Marvel Super Heroes #1 (1966)

 Title: Marvel One Shots
 Lookback: From The Beginning
 Posted: 2006
 Staff: Al Sjoerdsma (E-Mail)


Okay, just how pedantic can we be about this From the Beginning stuff anyway? Remember when we did a Lookback of Daredevil #1, April 1964 even though Spidey only appeared on the cover and in a tiny version of the ASM #1, March 1963 cover reproduced on the splash page? Well, now we're looking back at a reprint of that! And it doesn't even include the DD #1 cover appearance.

Story Details

  Marvel Super Heroes #1 (1966)
Summary: Spider-Man Reference (ASM #1 on Daredevil #1 splash page)
Reprints: Avengers (Vol. 1) #2
Reprints: Daredevil (Vol.1) #1
Reprints: Marvel Mystery Comics #8

In 1966, reprint fever was raging at Marvel. Martin Goodman had figured out that he could not only sell repackaged material to Marvelites who had missed it the first time but he could sell repackaged material in giant-size twenty-five cent issues; more than twice the price of a regular comic. He already had the bi-monthly Marvel Tales presenting the early adventures of Spider-Man, Ant-Man, Thor and the Human Torch. He already had the bi-monthly Marvel Collector's Item Classics presenting the early adventures of the Fantastic Four, Dr. Strange, Iron Man, and the Hulk. Why not add a third book called Marvel Super-Heroes with the early adventures of Daredevil, the Avengers and... get this... the Golden Age Sub-Mariner battling the Golden Age Human Torch? Seems like a natural, doesn't it? Well maybe it was too much of a good thing. Although the indicia announced a quarterly publication schedule, it turned out to be a one-shot special instead.

Foregoing the cover format for MCIC and MT, this new issue does not reproduce the stories' original covers. Instead it reproduces recolored, repatched scenes from the stories. But before I get to that, I should point out that the cover title of the book seems to be Marvel Super-Heroes Special (and I love the 3-D construction of the words in the title). That and the fact that the box that contains the issue number only gives the year rather than a month clearly labels the book as an annual so maybe the indicia is just filled with a lot of hooey. Below the title and to the left is a panel showing Daredevil in his original yellow costume leaping over a lunging foe dressed in a blue costume with purple trunks. Who is this costumed opponent? Actually he's Porky, a wrestler, taken from page 4 panel 1 of the Daredevil story. Only in that panel, Porky is wearing red trunks with no other costume at all. The panel is spiffed up with the inclusion of a back wall with window, rings hanging from the gymnasium ceiling and a piece of a pommel horse. The caption reads, "From Daredevil #1, the origin of comicdom's most fearless action hero!" The Avengers panel to the right is a little more complicated. It takes the action scene from page 14 panel 3 of that story in which Giant-Man is pushing the Hulk on the top of his head while Iron Man flies in front of him and the Wasp flies below the Hulk. It leaves Giant-Man and Iron Man the same although it changes the hand with which Giant-Man touched the Hulk's head into a fist. Then it erases the Wasp and turns the Hulk about 50 degrees to the left so that he appears to be running from Giant-Man instead. Then it takes the Wasp from page 19 panel 6 and inserts her into the upper lefthand corner. Then it takes Thor from page 21 panel 2 and adds him in the lower lefthand corner. Then it adds a background that could be that same gym from the Daredevil panel to the left and there you have it! The caption reads, "From Avengers #2, the original Avengers battle the bizarre Space Phantom." The third panel (below the first two) is even more imaginative. It takes the drawing of Sub-Mariner surrounded by a circle of flame from page 10, panel 1 of that story, turns him on his side, adds feet, more flame and puts Subby over the water with a dock with a house on it on the right side. This story merits two captions on the cover. "And Marvel's biggest, brashest, boldest surprise... the Golden Age Sub-Mariner fights the Golden Age Human Torch" and "See the Torch and Namor as they first made comic-mag history more than 25 years ago!" It all looks like a pretty good package so let's look inside. (Oh, but first check out my copy which has the date stamped on the cover by the news dealer. The month is a bit blurry but looks like "July" making the first sale date "July 25, 1966". Now, that's immediacy!

