Sunday, March 30, 2014

November 1963

(Continued from October 1963)

FANTASTIC FOUR 20  /  cover by Jack Kirby & George Roussos
Review  (coming soon)

TALES TO ASTONISH 49  /  cover by DON HECK
Review  (coming soon)

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 6  /  cover by STEVE DITKO
Review  (coming soon)

JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY 98  /  cover by Jack Kirby & Sol Brodsky
"CHALLENGED BY THE HUMAN CORBA!"
from the GCD: "Synopsis: While visiting India, Don Blake finds that one of his old teachers has been murdered by a villain who gained the power of a snake. Thor fights the Cobra in New York and defeats him, after Jane Foster sees her new boss's cowardice and goes back to Doctor Blake."

JACK KIRBY was clearly over-worked to insane levels, as Don Heck (already a regular on ANT-MAN and IRON MAN) steps in for his 1st of 3 THOR episodes. I'm not thrilled... but what the hey. Kirby continues to supply the story, while Stan Lee does dialogue. The main point of interest here is the introduction of THE COBRA, who would become a VERY long-running super-villain for decades to come.

Meanwhile...
"ODIN BATTLES YMIR, KING OF THE ICE GIANTS"
from the GCD: "Synopsis: The ice giants, led by Ymir, attack Asgard but Odin defends it and traps Ymir inside a ring of fire."

Not much of a sypnopsis, but what the hey. JACK KIRBY supplies story & art, Stan Lee dialogue, and Don Heck the inks. While this story takes place (apparently) in the dim distant past, Ymir would turn up in the PRESENT-day Marvel Universe on a number of instances.

While this was going on... FANTASTIC FOUR ANNUAL #1 featured the Sub-Mariner reunited with his people, and attacking NYC; FF #19 introduced a VERY long-running villain in "Prisoners Of The Pharaoh", while FF #20 had "The Mysterious Molecule Man" (which included another appearance by The Watcher).

X-MEN #2 had "No One Can Stop the Vanisher"; SGT. FURY #4 had "Lord Ha-Ha's Last Laugh"; TALES OF SUSPENSE #47 had "Iron Man Battles The Melter" (the first of 3 STEVE DITKO episodes in which IM's bulky yellow armor is destroyed); STRANGE TALES #114 has Kirby return to pencilling for "The Human Torch Meets Captain America" (a deceptive title if ever there was one, heh), TALES TO ASTONISH #49 also has Jack Kirby back on pencils for the 1st of 3 episodes, with "The Birth Of Giant-Man", in which he totally revamps the series while Stan Lee replaced Ernie Hart on dialogue while Don Heck supplies inks to maintain consistency. Finally THE AVENGERS #2 has "The Space Phantom", in which Iron Man (still in his yellow armor), Giant-Man (in his new identity), Thor (same as ever) and Wasp (ditto, tee-hee) have a severe misunderstanding with The Hulk, who QUITS the group after being a member for less than one issue.

When you consider that Jack Kirby was writing ALL of these at the same time... doesn't it just blow your mind?
    (2-3-2014)


STRANGE TALES 114  /  cover by Jack Kirby & Dick Ayers
Review  (coming soon)

TALES OF SUSPENSE 47  /  cover by Jack Kirby & George Roussos ??
Review  (coming soon)

THE AVENGERS 2  /  cover by Jack Kirby & Paul Reinman
Review  (coming soon)

X-MEN 2  /  cover by Jack Kirby & Paul Reinman
Review  (coming soon)

(Continued in December 1963)

All Text (C) Henry R. Kujawa
Artwork (C) Marvel Comics
Restorations by Henry R. Kujawa

October 1963

(Continued from September 1963)

FANTASTIC FOUR 19  /  cover by Jack Kirby & Paul Reinman
Review  (coming soon)

TALES TO ASTONISH 48  /  cover by Jack Kirby & Sol Brodsky
Review  (coming soon)

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 5  /  cover by STEVE DITKO
Review  (coming soon)

JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY 97  /  cover by Jack Kirby & ??
"THE LAVA MAN"
from the GCD: "Synopsis: Thor battles the Lava Man, a monster brought to the surface by Loki, who claims all the dry surface of Earth for his people. Odin forbids Thor to love Jane Foster, leading to her leaving her job as Dr. Blake's nurse."
"Indexer Notes: Dr. Andrews is first called Basil by Jane Foster on page 6 but then is called Bruce by Dr. Blake on the last page. Apparently in the Marvel Universe nurses can't work for doctors that they're not pursuing a romantic relationship with.
"

SGT. FURY, X-MEN and AVENGERS were bi-monthly when they started. That means, this month JACK KIRBY actually had time to get back on THOR! Which is to say, he's been doing ALL the stories from the beginning, with help, but this time the middle-men are cut out, and JACK KIRBY does story AND pencils! The "editor" also cuts out the middle-men this month, kicking Robert Bernstein out of a job and taking over writing the dialogue himself (while CONTINUING to steal credit AND PAY for the stories as well).

