It was new comic book day yesterday! What’d you all get? What’d you like? What’d you dislike? Sound off in the comments below! While you think about that, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web.
The Fantastic Four, the very superheroes that kicked off Marvel Comics’ Silver Age are celebrating 60 incredible years! Home to concepts and characters that revolutionized comic book storytelling, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s beloved creations have enjoyed one of the most memorable sagas in comic book history. Now, get ready to see what’s in store for Marvel’s First Family this year in all-new teaser artwork by Valerio Schiti and Marte Gracia. This epic piece foreshadows the Fantastic Four’s action-packed year, giving fans a hint at the deadly threats they’ll be facing and a look at an unexpected new arc that kicks off in May by Dan Slott and R.B. Silva!
Keep an eye out for announcements about the other exciting things Marvel Comics has in store for the Fantastic Four’s milestone celebration.
“I’m not damning Stan Lee, I’m living with ambiguity” says Abraham Riesman of his essential new Stan Lee biography True Believer: The Rise and Fall of Stan Lee. No matter where you stand on the debate of who gets credit for Marvel comics, you MUST read this book.
It’s past time for a serious work of history like this one examining the conflicting stories behind one of most imporant cultural forces of the 20th century. Abe has done completely new research into the Lieber familiy’s history in Romania and the Romanian Jewish mileiu of Stan’s youth. He’s interviewed the journalists who wrote key pieces around Stan’s life and times at Marvel. He’s gotten everyone to talk, from Stan’s brother (cartoonist Larry Lieber) to the vultures who plagued Stan at the end of his life.
Abraham Riesman is a journalist whose work has appeared in Vulture, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, New York Magazine, The Boston Globe, and many other outlets. He is the author of TRUE BELIEVER: THE RISE AND FALL OF STAN LEE and the forthcoming RINGMASTER: THE LIFE AND TIMES OF VINCE MCMAHON. He lives in Rhode Island with his partner, the journalist SI Rosenbaum. His website is abrahamriesman.com and his Twitter handle is @abrahamjoseph.
This year, Marvel celebrates the 50th anniversary of one of its most unique creations with critically-acclaimed writer Steve Orlando’s three-part Curse of the Man-Thing epic. Kicking off next month with Avengers: Curse of the Man-Thing and continuing in April’s Spider-Man: Curse of the Man-Thing, the Marvel Universe-spanning saga will reach its climatic conclusion in May with X-Men: Curse of the Man-Thing. Throughout the series Orlando will be joined by incredible artists including Francesco Mobili and Marco Failla, and will be teaming up with Andrea Broccardo for the unforgettable finale.
Man-Thing’s tragic curse has finally been revealed… but it’s under new management! Years ago, Doctor Ted Sallis was ready to give up anything to crack the SO-2 serum and deliver success to his growing family. Unbeknownst to the rest of the world…he did. Today, as cities spanning from the U.S. to Krakoa are besieged by fear-driven blazes, the Man-Thing must reckon with his past deeds if he hopes to emerge renewed and rescue a world on fire. But fighting from his lowest means that Man-Thing can rise to his highest, especially with the unexpected help of the X-Men’s resident sorceress Magik and her debuting team of monstrous mutants known as THE DARK RIDERS! Magik will lead one of the most eclectic group of mutants ever assembled, a fearsome mix of fan-favorites and obscure delights: Marrow, Forearm, Shark-Girl, Wolf Cub, and Mammomax!
Since his creation by Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, Gerry Conway, and Gray Morrow in 1971’s Savage Tales #1, the misunderstood swamp monster has taught readers the true meaning of fear in thought-provoking tales by legendary creators such as Steve Gerber and R.L. Stine. Now it’s the X-Men’s turn to burn at the Man-Thing’s touch! See below for a full roundup of the one-shots that will contain this thrilling tale and don’t miss X-Men: Curse of the Man-Thing #1 when it hits stands in May.
