Sunday, March 17, 2024

Herald Tribune, January 9th, 1966: An article with Stan Lee and Jack Kirby

On January 9, 1966, the New York Herald Tribune published an article featuring Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.  Many people feel that this this controversial article, written by Nat Freedland expanded the riff between Stan and Jack .

At the bottom, I put Mark Evanier's and Nat Freelander's later comments   


      Super Heroes With Super Problems:   by Nat Freedland                                         and my photos from 2005                                        

Jan 9, 1966: On the drawing board is a big oaktag sheet recording Fantastic Four’s last-ditch struggle to save Earth from being “drained of all basic elements” by the godlike villain Galactus. One picture shows cosmic force rays bombarding Manhattan. Stan Lee, chief writer-editor of Marvel ,Comics, tells production man Sol Brodsky, “it’s not clear that the rays are hitting now.” He thinks for a few seconds and then pencils in “ZIK, ZIK, ZIK” at the points of impact. No other comic book writer would have wasted that seconds to think what cosmic force rays sound like.  They would have just written “Pow” or “Zap” or something equally conventional.

Stan Lee, 43, is a native New Yorker, an ultra-Madison Avenue, rangy lookalike of Rex Harrison. He’s got that horsy jaw and humorous eyes, thinning but tasteful ay hair, the brightest-colored Ivy wardrobe in captivity and deep suntan that comes from working every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday on his suburban terrace, cranking out three complete Marvel mags weekly. 

He is also a good mimic and does a fine reproduction of that rolling, Continental voice we were hearing on the class TV interviews back in October. That voice got on the phone to Marvel Comics at 625 Madison Avenue and said, “Hello, this is Federico Fellini. I like very much your comics. In one hour I come see you, yes?” No, it wasn’t a put-on. Somebody had shown Fellini a couple of Lee’s Marvel masterpieces while the great Italian film director was racked out with virus at the Hotel Pierre. Fellini turned up at Stan Lee’s office with a medium-sized entourage his first day out of sickbed. ‘”He’s my buddy now,” says Lee. “He invited me to me to see him at his villa any time I’m in Rome. I’m supposed to take him to the cartoonists’ convention when  he’s back here for the Sweet Charity in January.”

Stan Lee drew a bigger audience than President Eisenhower when he spoke last year at Bard, one of the hippest schools on the Eastern Seaboard. Co-ed dormitories! From the Ivy League to the Pacific Coast Conference, 125 campuses have their own chapter of the “Merry Marvel Marching Society.” The M.M.M.S. is at Oxford and Cambridge, too. Pre-college Marvel fans at times have taken to assembling on the corner of Madison and 58th Street, waving wildly with home-made signs whenever anybody appears at the second floor windows of Marvel’s three workrooms. “Like we were the Beatles or something,” Lee muses.

In terms of the real world, all this adulation means that Marvel circulation has tripled in three and a half years. With an annual circulation of 35 million, Marvel (which puts out 17 super type comic books) is now a comfortable number two in the comics industry, gradually edging up on the long-established Superman D. C. line., No other comic book publisher cart show anything like Marvel’s phenomenal sales growth in the sixties. A secondary harvest of promotion tie-ins is starting to bloom, too Forty thousand Marvelites have come up with a dollar for their Merry Marvel Marching Society kits. In the works are plastic models, games, a Spider-Man jazz record and a television cartoon series.

“We really never expected all this, you know,” Lee admits. “I mean it started out as a gag, mostly. I just thought maybe it would be worth trying to upgrade the magazines a little bit. Audiences everywhere are getting hipper these days. Why not the manic book audience, too? And then all of a sudden we were getting 500 letters a day about what great satire these stories were, and how significant. We used to get about one letter a year ... before.”

Before Stan Lee dreamed up the “Marvel Age of Comics” in 1961. When Lee went to work for the comic book division of Martin Goodman’s publishing outfit he was 17 years old. By 1961 he had been manufacturing comic strips at the same stand for 20 years. It was getting to be tiresome.

Nostalgia about old comic books is a large item now what with Pop art and Camp riding high, but fond remembrance of childhood joys is one thing, and actually reading that stuff is something quite different. It’s no accident most adults outgrew the comics of their day at puberty. The carefully selected samples in Jules Feiffer’s Great Comic Book Heroes anthology give pleasure because they are perfect examples of their form. But as the same old tired stories and stiff drawings were trotted out year after year they couldn’t keep up the pace. “Have some punch,” Batman would quip as he decked a bad guy; idiot puns were the height of old comic book humor. “What th’?” and “Huh” were as expressive as Captain Marvel ever got. Superboy, on returning from a recent adventure in the ancient past, said, “Bye now, Hercules and Samson.” This is hardly an example of super-conversation, points out John Butterworth, Class of ‘64. in his Colgate Maroon study. “Spider-Man strives for Status in Competitive Comic Book World of Insincere Super Heroes.”

Comic book super beings had mighty powers but no personality—not until Stan Lee tried out the Fantastic Four in October, 1961. The whole new tone of Lee’s vision to bring human reality into comic books was set in an early F.F. appearance. (All Marvel characters quickly pick up affectionate nicknames.) This super crime-fighting team was evicted from their Manhattan skyscraper HQ because they couldn’t get up the rent. The stock market investments that paid their laboratory bills had temporarily failed. The Fantastic Four, who appear in their own comic book and guest star in other Marvel publications, are beset as much by interpersonal conflicts as by super villains. Invisible girl, Sue Storm Richards, is always bugging hubby Reed Richards, Mr. Fantastic, to leave off with the world-shaking inventions already and take her out to a discotheque. One sometimes wonders how much the phallic implication of Mr. Fantastic’s body-stretching power has to do with holding this stormy couple together, Sue’s kid brother Johnny is the Human Torch. He flames and flies and swings off-duty in a Corvette Stingray. The grumpiest, most complex, most ambivalent and most popular member of the Fantastic Four is the Thing. “Bashful, blue-eyed Benjamin 3, Grimm,” as the Thing likes to refer to himself in more lyrical moments, usually just before issuing his clarion cry, “It’s Clobberin’ Time,” has actually deserted to the side of the villains on occasion.

