Below you’ll find our reading selections for the year of 1963, and at the end of our reading, you’ll find my thoughts on the year and our winners for hero and villain of the year.
Feel free to discuss the comics and any related thoughts below in the comments!
Vote Here For Your Hero & Villain Of The Year! Voting closes on Thursday at 6 p.m. every week. New list and year every Friday throughout 2016!
Enjoy Comic Book Herald’s 1963 Spotify playlist while you read!
1963 Comic Reading List:
|Comic Book Title||Issues||Link to Marvel Unlimited:|
|Amazing Spider-Man||#1 to #3||http://marvel.com/comics/issue/6482/amazing_spider-man_1963_1|
|Tales of Suspense||#39||http://marvel.com/comics/issue/11280/tales_of_suspense_1959_39|
|Fantastic Four / Fantastic Four Annual||#12, #13 / #1||http://marvel.com/comics/issue/12917/fantastic_four_1961_12|
|Sgt. Fury and His Holwing Commandos||#1||http://marvel.com/comics/issue/10644/sgt_fury_and_his_howling_commandos_1963_1|
|Tales to Astonish||#44||http://marvel.com/comics/issue/11387/tales_to_astonish_1959_44|
|Fantastic Four||#16 to #17||http://marvel.com/comics/issue/12961/fantastic_four_1961_16|
|Strange Tales||#110, #111, #115||http://marvel.com/comics/issue/11034/strange_tales_1951_115|
Marvel Year Two – 1963
Thanks again to everyone for making My Marvelous Year so much fun so far! It’s been a blast reading through all these old Marvel Age books with everyone, and you all are voting these things way too close for comfort. I’ve spent hours debating the Villain of the Year, and so far I’ve already used my phone a friend lifeline.
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But before I get to the MVPs…
5 Takeaways on Marvel Year Two
1) Stan and Jack: Hostages of Doom!
Fantastic Four #10 breaks the fourth wall so hard it’s a wonder anyone bothered putting it back together. It’s not just that we travel to the Marvel offices and see Stan and Jack working on a new concept for a Fantastic Four villain (still waiting on that Groucho Marx rogue issue). It’s not just that Stan and Jack meet Doctor Doom, even though the last time we saw him he was riding a meteor into space. It’s not even that Doctor Doom enters like a Scrubs gag (“Somebody say Dooom!!”).
No, it’s all of that, but it’s mainly that the Fantastic Four are aware Stan and Jack are working on their stories, as they act them out. KABOOM!!! Put your brain back together after that. Even Grant Morrison’s Animal Man is sitting there like “How the heck did they pull that off? Also, be nicer to monkeys.”
2) Peter Parker: Nerd, Hero, Labcoat
Not enough can be said about the nerdy aspects of Peter Parker. He’s a teenage dweeb who says “Count me out, Kids. I can’t make it!” to an invitation that was not even extended to him like some kind of scientific Statler and Waldorf. He’s me!
There’s a reason Johnny Storm could never be Marvel’s teenage hero du jour: he’s way too cool. It is literally ancient history so I have no idea how true this is, but if you were doing things like Johnny (driving girls to watch the sun set on top of mountains), you probably didn’t have issues of Strange Tales in the back. Unless of course you were actually the coolest person in the universe, in which case you did both.
Then there’s Peter Parker, with his doting Aunt, antisocial proclivities, and smothering sense of guilt. If my Aunt was perpetually 90, I’d be looking in a mirror, and I have to think a lot of Marvel readers from the time felt the same.
3) Iron Man Starring in… Walk Hard
There’s a fallability to Marvel heroes that makes them extremely charming. Just look at Iron Man in his first appearance. Tony builds the incredible Iron Man armor, Yinsin sacrifices his life to help Tony escape, and… Iron Man stumbles like a drunk baby in his first attempts to walk.
It’s a funny scene, and a wonderfully realistic sequence as Tony adjusts to his new life.
4) King Kirby Goes H.A.M On The Baxter Building
There’s a reason Jack Kirby fans ride for him like me any time someone mentions Green Day’s American Idiot (it’s a modern classic, how dare you?!). Look at that Baxter Building design.