An exciting new line of Marvel graphic novels will debut this June! The Mighty Marvel Masterworks will collect the very beginning of Marvel’s most iconic heroes: the Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, the X-Men, and more. The stories that kicked off the sagas of these beloved franchises will now be available in an accessible new 6 x 9 format that the whole family can enjoy!
These timeless stories were crafted by none other than industry legends Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Steve Ditko who revolutionized the comic book genre with their bold new approach to superhero adventures. Now, the Mighty Marvel Masterworks will serve as a perfect gateway to the expansive Marvel Universe and allow a brand-new generation to witness the historic beginnings behind these pop culture phenomena.
Collecting Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #1-10 and material from Amazing Fantasy (1962) #15, Mighty Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spider-Man – With Great Power will feature Peter Parker’s web-slinging adventures from the very beginning — including the tragic origin that started it all; the first appearances of the Daily Bugle, J. Jonah Jameson, Doctor Octopus, the Sandman, the Vulture and Electro; and guest-star nods from the Fantastic Four and Human Torch!
Collecting Fantastic Four (1951) #1-10, Mighty Marvel Masterworks: The Fantastic Four Vol. 1 will feature the fateful cosmic voyage of scientist Reed Richards, pilot Ben Grimm, and siblings Sue and Johnny Storm, who became known to the world as Mr. Fantastic, the Thing, the Invisible Girl and the Human Torch —the Fantastic Four. See the first of their many extraordinary adventures including their first battles with legendary villains such as the Mole Man, the Skrulls, the Puppet Master, the Sub-Mariner, and the diabolical Doctor Doom.
Collecting Uncanny X-Men (1963) #1-10, Mighty Marvel Masterworks: The X-Men – The Strangest Super Heroesof All will feature Professor X’s original teen team as they set off on a mission to forge peace between man and mutantkind. Meet Cyclops, Angel, Beast, Iceman and Marvel Girl and thrill to their first encounter with the Master of Magnetism, Magneto, and his Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.
Own the very foundation of the Marvel Universe in new must-have collections! Check out Michael Cho’s cover for Mighty Marvel Masterworks: The Amazing Spider-Man – With Great Power as well as the Exclusive Comic Book Shop Cover by Steve Ditko and pick up the Mighty Marvel Masterworks when they hit stores this summer!
Guest contributor Eugene Selassie is back with the second part of his retrospective of Marvel‘s The Avengers. He started at the beginning covering the first sixteen issues. He’s back discussing issues #36 to #56!
In this third installment of my deep dive, reading every single issue of The Avengers from the beginning, what we know as staples of Avengers lore are introduced in these issues. Some of these staples greatly enhance the reading experience, while others detracted more than I remembered them to. Legendary writer and artist team of Roy Thomas and John Buscema begin their iconic run on the title. Many new heroes, that would go on to become perennial mainstays of the roster, make their first appearance in the book during these issues. Past relationships and connections come back to haunt a few of the protagonists. Story elements that played out in classic Avengers stories decades later are seeded in these issues. Continuity becomes a double-edged sword during this run, potentially splitting the audience into “love it” or “hate it” camps.
Roy Thomas took over as writer with issue #36. With the constant in-fighting (now between Goliath and Hawkeye over Clint’s insistence that Black Widow be granted membership status) and the hyperbole used in the narration (ex: “Thus it is that, less than sixty seconds later, twin engines of a highly complex design burst into ear-shattering life and zoom with blinding, supersonic speed into the sub-stratosphere, as all passengers fervently hope they will not be too late!”) meant that the transition in scripting from Stan Lee to Roy Thomas was as smooth as possible. Issue #41 heralded the debut of the legendary John Buscema as penciler. His layouts were a bit splashier than what we’ve previously seen. Nevertheless, with George Bell remaining as the inker, making the characters look roughly the same, the transition from Don Heck to John Buscema was not too jarring. Fill in issues by Don Heck were still welcome, as was a one-off by George Tuska, whose level of intricate detail was only rivaled years later by George Perez.