Lee calls Ben Grimm “a tragic monster who cheers himself up by acting the clown ... a good man with a bitter heart.” The Thing talks like Jimmy Durante and has
good reason to be bitter. A moon rocket mishap with cosmic rays gave
the rest of the F.F. super powers that can be turned on and off at will. But it left him looking like a human-shaped rock formation “covered with broken pieces of orange-colored flowerpots,” an apt description from Jennifer Stone’s Hunter College Meridian analysis, “Hark, the Hulk Hurtles into Your Heart.”

The Fantastic Four rapidly became one of the hottest things in comic books and Lee followed up with the most off-beat character he could think of—his masterpiece, Spider-Man. Spider-Man is the Raskolnikov of the funnies, a worthy rival to Bellow’s Herzog for the Neurotic Hipster Championship of our time. “If Charlie Brown wore a skintight costume and fought crime, he would be Spider-Man,” concludes John Butterworth in the Colgate Maroon. According to Sally Kempton in the Village Voice, “Spider-Man has a terrible identity problem, a marked inferiority complex, and a fear of women. He is anti-social, castration ridden, racked with Oedipal guilt, and accident prone.” In short, “... the super-anti-hero of our time.”

The saga of “your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man” began when orphan Peter Parker, a brilliant but friendless high schooler from Forest Hills, Queens, got accidentally bitten by a radioactive spider at a science fair. This made him the equal of a gigantic spider in: Speed, Agility, Climbing Prowess, Strength to Body-Mass Ratio and Sixth Sense. He also invented a web-shooting wrist apparatus as an extra aid.

Peter immediately sewed himself a disguise costume; so as to avoid shocking kindly old Uncle Ben and Aunt May, and then—he went into show biz. His super acrobatics got him instant television stardom. But this triumph. like most of Spider-Man’s brief tastes of victory, soon, turned to ashes. To keep his secret identity a secret, he had to accept’ a paycheck made out to Spider-Man.... The TV producer insisted he couldn’t give out cash because of the tax records. So Spider-Man went to a bank and

Bank Clerk: I have to see some identification!

Spider-Man: What about my COSTUME?

Bank Clerk: Don’t be silly! ANYONE can wear costume! Do you have a social security card, or a driver’s license in the name of Spider-Man?

Wandering off in a blue funk, Spider-Man just shrugged unconcernedly as a burglar ran by. When he got back home to (a regrettably unauthentic rural-looking) Forest Hills, of course it turned out that the burglar had just murdered Uncle Ben. Spider-Man duly vowed to be more public-spirited in the future. But now he really had money problems. Aunt May would not hear of his quitting school. But how could he support the household with a part time job and still find time to catch crooks? He tried to solve everything by going on salary at the Fantastic Four (All of Lee’s characters live in New York and run into each other on the job). But the F.F. wanted to keep their non-profit status and turned him down. “You came to the wrong place, pal” The Thing said unsympathetically. “This ain’t General Motors.”

At the moment, Peter Parker has a science scholarship to State College and supplements it by freelancing nears photos. His specialty is delayed-action pix of his spider self it combat. It’s not much money—Peter Parker is a lousy businessman—but at least it picks up the tab for Aunt May’s many hospitalizations.

The Hulk is the most unstable character in the history of comic books. At first, scientist. Bruce Banner and the jolly green monster had a gamma-ray induced Jekyll-Hyde co-tenancy. But now the Hulk is in permanent possession, having absorbed some of Banner’s I.Q. but none of his peaceable ways. Hulky will bash anything that gets in his way—including Marvel’s other super heroes and the U. S. or Soviet Armed Forces.

Thor, the None thundergod, recently had to take an elevator to the top of a midtown skyscraper before he could fly off to Asia to stop a rampaging super witch-doctor—because a cop wouldn’t let Thor whirl his magic hammer on a crowded street. A woman in the elevator looked up at Thor’s shoulder-length blond curls and mused. “That REMINDS me—I’m due for a PERMANENT at noon.” Practically every costumed hero in Lee’s new Marvel Comics mythology displaces enough symbolic weight to become grist for an English Lit. PhD. thesis.

The unremittingly tragic Iron Man usually has to shlep home his transistor-powered armor for recharging after a fight. Since his heart (chewed up by Viet Gong bullets) is also transistorized, this tends to become a tricky business. Daredevil, revival of a famous comic book name, is now the world’s only Rind masked hero. He struggles through with his indomitable will and “radar senses acquired by getting run over with a truckful of uranium, Equally indomitable is the unshaven, cigar-chomping Nick Fury, who functions simultaneously in Sgt. Fury and kis Howling Commandos, and Nark Fury, Agent of

S.H.I. E.L.D. A black eye-patch distinguishes the post-war Fury from his military self.

    However, Captain America, that fighting hero of  World War II, comes on more like Captain Anomie these days. Returning to action in 1963. after 18 years of suspended animation in an iceberg, he does more brooding over his destiny than any Captain since Ahab. “The TIME I live in belongs to others. The only thing that’s rightfully mine is my -PAST. Can I ever forget BUCKY, the teenager who was like a brother to me? What has become of SGT. DUFFY?” Lee always provides full backstage credits for these epics:

          Bombastically Written by —Stan Lee

Brilliantly Drawn by ... Jack Kirby .

Beautifully Inked by ... Vince Colletta 

Bashfully Lettered by — Artie Simek

No detail of the month’s output is too minor for Marvelites to single out for praise in the letters pages ...

“The art was great, especially page 5, panel 3, which was a perfect rendition of the beam’s effect.” No error is too minor for complaint ... and Cap’ had an ‘A’ where his star should have been on his chest.” Young dreams of romance appear often in these pages...

“Please don’t make Sub-Mariner lose his dignity. He reminds me of ‘The Sheik.’... If Sue and the Scarlet Witch don’t want him, I do.”

Contemporary problems may also break in ...

“Could you maybe publish a letter to parents or something? I’m tired of getting static from my mother about how ridiculous it looks for a Rice U. sophomore to stand in front of a drugstore haggling with an eight-year old kid over the last copy of F.F. or Avengers. (I got them, but it cost me 30 cents and I had to let him read them first!)”

“It’s ruining my eyes,” says Lee shout the avalanche of mail. “I never wore glasses before this thing started.” He tries to read as many of the letters as possible. “That’s the kids telling us what they want.” His private life has also been somewhat curtailed by the demands of success. “I take my wife out to dinner with friends three or four times a week. That keeps her reasonably happy, even though I’m working every day and haven’t been able to take a vacation in three years.” The chic blonde Mrs. Lee is a former British model Daughter Joanie, 15, is a talented artist. but not particularly excited about comic books.

