Sunday, June 26, 2011

Marvel History Post 103: Strange Tales # 115

Issue: Strange Tales # 115
Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Dick Ayers (story one) Steve Ditko (story two)
Publication Date: December 1963


Brief Summary:

http://marvel.wikia.com/Strange_Tales_115


Commentary:


Sandman's back, after getting beat up by Spidey.  They had him locked up in a jail cell with bars.  He's the Sandman.  Didn't they think he might be able to make a play to escape from such a place?


We also learn the origin of Dr. Strange in the backup story.  Dormammu is referenced, although not seen.  


Quick Thoughts:
  • Stan writes that the Sandman story comes via special arrangement with Spider-Man's mag, given that he's a Spidey villain and all. 
  • Torch pretends to be Spidey, his noted rival, in order to lure the Sandman to him.
Favorite Panel:


Dr. Strange before he took up black magic.  A jerk, and a cigarette smoking doctor.  For shame!


Next:


Tales of Suspense # 48

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Marvel History Post 102: Journey into Mystery # 99

Issue: Journey into Mystery # 99
Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Don Heck
Publication Date: December 1963


Brief Summary:


http://marvel.wikia.com/Journey_Into_Mystery_99




Commentary:


The subplot of Thor's difficulty in gaining permission to marry Nurse Foster continues.  If Odin wasn't kicking the crap out of Frost Giants in the back up story of every issue, he'd seem like a real jerk.  Of course, he does give Thor a little bit of hope that something might happen down the line if Jane Foster plays her cards right.


In the back up story of tales of days past in Asgard, Odin traps the Surtur in the center of the earth.  Wonder if we'll be seeing him at any point again.  This story also includes the creation myth of the moon, and how Odin set the earth spinning.  We'll have to see if this is referenced again in MU history.


This is also the first two parter we've encountered in Stan's marvel stories.  Instead of just leaving certain subplots lingering, Stan doesn't wrap up the main story, as the villain Hyde is still on the loose at issue's end.




Quick Thoughts:

  • Stan occasionally makes an off hand sexist comment, like in this issue when Nurse Jane Foster faints solely because she is a female.  
  • Stan once again draws on characters and ideas from other works of art, this time referencing the novel Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  
    Favorite Panel:

    I liked how the sound effect was split between the two panels. 

    Next:


    Strange Tales # 115

    Friday, June 24, 2011

    Marvel History Post 101: Fantastic Four # 21

    Issue: Fantastic Four # 21
    Writer: Stan Lee
    Artist: Jack Kirby
    Publication Date: December 1963


    Brief Summary:

    http://marvel.wikia.com/Fantastic_Four_21




    Commentary:

    The Fan 4 tackle the issue of bigotry, a topic normally reserved for the Uncanny X-Men.  The villain's outfit is an elaborate redesign of typical KKK fare, so it's surprising to see this in a mainstream 60s comic.  Also, keep in mind that this comic came out very shortly after Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I have a dream speech," which was delivered in August of 1963.  Although the Hate Monger doesn't mention color, the sentiments are there.  

    Oh, and then Nick Fury shows up.  Yes!  We have Fury meeting up with Richards, who says they haven't seen each other since the end of the war.  While the fact that Fury clearly survives WW2 (and still doesn't have an eye patch) may have taken some of the tension out of the next one hundred issues or so of his series, it's cool to see these two meet up again.  We first found out Fury and Reed knew each other in one of Fury's books (Nick Fury # 3).  

    While this is all still pretty straightforward, the Marvel chronology is getting a little more confusing, as characters' stories continue to weave around each other.  We'll have to keep an eye out for Nick Fury in future stories set in the then-present-day MU.

    Oh yeah.  And the Hate Monger is Hitler.  Or a Hitler clone.  Go figure.




    Quick Thoughts:

    • Torch spends his free time throwing darts at a picture of Spider-Man.
    • The Hate Monger also instigates another of the famous Fantastic Four team split ups.
    • Fury is now working for the CIA, and is a Colonel.  I'm sure SHIELD is coming.
      Favorite Panel:


      Nick Fury, doin it Commando style.