Forget for a moment that intensely dissected blueprints are the best, and look at all the detail and imagination in that one page. Yes, King Kirby created the images and action we associate with the Fantastic Four, Hulk, Avengers, X-Men, and too many others to name… but look at the right side of that building. He gave the Fantastic Four a rocket hanger! In their apartment!
5) Reed Yells At Fans About Women
There’s been a fair amount of discussion so far about the inherent early 60’s sexism in these issues. While it’s not quite Mad Men, it’s certainly of the same world. I’d argue Stan and Jack (and co.) all have overwhelmingly positive intentions, but there’s no denying women are treated as “silly females” far too often.
The best example of this is also the strangest. It wasn’t part of the core reading, but in Fantastic Four #11 (the introduction of the Impossible Man, go figure), Stanly the Manly takes a moment to mouthpiece Reed Richards in response to fan mail (again, you can kiss that 4th wall goodbye).
Reed suddenly and angrily starts yelling directly at the reader for saying Sue doesn’t do enough on the Fantastic Four. He makes his point with an Abraham Lincoln quote, the assertion that women probably shouldn’t/couldn’t split rails, and an impromptu Lincoln bust the FF apparently keep in the Baxter Building.
Mostly good, right? They’re totally defending Sue and working to convince all their readers that women have value and should be treated with respect.
Well… a mere PAGE later, we get the following exchange:
Sue: “I-I’m so choked up I don’t know what to say!”
Ben: “First time I ever heard A FEMALE admit a thing like that!”
One step forward… and a Grimm step back.
Comic Book Herald’s Question of the Week
Ok, seriously, who does the Hulk’s make-up?
The Voting – 1963
The Marvel Hero of the Year – 1963
In 1962 the Fantastic Four won in resounding fashion with a majority vote. For 1963, we have a new winner in the Amazing Spider-Man, although he won the year in similarly convincing style! Spider-Man hauled in 58% of the Hero of the Year vote, for our strongest margin to date. The X-Men were a distant second place, and Doctor Strange and the Fantastic Four tied for third.
It’s not hard to see why Spidey would win 1963. The year marks Spider-Man’s first solo title, with seven issues of Amazing Spider-Man, and the introduction of Chameleon, Vulture, Tinkerer, Doctor Octopus, Sandman, and the Lizard among his regular adversaries.
While The Thing’s wise-crackin’ certainly sets the tone for any Marvel heroes to come, it’s possibly more exhilarating to find shy, bookworm Peter Parker coming alive in his masked heroic pursuits:
For me, the only counter-argument to Spidey’s first championship would be that the Fantastic Four quite possibly have an even stronger 1963 than their title run in 1962. The FF really come into their own in 1963, with light-hearted comedy, familial disputes finally feeling like family and not just some people that can’t stand each other, and that time Sue got magnetized to a Super-Ape’s back and then they met the Watcher!
All that said… come on! It’s the first seven issues of Amazing Spider-Man! He’s our hero of the year for 1963.
The Marvel Villain of the Year – 1963
If you thought 1962’s showdown between Doctor Doom and the Sub-Mariner was close, just wait until you see 1963. While an expanded roster of villains drew more votes to the median, we still saw a tie nearly too close to call! Both Doctor Doom and Doctor Octopus received ~29% of the vote. The lesson, as always: Stay in school and get your M.D., kids.
I’ll be honest, this one is hard for me. My default is to simply hail Doom in all matters, and 1963 doesn’t offer a lot of reason to think otherwise. The good Doctor stars in some great miniature battles with the Fantastic Four and Ant-Man, he takes over Reed Richards body, plus Doom tries to get Spider-Man to join him to fight the FF in Amazing Spider-Man #5!
On volume alone, Doctor Doom would be a worthy winner. Here’s why I downgrade Doom, though: he keeps losing in spectacular fashion.
It’s one thing for a villain to lose (we can get used that here in the Marvel age), but after Jet-packing away from a burning castle and riding a meteor to an alien civilization in 1962, the next year finds Doom shrinking to a miniature universe and then hurling himself out of a moving plane to avoid capture. He is a one-man come-back-from-the-dead trope so far, and some of his most interesting facets are still missing (we’ll see some of that in 1964).
So, despite my perpetual subservience to our benevolent God-Doom, our 1963 Villain of the Year goes to none other than Doctor Octopus.
