The unexpected explosion of the Hindenburg on May 6, 1937, left an enduring mark on history. Thirty-six people were killed as the massive airship attempted to dock at Naval Air Station Lakehurst in New Jersey. The disaster changed the lives of those who were involved, and it brought about the end of the airship era of transportation. It also very nearly destroyed Marvel Comics before it even had a chance to be born.
Magazine publisher Martin Goodman and his wife, Jean Davis, were newlyweds, celebrating their honeymoon in Europe. The couple planned on returning home to New York in style by securing passage on the airship Hindenburg. The spacious airship offered the finest in first-class amenities. The journey would have been a fitting completion to the couple’s honeymoon experience.
Goodman attempted to purchase tickets for the flight. As it turned out, he waited too long to make reservations. There were two available tickets, but they were not for adjacent seats. The newlyweds would have been separated for the three days it would take to make the transatlantic voyage. Unable to cope with the thought of being separated from his wife for that long, Goodman opted to purchase airplane tickets, instead. For that reason alone, Martin Goodman was not aboard Hindenburg when it erupted into a fiery ball of destruction.
Two years later Goodman decided to venture into the comic book business and created Timely Publications. His wife’s 17-year-old cousin, Stanley Lieber, was looking for work, and Goodman gave him a job as an assistant. As time went on, both the publication and the assistant would change names.
Timely Publications officially changed its name to Marvel Comics in 1961. The assistant, who had started writing stories for Timely Publications under a pseudonym, ultimately adopted that pseudonym as his legal name: Stan Lee.
Imagine what might have happened if only Martin Goodman had been a little quicker in reserving his tickets for a trip back home!