Monday, April 27, 2020

Marvel Comics Index Avengers And Fantastic Four

Continuing a look back at how readers tracked comics back before digital downloads and the internet, with two more issues of George Olshevsky's Marvel Comics Index.

This time around, focusing on the teams of the Marvel Universe, specifically the Avengers and the Fantastic Four!

The Avengers, Defenders and Captain Marvel

There was a time heroes in the Marvel Universe worked alone, at least until the threat of Loki, with plans to use the Hulk against his brother, Thor, united Iron Man, Ant-Man and the Wasp with those two other heroes to form....the Avengers, as happened in their first issue in Avengers #1 (September, 1963, by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby).

The third volume of the Marvel Comics Index series, The Avengers, Defenders and Captain Marvel, was dated August, 1976, so it was a little later than originally planned, but it had lots of information within it, all under a front cover by Neal Adams, and special back cover by Franc Reyes!

This issue covers a bit of the history of teams in the Marvel Universe, from the All-Winners Squad of the Golden Age to the recent teams of the Invaders (though set before the All-Winners, as they were a post-WWII group) and the Champions (the more recent to be covered in later issues of the Indexes).  This issue even gives a list of the members and brief histories of them (for any that won't have Indexes of their own, based on a format by Murray Ward).

The issues covered here are:

Black Knight #1-5 (May 1955 to April 1956)
(Though the Index makes a great deal about only covering post Fantastic Four #1 events, it does cover these 5 issues, about Sir Percy, the ancestor of the Black Knight who was a member of the Masters Of Evil, as well as Dane Whitman, who was an would become and Avenger, their relationship covered in Marvel Super-Heroes #17).

Avengers #1-151 (September 1963 to September 1976)
(The original Avengers formed in Avengers #1, but the Hulk teamed up with the Sub-Mariner, and left the group in Avengers #3, with Sub-Mariner leading to the discovery of Captain America from WWII in Avengers #4, who would change the Avengers forever, leading them against foes like Baron Zemo and the Masters of Evil, Kang and Wonder Man.

All the remaining original Avengers got a little too busy to stay with the group, so Captain America had to assemble new members, which included Iron Man foe Hawkeye, and ex-Brotherhood Of Evil X-Men villains Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, all starting in Avengers #16.  Giant-Man and the Wasp returned (with he taking the name of Goliath), facing foes like the Swordsman, Living Laser, the Red Guardian and the Grim Reaper, while Hercules joined the team (and Black Widow hung around as well).

The team met the current Black Knight, added Black Panther as a member, then the Vision, while fighting Ultron and a new Masters of Evil, with Goliath becoming Yellowjacket, and Hawkeye becoming Goliath., and then fighting the Squadron Sinister, then their alternate counterparts, the Squadron Supreme, then the Kree-Skrull War with the Kree Captain Marvel.

Hawkeye and Ant-Man took their original identities back, Black Widow briefly joined, Swordsman rejoined with new member Mantis, the team fought the Defenders, Thanos, the Legion of the Unliving, learned more of the Vision and Ultron, fought the Squadron Supreme again, and the X-Men's Beast joined, with new heroes Moondragon and Hellcat leaving for a while in Avengers #150).

Avengers Annual #1-5 (Sep 1967 to January 1972)

(The first couple of Avengers Annuals had new stories tied into the regular issues of the time, but the last three annuals had reprints of important tales in Avengers history).

Giant-Size Avengers #1-5 (August 1974 to 1975)
(Larger issues like annuals, focused on the Vision and Scarlet Witch, as well as Mantis for the first four issues, with Kang, as well as having reprints, and the fifth was all reprint).

Captain Marvel #1-46 (May 1968 to September 1976)
(The alien Kree were introduced in Fantastic Four, but they sent one of their own, Captain Mar-Vell, to Earth, and he faced the Sentry #459 and established a secret identity for himself and met Carol Danvers in Marvel Super-Heroes #12 and #13.  Those were to be indexed later, this covers his early battles....

