Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The 1960s Wrap-Up

From November 1961 through December 1969, Marvel produced 1,432 comic books. Of that, we've covered in depth (sometimes too in-depth) 835. We further touched on 132 westerns, science fiction, war, and hero reprint issues in the SOME HIGHLIGHTS section before the monthly output became too daunting and the titles covered too laborious (at the beginning of this project, I was determined to cover every single western, sf and war title throughout the 60s and had to throw in the towel halfway through when I realized I had run out of ways to say "mangy varmint" and "gritty war tale"-PE). From that huge number, your untiring professors drew the following classics. Our advice is to seek these issues out, hold them to your chest, praise Stan, Jack, Steve, Neal, and company, and hope the 1970s are even better!

Without further ado...


Prof. Jack

(in chronological order)

1 Fantastic Four 1 (November 1961)
2 Hulk 1 (May 1962)
3 Fantastic Four 4 (May 1962-Sub-Mariner returns)
4 Amazing Fantasy 15 (August 1962-Spider-Man’s origin)
5 Avengers 4 (Captain America returns)
6 Daredevil 1 (April 1964)
7 Daredevil 3 (August 1964-The Owl)
8 Avengers 8 (September 1964-Kang)
9 Journey Into Mystery 114-115 (1965-Absorbing Man)
10 Strange Tales 135 (Nick Fury begins)
11 Fantastic Four 48-50 (Galactus & Silver Surfer)
12 Fantastic Four King Size Special 4 (November 1966-Golden Age Human Torch returns)
13 Daredevil King Size Special 1 (September 1967)
14 Avengers King Size Special 1 (September 1967)
15 Avengers 47 (December 1967-Magneto)
16 Sub-Mariner 1 (May 1968)
17 Silver Surfer 1 (August 1968)
18 Avengers 57 (October 1968-Vision)
19 Dr. Strange 180 (May 1969)
20 X-Men 58 (July 1969-First full-length Adams)

Prof. Jim

I’m going to keep my top ten lists to Thor/Fantastic Four, as they’ve been the only titles I’ve read all of, so here goes.

Journey Into Mystery/ The Mighty Thor:  
1 JIM 124-Thor 130: The longest saga has it all: the Olympian gods, Thor’s personal struggles peak, stunning artwork and writing.
2 Thor 154-157: This original Marvel tale of Ragnarok is non-stop spectacle; Norse mythology meets comicdom… and Mangog!
3 Thor Annual 2: Even better than his origin, the Destroyer’s best appearance is also a blast, with the Universe-wide Tournament Of Titans.
4 Thor 137-139: Ulik’s first appearance and the troll war, Orikal and the early days of Sif and Thor.
5 Thor 131-133: Sci-fi blends smoothly with mythology; with such mainstays as the Rigelian Recorder and Ego, the Living Planet; the likely artistic peak.
6 Thor 136: She wasn’t everyone’s favourite, but Jane Foster’s final issue is stunning nonetheless, a poignant turn in Thor’s life.
7 JIM 116: Loki had to make it here at least once—a great personal struggle between brothers, and the title debut of Vince Colletta.
8 Thor 143-144: The Enchanters, some great artwork, and the tension of the Balder/Sif unrequited love story.
9 JIM 114-115: The first appearance of the Absorbing Man, and the turning point of the title from good to great.
10 JIM 104: Skagg and Surter battle Odin and Thor on Earth; again mythology meets comics.
Best Covers (from the top): 130, 139, 131, 143, 155, 126, 150, 114, 133, and 163.

Fantastic Four:
1 F.F. 48-50: The saga by which all others are measured: amazing script and art, Galactus, the Silver Surfer, the Watcher, and truly humbling odds.
2 F.F.  57-61: The definitive Dr. Doom, the F.F.’s greatest “house villain,” the Silver Surfer, the Sandman and perhaps the title’s best artwork.
3 F.F. 51: Only at Marvel, a tale of heroism and angst, and a fine example of why the Thing is such an enduring character. Beautiful cover.
4 F.F. 1: It looks primitive compared to later titles, but a superb origin, and the beginning of the whole darn modern Marvel universe.
5 F.F. 18: The Skrulls are always great fun, the Super Skrull delightfully so.
6 F.F. 39-40: A great example of why Daredevil is such a unique superhero, plus a powerless F.F. and another “omniscient Doom” cover.
7 F.F. Annual 6: A lengthy drama introduces Annihilus; maybe the best Negative Zone story, and the birth of baby (unnamed) Richards.
8 F.F. 44-47: First appearance of the Inhumans (except Medusa).
9 F.F. 90-93: F.F. meets Star Trek—it works! The Skrulls and a great robot named Torgo.
10 F.F. 29: Yancy Street, the Watcher, the Red Ghost, and lots of fun.
Best covers (from the top): 57, 51, 49, 29, 72, 61, 39, 45, 74, and 37.