Princeton University’s Merry Marvel Marching Society sent up a delegation to meet the master the other day. Fabulous Flo Steinberg the secretarial star of Marvel Bullpen Bulletin gossip notes, ushered the group into the Presence. “Here I am fellows,” said Lee. “I guess it’s a pretty big disappointment, huh?”

They assured him it wasn’t.

Don’t tell me what you like about the books,” Lee requested. “It’s more help if you tell me what you don’t like.”

“There’s a schism in the cult over Spidey’s personal life.” said one. “Factions are forming about all the play Peter Parker’s adjustment problems are getting lately.”

Lee hastened to explain. “I don’t plot Spider-Man any more. Steve Ditko, the artist, has been doing the storks. I guess I’ll leave him alone until sales start to slip. Since Spidey got so popular. Ditko thinks he’s the genius of the world. We were arguing so much over plot lines I told him to start making up his own stories, He won’t let anybody else ink his drawings either. He just drops off the finished pages with notes at the margins and I fill in the dialogue. I never know what he’ll come up with next, but it’s interesting to work that way.”

Actually, Lee hardly ever writes out a standard picture-by-picture script any more. (He recently hired three assistant writers. after 200 applicants flunked a sample Fantastic Four assignment. But he doesn’t think the boys are really yet for anything more demanding than Millie the  Model and Kid Colt.)

Lee arrives at his plots in sort of ESP sessions with. the artists. He inserts the dialogue after the picture layout comes in. Here he is in action at his weekly Friday morning summit meeting with Jack “King” Kirby, a veteran comic hook artist. a man who created many of the visions of your childhood and mine. The King is a middle-aged man with baggy eyes and a baggy Robert Hall-ish suit. He is sucking a huge green cigar and if you stood next to him on the subway you would peg him for the assistant foreman in a girdle factory.

“The Silver Surfer has been somewhere out in space since he helped the F.F. stop Galactus from destroying Earth,” begins Lee. “Why don’t we bring him back?”

 “Ummh,” says Kirby. “Suppose Alicia, the Thing’s blind girl friend, is in some kind of trouble. And the Silver Surfer comes to help her.” Lee starts pacing and gesturing as he gets warmed up.

“I see,” says Kirby. He has kind of a high-pitched voice.

 “But the Thing sees them together and he misunderstands. So he starts a big fight with the Silver Surfer. And meanwhile, the Fantastic Four is in lots of trouble. Doctor Doom has caught them again and they need the Things help.”

Lee is lurching around and throwing punches now.

“Right,” says Kirby. “The Thing finally beats the Silver Surfer. But then Alicia makes him realize he’s made a terrible mistake. This is what the Thing has always feared more than anything else,  that he would lose control and really clobber somebody.” Kirby nods. “The Thing is brokenhearted. He wanders off by-himself. He’s too ashamed to face Alicia or go back home to the Fantastic Four. He doesn’t realize how he’s failing for the second time.... How much the F.F. needs him.” Lee sags back on his desk, limp and spent.

Kirby has leaped out of the chair he was crumpled in, “Great, Great.” The cigar is out of his mouth and his baggy eyes are aglow. His high voice is young with enthusiasm. Here’s the esprit that makes this the Marvel Age of Comics. You can bet Stan Lee hasn’t lost the touch that won him three first prizes in the Herald Tribune’s “Biggest News of the Week” teen contest back at old DeWitt Clinton H.S. 

          Slate magazine, FEB 16, 2021

Mark Evanier recalled, “Jack’s wife, Roz, read the article early the Sunday morning it came out, woke Jack up to read it,” then “Jack phoned Stan at home to wake him up and complain. Both men later recalled that the collaboration was never the same after that day, and it was more than just an injured ego at work.”

Freedland has since said: “I feel sad that I was one of the things that made Kirby feel he was being shortchanged, which, in retrospect, decades later, I can see, yeah, he was,” he tells me. “ ‘Girdle factory.’ Oh, God. Oh, poor Kirby. What the hell was I thinking?”

Freedland continued: “I called Marvel and talked to Stan Lee and said, ‘How come you didn’t put me in your column, now that the thing is out? And he told me about Kirby being upset—I think he put it as, ‘upset about having his feelings hurt’—and I thought, gee, I can see why he would.”


Tuesday, March 7, 2023

The Story Formulas of the Marvel Age of Comics!


To enjoy the world of Marvel Comics you have to accept certain formulas, repeated plot points and situation that they routinely presented during the Marvel Age of Comics 1961-1977.

Approach this with a sense of humor and don’t take it too seriously and please add your own suggestion.


 Marvel Formula #1: The Chameleon, Duplicate and Robot Formula!

Shape-Shifting Creatures: These Beings can change their shape and their clothes to become exactly what they have seen even only once. They will fool friends, lovers, readers and, of course, the mobs that are usually there. There are no good guys with these powers.

Impersonators: The Chameleon, Red Skull and even a few good guys. They can instantly put on and take off masks (even over their own masks) which miraculously also gives the same height, clothes, voice and build of the person they are impersonating.

Robots: Built by Doctor Doom, S.H.I.E.L.D. and others, they not only look, move and sound like the real thing, but can reason and think like a real person.

Added to this is that it usually takes place on the second issue!  Fantastic Four #2 has the Skrulls, The Wizard Impersonates the Torch in his Second appearance in Strange Tales #102, Spider-Man meets the Chameleon in his second issue (Spider-Man #1, Amazing Fantasy #15 was his first) and the Avengers fight the duplicating Space Phantom in their second issue. The recordholder though is held by Captain America, who had a duplicate even before the modern Captain America was introduced! In Strange Tales #114.This leads to:

Marvel Formula #2: Heroes Must Fight Themselves!

The Old Iron Man fights the New Iron Man! The old Avengers must fight the new Avengers. Thor must fight Thor and Captain America must fight Captain America. Sometimes robots and impersonators are needed! Thor would fight a duplicate of himself in Journey into Mystery #95, and Iron Man would fight his in Tales of Suspense #65 (May 1965). My favorite is Captain America fighting himself in four issues, 152-154.


Marvel Formula #3: If It Works in A Western or in a Romance comic...