...then his change into a new costume, and getting bonded with Hulk and Captain America friend, Rick Jones, with the two of them facing Thanos, the Controller, the Super-Skrull and so much more after over their run of issues, with Captain Marvel becoming a universal protector and facing Nitro, even if they had a break in their run a few times).

Giant-Size Captain Marvel #1 (1975)
(Published towards the later issues of the run, this reprinted Captain Marvel's encounters with Captain America and the Hulk, though the Hulk issues had pages edited out for space!)

Weird Wonder Tales #7 (December 1974)
(An odd issue of 1950s and 1960 reprints, featuring Dr. Arthur Nagan, Jerold Morgan and Chondu the Mystic, who would come together to menace the villains turned heroes of the Defenders!)

Defenders #1-39 (August 1972 to September 1976)
(The Avengers were the cause of the Defenders, as sometimes menaces to mankind, Hulk and Sub-Mariner had teamed up before....and, after one brief gathering in two issues of Sub-Mariner with Silver Surfer, it was Hulk, Sub-Mariner and Dr. Strange who came together to fight Yandroth in Marvel Feature #1 that formed the Defenders.  The trio worked together again, fighting Dormammu in issue #2, and Xemnu the Titan in #3, before this non-team finally had regular meetings starting in Defenders #1 (August, 1972), with Silver Surfer joining the team in Defenders #2.

The non-team continued to add members who had been villains, with the addition of the Valkyrie in Defenders #4 and Nighthawk of the Squadron Sinister in Defenders #14, as well as having Hawkeye hang around for a bit as Loki and Dormammu battled, igniting the Avengers/Defenders War between their two titles.

As menaces grew, like the Sons of the Serpent, Nebulon and the grouping of the Headmen, the team gained temporary allies like Luke Cage, Daredevil, Yellowjacket, the Son of Satan, traveled to the future of the Guardians of the Galaxy and even a female version of a Black Widow foe, the Red Guardian).

Giant-Size Defenders #1-5 (July 1974 to July 1975)
(The Defenders even joined the Giant-Size craze of the 1970s, with five issues, half new stories and half reprints of individual stories of each Defender, all tied in to the current events in issues of Defenders).

This team book also had lists of every member who joined each team, as well as a little history on each team member that was not due to receive their own Marvel Comics Index, a break down of team membership issue by issue, some corrections of mistakes of previous issues, explanations of why the book was late, and an outline of future volumes of the series.

The Fantastic Four And The Silver Surfer
Fantastic Four #1 (November, 1961) by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby started the current Marvel Universe, as well as introducing Mr. Fantastic, the Invisible Girl, the Human Torch and the Thing, as these four people came together after a mishap involving cosmic rays grounded their spaceflight and gave them super powers.  So, it would make sense that the fourth Marvel Comics Index of July, 1977 would cover this team, all under a stunner of a cover by Jim Steranko, that also featured the Silver Surfer.

The Fantastic Four fought many monsters (of the type faced in many old Timely books like Journey Into Mystery, Strange Tales and Tales To Astonish) that were on Mole Man's island, as well as invading aliens like the Skrulls in their second issue, and all these and so much more would become the basis for what followed.

The issues covered here are:
Marvel Boy #1-2 (December 1950 to February 1951)
(Still, a look back at features before the FF, with Marvel Boy, Timely's second character of that name, who fought alien menaces with technology from Uranus).

Astonishing Tales #3-6 (April 1951 to October 1951)
(Marvel Boy's tales continued with a title change to Astonishing Tales before his feature ended, though Marvel Boy did grow up and get revived in issues of Fantastic Four....kind of, as the Crusader).

Fantastic Four #1-180 (November 1961 to March 1977)
(The Fantastic Four kicked into high gear when they got their own headquarters and uniforms, and started facing Doctor Doom on a regular basis, while meeting with other members added to this new Marvel Universe, and expanding on the ideas they had already introduced.

The Fantastic Four continued to add enemies and friends around their Baxter Building confines, such as Molecule Man, Diablo, the Frightful Four, the Inhumans and the Black Panther over the years, as their family grew in size as well (and their new friends had foes of their own as well).

