Saturday, 13 January 2018

Marvel Years 02.09 - September 1962

Fantastic Four #6

Title(s): Captives of the Deadly Duo
When Super-Menaces Unite
When Friends Fall Out
The End or the Beginning

Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Jack Kirby

Villain: Doctor Doom, Sub-Mariner

This is a single story split into five parts that have been given individual titles. The issue is significant for being the first super-villain team-up in Marvel Comics, even though it's short lived. Barely halfway through the comic Doctor Doom turns against Sub-Mariner, causing Sub-Mariner to temporarily swap allegiances and work with the Fantastic Four.

We see that the romantic feelings between Sub-Mariner and Susan Storm continue. He has a framed photo of her next to his throne. Susan is more secretive. She has a photograph of Sub-Mariner hidden behind the books in her room.

In Fantastic Four #3 we first saw the headquarters of the Fantastic Four, but in this issue we see its name: the Baxter Building!

This is the layout of the top four floors that are rented by the Fantastic Four. I wonder if the tenants on the lower floors ever complained about missiles being launched from the top floors. And what about the constant attacks on the building itself? After only six issues this is the second time the building has been attacked. It's not a place where I would want to live.

The Incredible Hulk #3

Title: Banished to Outer Space

Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Jack Kirby

Regulars: General Ross, Rick Jones

This comic contains three short stories. In the first story General Ross tricks Rick Jones into leading the Hulk into a space rocket. The intention is to fire the Hulk far away from the Earth, so that he can never return. A freak accident changes the Hulk's powers. When in space the sun's rays make the Hulk turn back into Bruce Banner, because as we know, since the beginning of the comics Bruce Banner turns into the Hulk only at night. Then the spaceship passes through the same radiation belt that gave the Fantastic Four their powers. At the same moment Rick Jones touches a switch to release the rocket's capsule. This causes a feedback, and the cosmic rays strike Rick on Earth. When the capsule lands on Earth, there are several changes to the Hulk's powers:

1. He remains the Hulk 24 hours a day.
2. He obeys all of Rick Jones' commands as long as Rick is awake.
3. He can fly.

In later comics the Hulk can't fly, he just makes giant leaps. It's clear in this comic that he only leaps to take off. Once in the air he stays up for as long as he wants to. The third story shows the Hulk changing directions while he flies, so it really isn't just a leap.

Title: The Origin of the Hulk

Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Jack Kirby

Regulars: Rick Jones

This is a re-telling of the Hulk's origin as first seen in the first issue.

Title: The Ringmaster

Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Jack Kirby

Regulars: General Ross, Rick Jones

Villain: The Ringmaster (and his circus)

This is the first appearance of the Ringmaster. In later stories his performers play more important roles. In this issue only Bruto the Strongman and Teena the Fat Lady are named.

This is one of the two pictures in the story that show the Hulk flying in a curve, with Rick Jones on his back.

Tales to Astonish #35

Title(s): Return of the Ant-Man
An Army of Ants
The Ant-Man's Revenge

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

Villain: Communist agents

This is a single story split into three parts that have been given individual titles. It's the return of Henry Pym, who we first saw in an anthology story in Tales to Astonish #27 in January. In a similar way to Thor, he's now given half of an anthology comic for his regular adventures. In his first story Henry Pym was attacked by ants, but he now has an electronic helmet that enables him to control ants. They are his own private army.

The issue also contains two short anthology stories.

Journey into Mystery #84

Title: The Mighty Thor vs the Executioner

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

Regulars: Jane Foster

Villain: Communist soldiers in San Diablo, the Stone Men from Saturn (flashback)

This is the second comic this month that shows Marvel heroes fighting against Communists. That's no surprise, because 1962 was the height of the Cold War. As time went by Communists were shown less often, unless they had super powers. Stan Lee recognised that his heroes were too powerful for normal men with guns to be serious opponents.

Jane Foster is featured for the first time as Dr. Donald Blake's nurse. It's a typical frustrated romance that we see repeated in many of Stan Lee's other comics. Donald and Jane love one another, but they're both too afraid to say anything to one another.

There's an interesting scene in the comic where Donald Blake uses his cane to create a thunderstorm without first turning into Thor. I'm not aware that this ever happened again.

The issue also contains two short anthology stories.

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