Thursday, 2 April 2015

April 1965 - Marvel Comics, Fifty Years Ago Today.

April the First has just been and gone but were our Marvel heroes of exactly fifty years ago finding themselves being made fools of?

It's after twelve o'clock, so let's find out.

Avengers #15, Masters of Evil

It was only recently that I discovered that the Baron Zemo in the Silver Age comics wasn't the original Baron Zemo from World War Two. Truly my ignorance knows no bounds.

Giant-Man and the Melter are clearly having a contest here to see who can have the worst costume. Despite Giant-Man's best efforts, I think the Melter's won. Just what are those weird bat's ear things on his head for and how do they relate, conceptually, to the power of melting things?

Daredevil #7, the Sub-Mariner

It's a bit of a classic, as our hero comes up against his mightiest foe yet.

I do like this tale because it's one of those rarities, an early Marvel tale where two of their heroes meet and there's no doubt at all about who wins.

Fantastic Four #37, the Skrull Homeworld

And it's a classic FF tale as they decide to invade the Skrull homeworld.

I did always wonder why the only Skrull female in this story looks an awful lot prettier than the Skrull males do.

But I do remember being very taken with those aliens who look like dandelion clocks.

Journey Into Mystery #115, Thor, the Absorbing Man and Loki

I have always thought this was a very strange cover, with Loki just floating there in mid-air. I wonder if he was added after the rest of the artwork, at Stan Lee's insistence?

Amazing Spider-Man#23, the Green Goblin

One of my favourite Steve Ditko Spider-Man covers, showing off the elegance of both his figure-work and composition.

Strange Tales #131, The Human Torch, the Thing and the Mad Thinker

Dr Strange is relegated to being a cover insert by The Bouncing Ball of Doom! Oh the grave indignity. No wonder he looks so peeved.

Tales of Suspense #64, Iron Man, the Black Widow and Hawkeye

I did always like it when Hawkeye and the Black Widow used to show up in Iron Man's strip. Even though they shouldn't have been any real threat to him, they had a certain soap opera charm to them. Maybe in my subconscious they were some sort of criminal counterparts to Happy Hogan and Pepper Potts.

Tales To Astonish #66, Giant-Man vs Madam Macabre

I have no idea at all who Madam Macabre is, nor just what's going on on the cover.

The south east Asian appearance of Madam Macabre and her lackey/boss hints that the surprise guest villain of this tale might be the Mandarin but I'd hope not. Not wanting to put him down but I couldn't see Giant-Man surviving for five seconds if the Mandarin showed up.


Unknown said...

Some really nice covers and I agree the Ditko one is good - one of his best when he was at his peek. That Giant Man outfit still amazes me its simply an awful design (for one of my favourite characters as well) . The Mandarin did appear in the " Tales to Astonish" story, but only in a flashback frame or 2 ( as the Mandarin "taught" Madam Macabre to be a baddie).

John Pitt said...

I had two of these first time around - Strange Tales and TTA, but the Avengers cover also appeared on the cover of Terrific and, if I remember rightly, they forgot to colour Cap's legs in!

Unknown said...

I have never seen any of these covers before and I have been In the Merry Marvel Marching Society for a long time!

Anonymous said...

That Daredevil issue may have also been the first appearance of the all-red costume.

IIRC, Stan Lee said in an interview (or maybe in a foreword to a reprint book0 that he deliberately wrote the "hero vs. hero" stories so that there was no clear winner or loser. (If one hero won, then fans of the other would be annoyed.) The Sub-Mariner vs. DD fight was an exception.

It's also an example of an advantage to having anti-heroes like the Hulk and Sub-Mariner. They were genuine menaces to society, so it made sense for other heroes (Daredevil, Avengers, Fantastic Four) to fight them. There was no need to contrive some silly misunderstanding.

John Pitt said...


Steve W. said...

Happy Easter to you too, John - and to everyone else who's dropping in on the blog.

Russ said...

I suppose there could've been a revision, but Zemo appeared for the first time simultaneously in the Avengers and Sgt. Fury and, that month at least, it was the same guy. But I also recall later episodes of Captain America where it seemed Zemo had returned from the dead and it turned out to be some imposter.

Steve W. said...

Russ, I've checked with Wikipedia and it seems you're right about the early Avengers Zemo being the same one as the WW2 one. Where I got the notion from that he was a different one, I have no idea.

Anonymous said...

IIRC, Zemo turned up in Tales of Suspense #99 and/or Captain America #100 in 1968, and it turned out to be a former henchman impersonating him. Since then, there may have been other imposters, plus a villain who was the son of the original. But the one who fought the Avengers in the 1960's was the same one from WWII.

Steve W. said...

Thanks for the clarification, Anon. It's much appreciated. :)