The inside front cover has another one of those gray-tone contents pages. At the top, surrounding the "Marvel Super-Heroes" logo are head shots of all the principals. To the left of the logo are Subby from the top of the splash page of his story, Iron Man from the splash of the Avengers story, the Wasp from page 2 panel 2 of that story and Giant-Man from page 2 panel 4 of that story. To the right of the logo are the Hulk from page 8 panel 1 of the Avengers story, Thor from page 2 panel 4 of that story, Daredevil from the splash page of his story, and the Human Torch from... er, well, from the story- ending panel that Stan put in especially for this issue which depicts Johnny Storm rather than the Golden Age's Jim Hammond. I suppose it was considered daring enough to publish a Human Torch story that wasn't Johnny Storm, you didn't want to show that Torch's picture as well. (Notice that the Torch is not shown on the cover at all.) Below all of this we get to "Meet the Super- Bullpen" with the creative participants listed as follows: "1. The Incredible Editor (Stan Lee), 2. The Amazing Production-Man (Sol Brodsky), 3. The Avenging Assistant (Roy Thomas), 4. Artwoman (Marie Severin), 5. Captain Colorist (Stan G.), 6. Fridaygal (Flo Steinberg), 7. The X-Tra Man (Denny O'Neil), 8. Superclod (Irv Forbush)". And below that we get the graytone illustrations from the stories which play much fairer than the ones on the cover. The Avengers story is represented by page 6, panel 5; Daredevil by page 22, panel 6, and Subby-Torch by page 10 panel 4 of their respective stories. But Stan, clearly terrified at the reaction that the Golden Age story will get, can't leave well enough alone. First, trying to somehow put the story in synch with the Batman TV show craze of the time, he points an arrow at the Subby- Torch picture and says, "How camp can you get?" But, even after that, he still can't leave it alone. Instead, he gives us a veritable dissertation in tiny print next to the drawing that says, "In an effort to really grab you with the most off-beat special ish of the year, we've included one of the rarest super-hero classics of all time with all its corny colorful colossal nostalgia still intact. At last you can see what the Human Torch and Subbie were like in the fabulous forties... and why we've changed 'em since! Go to it, Tiger!" No, Stan, really, it's okay. We're going to like the story. Don't be so jittery about it!

The Avengers Battle the Space Phantom starts us off and comes from Avengers #2, November 1963. (For those wondering what became of the reprint of Avengers #1, September 1963, it was in Marvel Tales Annual #2, 1965 which we didn't review because it has no Spidey appearance in it.) The Avengers are a brand-new super-group but they're having troubles already. Thor gets after the Hulk for only wearing a big purple Speedo and the Hulk is ready to duke it out with him. Meanwhile, a "strange egg-like object" reaches Earth from space ("after weeks of faster-than-light travel"), disguises itself as a meteor, and slips down to New York undetected. Within it is the Space Phantom who has come to destroy the Avengers (who have already established an interstellar rep, it appears), which will pave the way for the total invasion of Earth. The Space Phantom isn't likely to blend into a crowd. He has pointed ears, spiky hair and eyebrows and a really long nose and face. His shoulders stick up into points (though that may just be his outfit) and his is clad in a purple jumpsuit. No problem, though. He merely picks out a fellow in a blue tweed suit and assumes his form. Now, "since two identical bodies cannot co-exist, you must be banished to Limbo, the silent world between shadow and substance" he tells the poor sap he's imitated. (Yeah, can't have two identical bodies. That's why, whenever twins are born, one always gets zapped into Limbo, right?) Don't worry about the Phantom's victim though. As SP obligingly explains, "there you will remain until I imitate another creature in which case he will take your place in Limbo while you return to your normal world."

So, the Space Phantom just walks right into Avengers Mansion, which is actually just Tony Stark's mansion at this point, and when the Hulk goes to investigate, he takes over the Hulk's identity, sending the real Greenskin to Limbo. Then he goes back to the others, picks a fight with Iron Man, gets Thor really mad at him, and walks right through the wall back out onto the street. (Which apparently means that the Space Phantom acquires the powers of the individuals that he imitates, too.) Once out there he sees the tweed-suited guy whose identity he first stole trying to tell other bystanders what happened to him. They think he's a kook but the Phantom decides not to take any chances so he breaks up the confab by lifting the sidewalk up off the ground. But he's interrupted by Rick Jones who thinks he is the real Hulk.