Prof. Joe

1 Fantastic Four 48-49 (March-April 1966) (Galactus!)
2 The Amazing Spider-Man 39-40 (Aug –Sept 1966) (Unmasked!)
3 Fantastic Four 41-43 (Aug-Oct 1965) (Frightful Four)
4 Amazing Fantasy 15 (Aug 1962) (Nuff said!)
5 The X-Men 56-63 (May 1969-Dec 1969) (Neal Adams!)
6 The Avengers 57-59 (Oct-Dec 1968) (The Vision)
7 The Amazing Spider-Man 14 (July 1964) (Green Goblin)
8 The Amazing Spider-Man 3 (July 1963) (Doc Ock)
9 The Mighty Thor 154-157 (July-Oct 1968) (Ragnarok)
10 The Avengers 4 (March 1964) (Cap)
11 Fantastic Four 51 (June 1966) (This Man! This Monster!)
12 The Amazing Spider-Man 6 (Nov 1963) (Lizard)
13 The Amazing Spider-Man 15 (Aug 1964) (Kraven the Hunter)
14 The Amazing Spider-Man 33 (Feb 1966) (Greatest panel ever?)
15 The Amazing Spider-Man 42 (July 1966) (Peter hits the jackpot)
16 The Amazing Spider-Man 33 (Feb 1963) (Doc Ock)
17 Fantastic Four 5 (July 1964) (Doc Doom)
18 The X-Men 1 (Sept 1963)
19 The Avengers 16 (May 1965) (For Prof Matthew)
20 Not Brand Ecch 1-13 (Aug 1967-May 1969) (Don’t want to disappoint Prof. Pete!)

Prof. John

  1. Amazing Fantasy #15 (August 1962)
  2. X-Men 57-59 (June-August 1969)
  3. Strange Tales #116 (Dr. Strange) (January 1964)
  4. Fantastic Four 48-50 (Galactus & Silver Surfer)
  5. The Amazing Spider-Man #6 (November 1963)
  6. Captain America 109 (January 1969) (Origin of Cap)
  7. The X-Men #4 (March 1964)
  8. The Avengers #4 (March 1964)
  9. Strange Tales #110 (Dr. Strange) (July 1963)
  10. The X-Men #1 (September 1963)
  11. Fantastic Four 51 (June 1966)  
  12. Journey Into Mystery #103 (April 1964)
  13. Tales of Suspense #50 (February 1964)
  14. Daredevil #3 (August 1964)
  15. Fantastic Four #1 (November 1961)
  16. Amazing Spider-Man #14 (July 1964)
  17. Fantastic Four Annual #2
  18. Amazing Spider-Man #40 (May 1966)
  19. Tales of Suspense #63 (March 1965)
  20. Strange Tale #135 (August 1965)

Prof. Matthew

Amazing Fantasy 15 (August 1962)
X-Men 4 (March 1964)
Daredevil 3 (August 1964)
Amazing Spider-Man Annual 1 (1964)
Strange Tales (Dr. Strange) 130-146 (March 1965-July 1966)
Tales of Suspense (Captain America) 66-68 (June-August 1965)
Strange Tales (Nick Fury) 135 (August 1965)
Avengers 19-20 (August-September 1965)
Fantastic Four 48-50 (March-May 1966)
10 Amazing Spider-Man 39-40 (August-September 1966)
11 Strange Tales (Nick Fury) 150-158 (November 1966- July 1967)
12 Tales to Astonish (Hulk) 90-91 (April-May 1967)
13 Avengers Special 1 (1967)
14 Avengers 49-50 (February-March 1968)
15 Silver Surfer 1 (August 1968)
16 The Mighty Thor 155-157 (August-October 1968)
17 Avengers 57-58 (October-November 1968)
18 Amazing Spider-Man 68-77 (January-October 1969)
19 X-Men 57-59 (June-August 1969)
20 Captain Marvel 17 (October 1969)

