Sunday, March 17, 2013

Marvel Splash Pages (1966 - 1969) by Kirby, Buscema, Colan

My first article (The Evolution of Marvel Splash Pages) in this series focused on how splash pages were used by Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko within the pages of Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, and Dr. Strange.  What happened after 1966?

Journey into Mystery 121 splash page by Kirby 1965

I wanted to backtrack a bit and take a look at Journey Into Mystery and Thor.  Kirby was indeed using full page splashes in 1965 on that character.  Take a look at this great page from Journey Into Mystery 121 as the Absorbing Man takes new heights in his power.  Kirby uses an appropriate length page to show you how this could be a big challenge for Thor.

Thor 134 Galactus splash page Kirby 1966

Indeed, I found that Kirby used splash pages more liberally in Thor than the Fantastic Four.  Nearly every story after after 1965 had a full page splash, such as this one from Thor 134 (1966) where Galactus made an appearance.

Fantastic Four 57 Doctor Doom Silver Surfer splash page Kirby 1966

Over in the Fantastic Four, after the Galactus trilogy was done, Kirby used full pagers much more frequently.  Not every issue, but when the story demanded it--and with Kirby, it often did!  Fantastic Four #57 featured this classic scene where Doctor Doom had stolen the power cosmic from a very naive Silver Surfer.

Doctor Strange 177 transformed into masked mystic

What about Gene Colan?  He started using full page illustrations quite liberally as well in Daredevil, Sub-Mariner, and other titles.  One of his most infamous full pagers was this monumental page revealing the new costume in Dr. Strange 177 (1968). I say infamous as not all fans love this costume as much as I do.

Captain Marvel 2 splash page Gene Colan 1968

If you flip thru a Marvel Comic by Colan, more often than not you will see a full page illustration for dramatic effect.   Even this flashback scene, from Captain Marvel #2 in 1968, brings out Mar-Vell's early adventures fighting the Skrulls.

Silver Surfer 01 1968 John Buscema splash

John Buscema used splashes as well, though a bit less liberally than Colan or Kirby.  He drew this classic page from Silver Surfer #1 (1968), featuring the moment that Norrin Radd was transformed by Galactus.

Avengers 58 John Buscema splash 1968

Over in the Avengers, one of the first usages of a full page splash occurred in Avengers #58 (1968) which had two such occurrences!  The first one had a little recap of Avengers history featuring their most prominent members.  I can't understand why Spider-Man is here, he wasn't an Avenger at all during the early period!  He had an early team-up with them but that was about it.

Avengers 58 Even an Android Can Cry John Buscema 1968

The classic ending scene to this story featured the Vision, in his iconic "Even An Android Can Cry" page.  This was the second story to feature the android Avenger and the team debated whether to allow him to become a member of the team.  A bit of an unusual case for a full page illustration, which is normally used for an action scene, but here it is a highly emotional moment.

Fantastic Four 072 full color Silver Surfer splash by Jack Kirby and Joe Sinnott 1967

Back to Jack Kirby, who created one of the best splash pages ever in Fantastic Four #72 in 1968, featuring the Silver Surfer soaring over Manhattan.

There were probably many many Silver Age Marvel splashes that I didn't have room to include here.  I am left with another question, though: when did double page splashes become the norm?  Kirby started using them quite frequently in his DC Comics work.  Mike Grell made the double page splash intro a regular thing in Warlord.  I can't quite remember how this caught on with Marvel and intend to investigate that topic later.  For now, Nuff Said!


  1. I explored that question a little, here and in subsequent follow-up posts, but it's certainly a fascinating topic worthy of other perspectives. And it's always fun following the trail of such great artwork. :)

  2. And then there's the infamous four-page splash! That was Steranko, if I recall correctly.