A lot of the Marvel story lines first appeared in Marvel’s westerns. Many characters including The Black Panther, Cobra (called the Rattler); Doctor Doom (The Man in the Iron Mask), even a revival of the Golden Age Red Raven appeared in a Western. 

The Rawhide Kid origin is the forerunner of Spider-Man’s. Many of Marvel’s  artists and writers also first appeared in the westerns.

           Patsy Walker and friends graduate from High School and before you know it, the X-men and Spider-Man graduate from high school. 

Patsy’s boyfriend goes to Vietnam, Flash Thompson soon will follow.


          From the beginning, Marvel characters crossed over or guest starred in another title. As soon as Marvel had more than one super-hero title, the heroes crossed over. The Fantastic Four appear in Amazing Spider-Man #1. But guest-starring didn’t start in the super-hero books; it first happened in the Westerns and the Romance books.


Marvel Formula #4: Copy things That Work.

If the Puppet Master proves popular give the readers Mr. Doll, a man who can control minds using dolls (Tales of Suspense #48). And if that works give them the Painter of 1,000 Perils  (Strange Tales #108) to do the same thing. The same goes with plot lines. As mentioned, duplicates show up in many stories, especially with the first issue.

Marvel Formula #5: Ignore, or quickly get rid of, Things That Don’t Work.

A secret identity for The Human Torch in Strange Tales  didn’t work (he didn’t have one in The Fantastic Four) so after issue #106 it was never mentioned again. Professor X has designs on Jean Grey and that didn’t work so they forgot about that too. For only one issue, in Strange Tales #107, Namor could replicate the powers of fish. Pietro’s and Wanda’s original parents, The Whizzer and Miss America (Giant-Size Avengers #1) were also forgotten when another writer made their father Magneto.

Marvel Formula #6: Every Hero Must Have A Counterpart; So Must Every Group.

Heroes must have a villain, or an evil relative, similar to themselves. Captain America had the Red Guardian, Iron Man fought the Titanium Man and the Crimson Dynamo; Doctor Strange fought Baron Mordo and Sgt. Fury fought Baron Strucker.

1. All groups, such as The Fantastic Four must have a counter group, often with a similar name. The Fantastic Four had the Frightful Four and The X-Men had the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants

2. The bad guys have to play fair: their “evil” group have to have the same amount of members. The evil Fantastic Four could not be the Frightful Five, Six or Seven and the proportion of men and women must be the same for both groups.

3. Although the Wizard was the leader, Paste Pot Pete was the glue that held the Frightful Four together. And the Sandman was no day at the beach. Well, maybe he was, sort of.

Marvel Formula #7: The Howlers Formula: An Early Death

War comics must adopt the Howler’s Formula: The group must be racially mixed and a member must meet a tragic death in five issues or less. This happened in Captain Savage and Combat Kelly.

Marvel Formula #8: Mind Control.

This is used primarily when two heroes must fight each other. The Puppet Master and the Mad Thinker were the most persuasive at getting this done. Diablo, however, was the best; he could control the mind of Dragon Man, a creature without a mind!

Marvel Formula #9: DON’T DEFEAT YOUR ENEMY!

The good guys did not usually defeat the bad guys. They just stopped them. Readers no longer had to endure the obligatory scene, in a follow up story,  where the villain breaks out of prison. (This was so common at DC at the time.

Marvel Formula #10: No One Gets Hurt!

When Marvel heroes fought each other, usually do to a misunderstanding, mind control or any other reason, no one is hurt, bruised or even fatigued. In fact, they often then banded together to fight the “real” enemy.

Marvel Formula #11:

Getting Powers Without a Hitch! (This was true at DC too!)

Superman, The X-Men and The Sub-Mariner were all born with their powers. Ant-Man, The Atom and Captain America acquired them. Some, like Spider-Man, the Flash and Green Lantern had their powers thrust upon them. They all had one thing in common; they were  all single at the moment they get their powers! Picked at random by an unknown spaceman, a chance discovery of a magic hammer, a radioactive spider, a radioactive bomb or radioactive anything, super powers came only to those who were single.

Marvel Formula #12: When a Hero Renews a Series, he always brings along an old villain:

Whenever a (cancelled) hero was given a new strip they always seem bring back his first villain. every time Doctor Strange came back they gave him the same villain: Nightmare. Captain America always got the Red Skull. And so on.

Marvel Formula #13: With great power comes great sewing skills!

The one power most new Marvel super-heroes acquire is the power to sew. The radioactive spider that bit Peter Parker also imbued him with the ability to make a perfect pattern and sew a skin-tight costume. Daredevil may have sewn his own costume perfectly despite being blind, but that didn’t stop his first yellow one from being awful. Heroes have only one costume that never gets torn or dirty! (Ditko’s Spidey was an exception!).

Marvel Formula #14
: Superior Beings.

You knew The Watcher, Galactus, Odin and the Stranger had the qualities needed to be superior in the Marvel World. They were tall and imposing, with a great many cool gadgets, and could both hover and could often walk in mid-air. They also spoke in all-knowing riddles.

Marvel Formula #15: A Good Character, Even A Minor One, Is A Terrible Thing to Waste:

Characters should not be wasted. See Willy Lumpkin, created in 1960 as a comic strip and NOT originally a part of the Marvel Universe appears the Fantastic Four.  Patsy Walker comes back as a super-hero. Hey, they brought back the Impossible Man.


Marvel Formula #16: A Villain, Even A Minor One, Is A Terrible Thing To Waste.

Nowhere is the credo more evident that people CAN indeed change than in a Marvel comic. They are usually given a name change, costume change or amnesia (no one remembers that they were once villains). Introduced as Madam Medusa in Fantastic Four #36, Medusa goes through all three transformations. Her origin is covered in about three panels in Fantastic Four  #36. We learn about her incredible hair and that she is being chased or persecuted by the police. Why? Who knows. She then joins up with the Wizard to become one of the Frightful Four. Why? Who knows? Eventually, she becomes part of the good Fantastic Four and even fights the bad Frightful Four in Fantastic Four (#129-130, 133 and 148), who have replaced her with another woman, of course. (They are obligated to! See Formula #6.) The good guys completely trust her, forgetting that she betrayed her original team. The Black Widow, Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver, and Hawkeye, have taken similar paths, complete with the trust and costume changes.

Marvel Formula #17: Introducing a new Hero: Pages at The Beginning.