In addition to the 13 page lead story, JACK KIRBY also begins a long-running 5-page back-up series... "TALES OF ASGARD!"

from the GCD: "Synopsis: Beneath Asgard lies the Well of Life. From it came Ymir, greatest of the Frost Giants and Buri, the first Norse God who gave life to Borr. Borr had three sons. Odin was one of them."

JACK KIRBY supplies series concept, story & art. Dialogue by Stan Lee, inks by "George Bell" (the MOON-LIGHTING George Roussos, who, according to his interview in ALTER EGO, was doing Lee a favor by inking pages at HALF-RATES over the weekend... no wonder so many of them looked so awful).
    (2-2-2014)

STRANGE TALES 113  /  cover by Jack Kirby & Don Heck
Review  (coming soon)

TALES OF SUSPENSE 46  /  cover by Jack Kirby & Dick Ayers
Review  (coming soon)

(Continued in November 1963)

All Text (C) Henry R. Kujawa
Artwork (C) Marvel Comics
Restorations by Henry R. Kujawa

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

September 1963

(Continued from August 1963)

FANTASTIC FOUR 18  /  cover by Jack Kirby & Paul Reinman
Review  (coming soon)

FANTASTIC FOUR ANNUAL 1  /  cover by Jack Kirby & Dick Ayers
Review  (coming soon)

TALES TO ASTONISH 47  /  cover by Jack Kirby & Dick Ayers (and DON HECK)
Review  (coming soon)

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 4  /  cover by STEVE DITKO
Review  (coming soon)

JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY 96  /  cover by Jack Kirby & Sol Brodsky
"MAD MERLIN!"
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.
    (2-1-2014)



STRANGE TALES 112  /  cover by JACK KIRBY
Review  (coming soon)

STRANGE TALES ANNUAL 2  /  cover by Jack Kirby & Sol Brodsky
Review  (coming soon)

TALES OF SUSPENSE 45  /  cover by Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko & Don Heck
This is an odd one. The figure of Iron Man is a STAT, taken from the splash page of SUSPENSE #43!! I wonder what this looked like "before"?

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).
    (3-21-15)



THE AVENGERS 1  /  cover by Jack Kirby & Dick Ayers
Review  (coming soon)

X-MEN 1  /  cover by Jack Kirby & Paul Reinman
Review  (coming soon)

(Continued in October 1963)

All Text (C) Henry R. Kujawa
Artwork (C) Marvel Comics
Restorations by Henry R. Kujawa

Sunday, March 23, 2014

August 1963

(Continued from July 1963)

FANTASTIC FOUR 17  /  cover by Jack Kirby & Dick Ayers
Review  (coming soon)

TALES TO ASTONISH 46  /  cover by Jack Kirby & Dick Ayers
Review  (coming soon)

JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY 95  /  cover by Jack Kirby & Dick Ayers
"THE DEMON DUPLICATORS"
from the GCD: "Synopsis: An evil scientist forces Dr. Blake to help him with a duplicating machine by kidnapping Jane. The device duplicates Thor, but cannot duplicate his magic hammer, allowing Thor to defeat the duplicate. Dr. Zaxton accidentally duplicates himself and falls to his death, leaving his good duplicate to take his place."

This is wild. The "SUPERMAN III" parallel CONTINUES for the 2nd issue in a row! First, Thor turns EVIL. Now, he splits into two people, and fights himself! Doesn't it look like whoever wrote that AWFUL movie in the 80's was thumbing thru THESE comics when they were looking for ideas? ("Blue tights, red cape, super-strong, flies... ehh, close enough!")

I have no doubt Jack Kirby supplied the story here, while JOE SINNOTT does full art for the 4th of 5 episodes. Robert Bernstein continues on the dialogue (and possibly fleshing out the story).

Kirby was supplying stories this month to Ernie Hart & Don Heck in ANT-MAN ("When Cyclops Walks The Earth") and Robert Bernstein & Don Heck in IRON MAN ("The Mad Pharaoh"), and Ernie Hart & Dick Ayers in THE HUMAN TORCH ("Fighting To Death With The Asbestos Man")

In addition, it's QUITE possible this was around the time Jack Kirby also got roped into coming up with a proposal (which would, in a rare instance, almost certainly be "work for hire") for DAREDEVIL, in which he designed the circus acrobat costume & came up with the series format of his being a circus acrobat, in the style of Kirby's earlier STUNTMAN... which Bill Everett then REJECTED and replaced with his own ideas. I say this because recently I found out that-- yes-- THE AVENGERS-- was slapped together specifically to replace DAREDEVIL on the production schedule, because Bill Everett was running really, really late, and Martin Goodman, who was chomping at the bit so much to PREVENT Pete Morisi & Charlton Comics from reviving the REAL Daredevil, had actually been STUPID enough to put the Marvel character ripping off that name on the production schedule, BEFORE the book had been done, or had even been completely conceived!!
    (1-31-2014)