The Fantastic Four also had a few epic tales involving the Silver Surfer, the herald of Galactus, and his battles trapped on Earth, facing Doctor Doom, who wanted his power cosmic for himself, and how the Fantastic Four helped the Silver Surfer for a time as well.

Still, the Fantastic Four added a member for a while, the Inhuman, Crystal, with her elemental powers, but even then, her time with the team would come to an end, as did Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's run on the title.  New members like Medusa and Luke Cage would join for a bit, and the Fantastic Four would continue!).

Fantastic Four Annual #1-11 (1963 to 1976)
(Bigger than usual events, with in depth stories on Sub-Mariner and Doctor Doom, the wedding of Reed and Sue, the meeting of the original Human Torch and the current one of Johnny Storm, the teaming of the Inhumans and the Black Panther against the Psycho-Man, and the birth of Sue's baby as the team faced Annihilus....led the first six FF Annuals.

Then, they were reprint books including issues of the annuals above, until the most recent covered in the index, with the Fantastic Four meeting the World War II based Invaders!).

Giant-Size Super-Stars #1 (May 1974)
(This stand alone issue featured a Thing/Hulk battle, long a staple of the Fantastic Four since Hulk first met the team back when he had his original title. 

The title of this book changed with its second issue).

Giant-Size Fantastic Four #2-6 (August 1974 to October 1975)
(Taking over from the previous title, the book had new tales with reprints in back, including the introduction of the mutant Madrox the Multiple Man, then started reprints Fantastic Four Annuals to fill its pages.).

Human Torch #1-8 (September 1974 to November 1975)
(Wonderful reprints of the solo strange tales of the Fantastic Four's Human Torch, including the introduction of the Wizard and Paste-Pot Pete, along with a few pre-FF reprints of the original android Human Torch of the 1940s and 1950s).

Silver Surfer #1-18 (August 1968 to September 1970)
(Starting off with a flashback tale of how Norrin Radd of Zenn-La gave up his life and love, Shalla Bal, to save his world from the hunger of Galactus, the saga of the Silver Surfer on Earth would unfold.

Running afoul of the underworld Mephisto, Silver Surfer lived a tortured life on Earth, trying to escape the barrier which trapped him on this world, forever apart from his love, thought to be a menace to all by the end of this run of stories (which led him to work with the Hulk and Sub-Mariner, and later to be a Defender).

The index also has its usual updates from previous issues like the Conan index, cross index of writers and artists, as well as character cross index as well as a list of future issues, which would include focuses on original Avengers Thor, Hulk and Iron Man, and more!

Friday, April 24, 2020

Mad About Arbor Day

Celebrating Arbor Day with Alfred E. Neuman, who decided to do some good and plant a tree, on this cover of Mad Magazine #184 (July, 1976) by Bob Jones.

Who knew that he might be going to the dogs?

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Marvel Comics Index Spider-Man And Conan

Back in the days before digital downloads and the internet (or even Epic Collections, Omnibus, Archives, Masterworks or even most tradepaperbacks), if you wanted to know what was in a particular comic book, you had to own that comic book itself.

That changed in the 1970s, when George Olshevsky (owner of a set of Marvel Comics himself), put started a series of Marvel Index magazines, that contained that information in multiple volume form, focusing on a character or small group of characters in one particular magazine volume.

Here are the first two of those magazines, one focused on the Amazing Spider-Man, the second on Conan and the Barbarians.

The Amazing Spider-Man

Spider-Man (young Peter Parker, bitten by a radioactive spider, gaining the proportional abilities of a spider, planned on using those abilities for fame and fortune, who also learned a tragic lesson with the preventable death of his Uncle Ben at the hands of a burglar...that "with great power, there must also come great responsibility" in his first tale by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko).   But, unless you had an Amazing Fantasy #15 (August, 1962), you likely wouldn't know that.  But, in January, 1976, The Amazing Spider-Man Index (Marvel Comics Index #1) came out, written by George Olshevsky with a color cover by Ronn Sutton.