Doc Ock is another villain who is darn near 100% complete following his first appearance. He’s so Doc Ock that his scientist colleagues call him Doctor Octopus before the explosion that fuses his deadly arms to his body.
My absolute favorite thing about Doc Ock’s first appearance, though, and the reason he wins the title for 1963, is that he’s the first Marvel villain to convince Peter Parker to give up on being Spider-Man. Otto whoops Spidey so bad he needs a surprise pep talk from the Human Torch to get back in the game!
Amazing Spider-Man #3 introduces one of the most important themes in the series, with Peter’s doubt and final perseverance driving him to never give up, even when it would be easier. For that reason, plus Stan Lee and Steve Ditko starting to discover their full set of powers on AMS #3, Doc Ock gets the crown for 1963.
Winner: Doctor Octopus
The Marvel Comic Issue of the Year – 1963
We actually had a TIE for issue of the year, with Uncanny X-Men #1 dead even with Amazing Spider-Man #3.
Now, if I’m going to be honest, my swing vote leans towards Amazing Spider-Man #3. The first appearance of Doctor Octopus features all the elements that make Spider-Man great, plus Doc Ock comes out of the oven remarkably well baked.
That said, well, as you’ve seen, I already gave Amazing Spider-Man #3 one swing vote by selecting Doc Ock for villain of the year. This time we’ll give the swing to the people, and to a surprisingly excellent debut for Magneto and the young X-Men.
Uncanny X-Men will take a while to truly become one of the Marvel greats, but that first issue lays the groundwork for so much. As one reader pointed out in the club discussion below, it feels like Uncanny X-Men has been running for several issues when you hit this introduction. Professor Xavier’s school is in full swing, with demerits flying around left and right!
I could entirely do without Charlie’s creep factor (he introduces Jean as “a most attractive young girl,” but don’t worry, this will get much worse before it gets better), but I do love the Young X-Men. More importantly, Magneto acts and looks perfectly right out of the gate. You want to talk about Jack Kirby’s imagination, he knocks Magneto’s helmet and cape design out of the park on try number one.
Plus, Magneto’s mission statement is already in full force, as he infiltrates a missile solo through sheer power.
So, yes, while Charlie Xavier wins 1963’s Creep of The Year, Uncanny X-Men is a deserving winner for issue of the year.
Winner: Uncanny X-Men #1
Next: My Marvelous 1964
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Mark Kausch says
Uncanny X-Men #1 – Not bad. But I’m afraid my vote for best in the mag goes to Magneto. Oh, and I’m not that creeped out by Charles. Just because he thinks a young girl is attractive doesn’t mean he wants to jump her bones. I mean, date her. Yeah, that’s what I meant.
Strange Tales #110 – Actually, I liked the Torch story better. The – um – Strange tale was a quickly that seemed like it was set up to fail as it was presented “…quietly and without fanfare.”
ST #111 – Ditto.
ST #115 – Finally, it seems like the powers-that-be think that Strange might have a chance to succeed. And I enjoyed the Torch/Sandman story too, though I think the Torch/Spidey feud is a little over-the-top and maybe too forced just because they’re both teens. Parker already has Flash; he doesn’t need Storm to be a similar antagonist.
Littile Wolf says
I need the full lists how can i get them ?
Mark Kausch says
I also ran out of time and gee, it’s only the second week! I voted – I think I got them in in time, but I couldn’t find the deadline. Could you repeat that, Dave? So neither Dr Strange nor the X-Men were under consideration here. Remarks for them will come later.
FF #10 – Love the Lee/Kirby cameos. Wouldn’t you know they’d be on the cover, too! But kind of a convenient ending.
Amazing Spider-Man #1 – Another rather unique use of power.
AS #2 – The Vulture, “After making sure after making certain he is not observed…”. Gotta give it to the guy. Not many could make certain from the top of a silo. Actually, I’ve gotta hand it to the guy. He was old when he started, and NOW… And he runs out of webs two issues in a row? It ain’t just Spidey tryin’ to get used to this new gig. The Vulture was my Villain of 1963. Someone has to stand up for us old guys.