Now Rick must have hit his head because he seems to think that he has to lead the Hulk back to their secret lab even though that lab is somewhere in the Southwest and they are currently in New York. He also says, "I'm Rick Jones, the guy whose life you once saved, the guy who looks after you, to make sure you're able to turn back to Doctor Don Blake when you want to!" (Maybe it's Stan who has hit his head.) The SP is very interested in this. "So! The Hulk has another identity!" he thinks. (And this is the same guy who, two pages ago, was thinking, "Even the Avengers do not know that Anthony Stark, who has allowed them to meet in his mansion, is really Iron Man himself! But I know their secrets because I have observed them for months from space." Yeah, right, pal. But you don't know the Hulk has another identity. And you don't know it isn't Doctor Don Blake!) Anyway, the Space Phantom allows Rick to climb on his back and he leaps out of town before, feeling "an urge to boast", he turns back to his Space Phantom form and comes out with the exact same spiel about how his victims get sent to Limbo, blah blah blah. (As if Stan was afraid we didn't get it the first time.) Now, when he changed from Mr. Tweed to the Hulk, Mr. Tweed reappeared where he had previously disappeared. But when SP reverts to his regular form, the Hulk does not reappear in Avengers' Mansion. No, the Hulk reappears right next to Rick and SP. But before the Hulk can do anything about it, the Space Phantom takes his identity again and the Hulk immediately goes back to Limbo. Convinced that Rick offers no threat, the Space Phantom leaps away leaving him stranded somewhere in the country.

On his way back to the mansion, the "Hulk" comes across a test of Tony Stark's missile-gun and destroys it. Contacted about this, Tony becomes Iron Man and goes after the Hulk. When he finds him, he gives the "Hulk" a "low voltage electrical charge" which is enough to get the Space Phantom to chicken out. He escapes by taking the identity of a wasp flying by and as soon as he does that, the real Hulk returns from Limbo. Iron Man doesn't notice the change and attacks the real Hulk, thinking it is the same Hulk he was fighting.

Meanwhile, Rick has made his way to the nearest home of a member of the Teen Brigade (who were all of these teen with ham radios who used to help Rick out from time to time.). Rick contacts Giant-Man and tells him that the Space Phantom is impersonating the Hulk. Since Rick specifically called Giant-Man instead of Ant-Man, Hank Pym grows to giant-size rather than shrinking to ant- size. Giant-Man and the Wasp find Iron Man and the Hulk and try to break up the fight. (This is the panel that was rearranged to create the scene on the cover.) Now, in the time it took him to get there, Giant-Man seems to have forgotten that Rick said an alien was impersonating the Hulk. So he goes into this speech about how "we've no reason to fight among ourselves". The Wasp, though, senses an evil presence nearby which is the Space Phantom in the form of a wasp. SP, in his wasp form, abducts the Wasp but Giant-Man realizes the danger due to the cybernetic circuitry in his helmet. He traces the Wasp to Tony Stark's factory. Iron Man and the Hulk follow him (and still Giant- Man seems to have forgotten that Rick said an alien was impersonating the Hulk). At the factory, the Space Phantom reassumes his regular form and then takes the identity of Giant-Man, knocking Hank into Limbo. But this time both the Wasp and the Hulk have seen it happen. Hulk starts duking it out with the Space Phantom Giant-Man while the Wasp flies off in search of Thor. Running into Iron Man during the fight, SP takes his identity but Hulk sees this too. So when Giant-Man returns from Limbo, the Hulk tells him to attack Iron Man.

By this time, the Wasp has arrived at the office of Dr. Don Blake. (The Wasp doesn't know that Blake is Thor. She only knows that Blake is able to contact Thor.) Blake sends the Wasp into another room while he changes to Thor and then he summons her back in. (But when she returns she has to notice that Don Blake is gone. I think Jan could probably put this together.) The Wasp explains everything, then she and Thor fly to the fight. On the way there, Jan thinks of Thor, "He sounds like a burlesque of a comic hero in Mad magazine but with those shoulders, those eyes, who cares how corny he talks."

At the scene of the fight, Thor sees Iron Man fighting both the Hulk and Giant- Man and deduces that Iron Man must be the Space Phantom. The Wasp who is "tired of flying around like Peter Pan's little Tinker Bell" infiltrates the Space Phantom's armor and snips the main control cable. (So the SP's impersonation duplicates every detail of his victim, I guess. He also seems to instinctively know how to activate all of Iron Man's devices.) Actually this pretty much accomplishes nothing. Thor still has to tackle SP and he finally stops him by summoning a thunderstorm that makes the Phantom's armor rust on the spot. (This either means that the Phantom's impersonation is less than perfect or Thor's thunderstorm is magical in nature or Iron Man better improve his armor in a hurry before he ends up like the Tin Man, rusting every time he cries.) But the Space Phantom isn't beaten yet. Though frozen up, he can still impersonate others so he decides to take over Thor. But instead of Thor going to Limbo, the Space Phantom goes instead. Why? "Your power only affects humans!" says Thor, "But I am the God of Thunder!" (I'm not sure why Spacey's powers should only affect humans. After all, he isn't even human himself. And he already impersonated a wasp. And why would Thor even know this, anyway?) With the Phantom thrust into Limbo, Iron Man returns. Giant-Man speculates that the Phantom isn't likely to return from there "until someone comes to replace him" and all seems well except that the Hulk now realizes "how much each of you hate me deep down" and quits the group. Which will make him a foe of the Avengers in their next issue.

