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!


  1. Great blog once again. I'm so glad I have a complete run.

  2. Love to read these kind of stuff bing reading this.
    thanks piccle who gives me this link of your blog.