Monday, 1 January 2018
Marvel Years 01.11 - November 1961
Inspired partially by the news of Stan Lee's 95th birthday, partially by a conversation with my good friend Cath West, I've decided to spend this year re-reading all of Marvel's super-hero comics from the 1960's in chronological order. Most but not all of them were written by Stan Lee himself.
At the beginning of the 1960's Marvel Comics published comics in various genres: science fiction, horror, westerns and romance. Almost all of them were written by Stan Lee, a virtual workhorse who could churn out scripts every day. There were various artists who drew the comics, including Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Gene Colan, Don Heck and Bill Everett. Larry Lieber, Stan's younger brother, wrote and drew "The Rawhide Kid". It seems like talent runs in the family.
Stan Lee had already written super-hero comics in the 1940's, but he'd lost interest in them. He preferred to write emotional comics like "Millie the Model". Incidentally, for years he made fun of "Millie the Model" in the letter pages. I didn't realise until years later that he wrote it himself. Stan had a sense of humour. It's easy to see that he built emotion into his super-hero comics, beginning with the Fantastic Four.
I intend to read the comics at the rate of at least one month per week, at most one month per day, and write a short summary. It'll be easy in early months when there were only one or two comics in a month. By the late 1960's it was 12 comics per month.
I'll use the cover date as shown on the comic covers, even though it's very inaccurate. It's about 10 to 11 weeks ahead of the actual release date, which means Fantastic Four #1 was probably on sale in mid August.
Since there will be a lot of posts on this subject, more than 130, I considered creating a new blog to write about the 1960's Marvel comics. As tempting as it sounds, I'll include them in this blog. After all, most of the comics I shall write about contain characters featured in recent films.
Fantastic Four #1
Title(s): The Fantastic Four
The Fantastic Four meet the Moleman
The Moleman's Secret
Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Jack Kirby
Villain: Mole Man
In the early days of Marvel comics it was common for stories to be split into three to five parts. Sometimes, as in Fantastic Four #1, the parts were given different titles.
The Fantastic Four received their powers as a result of being bombarded by "cosmic rays", whatever they might be. In 1961 nobody had been into space, so anything was possible. Maybe every Earth astronaut would return with super-powers. In the following years there were repeated space journeys, culminating with the first landing on the Moon in 1969, so we knew that it wouldn't happen. Because of this the Fantastic Four origin has been rewritten several times in the last 50 years. That's unnecessary. We don't have to pick at everything that's inaccurate in the comics. Stan Lee wrote a fantastic story, perfect as it stands.
The Mole Man has the honour of being Marvel's first super-villain. His name is actually spelt as one word in this comic, "Moleman", but this is changed in later stories.