I waited with bated breath to see new members, one by one, added to the ranks of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes:
Black Widow accompanies the team, in issues #36-37, to rescue Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver from an alien threat, the Ultroids, near their village in the Balkans. Natasha turns out to be the ace up the heroes’ sleeve that they desperately needed. The Avengers, sticking to their moral code, prevented them from doing what was necessary to defeat Ixar. On the contrary, Black Widow had no such compunctions. Days after this adventure, as Widow rushes to Avengers mansion for a meeting to discuss her membership, she is abducted. However, it is not by enemies. Nick Fury, Director of SHIELD recruits her for a secret mission overseas, a mission that must remain secret from even Hawkeye and the other Avengers. When Widow recovers in the hospital after this mission and explains how the government lied about her husband’s death and duped her into training (even though they did the same thing to him), there was no mention of the infamous “Red Room” training that we know in the modern age.
Hercules makes his Avengers debut in issue #38. The Prince of Power is locked in combat against the God of War, Ares, due to events from Thor issue #129. The Enchantress shows up to convince them to squash their beef and offers alcoholic beverages to both. In reality, she’s working with Ares. Hercules’ drink is spiked with a love potion, making him do Amora’s bidding. Ares gets to tell Zeus of this forbidden passion, making Hercules a pariah in Olympus, while Enchantress gets to use her unwitting slave against the Avengers. During their fight, the potion wears off and Hercules helps the team fend off the Asgardian and Olympian. Due to the perceived forbidden affair, Hercules is then banished from his home in Olympus. The Avengers take him in as less of a member and more of a house guest who helps them whenever he deems fit.
Edwin Jarvis, the butler of the Stark family and for the Avengers, makes his first Avengers appearance in issue #38. He’s not given much of a personality until further down the road in issue #54, where he hides a deadly secret from the Avengers; he’s sold the new mansion security specs to the Crimson Cowl in exchange for a large sum of money he desperately needed. Cowl, of course, reneges on the deal.
The Sub-Mariner returns in issue #40. A nuclear sub tests weapons near his kingdom, which Namor doesn’t take too kindly to. He attacks the island base from where it came from, only to encounter the Avengers. Page 15…Hercules vs. Namor…HOLY $#I^! These two beat the stuffing out of each other. I am surprised that there wasn’t a giant crater left in their wake.
Dane Whitman, nephew of Nathan Garrett, the villainous Black Knight, debuts in issue #47. Garrett met his end against Iron Man in Tales of Suspense #73. Dane seeks to atone for his uncle’s evil actions and decides to use the science and nom de guerre of his uncle, to do good with it as the new Black Knight. He seeks out the Avengers for an alliance. Conversely, they mistake him for his uncle and get into a brawl.
Black Panther makes a cameo, alongside Captain America (who quit the team several issues earlier) in issue #51, where Steve requests they consider T’Challa for membership. Issue #52 features the Black Panther entering Avengers mansion for the first time, in a story where he finds what appear to be the bodies of Hank, Jan, and Clint. He’s arrested by SHIELD agent Jasper Sitwell and is hauled off into police custody. I don’t know if Roy Thomas understood how tone-deaf it was to see the imagery of the first Black superhero to be featured in the Avengers comic being shackled in the back of a squad car. Of course, T’Challa escapes so he can investigate what occurred.
Several extended relationships are given more space to develop in these issues.
Issue #43 is the first appearance of the Soviet super-soldier known as Red Guardian, who happens to be the Black Widow’s ex-husband. When Clint finds out, he grows cold and emotionless for the first time in this series. This is the second time a villain is brought into the book that Hawkeye has an obvious grudge with, but their sole motive is to prove they can best Captain America, making the rest of the Avengers look “lesser than”.