      Next: Journey into Mystery # 99

      Thursday, June 23, 2011

      Marvel History Post 100(!): Amazing Spider-Man # 7

      Issue: Amazing Spider-Man # 7
      Writer: Stan Lee
      Artist: Steve Ditko
      Publication Date: December 1963


      Brief Summary:


      http://marvel.wikia.com/Amazing_Spider-Man_7


      Commentary:


      After having such a successful go of things the first time around, the Vulture is back in action.  Stan makes a big point of emphasizing that the Vulture designed something to accommodate for the way Spider-Man beat him last time, and Spidey should have really thought this was a possibility.  Still, it's only issue seven.  There's a lot of mistakes still to be made.


      We continue to see Jameson's completely one sided view of our hero, as he is involved in another of Spidey's rescue efforts, and yet tries to more or less pin all of his problems on our hero.  Readers of the time may have been hoping for the one comic where Jameson's fool headed logic is turned on its head, but they've been waiting for that a long time. 


      Quick Thoughts:
      • Spider-Man's town is named as Forest Hills.
      • J. Jonah Jameson publishes "Now" magazine in addition to the Daily Bugle.
      Favorite Panel:


      The below is one of the more experimental panel layouts we've seen thus far, with the stretched out length and minimal width.  It works well for this scene, emphasizing the fact that Spidey can't see the Vulture from his vantage point until the rogue is on top of him, but letting us see the villain's cunning the entire time.






      Next:


      Fantastic Four # 21

      Wednesday, June 22, 2011

      Marvel History Post 99: X-Men # 2


      Issue: X-Men # 2
      Writer: Stan Lee
      Artist: Jack Kirby
      Publication Date: November 1963

      Brief Summary:
      http://marvel.wikia.com/Uncanny_X-Men_2

      Commentary:

      The Angel gets a welcoming reaction from a group of girls.  Clearly, the X-Men as the poster children for bigotry in the Marvel Universe has not yet set in.

      We meet the Vanisher in this issue; while not exactly the star player in the X-Men rogues gallery, Vanisher does resurface from time to time, including a recent stint in X-Force.

      We also see the X-Men lose in their first battle with the Vanisher, a reminder that in Stan Lee comics, the heroes have to go through some tough losses before ultimately stopping the bad guys.

      Professor X steps in and makes the Vanisher forget who he is. Again we have the question of the morality of this decision being completed ignored. It will be explored in comics several decades later, as I have previously mentioned, in the DC storyline Identity Crisis.

      Quick Thoughts:
      • Angel refers to Xavier as Dr. X at one point. We all make mistakes.
      • Angel flirts it up with Jean Grey, likely thinking he has a chance with her. We all make mistakes.
      • The Danger Room is referred to by its proper name.
      • Cyclops' powers are used to melt something; apparently there is a heat associated with the optic blast in its early days?
      • Can anyone explain what the Vanisher's costume actually is?
      Favorite Panel:


      The X-Men leaping into action.

      Next:

      Amazing Spider-Man # 7

      Tuesday, June 21, 2011

      Marvel History Post 98: Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos # 4

      Issue: Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos # 4
      Writer: Stan Lee
      Artist: Jack Kirby
      Publication Date: November 1963

      Quick Summary:


      Commentary:

      Even a champ like Nick Fury doubts himself with the ladies. It's pretty clear that at this point in time, there's only one Cassanova in the MU: Tony Stark. But what's the reasoning behind this? Is it something in Stan's personality, or does he believe he'll reach more readers by setting up his heroes, despite all their superhuman strength, as clumsy footed fools when it comes to the womenfolk?

      Also, Fury tells one of those war time lies in this issue, exaggerating the death of someone to be more heroic than it was. In fact, he tells a girl that her brother died valiantly, as opposed to being a traitor.

      While these comics are no Saving Private Ryan, Stan does try to inject a sense of the cruelty of war. Sure, there's no blood and no guts, and the fight scenes can be ridiculous, but there is death, and there are tragedies. For early war comics, these aren't half bad. Perhaps that's a little
      unfair of me, as I am not familiar with the majority of war comics, so I can't say how much these differ.

      Favorite Panel:

      The first of the Howling Commandos to bite the dust.

      Favorite Quote: "I can't fight bombers with cuss words!" - Nick Fury. Oh, but if one man could..

      Next: X-Men # 2