AS #3 – And Spidey and the Torch end up friends? This can’t last, can it? 😉
Tales of Suspense #39 – Hey! I bought both of Marvel’s original Origins trades! How did I miss Iron Man’s? And what’s with the Viet Cong’s accents? Good thing Dr Yinsen speaks English “fwuentry”. My issue of 1963.
FF #12 – #12: Seriously, glad to see that final page or two. This is NOT how much of America viewed the military; this being the Viet Nam era.
FF #13 – Other than the debut of the Watcher, I don’t think this would have found its way into my top 10 list for ’63.
FF Annual #1 – I literally LOL’ed at this: “And, as Sue’s sensitive finger touches the “On” button…”. Such a complex machine and yet you just have to touch a button marked “On”?
Sgt Fury & His Howling Commandos #1 – Not a fan of war comics. Unless there’s “Star” in the title. Even with the Fury/Dugan connection, took me a while to pick up this ish.
TTA #44 – Eh. The Ant-Man story felt kind of rushed and forced to me.
FF #16 – I never realized how full of coincidence these early comics were. What are the chances that not only the FF but Ant-Man would fall into the same world as Dr Doom? It WAS mentioned that the world was part of a universe. Also, pretty repetitive with everybody telling their (mostly the same) stories. Did they need to stretch (no pun intended) the story out?
FF #17 – More Doc Doom can’t be a bad thing (no pun intended).
Avengers #1 – The major league team starts here. My Heroes for 1963.
More to follow. If Firefox stops acting up.
Mark Kausch says
Oh, I did find the deadline earlier on this page. 6PM Thursday. Now, what time zone would that be? 🙂
What stood out to me the most about this year in Marvel was the hero team ups and cross-overs. It was exciting to see the different characters interact with each other and the Marvel universe being developed. It is amazing that all of these different entities were being coordinated and spearheaded by Stan Lee.
There were a lot of new teams and relationships that were introduced that are characteristic of the creativity and originality of Marvel. Although I found Ant-man and Wasp to be a strange pairing, I am excited to see more of the Avengers and X-men.
Ran out of time to do a lengthy response this week, but this has been so much fun so far. I continue to be amazed at how fully formed a lot of the characters and personality traits were right out of the gate (Uncanny X-Men #1 feels like you’re coming into something that’s been around for at least 3-4 issues).
I also feel like the comics this year, with the huge number of new titles debuting and Stan Lee basically writing or plotting all of them, start to show some serious pacing and consistency issues. For example, Jean Gray showing up and then getting sent out on a critical mission with virtually zero training unlike all the other mutants makes very little sense, and my absolute fave is the Fantastic Four issue (I think it’s the Molecule Man one) where it starts with Reed deciding that because of a mysterious signal from outer space, there’s proof that alien life exists; you’d think he’d know that from, oh say, the issue where he went to an alien planet and shrunk the entire alien race, or from when he battled the Skrulls! That whole issue felt rushed big time.
While it feels very, very old-fashioned, I did kind of love the Howling Commandos, both because of the debut of Fury and of a lot of characters that I first encountered in the MCU, and because it was so itself. It basically felt like The Expendables in World War II.
In terms of Hero and Villain of the Year, tough for me. I’d probably say Fantastic Four for me for hero of the year,but Villain’s much tougher. I kind of love all of the Spider-Man villains, and I was especially impressed with Doctor Octopus’s debut. Doctor Doom continued to be awesome though, and is probably still my fave from the year.
Also, crazy trivia fact I didn’t know: The Wasp is who coined the term “Avengers”!
The Return of Dr. Doom, a funny one with the appearance of Stan and King Kirby themselves. And he just came back and already has a full (in fact successful) plan to destroy the FF! You got to love Dr. Doom as villain!
5 Stories for the Price of 3! That was the comic-deal of 1963!
Ok serious, as I wrote in my thoughts of 1961/62, we go on to see a nerdy (now we can use modern words ;-)) teenager and his struggle with life (and death literally). Because of that it is much easier for a (young) reader to empathize with Peter Parker, but on the other (way more positive) side he is a really strong, powerful superhero. This makes him different (from the reader) and sooooooo interesting!