Concurrent with this story is the arc of Tales of Suspense where Steve meets and falls for SHIELD Agent 13, aka Sharon Carter. It’s also where he’s contemplating giving up being Captain America, which didn’t quite sit well with me. I know Marvel was all about heroes with feet of clay, especially back then, but this was akin to Clark Kent no longer wanting to be Superman. I had no clue that Steve was a fan of Tolkien or fantasy novels in general, so it was cool to see that side of him.
Hercules travels to Olympus to beseech his father, Zeus, to reconsider his exile. However, the Prince of Power finds the fabled land completely deserted. In issue #49, Hercules discovers that it is the dreaded ancient Titan known as Typhon who was responsible for what happened to the Olympians. By destroying the sacred Temple of the Promethean Flame, the immortals of Olympus just vanished. After confronting the Titan, Hercules finds himself banished to the same limbo that his people were banished to. Issue #50 sees Hank, Jan, and Clint search for Hercules, who has reunited with the Olympians. Zeus is able to send him back to Earth due to the magic holding them there not having as strong of a hold on the Prince of Power because he’s half-mortal. The team does their best to slow down Typhon, but the dude is a ten-foot-tall demigod with a battle axe that shoots lightning. Once Hercules arrives, he and Typhon have the grudge match of the ages. Whatever unidentified landmass in the Mediterranean where they brawled had to have been reduced by half. In the end, Hercules defeated him using not just brawn, but tactics taught by Captain America. He returns with Typhon to Olympus, bidding farewell to the Avengers for the time being. This leaves the roster to just Hank, Jan, and Clint…not the most powerhouse line up they’ve had.
Issues #47-49 feature Magneto, who was exiled to a planetoid far from the Earth in X-Men #18. This is indubitably pre-Chris Claremont Magneto. He’s not a sympathetic Holocaust survivor trying to prevent the same thing from happening to mutant kind. He is cranky, megalomaniacal, and vengeful. And he is quite abusive to his lackey, Toad. I completely forgot that neither Magneto nor Quicksilver & Scarlet Witch knew they were related in those early years. Magneto demands the UN for his own nation for mutants. When they refuse and he lashes out at one of the representatives with a microphone as a weapon, Hawkeye saves him, and the most fun, yet clunky, dialogue followed; “A diamond-tipped arrow…from out of nowhere…smashing the microphone. But who?” I love superhero comics. Hawkeye landing a kick right to Magneto’s face made me think that this is likely the only time that has ever happened. The crux of Magneto’s plan was to cause one of the guard’s aim to go off wildly and accidentally shoot Wanda in the head (grazing her temple) just so it would send Pietro into a rage against the guards and the Avengers. Yeah, the “Magneto was right” crowd may want to tone it down a bit after this.
I found myself enthralled by the number of story elements that were just the nugget of an idea that played out on a larger scale some years, even decades later:
Long before the Kree-Skrull War, you could tell that both Stan Lee and Roy Thomas had the idea percolating, of a war between two alien empires with Earth caught in the middle. The Ultroids made the second time that something like this was hinted at.
Magneto blackmailing the United Nations into giving him his own nation was something done three decades later in an X-men storyline titled “The Magneto War”.
Issues 54-55 bring us a new Masters of Evil, comprised of the Klaw, the Melter, Radioactive Man, Whirlwind and the new Black Knight. They’re all working for the mysterious Crimson Cowl. However, they don’t know that this Black Knight is not Nathan Garrett, but his nephew, Dane Whitman. Dane goes undercover with the group to gather intel that he can bring to the Avengers. The mission of this new incarnation of the villain group, to storm Avengers mansion and capture the team. I never knew the Masters of Evil attacked the Avengers in their home, long before the classic Siege of Avengers Mansion during Roger Stern’s run.
