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.