There are 2 very great, awesome and, luckily for us, recurring villains introduced here, namely Dr. Octopus (Otto Octavius) and the Vulture. I love DocOck so much as a villain because he is like Dr. Doom so developed right from the start and he was one of my all-time favorite as a child/teen ! But the Vulture is also a great Villain because he is so different from the ones we saw until then. Overall we’ll get to see that of all Marvel Villains, Spidey has some of the best introduced in his stories. As Dave mentioned already, I encourage everyone to read ALL of the Amazing Spider-Man Issues, as I am doing! They are some of the best comics of all time!
Tales of Suspense#39
Enter: Iron Man! And right on the Cover we see WHY he is named IRON Man, because the Iron Man Armor Mk.1 as introduced here was made purely of welded and transistorized Iron! It is now very clear that the Iron Man- Movie was such a great success (ok Robert Downey Jr. did a thing ok ok ok). They just had to take this great Introduction-Story and make a movie of it set in modern times, et voila!
FF#12,13 & Annual#1
The FF get to meet the Hulk, Red Ghost + his Super-Apes and Uatu the Watcher (he will be very important in the future) for the first time and they get to fight Namor, the Sub-Mariner, again! The Issues 12 and 13 are normal FF-Stories and a good read, but the Annual Issue is so much more. We get to witness our first (little) war taking place on Earth 616, not between superhero-factions, but the Atlanteans invade New-York and conquer it in the name of Namor! (and this is an act of war). The FF really struggle for the first time in this issue because they can’t fight the whole army alone. Just because of Reed’s ingenuity, the forces of Atlantis can be driven back into the ocean. I loved this issue! (+ the extended fight of Spider-Man against the members of the FF during his “Visit” to become one of them is also very nice imho)
Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandos#1
This was a surprising addition to this year’s comics. Nice pick Dave. I figured that WWII-comics aren’t for me, but I had to try it out. Now I know it for sure…it is no bad comic, don’t get me wrong, it is just not what I want to read when I get down, get my Comic-Reader and start reading a comic. But as some of you mentioned before. For the time these comics were published in, they surely were a great alternative.
Tales to Astonish#44
Enter: The Wasp! For me, a great addition to the Ant-Man comics, although she is not doing very much in the fights (it gets even worse in later Issues). But the Character of Janet van Dyne leads to some significant Character-Developments of Henry Pym. But she also is a victim of the sexism of that time although she sometimes stands her man and gets back at Henry! Oh, and she is part of the Avengers!
FF#16 & 17
This is in some way the first multi-issue story created by Marvel, and it features Dr. Doom…what could be better! The stories are not directly tied to each other but #17 follows #16 instantly chronologically. Great big story.
I think this is one of the Issues we all have been waiting for: The Coming of the Avengers aka Ant-Man, Wasp, Iron Man, Thor and Hulk as a team. This is the first Roster and it changed already right at the end of this Issue as the Hulk leaves the team in anger. The Avengers are going to be the second (not ranking-wise) great team in the Marvel-Universe. Good intro-story…can’t wait for the next issues.
Ok… How do I start… I really loved the X-Men as a child/teen. I was looking forward to see how the X-Men burst into the Marvel-Universe and are a FORCE right from the start! …yeah. Imho, they did not burst in, they merely fell in the Marvel-Universe. I was really disappointed, from this Issue because these are not the X-Men from my memories. But I am looking forward… this way, they have a chance to develop and get better and better over time!
Did you notice that the behavior of Beast is just like that of the Thing? I’m glad that this will change soon, because Marvel received many letters about this from their fans and they reacted accordingly!
Also, I think that Prof. X is kind of a jerk in these early Issues, if you read the following Uncanny X-Men Issues you might understand…
Grüße! (German for Greetings)
Oh sxxt… i forgot Strange Tales….how could I ;-)!!!
Strange Tales#110,111 & 115
I will not cover the solo Human Torch Stories, read them for yourselves if you want and can get through without quitting, although i have to admit that these are some of the slightly better stories…there are worse and yes i read them all… (why you ask…because i am a little completionist :-))
As for Dr. Strange… hmmm i don’t know, these comics are positively different then all the others because of the mysterious and occult approach… but i personally don’t seem to get into these kind of stories…Exception: The Origin, well written, well drawn, superb!