I am a person that loves continuity, when used the right way. When Thor or Iron Man have to leave the team due to events in their own book that month, I loved it. Realistically, the characters cannot be everywhere all the time. That era was much better with not having characters guest starring in six different books the same month “just because”. However, when a character pops into a book, carrying over from a story in another book, it gets a bit frustrating keeping up with. While the Hercules story carrying over from The Mighty Thor was explained thoroughly, Nick Fury’s subplot from Strange Tales, where he’s essentially on house arrest, Cap leaving the team due to being duped in Tales of Suspense by Swordsman and Power Man into believing Bucky was still alive, and the most egregious one, the X-men versus Magneto fight that carried over into an Avengers comic, were not given the necessary flashbacks to really flesh out these elements. In the case of the X-men one, it would’ve helped tremendously if they just made it an actual crossover with the parts 1 and 2 posted on the covers of those respective issues.
My apologies for the gargantuan length of this post, in the future, I will do my best to make sure the articles aren’t covering twenty issues worth of content. Speaking of content, when we reconvene again, we discuss several debuts (Vision, Yellowjacket, and a guest appearance by Doctor Strange) along with trips into the sci-fi, the cosmic, and even the occult. Until next time, AVENGERS ASSEMBLE!
In August 1961, Fantastic Four #1 hit newsstands, heralding a new take on super hero stories and the birth of the Silver Age Marvel Universe! Now, sixty years later, experience the excitement of being a comic book fan in that momentous month with the Marvel: August 1961 Omnibus, a complete hardcover collection of every issue that shared the shelves with Fantastic Four #1, many never before reprinted!
Considering leaving the comic book industry behind, Stan Lee was persuaded by his loving wife Joan to create one more book exactly the way he wanted it. And so, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created Fantastic Four #1 and changed the American pop culture landscape forever. Before the Silver Age kicked off, Marvel Comics had published western, romance, comedy, monster and science fiction titles — and in August 1961, Fantastic Four was just one of over a dozen very different Marvel books. This first-of-its-kind omnibus will include:
JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY (1952) #73-74
LIFE WITH MILLIE #13
PATSY WALKER #97
AMAZING ADVENTURES (1961) #6
FANTASTIC FOUR (1961) #1
KID COLT, OUTLAW #101
LINDA CARTER, STUDENT NURSE #2
MILLIE THE MODEL #105
STRANGE TALES (1951) #90
TALES OF SUSPENSE (1959) #23
TALES TO ASTONISH (1959) #25
GUNSMOKE WESTERN #67
LOVE ROMANCES #96
TEEN-AGE ROMANCE #84
AMAZING ADULT FANTASY #7
PATSY AND HEDY #79
RAWHIDE KID (1960) #25
These works were brought to readers by some of the most influential comic book creators of all time including Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Don Heck, Stan Goldberg, Al Hartley, Paul Reinman, Jack Keller, Dick Ayers, Bob Forgione, Vince Colletta, and more!
Check out the all-new cover by Javier Rodriguez as well as the exclusive Direct Market variant cover by Jack Kirby and be sure to pick up this rare and unique collection when the Marvel: August 1961 Omnibus hits shops in August 2021!
Announced last month, Marvel is honoring the 50th anniversary of Man-Thing with a new series. Starting in March with Avengers: Cure of the Man-Thing #1, the three-part Marvel Universe-spanning event will continue in April with Spider-Man: Curse of the Man-Thing #1. In this installment, critically acclaimed writer Steve Orlando (Martian Manhunter, Batman, Wonder Woman) will be joined by artist Alberto Foche who makes his Marvel Comics debut with an unforgettable tale. The first issue features a cover by Daniel Acuña with a variant by Nick Bradshaw.
Man-Thing’s supernatural abilities have been pirated thanks to the new Marvel villain, Harrower, a zealot intent on clearing humanity off the board so a new species can get a shot at the top. The world burns and fear is the accelerant! Meanwhile, Spider-Man races across New York desperate to avert disaster and find the one man that just might be able to get through to Man-Thing…his former colleague Curt Connors, A.K.A. The Lizard! But deep within the Man-Thing’s psyche, it’s Spider-Man that discovers something he never expected: a devilish secret, and a doctor seeking redemption.
