My little blog and I are back to haunt you with Marvel Madness once again, true believers! Heck, if Bucky, Aunt May, Harry Osborn, Norman Osborn, Warlock and even Odin himself can come back from the dead, why can't little old Giant-Size Marvel?
I wasn't sure what image would be the best one to open with until I opened my Vintage Marvel 2012 calendar and saw this cover for January: Tales of Suspense #98.
To Be Reborn! Steve Rogers gives up being Cap and then goes around saving all the clowns who decide to replace him. How many times did he try giving up his Cap identity afterward, only to return again and again? A future topic for a blog post if there ever was one.
Restarting this blog on the first day of 2012 hit me out of the blue as I took a walk this morning. No plan to make it a New Year's Resolution or anything like that--I have given those up long ago. In fact, New Year's Eve and the celebrations that come with it have lost their luster for me. Why are people so excited? Because it is a reason to party, imbibe, and eat too much food? My mind became lost in this mystery, but the answer came when I thought of Marvel Comics in the year 1968.
That year was like a mini Marvel explosion, the year Marvel ended both Tales of Suspense and Tales to Astonish. The stars who shared those books (Cap and Iron Man in Suspense, Hulk and Sub-Mariner in Astonish) graduated to their own titles. Captain America 100 was virtually Captain America #1 for the Marvel age, complete with a nifty Jack Kirby cover showing Cap leading his pals (the Avengers, Black Panther, Sharon Carter, Namor) to victory. I have a reproduction of this one hanging on the wall. Perhaps not Kirby's greatest cover but one of the most iconic. A new era began for Cap, one that would see Kirby eventually leave and usher in new people like Steranko, Colan, Romita, Sal Buscema, etc.
A number one issue is like the the beginning of the new year. Usually a #1 comic has a really good story and artwork to suck you in, perhaps even make you send in a subscription for a full year. Iron Man #1 from 1968 had artwork by Gene Colan, who had been illustrating the series in Tales of Suspense. We like to think that today's artists don't stick around on series long enough, yet Colan was gone from Iron Man after the first issue! Of course, he had drawn the character for years up to that point. But a number one issue, with all the great promises it brings, you hope the greatness will continue forever. You don't think about alcoholism, losing your own mega-corporation, or igniting a Civil War with your Avengers pals!
Hulk #102 was designed to drive comic book collectors and collecting software crazy for decades. The Hulk premiered in 1962 and lasted for only six issues. He co-starred in Tales to Astonish starting in issue 60 and up to issue 101. Then he launched back into his own title, continuing the numbering. I'll remember this factoid forever, even when I forget the name of my co-workers or where I put my iPod. This cover by Marie Severin is nice but not as iconic as other Hulk covers. Notice how all these 1968 launches have the cover caption: Big Premiere Issue! Just to let you know to get in on the ground floor of something great.
Outside of the Kirby cover, I have always loved the 1968 Sub-Mariner #1 cover by John Buscema. Why would you ever want to read Aquaman when you could read about Prince Namor? His body language on this cover just said, "Don't F--- With Me!" Namor was a rebel with a cause and had an attitude that was unique in the history of comics. When he was paired up with other Marvel heroes, Namor was a ticking time bomb. Would he help them or betray them? Perhaps that is why he was more successful in books like Defenders rather than his own series.
Happy 2012 to all Marvel fans! May we all endure as long as these classic characters. Nuff Said!