It takes a while for the Space Phantom to make a comeback. He next appears in Avengers #106, December 1972 although it is revealed in Avengers #107, January 1973 that he escaped long before in Journey Into Mystery #108, September 1964 when Loki thrust Jane Foster into Limbo.

You've got to admire this story. In spite of the occasional lapses (calling Hulk "Don Blake", mixing up the details on where the victims return from Limbo), in spite of the Space Phantom's anti-climatic defeat, there is something that still feels fresh and exhilarating about it. Already in their second issue, the Avengers start to come apart. Ant-Man becomes Giant-Man. Hulk, Thor, and Iron Man bicker dangerously; their spats seeming so much more threatening than anything the Thing and Torch do in Fantastic Four. After only two issues, the Hulk leaves the team and becomes an enemy. The Wasp's comment "Thank heavens he's leaving! He... he terrified me!" can be felt by the reader. At this time, the Hulk really was terrifying. The Space Phantom, too, as dopey as he seems to be, is scary; calling forth all sorts of Cold War fears about not trusting your friends. This is as good as it gets for early Marvel stories. Five webs.

Captain America Foils the Traitor's Revenge: Next up is a two page text story from Captain America Comics #3, May 1941 which is notable only for being Stan Lee's first published work.

Private Steve Rogers is out on sentry duty when he overhears Colonel Stevens tell Lou Haines, "there is no place in this army camp for the likes of you. You have lied, cheated, spied, and stolen. Your conduct is no longer tolerable and I'm giving you a dishonorable discharge. Now get out!" (I'm pretty sure a Colonel can't just discharge a guy and kick him off the base but, never having been in the army, I couldn't swear to it.) Haines starts to threaten Stevens ("[Y]ou ain't seen the last of me! I'll get even somehow.") when Steve comes over and tells the guy to "beat it".

That evening, Steve and Bucky hang out in their tent playing checkers, then get into a pillow fight. Before things can get real kinky, Steve's sensitive hearing picks up the sound of "three pairs of footsteps" outside of the Colonel's tent. Changing into their costumes, Captain America and Bucky make their way to the Colonel's quarters where they spy Lou Haines, "holding a wicked-looking knife in his hand", along with two thugs. Cap and Bucky rush the bad guys. "Take care of these two fancy-pants", Lou tells his men, "I'll attend to the Colonel in a second!" The thugs pull out their guns but Cap and Bucky disarm them in a hurry. When Cap enters the tent, he sees Lou "about to plunge his knife into the sleeping Colonel's heart". He flings his shield and knocks the knife out of Lou's hand. Then they grapple, with Lou actually getting the upper hand. "As Haines forced more and more pressure into his grip, Captain America began to get weaker and weaker. His eyes grew dim and it became difficult for him to breathe." But summoning up his strength, he clocks Lou, who falls over unconscious. Cap exits the tent to find Bucky standing over the two thugs, "tied back-to-back".

The next morning, Colonel Stevens finds the three bad guys tied up outside his tent with a note on them reading, "Regards from Captain America and Bucky". He asks Private Rogers (who has the tent next to him) if he heard anything last night. When Steve says he was sound asleep, Stevens rants, "Captain America and Bucky mopped up three armed men by themselves and saved my life and YOU were asleep! Oh, why can't I have some soldiers like Captain America in this army, instead of YOU!" (Of course, Stevens is too dense to realize that Steve Rogers hangs out with a young kid named Bucky. And let's not forget that Stevens slept through the whole fight and some of it took place inside his tent!) Stan's big finish: "But Colonel Stevens didn't notice the grin on Private Rogers' face as he left the tent!"

You've got to hand it to Stan. Not every writer would allow his first published story to be reprinted over twenty years later. And you can see why. This story is shallow, routine, and not very well-written... even by 1940s comic book text story standards. It gets one web for Stan's chutzpah in reprinting it but it really doesn't deserve any webs at all.

The Origin of Daredevil: Now we come to the story that we're using as an excuse to do a Lookback of this issue. As already mentioned, this tale from Daredevil #1, April 1964 shows DD on the splash page with a small reproduction of the cover of Amazing Spider-Man #1, March 1963 with the caption, "Remember this cover? If you are one of the fortunate few who bought this first copy, you probably wouldn't part with it for anything! Now we congratulate you for having bought another prized first edition! This magazine is certain to be one of your most valued comic mag possessions in the months to come!" And the years to come too.

In any event, there's already a small Lookback of Daredevil #1. Check it out. I gave it five full webs.

