Friday, 19 January 2018

Marvel Years 02.11 - November 1962


Fantastic Four #8

Title(s): Prisoners of the Puppet Master
In the Hands of the Puppet Master
The Lady and the Monster
Face-to-Face with the Puppet Master
Death of a Puppet

Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Jack Kirby

Villain: Puppet Master

Regulars: Alicia Masters

This is a single story split into five parts that have been given individual titles. Before they meet their new enemy, the Puppet Master, we see Reed Richards attempting to devise a cure to turn the Thing back into Ben Grimm. These experiments are repeated so often in the early years of the Fantastic Four that we can consider it a sub-plot.

Technically, Alicia Masters isn't a regular character yet. In later issues she becomes the Thing's girlfriend. I've forgotten when, but I'll remind myself as I re-read the comics this year. I call her the Thing's girlfriend, not Ben Grimm's girlfriend, because she loves the Thing most when he's in his orange rock form.




The Incredible Hulk #4

Title: The Monster and the Machine

Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Jack Kirby

Regulars: General Ross, Betty Ross, Rick Jones

This comic contains two short stories. The first story doesn't contain any enemies. It's a development in the Hulk's powers. At the beginning of the story Bruce Banner is permanently the Hulk and Rick Jones has the power to control him. Before this happened Bruce Banner built a gamma ray machine intended to cure himself. Rick Jones orders the Hulk to lie down beneath the machine. Rick pulls a lever, and the Hulk turns back into Bruce Banner.

Bruce is weaker than ever after the transformation. He can't stand and has to be pushed around in a wheelchair. He doesn't want to live like this, so he takes a risk. He makes an adjustment to the machine which he thinks will turn him back into the Hulk without losing his intelligence. It works. He becomes the Hulk, then goes to rescue a family from a burning house. After saving them he goes back to the hidden lab to hide. The next dose of gamma rays turns him back into Bruce Banner, but very weak again. He now has a machine that will turn him into the Hulk and back whenever he wants.

What's curious about this comic is that it breaks Stan Lee's habit of keeping the age of his characters vague. It's clearly stated on page 10 that Rick Jones is 16 years old.



Title: The Gladiator from Outer Space

Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Jack Kirby

Villain: Communist soldiers

Regulars: Rick Jones

Yet again Communists take on a Marvel hero. Will they never give up?




Tales to Astonish #37

Title(s): Trapped by the Protector
Face to Face with the Protector

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

Villain: The Protector

This is a single story split into two parts that have been given individual titles. The issue also contains two short anthology stories.




Journey into Mystery #86

Title(s): On the Trail of the Tomorrow Man
Flight to the Future

Writer: Stan Lee, Larry Lieber
Artist: Jack Kirby

Regulars: Jane Foster, Odin

Villain: Zarrko the Tomorrow Man

If you look at the cover page of this comic you'll see something new. It's the first issue in which Thor is featured in the comic's title. "Journey into Mystery" has become "Journey into Mystery starring the Mighty Thor". This is repeated in the next issue, but after that it becomes sporadic. It isn't until issue #104 that the comic is renamed "Journey into Mystery with Thor". From issue #126 onwards the comic is only known as "The Mighty Thor".

This story shows a vision of the future that (possibly) contradicts other Marvel comics. 300 years in the future (the year 2262) there is global peace. No more weapons exist. One man, Zarrko, sees it as an opportunity. He owns the world's only time machine, so he travels back into the past to steal a nuclear weapon; to be precise, he steals a cobalt bomb, whatever that is.

Thor travels into the future to pursue him. We find out that one of Thor's powers is that he can spin his hammer faster than the speed of light. Doesn't that make him dizzy?


The unnamed general on page 3 looks suspiciously like General Thunderbolt Ross from the Hulk comics, and he also looks like the unnamed general in Fantastic Four #3 page 12. Is it the same person in all three comics? Or does Jack Kirby think all generals look the same?


This is a single story split into two parts that have been given individual titles. The issue also contains two short anthology stories.




Strange Tales #102

Title(s): Prisoner of the Wizard
Wizard's Wiles

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

Regulars: Susan Storm

Villain: The Wizard

This is a single story split into two parts that have been given individual titles. The issue also contains two short anthology stories that are advertised on the cover.

The Wizard later forms the Frightful Four and becomes a frequent enemy of the Fantastic Four.

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