Monday, 16 July 2018

Marvel Years 03.11 - November 1963


Fantastic Four #20

Title: The Mysterious Molecule Man

Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Jack Kirby

Villain: Molecule Man

Regulars: Alicia Masters

Guests: The Watcher

The Molecule Man is introduced as one of the most powerful beings in the universe, so powerful that the Watcher warns the Fantastic Four about him. As such it's surprising, even disappointing, that he was never used again until the 1970's. He became an important character in the post-canon age.

In this comic we almost meet the Yancy Street Gang. A gang member aids the Fantastic Four, but his face isn't shown clearly.

Once more the Baxter Building is ripped from its foundations and is held floating over Times Square. Why does anyone want to risk living there?


There's a bad continuity error on the second page. After finding an acorn inside a meteor Reed Richards says it's proof that "some sort of life must exist in outer space". Pardon? Didn't he know that already? Has he forgotten the Skrulls (Fantastic Four #2), the Impossible Man (Fantastic Four #11) and the Watcher (Fantastic Four #13)?




Amazing Spider-Man #6

Title: Face to Face with the Lizard

Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Steve Ditko

Villain: Lizard (Curtis Connors)

Regulars: Aunt May, J. Jonah Jameson, Betty Brant, Flash Thompson, Liz Allan

Unlike in the previous comics, Spider-Man's opponent isn't an evil person. Dr. Curtis Connors invented a potion to help himself regrow the arm that he lost in World War Two. A side effect is that it also turned him into a human lizard, with great physical strength but a new personality. If Spider-Man can somehow change him back to his human form he'll be a good man again.




Tales to Astonish #49

Title: The Birth of Giant-Man

Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Jack Kirby

Villain: Eraser

Until now Henry Pym has been known as Ant-Man. In this issue the logical progression is made: instead of shrinking he makes himself larger, turning into a new superhero called Giant-Man. Although he can theoretically become any size he wants he decides on the size 12 foot, i.e. double his normal height.

The Eraser is a scientist from another dimension, a different universe that exists parallel to our own.The dimension is called Dimension Z. Stan Lee sure liked picking corny names! The Eraser has been seemingly wiping people out of existence, but in actual fact he's been transferring them to Dimension Z.

This issue also contains two short anthology stories.




Journey into Mystery #98

Title: Challenged by the Human Cobra

Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Don Heck

Regulars: Jane Foster, Odin

Villain: Cobra

Peter Parker became Spider-Man after being accidentally bitten by a radioactive Spider. A scientist in India thinks that such accidents can be encouraged to happen deliberately. He and his assistant Klaus allow themselves to be bitten by a radioactive cobra. The scientist dies, but Klaus lives on, endued with the strength and capabilities of a snake.

In this issue Jane Foster returns to Doctor Blake after realising that her new boss is a spineless coward.




Title: Odin battles Ymir, King of the Ice Giants

Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Jack Kirby

Gods: Odin

In a short story based on Norse legends, Odin fights and defeats the ice giant Ymir.

This issue also contains a short anthology story.




Tales of Suspense #47

Title: Iron Man battles the Melter

Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Steve Ditko

Villain: Melter (Bruno Horgan)

Regulars: Pepper Potts, Happy Hogan

A former business competitor of Tony Stark has designed a ray with which he can instantly melt iron. Is this the one power against which Iron man can't defend himself?

In the following years he became a frequent adversary of the Avengers.

Are you wondering why I sometimes state the real names of super villains and sometimes not? The answer is simple. If the comic that I'm writing about gives the villain's name I tell you what it is. Often the name isn't stated. It's possible that the villain will be named in later comics, maybe in the post-canon years, but I don't give that information here. If you're really interested you can find it in the online Marvel database.

This issue also contains a short anthology story.




Strange Tales #114

Title: The Human Torch meets Captain America

Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Jack Kirby

Villains: Acrobat

Regulars: Susan Storm, Doris Evans

Carl Zante, the Acrobat, first seen in Strange Tales #106, returns in the guise of Captain America. But maybe I shouldn't tell you that, because it's a spoiler.




Title: The Return of the Omnipotent Baron Mordo

Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Steve Ditko

Villain: Baron Mordo

Regulars: Ancient One, Victoria Bentley

After a gap of two months, presumably waiting for the reader response to arrive, Doctor Strange becomes the regular backup feature in Strange Tales. This is the first step in removing the anthology stories from this long running comic. There's no anthology story in this issue, but a few appear in later issues until the transition from anthology comic to superhero comic is complete.

This is the first issue in which Doctor Strange's teacher is called the Ancient One. In previous stories he was called the Master (with or without a capital M),

The young woman Victoria Bentley is given a big build up, as if she's destined to become a regular character, but we don't see her again for another four years.




The Avengers #2

Title: The Space Phantom

Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Jack Kirby

Avengers: Thor, Iron Man, Giant-Man, Wasp, Hulk

Villain: Space Phantom

Regulars: Rick Jones

This issue takes place at the same time as Tales To Astonish #49. We can assume that the first two pages take place before Tales To Astonish #49, because Henry Pym was still Ant-Man. The rest of the story takes place after it.

We see that the relationship with the Hulk is already strained. He's not a team player, and he argues constantly with the other Avengers.

The Space Phantom is a being from a distant planet who can assume the body and powers of anyone he wishes.




X-Men #2

Title: No one can stop the Vanisher

Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Jack Kirby

X-Men: Cyclops, Angel, Beast, Iceman, Marvel Girl

Villain: Vanisher

Regulars: Professor X

The X-Men meet a mutant who can teleport instantaneously. In the early months of their comic the X-Men were the heroes who were the most detached from the rest of the Marvel Universe. Mutants only appear in the X-Men comics, nowhere else.



Other comics published this month:

Millie the Model #117 (Stan Lee, Stan Goldberg)
Modeling with Millie #27 (Stan Lee, Stan Goldberg)
Patsy Walker #111 (Stan Lee, Al Hartley)
Kid Colt Outlaw #113 (Stan Lee, Jack Keller)
Two Gun Kid #66 (Stan Lee, Dick Ayers)
Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #4 (Stan Lee, Jack Kirby)

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