In the first few issues of a series introducing a new super-powered hero, Marvel would often demonstrate their powers doing something irrelevant to the main story. This was true with Iron Man, Thor and many others. They used the same thing with Dracula, but he would be shown stalking his dinner before the actual story got under way.

Marvel Formula #18: Heroes May Not Want To Be A Hero.

Most often this was the case because they have trouble controlling their powers. It started with Fantastic Four #1, Ben Grimm had no control over being the Thing. This made the character feel distanced and isolated from the group. The same was true for Scott Summers, Cyclops in The X-Men, whose uncontrollable powers made him a threat to everyone around him. Later he was joined by The Beast whose mutation became uncontrolled. When Black Bolt was introduced as a member of The Inhumans, he too had a deadly power that separated him from the others.

Marvel Formula #19: More Groups!

Tony Isabella: “Unfortunately, editors got involved and laid down all sorts of just patently ridiculous ‘rules’ for doing superhero team books. Like, every team had to have five members... and every team had to have a woman... and every team had to have a guy with super strength... and every team had to have a member who had his own title as well.”

Marvel Formula #20: Villains Made Specifically for An Individual Hero.

In the land of Marvel, certain villains such as  the Asbestos Man, the Melter and the Spider-Slayer were just prepared for one specific hero, although they were in New York, home of all heroes. Had The Human Torch phoned Iron Man and exchanged the Asbestos Man for the Melter they would have had an easy day.

Marvel Formula #21: Mutations!

Characters will only mutate into their namesakes. An important lesson: The Cat mutates into a cat, The Beast mutates into a beast. Why didn’t the  Beast mutate into a recognizable cat? Or a dog? Also note that characters mutated by gamma rays only in The Hulk comics   (the Leader, the Abomination, Doc Samson) and those mutated by cosmic rays appear in The Fantastic Four (the Red Ghost, his Apes and Annihilus).

Marvel Formula #22: Winning but having an unhappy ending!

It started with the Comics Code in 1955, which stated, briefly, that heroes had to win so there was nothing but happy endings. Marvel changed that. By presenting the personal and romantic stories of their heroes, characters such as Spider-Man could defeat the bad guy, but the story would not end all that happily because of a bad romance or a sick Aunt May. The stories often were often like soap operas often continuing the story in the next issue. The first time this happened was in Fantastic Four #3 when The Human Torch quits the F.F. after they had defeated the villain. You were surprised and saddened by the unhappy ending.


Marvel Western Formula #23: I kid you not!

Kid Colt, Apache Kid, Two Gun Kid, Kid Slade, The Outlaw Kid, Ringo Kid, Texas Kid, Western Kid, Arizona Kid, Rawhide Kid, Kid, The Dakota Kid, The Gun-Barrel Kid, The Rio Kid, The Sycamore Kid, Kid Melton, The Fargo Kid, The Hair-Trigger Kid, Captain O. U. Kidd, The Durango Kid, The Hard Luck Kid, City Kid Carver, The Nevada Kid, The Gunsmoke Kid, The Phoenix Kid, The Gun-Dance Kid, The Tombstone Kid, The Laredo Kid, The Utah Kid, The Topeka Kid, Kid Barrett, Kid Cassidy and the Prairie Kid. ‘Nuff said.


Marvel Formula #24: Remembrances of Things Past:

Creative talent who left the company were immediately forgotten and even erased. Stan had the salutation on the letter pages start with the names of the writer and artist. For example, letters to Spider-Man would begin, “Dear Stan and Steve.” Steve Ditko drew issue #38 and then left Marvel; in that same issue his name was not omitted from all the letters! Amazing! Often when an artist or writer left, even in the case of Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, their names were deleted  from the credits of reprints.

Marvel Formula #25: Power Corrupts…

...and super-powers corrupt absolutely, well almost. The good guys, once they got their powers, became instant heroes. However, many other people, not necessarily evil or even bad, seem to become evil lunatics when given powers in similar ways as the hero. In fact, place  anyone in the Iron Man armor who is not Tony Stark and he will go nuts. The Molten Man, the Lizard, the Abomination, the Leader, the Meteor Man are insane... not evil. But when they get powers, especially ones that make them look ugly, they get pissed and evil.

Marvel Formula #26: Everything Old is New Again.

So many characters are reintroduced as new, but often only have their costumes redone. The NEW Black Widow; the NEW Iron Man; the NEW Giant-Man; the even NEWER Giant-Man (Goliath); and the Sensationally NEW Captain Marvel. (Yes, it really does say that on the cover)

Marvel Formula #27: Name that Goon!

What parent gives a child a name that let’s everyone know he will be evil? Victor Von Doom, Count Nefaria, Annihilus, Diablo, and Doctor Nemesis. This is not to be confused with character names that tell you the exact evil that they do such as the Fixer, Doomsday Man and the Executioner.

Marvel Formula #28: Dames, Dames Dames!

Early in the Marvel Age, all boys are referred to as men, for example, Spider-Man and Iceman. All women, however, are referred to as girls. Sue Storm was older than Johnny, her teen-age brother and old enough to be a wife and mother. Yet she was the Invisible Girl. And Jean Grey, older than the Iceman, was Marvel Girl. Super-teams generally had one woman and the rest men, It’s never the other way around, with more women than men.

Marvel Formula #29: Ideas die with their creators.

Important inventions are always accomplished by an individual scientist or inventor, who never seem to have left notes. No one ever worked in a team, even if it was a government project. This makes it impossible to duplicate their experiments. Doctor Reinstein invented the Super-Soldier formula that gave us Captain America, Prof. Horton invented The Human Torch, and even at DC, Doctor Erdel transported the Martian Manhunter to Earth. No government agency comes calling, inquiring about the amazing invention. Like what happened to Henry Pym’s original plans for shrinking anything to reduce shipping costs? When they die they take their secrets with them!

Marvel Formula #30: Story Titles are recyclable.

Just change genres and sometimes a word or two.


Marvel Formula #31: Girlfriends of Super-Heroes must always be kidnapped and taken hostage!

It must be part of the job description! Every girlfriend of a super-hero must be kidnapped or held hostage by the super-villain on a regular basis. This happens whether or not the girlfriend or the villain knows the true identity of the boyfriend. I believe Jane Foster (from Thor) holds the record. Worse yet, they can be former girlfriends, not in the stories for years, but will still find themselves a victim. And it does not matter how long they have been girlfriends; it could be just that issue! Aunts, mothers and fathers are included, See Spider-Man Annual #2.