I’m going to talk about the various stories that jumped out at me. I generally enjoyed them all (except for one exception covered below), although the attitudes toward women are hard to get through.
Of all the early comics series, this is far and away still my favorite to re-read. Jameson really gets under my skin right away. Spidey’s super-villains are also very strong, Otto Octavius in particular. And the fact that Peter is more compelled by how to make a living for himself and Aunt May than being a super-hero has always been a strong point of identification for me. Plus, in these early days, Peter is so alone in many ways. Makes his story that much more compelling to me.
FF Annual #1
This was my pick for overall best issue of this batch. The scope of the storytelling is really exciting here. And I also love how Lee/Kirby deepen Namor’s character. Less and less of a villain and more of a tortured hero. Kirby is starting to really let loose with his depictions of Atlantis.
Tales of Suspense 39
It’s been awhile since I read this story and I was struck by how it felt so real for its time. I know the great accomplishment of Marvel was to create super-heroes with more realistic emotions and foibles. But, the tie-in with current events in this story was stronger overall than any other story from this group. Also, as mentioned above, this story was able to be used for the movie, almost beat for beat.
Tales to Astonish 44
I flat-out found the Hank/Janet relationship creepy as hell. I guess I should give Marvel props for addressing the dysfunction between Hank and Janet full-on in the future. But, it’s just weird and unsettling for me here. I also found the writing here and in the ’62 Ant-Man story particularly stilted. Ant-Man and Wasp’s later appearances in other titles were more bearable but not by much. Also, I was baffled why Pym would stay small during all the business with the shotgun. Just get back to normal size and shoot the damn thing!
Dr. Strange stories
Dikto’s art in these stories is phenomenal, especially his use of light and shadow. Also, Strange seems to the first Marvel hero who starts out as a real jerk and then evolves. Even Tony doesn’t come across as that arrogant in ToS 39. Maybe Namor also to some extent.
Looking forward to 1964!
Alright, let’s see….
Fantastic Four #10: I thought this was a pretty fun issue and I liked it a lot more than the first issue with Doctor Doom. His plan was pretty clever, though the execution and how easily the remaining members of the team fell for it was amusingly ridiculous. Everything about this was fun.
Amazing Spider-man #1: A solid issue all around that was pretty great. I liked how Jameson being such an ass was right here in the first issue. I thought Jameson was a better villain in this than Doom had been in the previous issue, just because his actions are so long lasting. All of the stuff with the Chameleon and Fantastic Four was good too.
Amazing Spider-Man #2: The first story with the Vulture was a blast, and it was nice to see Spider-Man go toe to toe with a villain that was weird and smart. The second story I found odd…for some reason I don’t find it a stretch (hah) when the Fantastic Four battle aliens, but when it’s Spider-Man it feels off.
Amazing Spider-Man #3: As the last Spider-Man issue I read this solidified Spider-Man as the hero to beat. Perhaps it’s not to judge a hero by the quality of their villains but Spider-Man has a more consistent Rogue’s Gallery than anyone else and his personal life is just easy to relate to.
Tales of Suspense #39: A good origin issue, though I find the villain a little less than compelling. It’s interesting how deeply Cold War related this is, though it predates the real focus on the Vietnam that comes at the end of the decade, and yet how easy it is to just pick up and reuse in a new setting/time. I thought the Last Ship had a good twist in it. Gundar less so.
Fantastic Four #12: Yay, the Hulk is back! This is when I start getting annoyed with Johnny. I found all of the weird canon that must have been set up in the 5 Hulk issues I didn’t read rather fascinating.
Fantastic Four #13: This is ridiculous and I love it. I wasn’t expecting The Watcher to show up. Now I’m starting to think about the long term historical effects of heroes running around. Kennedy’s pledge to get to the moon by the end of the decade? Fulfilled in 1963. Must have been seen a real sign of hope given what’ll go down in the next few issues.
Fantastic Four Annual #1: I don’t remember specifics, but I’m sure Torch said something I was fed up with by this issue. But that aside, Namor continues to rock. Trying to force humanity’s surrender at the UN and then launching an invasion of New York City? Best villainous plot up to this point. I even like that he was ultimately undone by his own humanity. And as I mentioned earlier from the Q&A: Does Johnny hate the Thing? He’d defend him with his life. That’s not the same thing Stan, lol.