Spidey didn't start in Amazing Spider-Man, but premiered in the last issue of a horror/monster comic book, like the old time ones produced for years...

...but, these, along with various Spider-Man centric titles were covered in this index.

The issues covered here are:
Amazing Adventures #1-6 (June 1961 to November 1961)

(Tales of monsters and alien invasions, including adventures of Dr. Droom, all by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Dick Ayers and Steve Ditko)

Amazing Adult Fantasy #7-14 (December 1961 to June 1962)

(Even more aliens, invasions and oddly named monsters....all by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko)

Amazing Fantasy #15 (August 1962)

(the issue that started it all, but was the last of a run)

Amazing Spider-Man #1-151 (March 1963 to December 1975)

(this is the majority focus of this index, featuring Peter Parker, Doctor Octopus, Green Goblin, Kingpin and oh so much more excitement and adventure in all those issues!)

Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1-9 (1964 to 1973)

(oversized issues, started off with big new tales including the premiere of the Sinister Six, later issues reprinted hard to find original stories from earlier issues)

Spectacular Spider-Man #1-2 (July 1968 to November 1968)

(larger, magazine sized tales of Spider-Man, in continuity with the regular comics)

Amazing Spider-Man (Mini-Comic) February 1969

(Reprints Amazing Spider-Man #42, revealing the face of Mary Jane Watson!)

Giant-Size Super-Heroes #1 (June 1974)

(featuring a meeting of Morbius the Living Vampire and the Man-Wolf, both who got spin off series in Marvel monster titles)

Giant-Size Spider-Man #1-6 (July 1974 to 1975)

(special team-ups of Spider-Man and other characters, including Dracula, Doc Savage, Master of Kung Fu, the Punisher and the Man-Thing, with a Spidey/Human Torch reprint in the last issue)

Spidey Super-Stories #1-14 (October 1974 to December 1975)

(stories published in conjunction with the Electric Company; simpler stories for younger readers, to get them interested in Marvel Comics, and not tied to the main continuity).

All of which had a black and white picture of the cover, title of the stories, writer and artists, main first appearances and comments.

A separate section in the back had a cross-index of Spider-Man comics by personnel, and another cross-index by appearances of characters.

Conan and the Barbarians

Marvel Comics Index #2 featured Conan and the Barbarians, and came out in March, 1976 (compiled by George Olshevsky with a cover by Tim Conrad).  Conan was created in the pulp novels by Robert E. Howard, whose hero was based in the Hyborean Age before the fall of Atlantis.  Conan first appeared in comics in Conan the Barbarian #1 (October, 1970) by Roy Thomas, Barry Windsor-Smith and Dan Adkins.

This issue also features bits on King Kull and Solomon Kane, a little taste of Red Sonja, Sinbad, Thongor and Gullivar Jones (all licensed by Marvel at the time) as well as Marvel characters Ka-Zar, Shanna and Man-Wolf!

The issues covered here are:

Conan the Barbarian #1-61 (October 1970 to April 1976)

(Tales of Conan, including the premieres of Thoth-Amon, Red Sonja and adaptations of stories by Robert E. Howard and Gardner Fox, and monsters and sorcerors galore)

King-Size Conan #1 (1973)

(Early Conan reprints)

Giant-Size Conan #1-5 (September 1974 to 1975)

(Some new stories, some reprints, and some a mix of both)

Savage Sword of Conan #1-10 (August 1974 to February 1976)

(Magazine sized black and white stories of Conan, and others like Red Sonja, King Kull and Blackmark, not under the Comics Code Authority)

Savage Sword of Conan Annual #1 (Summer 1975)

(Reprints of Conan the Barbarian stories, a story from Monsters On The Prowl and one King Kull tale with a cover painting by Enrique Badia Romero)

Ka-Zar #1-3 (August 1970 to March 1971)

(reprints of Ka-Zar/Lord Kevin Plunder appearances with his pet sabretooth Zabu in X-Men, Amazing Spider-Man and Daredevil, with new Hercules and Angel stories in the back)

Ka-Zar #1-15 (January 1974 to April 1976)

