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DC turns 90 years old in 2024... 39 years after celebrating its 50th anniversary

Don't worry, the math actually checks out, if you know the context

Dawn of DC
Image credit: Jeff Spokes/DC

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The comic book industry is one that is very aware of its past, with every single year providing the opportunity to celebrate an anniversary of some kind. 2024, for example, marks the 50th anniversary of Wolverine’s debut (in October 1974’s The Incredible Hulk #180), as well as the 85th anniversary of Batman’s first appearance, in Detective Comics #27, published all the way back in May 1939. But there’s one very special anniversary happening this year that seems to have slipped by all parties unintentionally: the 90th anniversary of DC, the company behind Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and the Justice League.

There will be some in the audience wondering how DC — a company named after Detective Comics, the title that introduced Batman and has been a flagship for the company’s comic book line ever since — could possibly be turning 90 when Detective Comics itself won’t do so until 2027, but the answer is pretty simple: DC didn’t actually officially adopt that name until 1976, by which point the company was already four decades old. Before that, it was officially known as National Periodical Publications, which was itself an amalgamation of three separate comic book publishers: All-American Publications, founded in 1939, Detective Comics, Inc., founded in 1937, and National Allied Publications… founded in 1934. Hence, 2024 being the 90th anniversary of the company.

Fans of a certain age might be confused by this timing, given that DC officially celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1985, with the DC Bullet logo transformed into a “50” on multiple comic book covers that year. (1985 was also the year that saw the launch of both Crisis on Infinite Earths and Who’s Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe, two projects explicitly linked to the 50th anniversary of the company.) After all, 1985 is 51 years after 1934, and it would be unusual for DC to simply get the math wrong. So… what gives?

Here’s where it gets a little complicated: the DC of the 1980s didn’t count its anniversary from the founding of National Allied Publications, but from the date the very first National comic was published, which was in January 1935 — making 1985 the 50th anniversary, specifically, of DC comics. Splitting hairs…? Maybe a little, but it’s certainly one school of thought… and something that lets DC have two bites at the anniversary cherry, if it so wishes.

So, happy first 90th anniversary for this year, DC — and we look forward to celebrating a potential second 90th next year, as well.


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