FANTASTIC FOUR 18 / cover by Jack Kirby & Paul Reinman
FANTASTIC FOUR ANNUAL 1 / cover by Jack Kirby & Dick Ayers
TALES TO ASTONISH 47 / cover by Jack Kirby & Dick Ayers (and DON HECK)
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 4 / cover by STEVE DITKO
JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY 96 / cover by Jack Kirby & Sol Brodsky
from the GCD: "Synopsis: Merlin is awakened after a thousand years and immediately decides to try and take over the world; He battles Thor using familiar Washington D.C. monuments. Thor defeats Merlin and forces him to return to sleep."
"Indexer Notes: This 'Merlin' was revealed to be an imposter in Avengers Annual #22. In most of his appearances he calls himself 'Maha Yogi'. He has been said to be a mutant, but this is also false."
The last of JOE SINNOTT's 5 episodes of THOR features our mythological hero fighting another character from history and/or mythology. Jack Kirby continues supplying stories while busy elsewhere, with Robert Bernstein either fleshing out Kirby's story or simply supplying dialogue (hard to tell at this point).
The Sep'63 issues were incredibly hectic for JACK KIRBY. In FANTASTIC FOUR #18, he had "A Skrull Walks Among Us", the sequel to FF #2, and a story that was later adapted into the 1967 Hanna-Barbera FF cartoons by Alex Toth. Dick Ayers supplied inks. ANT-MAN & WASP in TALES TO ASTONISH #47 had "Music To Scream By" with Ernie Hart & Don Heck. IRON MAN in TALES OF SUSPENSE #45 had "The Icy Fingers Of Jack Frost", which not only introduced a new villain, but also the first members of that series' supporting cast-- Happy Hogan & Pepper Potts, with Robert Bernstein & Don Heck. SGT. FURY AND HIS HOWLING COMMANDOS #3 had "Midnight On Massacre Mountain", with Dick Ayers on inks. JOHNNY STORM in STRANGE TALES #112 had "The Human Bomb", and while the story seems to be almost entirely the work of Jerry Siegel & Dick Ayers, there's a good chance the villain, The Eel, was another one from Kirby.
You'd think a workload like that would KILL most people. Well, on TOP of that-- you had X-MEN #1, which introduced a new series, an entire team of new characters, and one very long-running badguy, Magneto. Inks were by Paul Reinman, who's usually on my S*** list of really BAD inkers. There's indications that this issue was rushed out terribly fast, as the art is sketchier and skimpier than usual.
And on top of THAT-- this month also saw THE AVENGERS #1!!! "The Coming Of The Avengers" gathered together Iron Man, Ant-Man & Wasp, Hulk (who'd lost his own series some time earlier), Rick Jones & The Teen Brigade, featured a cameo by the Fantastic Four, but mostly, acted as a SPIN-OFF of THE MIGHTY THOR!! The villain of the piece, who set the whole story in motion, was-- OF COURSE-- Loki. That sonofabitch just had nothing better to do with his endless time as an immortal, did he??
Oh, "Merlin" (or somebody calling himself that) wound up having a cameo in THE AVENGERS #10, 14 months later. Same guy, or not? Hard to tell.
STRANGE TALES 112 / cover by JACK KIRBY
STRANGE TALES ANNUAL 2 / cover by Jack Kirby & Sol Brodsky
TALES OF SUSPENSE 45 / cover by Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko & Don Heck
After 6 episodes with NO supporting cast of any kind, Iron Man finally picks up 2 new cast members-- and they make a BIG DEAL about it right on the cover!
What I continue to wonder about is, WHO exactly came up with "Happy Hogan" & "Pepper Potts"? Those do sound like Jack Kirby names to me. But what about the designs? Just as "Tony Stark" is clearly modelled on Errol Flynn (while his whole persona, by comparison, comes from Howard Hughes), ex-boxer-turned chauffer "Happy" is clearly based (at least, in these early episodes) on boxer-turned actor Nat Pendleton (who played the ambulance driver in the "DR. KILDARE" movie series!!). "Pepper", according to Don Heck, was based on Ann B. Davis-- though I have not to this day found a single photo of her looking quite like what Heck drew.
Strangely enough, the bad guy in this issue, "Jack Frost", did not reappear in the series until the mid-70s, in a fill-in done by Bill Mantlo, George Tuska & Vince Colletta (the "go-to" guys for "inventory" fill-in stories).
THE AVENGERS 1 / cover by Jack Kirby & Dick Ayers
X-MEN 1 / cover by Jack Kirby & Paul Reinman
(Continued in October 1963)
All Text (C) Henry R. Kujawa
Artwork (C) Marvel Comics
Restorations by Henry R. Kujawa