(skipping Ka-Zar's appearances in Marvel Super-Heroes and Astonishing Tales, issues with new adventures of the hero of the Savage Land, including Shanna, Zabu, Klaw and more)

Kull The Conqueror #1-10 (June 1971 to September 1973)

(King Kull of Valusia is another creation of Robert E. Howard, set in a time 8000 years before Conan, who premiered in Creatures On The Loose #10, got his own title for two issues, had the story finished in Monsters In the Prowl, then had his own title revived with issue #3, facing monsters including Serpent People)

Kull The Destroyer #11-15 (November 1973 to August 1974)

(Kull's title changed from the Conqueror to the Destroyer, as his foe, Thulsa Doom, took control of Valusia, and this story continued in...)

Kull and the Barbarians #1-3 (May 1975 to September 1975)

(With a first issue full of reprints, Kull's saga continued in the next two issues of this black and white magazine, along with stories of Red Sonja and Solomon Kane - another creation of Howard's)

Savage Tales #1-11 (May 1971 to July 1975)

(Starting with tales of Conan, as well as the Femizons, as well as the premiere of Man-Thing, this black and white magazine switched over to tales of Ka-Zar, Shanna the She-Devil and Brak the Barbarian)

Savage Tales Annual #1 (Summer 1975)

(Reprints of Astonishing Tales of Ka-Zar and Zabu, with some art by Barry Windsor-Smith before he worked on Conan)

Chamber Of Chills #1-21 (November 1972 to March 1976)

(Though only the first two issues are indexed, due to having stories with The Dragon Slayer and Brak The Barbarian, covers for all 21 issues are included in the index)

Chamber Of Darkness #1-8 (October 1969 to December 1970)

(Only indexing issue 4 with Starr the Slayer, it does feature the 8 issues of this horror title)

Chamber Of Darkness Special #1 (January 1972)

(The one and only special for Chamber of Darkness cover in the index)

Monsters On The Prowl #9-30 (February 1971 to October 1974)

(Continuing numbering from Chamber of Darkness, reprints of monster tales from before Fantastic Four #1, including stories of Xemu the Titan, originally called the Hulk in Strange Tales, and It the Living Colossus from Tales Of Suspense, along with a few new King Kull tales)

Tower Of Shadows #1-9 (September 1969 to January 1971)

(A few fighters, like Beowulf, Vandal the Barbarian and King Hamand, plus horror reprints)

King-Size Tower Of Shadows #1 (December 1971)

(One special, cover only)

Creatures On The Loose #10-37 (1971 to September 1975)

(Switching over from Tower Of Shadows, first, horror reprints with  King Kull for a few issues, then the title changed... feature Lt. Gullivar Jones, a character licensed from Edwin L. Arnold, though changed to a Vietnam veteran to go with the times, and transported across space and time to a Mars one billion years ago, where he helped a Princess Heru, eerily similar to Burroughs' John Carter of Mars, with the last cover in the series by Jim Sterenko....

...who drew the first cover for Thongor, a barbarian who fought in ancient Lemuria, and was licensed from novels by Lin Carter, fighting his share of magicians, gods and serpent people, whose people helped give rise to the Serpent Crown, which affected modern Marvel stories....

...then Man-Wolf, who was really astronaut John Jameson, the son of Daily Bugle publisher J. Jonah Jameson, and rescued by Spider-Man in his first solo issue.  Later, after turning a moon rock he found into a pendant, he would turn into the Man-Wolf at a full moon.  After a few adventures against Spider-Man, Man-Wolf had his own series, where he faced Kraven the Hunter, the Hate-Monger, and agents of SHIELD, and his last issues were drawn by George Perez, as the series was taking a turn more towards science fantasy)

Worlds Unknown #1-8 (May 1973 to August 1974)

(Odd novel and movie adaptions, switching to movies with the Golden Voyage of Sinbad)

These were just the first two indexes, fraught with problems, as they would detail within the indexes, but there were more to come, including teams like the Fantastic Four and the X-Men, but those are tales for the future!