Marvel Formula #32: DRAW IT OUT.

As the page count grew smaller in gthe mid 1970s and the Marvel Age grew older, plot points sometimes seemed to go on for countless issues.. Marvel stories began to be very drawn out and told at a much slower pace.

Sunday, January 22, 2023

The Marvel Age of Comics: The Complete List

     The Marvel Age of Comics,

          The Complete list!

The Marvel Age of Comics was a great era for imagination, creativity and originality. Most people begin it with Fantastic Four #1 in 1961, but I prefer to include Amazing Adventures #1-6 because it introduces Dr. Droom, the first super-hero of that era by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.

 But when does it end? I don’t end it on a singular date, in 1977, because Marvel comics had continuing storylines. Nick Caputo, Michael J. Vassallo and I worked with Roy Thomas for Taschen, which produced a book, “The Marvel Age of Comics 1961-1978.” That is where they needed it. Roy Thomas told me that he felt it went to 1981. Not by coincidence, that was the year he left Marvel.

So each comic ended it's Marvel Age at a different time.  In the lists below I show where each comic ended its Marvel Age.

The Western and Romance comics are listed separately because they were not really a part of the Marvel Continuity. Patsy Walker did appear in Fantastic Four  Annual #3, 1965; Avengers: #144, 147-151; and Amazing Adventures #13. The western heroes also appeared in Avengers #144 and several issues after that.

Also listed, are the series of the Marvel Age, characters who starred in comics not named for them!

Finally, the Marvel Magazines are listed and well as a list of the series of the Magazine Age! 

        Name Changes

Amazing Adventures:
  Renamed: Amazing Adult Fantasy (#7)
Which Renamed: Amazing Adult Fantasy (#15) 
Brand Echh:
Renamed: Not Brand Ecch (#5)
Chamber of Darkness:
Renamed: Monsters on the Prowl (#9) 
Giant-Size Super-Stars:
Renamed: Giant-Size Fantastic Four (#2)
Giant-Size Super-Heroes: 
Continues in Giant-Size Spider-Man (#1)
Giant-Size Creatures: 
Renamed: Giant-Size Werewolf by Night (#2)
Giant-Size Chillers:
Renamed: Giant-Size Dracula (#2)
Hero for Hire:
Renamed: Power Man (#17)
Journey into Mystery:
        Renamed: Thor (#126)
Special Marvel Edition:
Renamed: Master of Kung-Fu (#17)
Tales of Suspense: 
          Renamed: Captain America (#100)
Tales to Astonish:
Renamed: Incredible Hulk (#102)
Strange Tales:
Renamed: Doctor Strange (#169)
Tower of Shadows:
Renamed: Creatures on the Loose (#10)


Note that: § Title was discontinued.

               §§ Title continues as all reprints

               *Title was changed (see Box of Title Changes)


Title  Issue Numbers

Amazing Adult Fantasy*               #8-14

Amazing Adventures (V. 1)*          #1-7

Amazing Adventures (V. 2) §         #1-39


Amazing Fantasy §                          #15

Amazing Spider-Man                      #1-170

      Annuals/Giant-Size                 #1-10/1-5§

Spectacular Spider-Man                  #1-2

Spectacular Spider-Man  Vol. II    #1-5

Arrgh §                                              #1-5

Astonishing Tales §                         #1-36

Avengers                                            #1-163

      Annual/ Giant-Size                    #1-7/1-6


Black Goliath §                                   #1-5

Black Panther §                                  #1-15


Captain America*                                #100 -214

      Annual/Giant-Size                         #1-4/1

Captain Marvel                                       #1-62

      Annual #1

Captain Savage §                                     #1-19

Cat §                                                         #1-4

Chamber of Chills §§                                #1-6

Chamber of Darkness                              #1-8

Champions §                                           #1-17

Combat Kelly §                                        #1-9

Conan, the Barbarian                              #1-77

      Annual/Giant-Size                          #1-2/1-4 §

Creatures on the Loose*                     #11-36


Daredevil                                                   #1-145

      Annual/Giant-Size  #1-4/1


Dead of Night                                             #11

Defenders                                                  #1-51

      Annual/Giant-Size  #1/1-5

Devil Dinosaur §                                         #1-9

Doc Savage §                                               #1-8 §

Doctor Strange                                           #169-183

Doctor Strange Volume II                             #1-28

      Annual/Giant-Size  #1, 1 


Eternals §                                                      #1-19

      Annual #1


Fantastic Four                                            #1-183

      Annual/Giant-Size    #1-12/1-6

Fear §                                                             #1-31

Frankenstein §                                               #1-17


Ghost Rider                                                     #1-24

Giant-Size Super-Heroes*

Giant-Size Super-Stars*                                    #1

Giant-Size Chillers Vol. 1*                               #1

Giant-Size Chillers Vol. 2 §                              #1-3

Giant-Size Creatures*                                      #1


Hero For Hire*                                                  #1-16

Howard the Duck                                               #1-14

      Annual #1-6


Incredible Hulk §                                              #1-6

 Incredible Hulk Vol. II*                                    #102-212

      Annual/Giant-Size  #1-5/1

Inhumans §                                                         #1-12

 Invaders                                                                 #1-22

       Annual/Giant-Size #1/#1

Iron Fist                                                                 # 1-15

Iron Man                                                                #1-102

      Annual/Giant-Size  #1-4/1       

Iron Man & Sub-Mariner §                                     #1


Journey into Mystery*                                            #83-125

      Annual #1

Journey into Mystery II §§                                      #1-5

Jungle Action                                                           #6-24


Ka-Zar                                                                       #1-20

Ka-Zar Quarterly §                                                   #1-3

Kull                                                                          #1-20


Logans Run §§                                                       #1-7


Machine Man                                                           #1-9

Man-Thing §                                                            #1-22

     Giant-Size                                                           #1-5

Marvel Chillers §                                                     #1-7

Marvel Feature Vol. I                                               #1-12

Marvel Feature Vol. II                                             #1-7

Marvel Premiere                                                      #1-37

Marvel Presents §                                                     #1-12

Marvel Spotlight Vol. 1 §                                       #1-33

Marvel Super-Heroes §§                                         #12-23

Marvel Tales §§                                                         #30

Marvel Team-Up                                                  #1-55

      Annual #1

Marvel Treasury                                                   #1, 13

Marvel Two-In-One                                               #1-28

      Annual #1-2

Master of Kung-Fu*                                              #17-51

      Annual/Giant-Size                                          #1/1-4

Monsters on the Prowl §§                                      #9-16

Ms. Marvel                                                             #1-4


Nick Fury (S.H.I.E.L.D.) §                                      #1-18

Not Brand Echh/Brand Ecch §                                #1-9

Nova                                                                         #1-12