Prof. Pete

1 Strange Tales 135 (August 1965) (the first Nick Fury of SHIELD tale)

2 The Mighty Thor 154-157 (July-October 1968) (Ragnarok!)
3 Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos 3 (Suicide mission on Massacre Mountain) (Sept 1963)
4 The Avengers 4 (March 1964) (the debut of the Silver Age Captain America)
5 The X-Men 58 (July 1969) (Neal Adams reinvents The X-Kids!)
6 Fantastic Four 51 (June 1966) (This Man! This Monster!)
The Mighty Thor 126 (March 1966) (Hercules!)
Amazing Fantasy 15 (first appearance of Spider-Man) (August 1962)
The Mighty Thor 143, 144 (August-September 1967) (The Enchanters)
10 The X-Men 1 (September 1963)
11 The Amazing Spider-Man 26 (July 1965) (The Crime-Master)
12 Tales of Suspense 81 (September 1966) (The Cosmic Cube)
13 Fantastic Four 48-50 (March-May 1966) (The Coming of Galactus and The Silver Surfer)
14 Captain Marvel 2 (June 1968) (Mar-Vell vs. The Super Skrull!)
15 Daredevil 10 (October 1965) (The Organizer and his Animal Men)
16 Sgt Fury and His Howling Commandos 7 (May 1964) (Court-martial for Fury?)
17 The Amazing Spider-Man 20 (December 1964)  (First appearance of The Scorpion)
18 Captain America 109 (January 1969) (Origin of Cap)
19 The Mighty Thor 138, 139 (March-April 1967) (Ulik and the Rock Trolls)
20 Marvel Super-Heroes 16 (September 1968) (The Phantom Eagle)

Honorable Mention: I thought many would scream "Foul!" if I took up one of my precious spots with an all-science fiction reprint but I still have to give a shout out to Strange Tales Annual #1 (1962), 72 solidly-packed pages of Kirby, Lee, and Ditko. Groan to Grottu, King of the Insects! Scream in hilarity at Shagg, the Carpet that Lived! And double over at Dibalo, the Demon from the Fifth Dimension! Any idea what 72 pages in a comic book would set you back today? Whatever the cost, I can flat out guarantee you will not have half as much fun as you will with ST Annual #1.