Sgt. Fury #1: I didn’t like this very much, though I wanted to. There were some elements, like people putting on uniforms to trick the Nazis that were fun, but I was getting a little tired of how many times they came close to dying without losing anyone. Pretty neat that they actually killed people even if it was off panel.
Tales to Astonish #44: Hank’s backstory with his wife is super dark, I can’t believe I’ve never heard this before. Janet is a lot of fun, though I rolled my eyes at her falling in love after two pages. Didn’t really care for the monster that much though. Don’t know what the difference is between this and one of the Fantastic Four ridiculous villains, but that’s how I feel about it.
Fantastic Four #16: The Fantastic Four shrinking randomly and not telling each other? *snorts* A micro-kingdom? *snorts* I feel pretty much the same way about this as I did Doom’s first issue. This is just way too much for me to take seriously.
Fantastic Four #17: And now I take back what I just said to say Doctor Doom is amazing! I think I may be picking best issue based off of which villain had the best appearance. Kidnapping a loved one and holding the United States hostage? Great, great stuff. I really liked the missiles randomly launching and Khrushchev telling off his staff that were gloating. This is when I’ve started to note down when things seem to be taking place and I’m going to try and follow that going forward…because my obsessive compulsive tendencies manifest in categorization. Why are they using a floating timeline, why not just say the “present” in comics is the 80’s and Reed’s experiments jumped us ahead three decades? That makes more sense…and has nothing at all to do with this specific issue, but I started thinking about it.
Avengers #1: Hmm, the movie is oddly faithful to this issue. I feel bad that Hank and Janet came up with the idea of forming a team and get excluded in the MCU. I considered Loki for best villain, but as his plot not only failed it backfired spectacularly I don’t think he deserves it. It’s nice to see Tony seems to be doing better since I last checked on him in his first issue. Fun issue all around.
X-Men #1: Eww. Alright..maybe that’s not fair, but…eww. The skeleton of what the X-Men will be is here and it’s entertaining. Magneto was top notch. And Jean, sorry, Marvel Girl kicked a lot of ass. It’s just…the misogyny on display here, that got worse the farther along I went, made this a real slog to get through. Gross.
Strange Tales #110: Alright, the Human Torch story first. Sure was convenient that Johnny was thinking about those villains just as they decided to team up. Also, Johnny is annoying. The Dr. Strange story was fun with a good twist. Not much else to say about it.
Strange Tales: #111: *Grits teeth* Alright, Human Torch story. Perhaps things would go easier for you Johnny if you weren’t so arrogant. Why isn’t there a Thing standalone? This Dr. Strange was fun if a bit silly.
Strange Tales: #115: Ugh, Human Torch. JUST TALK TO SPIDER-MAN!!! Dr. Strange. This is a very good origin and Strange has a pretty neat motivation for being a hero. I do question the judgement of the Ancient One when it comes to Baron Mordo however.
All in, this was a pretty great lineup, and I’m really enjoying the reading club.
Another great batch! It’s nice to get some more diversity with the characters. I’m really excited for the new teams (X-Men and Avengers) making their debut! These old comics are great, but I’m looking forward to when the stories start to have some depth and multi-issue arcs. You can definitely see it starting with some of the returning villains and the fleshing out of important characters.
Does anyone else get incredibly annoyed with Johnny Storm? His attitude drives me nuts, and his constant bickering with the Thing is so overdone, I’m not sure how Sue and Reed haven’t snapped yet.
The way the female characters are treated is interesting, definitely a sign of the times! Sue and Janet’s representations are… disturbingly amusing…? It was nice to see Marvel Girl come in, it seems like she has a little more credibility than the others…?
I always imagine Reed wanting to choke Johnny where he stands, yet can’t because you know, you shouldn’t hurt your brother in law to be in front of your fiancee and blah blah. I think he kind of rejoices in Thing beating up on him when he wishes he could do it himself.
I’m not sure I can ever forgive Professor X for calling Jean “a most attractive girl” as he introduces her to the team… she’s like 40 years younger than you, Chuck!
