely took to become the mighty Marvel, a little thing called Atlas Comics. After Marvel mastermind (and Stan Lee's uncle) Martin Goodman, sold the company in the late '60s, he revived the Atlas brand in the '70s as a distinctly new publishing house with all-new characters and titles that disappeared after about a year. Well, get ready, because Atlas Comics and all its heroes you've probably never heard of are back!
As amusingly declared in a new press release, "The Grandson of Marvel's Founder [not Stan Lee, his uncle!] Unleashes Atlas Comics", courtesy of Jason Goodman and Ardden Entertainment, the publisher of nostalgia titles "Casper the Friendly Ghost" and "Flash Gordon," founded by Brendan Deneen (the press release makes a point to mention he's a former development executive for Hollywood Producers! Scott Rudin and Bob & Harvey Weinstein) and Rich Emms (formerly of APC and Markosia, which the press release doesn't mention).

"Although my grandfather eventually sold Marvel, he insisted on keeping Atlas Comics in the family," Goodman said in the press release. "As a result of his vision, Atlas Comics is the largest individually-held library of comic book heroes and villains on the planet."

Naturally, there are mass media concerns in play. "We have twenty eight titles and hundreds of characters imagined by some of the greatest minds in the industry. They will now find a new life in comics, television, and movies. We are thrilled to finally bring these great characters back for the world to enjoy," Goodman said.

The first of those storied heroes to be revived are Phoenix and Grim Ghost, in self-titled #0 issues to debut at New York Comic-Con. The press release indicates that both series will "draw from the Atlas library that featured stories and art by Neal Adams and Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko," although those men will presumably not be contributing to this new venture. In fact, no creative teams have been announced. However, the genuinely excellent J.M. DeMatteis ("Justice League International", "Booster Gold", "Moonshadow", "Brooklyn Dreams") is overseeing the line in his capacity as Editor-in-Chief of Ardden.

Atlas Comics is remembered by industry insiders for its groundbreaking practices in comics creators' rights, most notably the return of original artwork to its creators. With any luck, the new venture will work to embrace the spirit of innovation (to a reasonable extent) as well.

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