STRANGE TALES 111  /  cover by Jack Kirby & Dick Ayers
Review  (coming soon)

TALES OF SUSPENSE 44  /  cover by Jack Kirby & Dick Ayers
Review  (coming soon)

(Continued in September 1963)

All Text (C) Henry R. Kujawa
Artwork (C) Marvel Comics
Restorations by Henry R. Kujawa


July 1963

(Continued from June 1963)

TALES TO ASTONISH 45  /  cover by Jack Kirby & Dick Ayers
Review  (coming soon)

FANTASTIC FOUR 16  /  cover by Jack Kirby & Dick Ayers
Review  (coming soon)

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 3  /  cover by STEVE DITKO
Spider-Man's NUMBER ONE ARCH ENEMY makes his debut RIGHT HERE!!!  Don't let anyone fool you into thinking otherwise. We're talking dangerously criminally INSANE here, people.


JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY 94  /  cover by Jack Kirby & Dick Ayers
"THOR AND LOKI ATTACK THE HUMAN RACE!"
from the GCD: "Synopsis: Loki uses his magic to cause Thor's hammer to hit his head, turning him evil. Thor frees Loki, and the two terrorize Earth until the other Asgardians arrange for another blow to the head to reverse the change."

The above story description reminds me of the scene in SUPERMAN III where Supes turns evil, and when he finds a woman on top of the Statue of Liberty who appears to be committing suicide, he says to her, "I hope you don't expect me to save you because I don't DO that sort of thing anymore."

After one month off, JOE SINNOTT returns on full art, his 3rd of 5 episodes. Jack Kirby (undoubtedly!) supplies the story, Robert Bernstein the dialogue. Loki is increasingly becoming a regular in this feature, having appeared in 5 out of the first 12 episodes so far.

Among other things, this month, Jack Kirby did his 3rd (of 3) episodes of full pencils on IRON MAN in TALES OF SUSPENSE #43-- "Kala, Queen of the Netherworld". He also did SGT. FURY AND HIS HOWLING COMMANDOS #2, "Seven Doomed Men!" Incredibly, he was gonna get EVEN busier in just another 2 months!!
    (1-30-2014)


TALES OF SUSPENSE 43  /  cover by Jack Kirby & Dick Ayers
Review  (coming soon)

STRANGE TALES 110  /  cover by Jack Kirby & Dick Ayers
Review  (coming soon)

(Continued in August 1963)

All Text (C) Henry R. Kujawa
Artwork (C) Marvel Comics
Restorations by Henry R. Kujawa

June 1963

(Continued from May 1963)

FANTASTIC FOUR 15  /  cover by Jack Kirby & Dick Ayers
Review  (coming soon)

TALES TO ASTONISH 44  /  cover by Jack Kirby & Don Heck
Review  (coming soon)

JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY 93  /  cover by Jack Kirby & Dick Ayers
"THE MYSTERIOUS RADIO-ACTIVE MAN!"
from the GCD: "Synopsis: While on a medical mission to India, Dr. Blake becomes Thor to repel a Chinese attack. In order to fight Thor, a Chinese scientist irradiates himself to gain great power. He fights Thor in New York, and nearly defeats him, but Thor blows him back to China, creating a nuclear explosion."

After 3 issues, JACK KIRBY returns to doing pencils in addition to writing the story, and predictably, the quality jumps UP substantially. This time we have a mix of "cold war" AND "sci-fi", with a new and dangerous super-villain being created who will, sometime later, be THOR's contribution to "THE MASTERS OF EVIL". Once more, Robert Bernstein does dialogue (hard to picture him doing more with Kirby on both story AND art) while Dick Ayers remains the perrennial inker.

Jack Kirby also returned to pencil this month's ANT-MAN story in TALES TO ASTONISH #44, "The Creature From Kosmos", the one that not only fleshed out Hank Pym's background more but also introduced Janet Van Dyne-- THE WASP! On the other hand, Don Heck had his 2nd episode of pencilling IRON MAN published this month, in TALES OF SUSPENSE #42.

After my still-recent experience of re-reading ALL my 60's Marvel in chronological sequence, I find that works best, as it gives one a more complete sense of how all these various books were slowly coming together and evolving, between Kirby, Ayers, Heck & Ditko (and sometimes others) all getting involved.