Omega§                                                                      #1-10


Power Man*                                                         #17-40

      Annual/Giant-Size  #1/1


Red Wolf §                                                             #1-9


Savage Tales                                                           #1-2

Sgt. Fury §§                                                             #1-120

      Annual #1-7

Shanna §                                                               #1-5

Silver Surfer §                                                        #1-18

       Graphic Novel       #1

Skull §                                                                       #1-7

Son of Satan §                                                           #1-8

Special Marvel Edition                                             #15-16

Spectacular Spider-Man: §                                        #1-2

Spectacular Spider-Man Vol. 2                                  #1-6

Spoof §                                                                       #1-5

Strange Tales                                                             #101-181

      Annual #1-2

Sub-Mariner                                                            #1-72

      Annual #1-2

Supernatural Thrillers §                                          #1-15

Superman Vs. Spider-Man                                        #1

Super Villain Team-Up §                                           #1-13

      Giant-Size     #1-2

Tales of Suspense*                                                     #39-99

Tales to Astonish*                                                    #27, 35-101

Thor  #126-266

      Annual/Giant-Size  2-6/1

Tomb of Dracula §                                                    #1-70

      Giant-Size     #2-5

Tower of Shadows §                                                 #1 -9

2001: A Space Odyssey §                                          #1-10


Warlock §                                                          #1-15

War is Hell §                                                      #9-15

Werewolf by Night §                                         #1-42

      Annual #2-5

Where Monsters Dwell                                     #15

Wizard of Oz                                                      #1

Worlds Unknown §                                          #1-8

X-Men                                                                #1-66/94-108

     Annual/Giant-Size   1-2

During the Marvel Age, Marvel published many titles that were not related to super-heroes. These included  children’s comics, westerns, romance, teen comedy, and “Female Comics” as Lee put it. Here is a list.


A Date with Millie #1-7­        1956-1957

Battle  #62-70                         1959 

Chili Annual #1                   1971

Chili #1-                                 1969-1973

Gothic Tales of Love #1-2      1975

Groovy #1-3                             1968

Harvey 1-6                              1970-1971

Homer, the Happy Ghost

                     Vol. 2 #1-4        1969-1970

Kathy #9-27                           1959-1964 

Life with Millie #8-20             1960-1962 

Lil Kids #1-12                        1970-1973

Lil Pals #1-5       1972

Linda Carter,

      Student Nurse #1-9          1961-1963

Love Romances  #91-106       1961-1963

Mad about Millie #1-16          1969-1971

Mad about Millie Annual       1971

Millie the Model #88-207       1945-1973

Millie the Model

      Annuals #1-12                    1962-1975

Modeling with Millie #21-52  1963-1967

Monsters to Laugh with         1964-1965

My Girl Pearl #7-11?             1960-1961

My Love Special #1                 1971

My Love vol. II  #1-39             1969-1976

Night Nurse #1-4                     1972-1973

Our Love Story  #38                 1969-1976 

Patsy and Hedy #74-110        1952-1967

Patsy Walker #87-124             1945-1966

Patsy Walkers Fashion

      Parade Annual                1966

Peter, Little Pest #1-4            1969-1970

Pussycat #1                             1968

 Teen Age Romance #77-86   1961-1962





Gunsmoke Western #57-77    1955-1962

Ghost Rider #1-7                    1967

Gunhawks #1-5                      1972

Kid Colt #88-229                     1949-1979

       Giant-Size #1-3                1975

Mighty Marvel Western #1-46           1968-1976

Night Rider #1-6                      1974

Outlaw Kid #1-30                 1970-1975

Rawhide Kid #17-151           1960-1979

     Special #1                          1971

Ringo Kid Vol. II #1-30           1970-1976

Tex Dawson Gunslinger #1-1 1973

Two Gun Kid #52-136              1953-1977

Western Gunfighters #1-33   1970-195

Western Kid #1-5          1971-192

Western Team-Up #1    1973

Wyatt Earp #30-34       1972-1973 


           The Series of the Marvel Age

   Many characters started out, or ended up, in comics not named for them. Here are those listings.


Ant-Man/Giant-Man/Goliath/Yellowjacket/Henry Pym

          Tales to Astonish: #27, 35-69

          Avengers #1-16,22,26-60,63,75,90-                             93,99,100, 137-141,146,148,150-162,

          Avengers Annual #1      

          Marvel Feature: #4-10

Black Panther

          Jungle Action: #6-24

          Avengers #51-88,99,100,105, 106,137,159-162

Black Knight

          Marvel Super-Heroes #17

          Avengers #61-85, 100

Black Widow

          Amazing Adventures (II): #1-8

          Daredevil: #81-108

          The Champions 1-17


          Marvel Presents: #1-2

Brother Voodoo*

          Strange Tales: #169-173

Captain America

Also see the Timely-Atlas Section

          Avengers: #4-163 

          Tales of Suspense: #60-99

          Invaders #1-22

Captain Marvel

          Marvel Super-Heroes 12-13*

          Marvel Spotlight Vol. II: 1-4, 8


          Astonishing Tales: #25-36


          Marvel Feature: #1-3

Dr. Doom

          Marvel Super-Heroes: #20

          Astonishing Tales: #1-8

          Super Villain Team-Up: #1-14

Dr. Droom (Dr. Druid)

          Amazing Adventures Vol. I: 1-4, 6.

          Weird Wonder Tales: #19

* Also see the Magazine Section for similar listings

Dr. Strange

Strange Tales: #110, 111, 114-168

          Marvel Premiere: #3-14

          Marvel Feature: #1  (Defenders)

          The Defenders #1-45


          Captain  America: #134-214

Fantastic Four

          Strange Tales: #101-134 (Torch & Thing)

          Marvel Feature: #11-12 (Thing)

          Marvel Two-In-One (Thing) #1-28

Ghost Rider

          Marvel Spotlight: #5-13

          The Champions #1-17


          Strange Tales: #174-177.