Prof. Scott

1 Fantastic Four 1 - primitive, rushed, and a combination of a dozen already used ideas, this was still the book that started what we think of as Marvel. And it's a lot of fun. "Fool! Did you not SEE ME in time?"
2 Amazing Fantasy 15: the birth of Marvel's Mascot. And a great little tale in its own right. One of the best origins in Marvel history.
3 The Amazing Spider-Man 3 The introduction of Doc Ock. The art and script are first rate. A classic tale.
4 Fantastic Four 48-50 Counting as one (cheating, sorry), the Galactus Trilogy kicked the FF into Cosmic Saga territory at Warp Speed
5 Fantastic Four Annual 2: The Origin of Doctor Doom. Nuff said.
6 Daredevil 1: Marvel's second greatest origin tale. Amazingly offbeat, retro art, there was a stark realism about this tale that wasn't recaptured until Frank Miller took over the title.
7 Tales of Suspense 45 - we meet Happy Hogan and Pepper Potts for the first time as Iron Man finally gets a supporting cast. Here the book starts to gel. Don Heck's art is more mature than most of the work at Marvel of the day.
8 The Incredible Hulk 1 - as a kid, this was my favorite origin. However, once the origin part is over, we're stuck with a cold war tale that doesn't do much for me. It's on this list for nostalgic reasons, I think. It's an example of Lee and Kirby not quite knowing what to do with the character.
9 The Amazing Spider-Man 40 - Spidey Saves the Day and Stan spoils it on the cover (not that the outcome was in doubt). It's a classic wind up of the Green Goblin (for the time being), the only villain at the time to know Peter Parker was under the mask. With this issue, Romita's second as artist, they cast off Ditko and from this point forward, Pete Parker is cool and well liked. Truly the end of an era, but an amazing book to finish (and start) with.
10 Fantastic Four 51: "This Man, This Monster." A classic that truly deserves its status. All around great.
11 Daredevil #7: DDs battle with Namor is amazingly well done. The Wally Wood art is outstanding and we get the all-red costume. Namor has never looked more like a real person than here.
12 The Amazing Spider-Man 4: the Sandman gets his intro while we get to see more of Peter Parker's classmates. There's a fascinating comparison of Spidey's popularity with them vs Parker's unpopularity.
13 The Amazing Spider-Man 6: Spider-Man was cooking with gas from his first appearance, so these early tales pop (the only exception is the Doc Doom issue). The Lizard's debut is pitch perfect and Jameson is hysterical.
14 The Incredible Hulk 2: second issues never seem to work as well as the first, but this one wins me over on visual appeal alone. Supposedly, Ditko inked over Kirby's pencils, but there's little of Jack evident here. The layouts are all Ditko. The story is nothing much, but the art is primal. The splash page is my all time favorite depiction of the big green guy.
15 Tales of Suspense 90: "And Men Shall Call Him Traitor." A great plot by Stan and even better art by Gil Kane and Joe Sinnott. The art is extremely clean and easy on the eyes. The ending is fantastic, which is a shame it was pretty much ruined the next issue. One question: what were the other heroes in NY doing when the Skull ripped Manhattan from the Earth?
16  Strange Tales 135: Nick Fury Agent of SHIELD! The perfect intro to Nick as a secret agent. It plays like a pilot episode and sadly very few issues would live up to the promise shown here. It's a beautifully realized origin tale.
17 Tales To Astonish 77: Bruce Banner is The Hulk! A nice secret identity reveal for a main title, not something thast happened often in those days. The greatness of the reveal is diluted by the lack of adequate follow up later on. There's never a response from Bruce or the Hulk over Rick's betrayal and when The Leader reappears sometime later, it is forgotten that he never knew the connection, thus robbing him of a great character moment of discovery.
18 Fantastic Four 12: The Fantastic Four meet The Hulk! The story itself is "meh" but it's packed with Hulk characters from his (just recently defunct) book that it feels like Hulk # 7. Everyone is there and the Hulk looks like he stepped out of his brawl with Mongu to waltz around with the Thing. The fact that Karl Kort is literally a card carrying commie is hysterical. General Ross is drawn like he's 5 feet tall. Was Jack hinting at a Napoleon complex? How many times did Stan use the name "The Wrecker" anyway?
19 Tales To Astonish 63 A Titan Rides the Train! We meet the leader properly in this issue, who will emerge as one his the Hulk's greatest foes. His origin is simple but effective, even though his prior life as an "ordinary laborer" will be missing a name for a few years. The Ditko art is well done; it's always interesting to see someone else ink his pencils.
20 Tales of Suspense 63 The Origin of Captain America! This is, for my money, the best version of his origin. It's quick, clean and does the job exceptionally well. It kicked off a WW2 run in the book that fans objected to. They wanted present day Cap, but really, Cap was lifeless in our modern world. This WW2 Cap hadn't lost Bucky and wasn't a brooding whiney pants, so I found these period adventures to be much more fun. The Origin of the Red Skll a few issues later is runner up. It's still an amazing tale. Stan and Jack were firing on all cylinders during this run.

Prof. Tom

Marvel Super-Heroes #20,
Fantastic Four #6, 25, 26, 40, 63
Avengers #3,4 Avengers Annual #2
Tales to Astonish #90, 91,100
The Incredible Hulk #118
 Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner #8, 20
Amazing Spider-Man #5, 41 Annual #1
Uncanny X-Men #12 
Daredevil #53



Prof. Jack- Daredevil

Prof. Jim- Other than Thor, my personal fave would be Daredevil. Spiderman might still be the “best” one though.

Prof. Joe- The Amazing Spider-Man

Prof. John- The Amazing Spider-Man

When I signed up to take point on the X-Men, I was assuming that would be my favorite for the decade. Oh, have I learned the error of my ways. While it finished strong, for overall consistency, Pete Parker gets my vote.
Prof. Matthew- Amazing Spider-Man
Personal Favorite:  Strange Tales
There are many reasons why Amazing and the FF are considered Marvel’s standard-bearers, but I give Spidey the edge:  his book was great right out of the gate (particularly if you include the de facto first issue, Amazing Fantasy #15), with an average level of quality through the decade that I think surpasses the FF’s, and his rogues’ gallery is unparalleled.  Strange Tales, once it shed that dreadful Torch strip, epitomized the split books that were such a big part of the 1960s; unlike its brethren, Suspense and Astonish—which paired strips of similar flavors—it showed how diverse such a title could be.  At their respective peaks, I rank its component parts, Dr. Strange and Nick Fury, among the greatest Marvel ever offered, and their solo spin-offs aptly died with the decade.

