Thursday, 11 January 2018

Marvel Years 02.08 - August 1962

August 1962 was an exciting month for Marvel comics. Not one but two new super-heroes were introduced. Both were created by the fervent imagination of Stan Lee, and both characters are still popular today, 55 years later. That's a sign of true genius. Other people might have created characters who have stood the test of time, but two in one month? Or four in one year, including Stan's previous creations since November 1961?

Stan Lee, or maybe his editor Martin Goodman, were still taking things slowly. They didn't want to risk Marvel Comics going bankrupt if the new heroes flopped. Both Spider-Man and Thor were introduced in anthology magazines and didn't have the whole magazine to themselves. It would have been easy to backtrack. As it turned out, it was the last issue of Amazing Fantasy, and Spider-Man was relaunched in his solo magazine seven months later. Thor remained part of Journey Into Mystery, backed up with anthology stories, for years to come.

Amazing Fantasy #15

Title: Spider-Man

Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Steve Ditko

Regulars: Aunt May, Flash Thompson, Liz Allan (unnamed)

One point to note about this origin story is that it shows Peter Parker in a bad light after receiving his powers. He became conceited. He didn't want to fight crime because it wasn't his job. He just wanted to make money. It wasn't until the death of his Uncle Ben, killed by a burglar -- not a carjacker -- that he realised his responsibility. In this comic Uncle Ben hardly speaks. The famous words attributed to him are written by Stan Lee himself in the last picture:

"With great power there must also come great responsibility".

In later years this was compressed to "With great power comes great responsibility". It's often claimed that it's a quote from Voltaire, but I haven't been able to verify it.

How old was Peter Parker when he became Spider-Man? This wasn't explicitly stated, as ages were a taboo subject in the early years of Marvel. Ages weren't stated because it had to be possible to show a character at practically the same age 10 or even 20 years later. Based on the school environment Peter was between 14 and 16 when he was bitten by the radioactive spider. The general consensus is that he was 15, but it's just a matter of opinion.

The story is split into two parts, but they aren't individually named. The issue also contains three short anthology stories.

Journey into Mystery #83

Title(s): Thor the Mighty and the Stone Men from Saturn
The Power of Thor
Thor the Mighty strikes back

Writer: Stan Lee, Larry Lieber (uncredited)
Artist: Jack Kirby

Villain: The Stone Men from Saturn

This is a single story split into three parts that have been given individual titles. In the origin story Dr. Donald Blake finds Thor's hammer by chance while on holiday in Norway, turning him into Thor, the God of Thunder. In later years it was claimed that he had always been Thor. While this doesn't contradict the original story, it's just one example of later inferior writers changing Stan Lee's stories because they didn't think they were good enough.

The issue also contains two short anthology stories.

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