I do also like that Janet at least has a different personality, constantly teasing Hank Pym about being so stodgy (but also… old!). Granted she’s a lovelorn 60’s gal, but I leave all those issues more impressed by her than Hank.
If this Johnny Storm stinks thread gains more legs, we may need to start a new voting category 🙂
Yes, please do that! I feel like Johnny is super disrespectful to Ben all the time and it’s terrible. I think it’s telling that in the Q&A portion of the Annual, one of the questions was whether Johnny hated The Thing and the writers assured the readers that he did not.
I still have X Men, Avengers, and Strange Tales to go before I post more of my thoughts. I can say that the Sub Mariner was far and away going to get my vote for best villain, though I had been toying with a wrote in for Jay Jonah Jameson, and then I get to the second of that two parter with Doom and WHAM, I suddenly get the hype. I didn’t care for the first part all that much with the micro kingdom, but going after someone close to the Fantastic Four and then holding the nation hostage? Amazing. Though with the appearance of Kennedy I will now be paying very close attention to the passage of time for no benefit to myself.
Does anyone else feel that Sgt. Fury is the first book we’ve read that just isn’t for them?
I appreciate the story for the time it came out in, I just don’t find myself having as much fun reading it as some of the other super hero stories we’ve covered.
I skipped over Sgt. Fury after looking at the cover. They may be thrilling for their time, but I can tell that I am not the target audience for the book. I’ve read enough stories of Captain America and Iron Man that feature Fury, Dugan, and Gabe to know that I do not care about their war adventures.
Exactly! I’m glad they exist, I just don’t connect.
And this is the year Iron-Man joins the party! I love looking at his old clunker of a suit in comparison to the later models. It’s like a minivan next to a sports car.
His original armor cracks me up. Especially when he has to stop what he’s doing and plug it into the wall to recharge. I was shocked after reading his intro story how faithful the movie stayed to it. It was obviously update for the time frame but other than that they stuck pretty close to the original comic.
In Sgt. Fury’s defense, I really love the rapport between Fury and the Commandos. They’re more of their time than many of these, right in the shadow of WWII, but I gotta love 5 “WAA-HOOS!” in a single issue.
That said… this largely covers our dip into this title.
I don’t hate it, just not something I would’ve had on my pull list (even though I don’t think those existed in ’63, did they?).
Mark Kausch says
Closest thing would probably be a subscription. It would be quite a while before the advent of comic stores.
Just for your Info, the above Link to the Voting-Form is not the right one, it is leading me to the 1962-one…
Thanks for the heads up! I have updated.
I’m still pretty new to comic books and had no idea so many of these characters had been around for so long!
It is pretty amazing. Most the Marvel Universe was established while JFK was still president!
It is a lot harder to pick issues when they are split between two or more stories. My favorite story of the year was the Vulture story from ASM #2, and that is what I voted for. I have a big soft spot for the Vulture. Like Puppet Master, he is one of those characters with such a strange look that only comics/animation can make it work believably. Besides visual appeal, Vulture is smart while still being fallible, and he is quite nasty to the heroes he opposes.
The Doc Ock story from ASM #3 is probably the better issue as a whole, as the Tinkerer story that closes #2 is just okay. My other honorable mention is the Dr. Strange portion of Strange Tales #115. His origin story is extremely well done. Also, the Dr. Strange art style is a welcome change from what the superhero comics were doing at the time.
The Vulture is really underrated today. His “twist” robbery in ASM #2 is great, and he’s the first major villain to reappear in Amazing, showing up later in the year in ASM #7.
I do personally prefer ASM #3. Doc Ock is fantastic right out of the gate, and you get Peter considering quitting before seeing a lecture at high school from the Human Torch. To me, that tinkerer/alien second story in ASM #2 is too forgettable as an early 60’s alien comics, rather than something that would become a part of Marvel Cosmic (i.e. the Skrulls in FF).
Strange isn’t quite a top tier book for me at this stage, but I wholeheartedly agree Steve Ditko’s art on Strange is instantly refreshing.
Where do we Fantastic Four Annual #1?
The annuals are counted as a separate series on Marvel’s site. Search for Fantastic Four Annual instead of just Fantastic Four.
Thanks! http://marvel.com/comics/issue/8687/fantastic_four_annual_1963_1 is the direct link for those who are interested.