Prof. Pete- The Mighty Thor. If you'd have told me, when we began this long strange trip, that I'd be raising the The Thunder God flag high upon the mast, I'd have told you were reading too many 1960s DC comic books and had lost your marbles. I had early money on The Amazing Spider-Man but those Ditko issues, for the most part, just didn't hold up. For those of you who want to tell me exactly how you feel about how I feel about Ditko, may I remind you that "everyone has an opinion."

Prof. Scott- The Fantastic Four. Sure, there are "better" titles (nothing tops Spider-Man during the Ditko years for sheer consistency), but I have always loved Marvel's First Family. They were super-heroes, explorers, adventurers, spacemen and family. Once Stan used them as his sci-fi title, the FF took off. With some of Marvel's most gorgeous art of the period (courtesy of Kirby and Sinnott) and Stan's most epic storytelling, the mid-60's comics didn't get better than the FF. For a time, it truly was the World's Greatest Comic Magazine!

Prof. Tom-Sub-Mariner


Prof. Jack- Gene Colan

Prof. Jim- Clearly a Jack (King Kirby) attack, but a close one for second, Gene Colan edging John Buscema (who I’ve come to appreciate a lot more).

Prof. Joe- John Romita

Prof. John - Neal Adams
Adams' brief run on the X-Men saved that book from being almost completely forgettable in its first decade.

Prof. Matthew-Jack Kirby

Personal Favorite:  John Buscema
They don’t call Kirby “King,” or Marvel “The House That Jack Built,” for nothing.  The quality and quantity of his output were justifiably legendary; his influence, both direct and indirect, was incalculable; his visual power and creativity were unsurpassed; and with the exception of Ditko’s Spider-Man and Dr. Strange, he drew virtually every major Marvel strip in the early days.  Jack’s departure for DC Comics in 1970 is widely considered the transition from Silver to Bronze Ages. That said, Buscema at his best could not only match Kirby in power and scope, but also surpass him in breadth, beauty, and subtlety, making his work significantly more sophisticated.  During the ’60s his work on AvengersSilver Surfer, and Sub-Mariner showed him to be second to none.

Prof. Pete- Jack Kirby. Again, a surprise for me. As a kid, I never warmed up to The King as I was of the opinion that everything he drew looked like a rock. Superheroes, women, UFOs, rocks. Re-reading everything Jack did in the 1960s has given me a new appreciation for the magical work he did on Sgt. Fury, Thor, and Fantastic Four, in particular, and all those really cool giant monster tales he did with Stan pr-heroes. Shout out to Gene Colan, who comes in a close second and will probably be close to the top when we do this again for the 1970s.

Prof. Scott- John Buscema.  I should say Jack Kirby. He was indeed The King. However, I should also say John Romita and Gene Colan, but rightfully Marvel's best artist was John Buscema. His work was simply beautiful. His characters were classic works of art; the poses as dynamic as Kirby's, the angles contained the same drama, but the pencils were cleaner, more naturalistic. Jack may have been miffed when Stan put John on the Surfer's book, but Stan was 100% right. At that point, Jack's art was getting wonky. John was kicking ass and taking names. The power was all there, tight like a steel spring. His comics were operatic. Just compare John's pencils in that book to Kirby's in the final issue.

Prof. Tom-Sal Buscema


Prof. Jack- Stan Lee

Prof. Jim- Stan Lee, if only by virtue of his tireless volume, crediting the inputs of Ditko, Kirby, etc. of course.

Prof. Joe- Stan Lee

Prof. John - Do the math. It rounds to Stan Lee, hands down.

Prof. Matthew- Stan Lee

Personal Favorite:  Roy Thomas
Wherever you stand on the great who-did-what-in-the-Marvel-Method debate, Stan inarguably co-created all of the major building blocks of the Marvel Universe, and his various innovations helped make the company what it was, establishing him as the public face of Marvel; per Stan, ’nuff said.  By 1970, Roy was firmly established as his heir and—at least as far as the super-hero strips went—had no serious competition:  DC refugee Arnold Drake left after disastrous stints onX-Men and Captain Marvel; Gary Friedrich displayed stunning ineptitude on the latter and Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.; and Archie Goodwin dabbled but made his mark only on Iron Man. Roy’s enviable productivity and batting average positioned him to lead the charge into the 1970s.