(WHAT the heck is it with all these titles with the word "Mysterious!!!" in them? I'd bet that's the "editor"'s hand at work, it seems like his kind of "excess".)
    (1-29-2014)

STRANGE TALES 109  /  cover by Jack Kirby & Dick Ayers
Review  (coming soon)

TALES OF SUSPENSE 42  /  cover by Jack Kirby & Don Heck
Review  (coming soon)

(Continued in July 1963)

All Text (C) Henry R. Kujawa
Artwork (C) Marvel Comics
Restorations by Henry R. Kujawa


Friday, March 21, 2014

May 1963

(Continued from April 1963)

FANTASTIC FOUR 14  /  cover by Jack Kirby & Steve Ditko
Review  (coming soon)

STRANGE TALES 107  /  cover by Jack Kirby & Sol Brodsky  (April 1963)
Just a short note so far, the reason this issue is listed on this page is because, as far as I can tell, as far as Sub-Mariner's continuity goes, this story takes place after FANTASTIC FOUR 14, not before.

TALES TO ASTONISH 43  /  cover by Jack Kirby & Sol Brodsky
Review  (coming soon)

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2  /  cover by STEVE DITKO
Review  (coming soon)

JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY 92  /  cover by JACK KIRBY  (w/ Dick Ayers)
"THE DAY LOKI STOLE THOR'S MAGIC HAMMER"
from the GCD: "Synopsis: Loki magically diverts Thor's hammer to free himself from his chains. Thor returns to Asgard to find the hammer, and Loki tries to kill him with magical traps, but Thor overcomes them all to find his hammer and catch Loki."

Well, now the series is falling into a rut-- or simply narrowing the field a bit too much. This is the 2nd episode in a row to feature Loki and his endless vendetta against his adoptive brother.

As last time, apparently Jack Kirby supplied the story, Robert Bernstein the dialogue (and possibly fleshed out the story full-script, it's impossible to say), while JOE SINNOTT provided full art.

The cover appears to be by Kirby & Dick Ayers-- except, the figure of Loki also appeared on a "Masterworks" pin-up page, which suggests it may have been a piece of art reused here and compositted by the production department. Nick Caputo suggests the possibility of Jack Kirby inks, and while I believe the Thor figure was inked by Ayers, there's a good chance the figure of Loki (done separately) was all Kirby.
    (1-28-2014)

STRANGE TALES 108  /  cover by Jack Kirby & Dick Ayers
Review  (coming soon)

TALES OF SUSPENSE 41  /  cover by JACK KIRBY
"THE STRONGHOLD OF DOCTOR STRANGE"
This is the story I believe was the first IRON MAN story actually produced, from Jack Kirby, Robert Bernstein & Dick Ayers. The villain of that story, I believe, was originally intended to be THE YELLOW CLAW, returning from the late-50's. I'm guessing the "editor" nixed it because he wanted to distance the new "Marvel" from the old one.
    (1-28-2014)

SGT. FURY 1  /  cover by Jack Kirby & Dick Ayers
Review  (coming soon)

(Continued in June 1963)

All Text (C) Henry R. Kujawa
Artwork (C) Marvel Comics
Restorations by Henry R. Kujawa

April 1963

(Continued from March 1963)

FANTASTIC FOUR 13  /  cover by Jack Kirby & Don Heck   (w/ Al Hartley)
Review  (coming soon)

TALES TO ASTONISH 42  /  cover by Jack Kirby & Dick Ayers
Review  (coming soon)

JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY 91  /  cover by Jack Kirby & Dick Ayers
"SANDU, MASTER OF THE SUPERNATURAL!"
from the GCD: "Synopsis: Loki gives a greedy carnival mystic magical powers in order to use him to attack Thor. Thor is overcome in their first battle, but with the help of Odin and his belt of strength he defeats Loki's pawn."

Although the initial rotation of sci-fi, cold war & Asgard has been jettisoned, Loki once again returns 3 issues after his last appearance. This guy just can't stop messing with his foster brother, using dupes to carry out his schemes by granting them magic powers (a long-running theme in the series).

This is the 1st of 5 episodes illustrated by JOE SINNOTT, who did full art. Robert Bernstein replaces Larry Lieber on dialogue (as he ALSO did this same month on IRON MAN!). Legend has it JACK KIRBY was really the one supplying Bernstein with the stories, not the "editor" (as listed fradulantly in the credits & pay stubs). The only question is, did Kirby pass on the stories direct to Bernstein, or THRU said "editor"? If the latter, it becomes easy to see how eventually CUTTING OUT a second writer from the process smoothed the production line (so to speak). Kirby & Ayers continue to do their usual wonderful work on the covers.
    (1-27-2014)

TALES OF SUSPENSE 40  /  cover by Jack Kirby & Don Heck
Review  (coming soon)

(Continued in May 1963)

All Text (C) Henry R. Kujawa
Artwork (C) Marvel Comics
Restorations by Henry R. Kujawa