Since his creation by Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, Gerry Conway, and Gray Morrow in 1971’s Savage Tales #1, the misunderstood swamp monster has taught readers the true meaning of fear in thought-provoking tales by legendary creators such as Steve Gerber and R.L. Stine. Prepare to burn at the Man-Thing’s touch once again when Spider-Man Cure of the Man-Thing #1 hits stands this April.
Marvel announced a brand-newMan-Thing comic series launching in March and celebrating 50 years of the character, Avengers: Curse of the Man-Thing. But, the celebration doesn’t end there.
March will also see some of your favorite Marvel heroes transformed into outrageous Man-Thing personas on stunning variant covers by today’s best artists including Superlog, Bernard Chang, Greg Land, Sara Pichelli, and more! Check out the first three now and be on the lookout for more Man-Thing variant cover reveals in the coming weeks.
Man-Thing debuted in 1971’s Savage Tales #1 and was created by Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, Gerry Conway, and Gray Marrow.
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #62 SPIDER-MAN-THING VARIANT COVER by GREG LAND
CAPTAIN MARVEL #27 CAPTAIN MARVEL-THING VARIANT COVER by BERNARD CHANG
CHAMPIONS #5 MS. MARVEL-THING VARIANT COVER by SARA PICHELLI
DAREDEVIL #28 DAREDEVIL-THING VARIANT COVER by RAY-ANTHONY HEIGHT
FANTASTIC FOUR #30 THE THING-THING VARIANT COVER by DANIEL ACUÑA
GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #12 GAMORA-THING VARIANT COVER by MEGHAN HETRICK
MILES MORALES: SPIDER-MAN #24 MILES-THING VARIANT COVER by KEN LASHLEY
In March 1941, comic book legends Jack Kirby and Joe Simon introduced the world to Steve Rogers in the historic Captain America Comics #1, and a pop culture icon was born. Marvel will honor their tremendous contribution to the comic book industry with Captain America Tribute #1, a giant-sized special celebrating the character’s 80th anniversary.
Captain America Tribute #1 will feature a cadre of Marvel’s best artists redrawing and modernizing Captain America’s first appearance, Captain America Comics #1, as well as his genre-defining reintroduction to the Marvel Universe, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s Avengers #4. See the Star-Spangled Avenger’s extraordinary origin, his first battle against the Red Skull, and his Silver Age debut where he emerges from suspended animation to live on as a Star-Spangled Avenger like never before as your favorite artists reimagine these classic tales for a new age. These definitive comic book stories will be presented in an all-new way in a star-studded special that will delight long-time True Believers and the current generation of Marvel fans!
This unparalleled undertaking will include artwork by John Cassaday, Marguerite Sauvage, David Lapham, Declan Shalvey, Pere Pérez, Salvador Larroca, Leinil Francis Yu, Valerio Schiti, Carlos Pacheco, Inhyuk Lee, Kei Zama, Sara Pichelli, Jesús Saiz, Kim Jacinto, Adam Kubert, Federico Vicentini, Mahmud Asrar, Jim Cheung, Terry Dodson, Joe Bennett, Alex Ross, Steve Epting, Adam Hughes, Stephanie Hans, Javier Garrón, Alitha E. Martinez, Elena Casagrande, Paco Medina, Daniel Acuña, Chris Samnee, Butch Guice, Rachael Stott, Pepe Larraz, Greg Smallwood, Greg Land, Ray-Anthony Height, Mark Bagley, and Marvel’s Stormbreakers including Peach Momoko, Juann Cabal, Carmen Carnero, R.B. Silva, Joshua Cassara, Natacha Bustos, Iban Coello, and Patrick Gleason! And with a cover by Steve McNiven.
For 80 years, Captain America’s adventures have entertained fans of all ages around the world. Don’t miss today’s top talent pay homage to Captain America’s most legendary stories when Captain America Tribute #1 hits stands this coming March!