Prof. Pete- Stan Lee. I've no proof that Stan wrote all those great stories on my Top 20 list but then we're never (and I can't stress that word enough) going to get to the truth of the matter so I have to list the name of the guy who was credited with writing all those fabulous stories. The choice is almost by default since the only other guy who did stand-out work for the company (The Rascally One) hadn't been around long enough and thus hadn't produced a body of work I'd label outstanding. The migration of new writers into the 1970s bullpen will force me to do some actual thinking when it comes time to pick a "Best Writer of the 1970s."

Prof. Scott- Stan Lee.  It's Marvel in the 60's, so my vote goes to Stan. He was overloaded and overwhelming, but he gave the Marvel line its personality. Whatever people might say about his credit grabbing and whatever, the words were his, the characterizations came from him. No single writer has had that much impact on the industry.  

Prof. Tom-Stan Lee


Prof. Jack- The Hulk King-Size Special #1

Prof. Joe- The Amazing Spider-Man #50 ("Spider-Man No More!")

Prof. John - Amazing Fantasy #15. If I had to pick a cover for the latter half of the decade, it would be Captain America #109.

Prof. Matthew-  Fantastic Four #49

Personal Favorite:  Amazing Spider-Man #72

Prof. Pete- Captain America #110

Prof. Scott- X-Men #58: Enter the Man Called Havoc! Neal Adams goodness. The first cover to pop into my head and it's gorgeous.

Prof. Tom-Fantastic Four 25


Prof. Jack- John Buscema

Prof. Joe- Not Brand Ecch! (Why not?)

Prof. John - Havok. My respect for this second-tier X-Man grew in my revisiting of the entire series.

Prof. Matthew-Dr. Henry (in his many guises) and Mrs. Janet Van Dyne Pym, with the stigma of their justly failed Tales to Astonish solo series obscuring their strength as team players.

Prof. Pete- The first twenty Kirby-penciled issues of Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos. The snappy dialogue, the great character development, and the World War II backdrop all combine to make these a cut above the regular Marvel funny books for kids.

Prof. Scott- Don Heck. Here's a guy who isn't flashy like Jack Kirby or weird like Steve Ditko. He was, however, a solid craftsman who had a real knack for drawing gorgeous women and very handsome men. His art is more mature and realistic than most. While not necessarily exciting, Heck's work was clean and assured. His illustrations for Iron Man's premiere adventure was brilliant.  

Prof. Tom-Sub-Mariner


Prof. Jack- Jim Steranko

Prof. Joe- Captain Marvel

Prof. John- The X-Men While I anticipated the Thomas/Adams run to be the high point of the 60s, I incorrectly assumed that the title would occasionally live up to its classic status.

Prof. Matthew-Journey into Mystery/Thor.  Before the lynch mob lights its torches, note that I didn’t award it “Worst Title,” just “Most Overrated,” as a necessary corrective to you guys.

Prof. Pete- Jim Steranko's Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. tenure. Long have I heard about The Master's legendary run on this title and now must shake my head and wonder what all the fuss was about.

Prof. Scott- Steve Ditko. Yes, his imagination was boundless and his brain helped create a long string of successful foes for Spider-Man in his first few years. Characters who are with us to this day. But his repertoire was limited. Character designs were reused often, many of them born out of the Amazing Fantasy run. And for the life of him, Ditko could not draw women. Unless they were heavy, matronly, gut ugly spinsters or housewives. Someone must have realized this, since the debut of Mary Jane Watson was put off until John Romita took over the pencils. As Spider-Man wore on, his work became more disjointed and sloppy. He was mired in the 50's and early 60's, where teenagers wore poodle skirts or hats and ties. A legend, yes, but as an ongoing artist, he was better suited for Dr. Strange.

Prof. Tom-Amazing Spider-Man


Prof. Joe- Any Steranko SHIELD. Bizarre masterpieces all!

Prof. Matthew-  Daredevil #54 (July 1969), wherein our hero—having already created and knocked off his fictional twin brother, Mike—decides to end his secret-identity woes (many of them of his own making) by faking his own death…but elects to “kill” Matt Murdock, rather than Daredevil!