Guardians of the Galaxy

          Marvel Super-Heroes: #18

          Marvel Presents: #3-12

Gullivar Jones*

          Creatures on the Loose: #16-21


          Avengers: #38-50, 98-100, 137, 151

          The Champions: 1-17

Howard the Duck

          Giant-Size Man-Thing 4-5


          Avengers: #1-3, 5

          Tales to Astonish: #60-101

          Marvel Feature: #1-3 (Defenders)

          The Defenders #1-45

Human Torch

          Strange Tales: #101-134


          Marvel  Super-Heroes: #15

          Thor: #146-152

          Amazing Adventures (II): 1-10

Iron Fist*

          Marvel Premiere: #15-21

Iron Man

          Tales of Suspense: #39-99

          Iron Man and Sub-Mariner Comics: #1

          Avengers #1-16,21,22,32,45,51,52,58,60,66-67,

          69-71,76,80-82,86-88,93-146, 150-163, Ann. #1

It, The Living Colossus

          Astonishing Tales: #21-24


Also see the Timely-Atlas Section

          Astonishing Tales: #1-20


          Amazing Adventures (Vol. II): #18-39

King Kull*

          Creatures on the Loose: #11

          Monsters on the Prowl: #16

          Conan: #10


          Fear: #10-19


          Creatures on the Loose: #30-37

Master of Kung-Fu*

          Marvel Special Edition: #15-16


          Marvel Chillers: #1-2


          Fear #20-31

The Mummy

          Supernatural Thrillers: #5-15

Nick Fury

          Strange Tales: #135-168

Red Sonya*

          Marvel Feature: #1-7

Red Wolf

          Marvel Spotlight: #1


          Dead of Night: #11

          Marvel Spotlight: #26

Silver Surfer

          Defenders #2-11

Son of Satan

Marvel Spotlight: #14- 24



          Amazing Adult Fantasy: #15

          Marvel Super-Heroes: #14

          Spectacular Spider-Man: #1-2

          Marvel Team-Up #1-55

          Spectacular Spider-Man Vol. 2 1-6


Also see the Timely-Atlas Section

          Tales to Astonish: #70-101

          Marvel Feature: #1-3 (Defenders)

          The Defenders: #1-14

          Marvel Spotlight: #2-7

          Super-Villain Team-Up #1-14

          Invaders #1-22

Tales of Asgard

          Journey into Mystery: #97-124

          Thor 125-145


          Creatures on the Loose: #22-29


          Journey into Mystery: #83-125, Annual #1

          Avengers #1-16,22,45,51,52,58,66-71,79-88

          93-105, 108-135, 137-146, 150, 155, Annual #1

Tigra a.k.a. Cat

          Giant-Size Creatures: #1

          Marvel Chillers: #1-7


          Marvel Premiere: #1-2

          Strange Tales: #178-181


          Tales to Astonish: #51-58


          Tales of Suspense: #49-58

          Silver Surfer: #1-7

          What If?

          Marvel Super-Heroes #23

Werewolf  By Night

          Marvel Spotlight: #2-4


          Amazing Adventures (II) (Beast) 11-17

          Ka-Zar Quarterly: #1-2

          Marvel Tales: #30

          The Champions: (Ice-Man) #1-17


 The Magazines of Marvel

Deadly Hands Of Kung-Fu 1-33

Deadly Heroes of Kung-Fu 1

Doc Savage 1-8

Dracula Lives 1-11** 

Haunt of Horror 1-6

Kull 1-3

Legion Of Monsters 1

Marvel Comics Special    1-2, 9

Marvel Movie Premiere 1

Marvel Preview* 1-15*

Marvel Super Action 1

Monsters Unleashed 1-11** 

Planet Of The Apes     1-33

Rampaging Hulk * 1-9

Savage Sword* 1-30

     (Marvel Comic Super-Special) 2

Savage Tales 1-11**

Tales of The Zombie 1-11

Unknown Worlds 1-6**

Vampire Tales 1-11**

Masters of Terror (Reprint) 1-2

Digest: Haunt of Horror 1-2

Humor: Crazy*         1-32

*Only Crazy, Marvel Preview, Hulk  and Savage Sword  were published past 1977.

**And Annual


 The Series in the Magazines

Blade: Marvel Preview #3, 8,  Vampire Tales #9

Bloodstone: Rampage Hulk #1-6, 8

Brak. : Savage Tales #7-8 

Bran Morn: Savage Sword of Conan #16-17

Bro. Voodoo: Tales of the Zombie #6-10

Conan: Marvel Comic Super-Special #2, 9, Savage Tales #1-4

Daughters: Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu #32-33

Dracula: Legion of Monsters #1

Frankenstein: Legion of Monsters #1, Monsters Unleashed #2-10

Gabriel: Haunt of Horror #2-4, 11

Gull Jones: Monsters Unleashed #4 

Iron Fist: Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu #10,15, 19-24, 29, 31, Special. #1

Kazar: Savage Tales #1, 5-11

Kull: Savage Sword of Conan #1-3, 9, 15,23, Savage Tales #1

Lilith: Marvel Preview #12,  Vampire Tales #4, 6

Man Gods: Marvel Preview #1, 8-9

Man-Thing: Monsters Unleashed #5,8,9, Rampage Hulk #8, Savage Tales #1

Morbius: Vampire Tales #2, 4, 5, 7-8, 10, 11

Punisher: Marvel Preview #1-15,  Marvel Super-Action #1

Red Sonya: Kull & The Barbarians #2, 3, Savage Sword of Conan #1, 8, 15, 23,Savage Tales #3, Marvel Comic Super-Special #9

Satana: Haunt of Horror #2, 4, 5,  Marvel Preview #7, Vampire Tales #2, 3

Shang-Chi: Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu #1-9,   11-18, 29, 31, 33

Shanna: Rampaging Hulk #9, Savage Tales #9, 10

Solomon Kane: Dracula Lives #3, Kull & The Barbarians #2, 3, Monsters Unleashed #1, Savage Sword of Conan #13-15, 18-20, 22

Sons of the Tigers: Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu #1, 3, 4, 6, 14, 16-17, 19-24, 26-27, 29-32, Sp. #1

Star Lord: Marvel Preview #11, 14-15

Swordquest: Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu #25-27, 30