Friday, November 13, 2009

Doug Says: "Check out some of my Stuff!" Part 9

Hello, and welcome to another installment of the things I've acquired during a lifelong affair with comics. No photos today, but instead we'll take a look at what became an annual rite of Christmas -- the unwrapping of a volume in the ongoing Origins of Marvel Comics series!

First up is Son of Origins of Marvel Comics, on sale way back in 1975. Of course, this was the sequel to the previous year's "Origins", but I didn't get that one then. I recall that we lived near a mall that had a Walden Books (or some similar store) that had a section called "nostalgia". I didn't know, at the age of 9, what that word meant, but I was very excited that whatever it meant had to do with comics! I believe I requested Son of Origins on my Christmas list, and along with Avengers #'s 145-146, it arrived under the tree.

The cover is striking, yet somewhat stiff when looking at it now. Iron Man dominates the scene -- I was a fan of his appearances in the Avengers, so I knew I would like this. Boy, was I surprised when I got to reading this and saw his first gray armor! My favorite story in the book was the origin of the Silver Surfer. At the time it was the longest single comics story I'd ever read. If I have a complaint, it would be that there are only 1st-issue stories for the X-Men and the Avengers. Here's the rundown of what was included -- links will take you to the Comic Book Database website:

The Avengers (1963) #1
Daredevil (1964) #1
Daredevil (1964) #47
Silver Surfer (1968) #1
Tales of Suspense (1959) #39
Tales of Suspense (1959) #97
Uncanny X-Men (1963) #1

I don't recall when I received Origins of Marvel Comics -- it might have been for my 10th birthday in the summer of 1976. You know, Stan Lee has been much maligned for his "me-centric" focus on the history of Marvel Comics. That's never more prevalent than in the text that precedes each feature in this book. For example, from the Hulk narrative, it's all "I had Jack do this" and "I asked Jack to introduce a kid sidekick" -- like me, you 've probably also read some Kirby apologists who say that the foundations of the Marvel Universe probably leaned past the 50-50 point toward Jack, not Stan. At any rate, they were magical together, and like most famous duos were never the same apart. This book was my introduction to Stan's hucksterism and self-promotion (although I gave neither a second thought at the time -- shoot, I thought Stan was speaking directly to me!).

A note on the cover -- doesn't everyone look great?? Even the Torch's bald head is OK -- weird, especially since John Buscema had recently been drawing him with flaming hair in the FF's own mag.

Here's what was in Origins of Marvel Comics:

Amazing Fantasy (1961) #15
The Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #72
Fantastic Four (1961) #1Fantastic Four (1961) #55
The Incredible Hulk (1962) #1
The Incredible Hulk (1968) #118
Journey Into Mystery (1952) #83
Strange Tales (1951) #110
Strange Tales (1951) #115
Strange Tales (1951) #155
Thor (1966) #143

Bring on the Bad Guys was up next, released in October 1976, and is really a lot of fun. In the days before comics shops, and being so young, I had no access to back issues let alone the seminal stories of the Marvel Age of Comics. This is my favorite volume of the five I own. The origin of Dr. Doom, of the Red Skull, and the unmasking of the Green Goblin. Toss in a few installments of Tales of Asgard that show Thor and Loki as kids, as well as another John Buscema Silver Surfer story, and you have a winner. Here are the issues included in this one:

The Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #40
Fantastic Four (1961) Annual 02
Fantastic Four (1961) #5
Journey Into Mystery (1952) #112
Journey Into Mystery (1952) #113
Journey Into Mystery (1952) #115
Silver Surfer (1968) #3
Strange Tales (1951) #126
Tales of Suspense (1959) #66
Tales of Suspense (1959) #67
Tales of Suspense (1959) #68
Tales to Astonish (1959) #90
Tales to Astonish (1959) #91

And I think I would be remiss if I didn't expose those cave-dwellers among you who have never partaken of Alex Ross's stunning homage to Romita's Bad Guys cover:

I'll admit that I was a little leery in 1977 about asking for The Superhero Women (you think my mom wanted to buy a book with Red Sonja hanging her stuff out all over the place - right on the cover??), but again -- I'm glad I did. Behind another Romita painting (these are just great), the reader was treated to another tour de force of Marvel's female characters. The cover doesn't begin to do the table of contents justice -- in addition to the ladies pictured, origin stories of the Cat, Shanna the She-Devil, and Lyra the Femizon (huh?). Some of the stories are multi-part, and the list of creators is a definite who's who, with John Buscema dominating (YEEESSSS!). Here's what ya got:

The Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #62
The Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #86
The Cat (1972) #1
Fantastic Four (1961) #22
Fantastic Four (1961) #36
Marvel Feature (1971) #4
Ms. Marvel (1977) #1
Savage Tales (1971) #1
Shanna the She-Devil (1972) #1
Tales to Astonish (1959) #44
Thor (1966) #189
Thor (1966) #190

Last, but as they say - certainly not least - is Marvel's Greatest Superhero Battles (1978). Now how would you interpret that title? I'm thinking good guys fighting good guys. Well, that would only be half right. Inside you get the FF vs. the Hulk with the Avengers lending a hand, a fabulous battle-royal between Subby and Iron Man (interesting dichotomy of art, however, as Gene the Dean Colan began it and Kirby finished it), the always-awesome Silver Surfer #4 where the skyrider battles Thor in Asgard, and DD vs. Subby. The other three tales, however, are just the X-Men, Dr. Strange, and Spidey getting it on with some of their greatest foes. Oh well -- maybe it's something for everyone?

Here's the list of stories:

The Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #69
Daredevil (1964) #7
Fantastic Four (1961) #25
Fantastic Four (1961) #26
Silver Surfer (1968) #4
Strange Tales (1951) #139
Strange Tales (1951) #140
Strange Tales (1951) #141
Tales of Suspense (1959) #79
Tales of Suspense (1959) #80
Tales to Astonish (1959) #82
Uncanny X-Men (1963) #3

Oh, and did I mention that these books ranged in price from $5.95 to $6.95? Yeah, it was good to be a kid in the Bronze Age!!

See ya next time.


Anonymous said...

Yes! Bring on the Bad Guys! I loved that one as a kid, i took it everywhere with me for a whole summer , i think. Another good one was Marvel Team Up Thrillers.


MaGnUs said...

Oh, I have that "Greatest Battles" Marvel book!!!! In fact, it's one of my first superhero comic book possesions.

MaGnUs said...

Just subscribing to the follow up comments.

Doug said...

MaGnUs and Starfoxxx --


Weren't these books great? And the price -- I know everything's relative, inflation-wise, but looking back these had to be a steal at $6 per.

It's funny -- when I did the review of The Cat #'s 3-4 elsewhere on this blog, I had totally forgotten that I owned a copy of the first issue in The Superhero Women! I re-read it when I did this post and I must say that it's a ton better than what saw print later in that mag.

Have fun --


Kid said...

Unfortunately, in the first printing of Origins, they got the Dr. Strange stories and text out of sequence, which was really quite careless of them.

Also, Son of Origins featured some of the worst reproductions of the stories ever to see print. I can only assume, going by lettering balloons obscuring the art, that they used foreign editions (where balloons are often extended to allow for more verbose languages), with stats of the original English pasted in place.

Check out the X-Men, Avengers, Silver Surfer and Daredevil origins in particular to see what I'm talking about.

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