Prof. Pete- Tales of Suspense 68 (August 1965) (In the middle of Iron Man's UFO hallucinations, the world is invaded by aliens!)

Prof. Scott- Strange Tales #130: Meet The Beatles! The Human Torch series in Strange Tales was winding down at this point, and it was a long string of badly written and drawn mini-sagas.  This one takes the cake as the Beatles (who should have been insulted by their most homely depiction here) guest star. Worse is that neither the Torch nor the Thing even actually meet the Fab Four. Dorrie Evans and Alicia Masters brush into them, but they in no way figure into the plot. At this point, the series was puttering to its death. Not in time.

Prof. Tom-Daredevil 38

Since this is a celebration of the first decade of Marvel, we're accentuating the positive but we'd be remiss to leave out:


Prof. Jack- Tales to Astonish

Prof. Joe- Captain Marvel

Prof. John- The plodding saga of The Human Torch in Strange Tales still sends a shiver up my spine.

Prof. Matthew- Tales to Astonish
I’m sure X-Men got a lot of votes here for its lengthy mid-decade slump, but it started well, and I can’t in all good conscience nominate a title that featured the Thomas/Adams issues; Daredevil was my own close second, because despite its generally excellent artwork, plus individual stories of high caliber, it was too often hampered by soapiness and stupidity.  With Astonish, though, the early millstone of the Giant-Man strip—however much I love the character as an Avenger—was just the start.  The Sub-Mariner was uneven, albeit a vast improvement, while the Hulk had few oases of good artists (Buscema), stories (the High Evolutionary), or both (Kane’s Abomination) amid its now-notorious revolving-door of inappropriate pencilers and goofy, repetitious plotlines.

Prof. Pete- The X-Men (narrowly beating out Johnny Storm's run in Strange Tales and the nutty adventures of The Ant-Man in Tales to Astonish). I think my decision is weighted by the fact that this became the biggest-selling and perhaps the most influential comic title in the 1970s and it was all built on a shaky foundation.

Prof. Scott- Tales to Astonish - Giant Man: Ant-Man was The Pointless Super-Hero; what advantage is there to being an inch tall? Still, his tales had that cold weirdness, like early Thor. However, once he became Giant-Man, the title just took a nose dive. While decent as part of The Avengers, Hank Pym just couldn't cut it on his own. The Wasp didn't help, neither did the rotating staff of lower tier artists. Among all the artists on the book, Dick Ayers' pencils were the most painful. As an inker, he's fantastic, as an artist, he's kindergarten level. His layouts are dull and his figures have no sense of reality or movement. Most of his panels are simply faces. Only toward the end, with Bob Powell doing the art did the book finally at least look good. But it was never well written.

Prof. Tom-Strange Tales


Prof. Jack- The X-Men 47 (August 1968) (Maha Yogi!)

Prof. Joe- Anything with Stilt-Man

Prof. John. I can't decide, but rest assured, it was an issue of The X-Men.

Prof. Matthew- Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. #10, a Yuletide tale in which Nick dallies with his lesser squeeze before confronting the Hate-Monger (again)—who plans to wipe out ordinary humanity in favor of the Master Race (again)—and is apparently saved by…Santa.

Prof. Pete- Tales of Suspense 87 (March 1967) (Jack Sparling's Captain America). Never before (and perhaps not again until Frank Robbins desecrates this title in the mid-70s) had Captain America looked like such a clown. Stan should have taken one look at this job and closeted it.

Prof. Scott- Oy, this is a tough one. I'm going to have to go with an early Thor, JiM #90 "The Carbon Copy Man." Al Hartley's art is the most amateurish I've ever seen in a Marvel mag. I understand he wasn't a "super hero" artist, but simple anatomy seems to have escaped him. Don Blake looks like he's 60 and in some panels, kind of like a dwarf. The dialog is hideous ("am I a man or a mouse?") and the whole story is just a retelling of FF #2. Unreadable.

Prof. Tom-Strange Tales 106



  1. A nice wrap-up, gentleman. Of course, I disagree with some of your choices and comments (anyone who doesn't get Ditko or Steranko is just...WRONG!), but that's half the fun.
    Look forward to you every Wednesday.
    Bring on the '70's!

    Fantastic Four: 39-40, 44-47, 48-50, 51, 57- 61, Annual 4
    Spider-Man: 24, 26-27, 31-33, 39-40
    Thor 124-130, 131-133
    Dr. Strange: (Strange Tales) 115, 130-146
    Captain America: (Tales Of Suspense) 79-81, (Captain America) 110-111-113
    X-Men: 3 (my first Marvel comic book), 57-59, 60-61
    Avengers: 57-58

    The Fantastic Four

    Jack Kirby
    Neal Adams
    Jim Steranko
    Gene Colan

    Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko (Generally, Kirby and Ditko wrote the stories they illustrated. Stan scripted the books and put the words in the balloons based on their notes).

    Steranko: Captain America 113, X-Men 50, Nick Fury 7, Hulk Annual 1
    Kirby: Fantastic Four 49, 51, 72, Thor 133
    Ditko: Spider-Man 28
    Romita: Spider-Man 50 (Romita excelled at these clean, simple cover designs)

    John Buscema (sorry everyone, I just don't see what the fuss is all about).

    Any (Gi)Ant-Man and Torch (and Thing) story illustrated by anyone who wasn't part of the Marvel Bullpen. These pointless stories were just cranked out, and Stan, unable to divert his top talent from their regular books, let anyone who walked past the front door work on them.

    Tales To Astonish: Looking back, I can barely find a handful of stories worth re-reading.

    Putting Frankenstein on the cover of a comic book is usually considered a desperation measure. By X-Men 40, the situation really had become that dire.

    X-Men: Obviously, you young whippersnappers are having trouble looking backwards through time to their original incarnation, whereas I read the book pretty much from the start, and for me, the mid 70s incarnation is a continuation of the X-Men saga. From my perspective, the book gets off to a decent start for the first 11 issues, followed by a reasonable 10 issue run that introduces The Juggernaut, The Sentinels, and The Mimic. However, there's no denying that nothing much happens for three years until Neal Adams shows up. BTW, Adams' realistic art style was revolutionary in the late 60s, but undermined by the proliferation of third rate Adams imitators in the 1970s.

    Steranko: These days, he's remembered as a creative genius, or he's totally forgotten. He was a very talented illustrator/writer, who, at that stage, needed a scripter and a decent editor. Because he was working on a book no-one cared about, he soon found he was free to do whatever he wanted, sometimes to the detriment of the storyline. Again, like Adams, his artwork was a revelation in the mid to late 60s, and he absolutely excelled at cover design.

    All the best,

    Glenn :)

  3. Mark-

    I can't agree more- Bring on the 70s! Thanks for hanging in there with us.
    Professor Emeritus GlennME- thanks for continually adding your comments week in and week out. One of the pleasures of running this crazy blog in the first place is reading the commentary the days after posting. Keep that commentary coming throughout the 70s... pleeeeease!

  4. "A legend, yes, but as an ongoing artist, [Ditko] was better suited for Dr. Strange." Right on, Professor Scott! Welcome aboard.

    And Glenn has once again hit the nail on the head: the early (Lee and/or Kirby) and late (Thomas 2.0/Adams) issues of the original X-MEN were far too good to dismiss the book overall, however lame the middle (Thomas 1.0/Friedrich/Drake/Roth et al.) years admittedly were.

    Professor Joe is officially not allowed to read any of the Starlin CAPTAIN MARVEL issues.

    And Paste-Pot, thanks large for the cool Shocker cover!

    1. It's OK, I spelt Echh wrong here also, so karma (Kree-ma?) got me in the end....

  5. Thanks for the welcome, Prof. Matt. This is going to be fun as well as illuminating; I've devoured the 60's Marvels most of my life, but neglected much of the early 70's comics with the exception of a few flagship titles. I'm really looking forward to experiencing the transition as the old masters step down and are replaced by these young upstarts. I thank all you guys for giving such great insights so far and Prof. Pete for inviting me to take part in the ongoing discussion.

    1. I much prefer "Matthew," by the way.

    2. And thank you Scott for stepping into the great wide open maw left by another "old master," Professor Jack Seabrook. Spending his time kicking off that "A-Shat-A Day" blog, I assume.

  6. Or "The Mattster," "Sir Matt-A-Lot," or "His Mattness."

  7. Prof Matthew, the Starlin CAPTAIN MARVEL I like! I mean, how could you not? I think I just didn't like that green and white uniform. Reminds me of the stupid New York Jets....

    Much thanks to Prof. Jack also for the many months of fun classes!

    Can't wait until next week--I'm crawling the walls with anticipation!