The Human Torch and the Sub-Mariner Meet!!!: The issue concludes with this story from Marvel Mystery Comics #8, June 1940. You sure can't tell from Stan's overly-nervous intro on the inside front cover but this is not the first Golden Age story reprinted in a Marvel mag. Stan started the practice a few months before in Fantasy Masterpieces #3, June 1966 when he presented two Cap tales from Captain America Comics #3, May 1941 ("The Hunchback of Hollywood and the Movie Murder", "The Weird Case of the Plundered Butterfly and the Ancient Mummies". They sure knew how to write titles back then, didn't they?) Fantasy Masterpieces #4, August 1966 featured three Cap stories from Captain America Comics #4, June 1941 ("The Menace of Dr. Grimm!", "The Case of the Fake Money Fiends", "Captain America and Ivan the Terrible") while Fantasy Masterpieces #5, October 1966, released at approximately the same time as this issue of Marvel Super- Heroes presented three from Captain America Comics #5, July 1941 ("Captain America and the Ringmaster of Death", "The Gruesome Secret of the Dragon of Doom!", "Killers of the Bund"). However Cap looks much as he does in the 60s while Subby looks far different in his 40s stories and the Torch isn't even Johnny Storm. Nevertheless, with this issue, Stan takes the plunge.

The Sub-Mariner is on the rampage against the human race. He is ticked off because he had promised to help the Allies against the Axis powers only to have his so-called friends try to electrocute him (in Marvel Mystery Comics #6, April 1940). In his anger, he wrecks a ferryboat, causes an elevated train to crash to the street, and rips the mooring mast off the Empire State Building (in Marvel Mystery Comics #7, May 1940). Finally, his friend policewoman Betty Dean calms him down and warns him that the Human Torch is on his trail (also in MMC #7). So, Subby goes back to "his self-appointed castle" the Statue of Liberty to consider his next move.

After cooling it at the Statue, Namor decides to let the Torch come. "He'll soon learn to respect me!" he thinks, then makes his way to a sub-chaser docked in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. He steals a depth charge, takes it to the bottom of the river and buries it right above the Hudson Tunnel. When the bomb goes off, it rocks "every boat within two hundred yards" and knocks a hole in the roof of the tunnel, flooding it (and probably killing hundreds of people). "Let the Torch consider that!" says Namor.

He then plans to go to the Bronx Zoo for further mischief. On his way there, he is spotted by a bi-plane but he just rips the propeller off the plane and lets it crash. "Poor fool" he says of the pilot. At the zoo, he rips open the bars of the lions' cage. "Enjoy yourselves!" he tells the escaping lions. When zookeepers arrive to try to capture the lions, Namor beats them back by flinging an iron bar from the cage at them. "The whirling bar cuts down the keepers like a schythe cuts down grass" but Namor is unaware of one of the lions jumping him from behind. Namor ends up knocking out the lions just to defend himself.

From there he goes to the snake house where he smashes the glass, releasing various poisonous reptiles. Then he releases the elephants and "the rampaging herd thunders through the park, destroying everything in its path". Panicked, a nurse upsets the baby carriage she is pushing, "throwing the baby out" right into the elephants' path. She runs off leaving the baby to its fate but "pity is awakened" in the Sub-Mariner and he saves the child by landing in front of the lead elephant, picking it up (the elephant, not the child) and hurling it at the other ones. (We're now on page 7 of a 10 page story and the Torch is nowhere in sight.) Subby takes the baby and flies to "the roof of Medical Center" where he turns the child over to a nurse. Seeing this, a bystander says, "He couldn't be as bad as they say". "Bah! Stupid idiots! You'll see!!" replies Namor.

Flying over Manhattan, Subby spots the George Washington Bridge. He lands on it and starts to tear it apart with his bare hands. A "blazing figure" flying through the air sees him and lands on the bridge. It is the Human Torch finally arriving on page 9 and confronting the Sub-Mariner who picks up a steel girder and flings it at him. The Torch catches the girder and melts it. Then, laughing, Torchy "lets loose a sheet of flame" which "wraps itself around Sub- Mariner" (which is the image gussied up and used on the cover). The flame causes water to gush from Namor's body, draining him so he "races to the side of the bridge" and dives. "Come back Water Rat and fight it out!" yells the Torch but Subby stays in the water. "You'll have to come up sometime" says the Torch, "And when you do..." Subby, doing his best Swartzenegger, says, "I'll be back."

Now in this reprint, Stan replaces the final panel from the original story and gives us this blurb: "And Subby did come back! In fact, he's still with us today. A little older, a little wiser, a little heavier, and much more majestic. While the adult Human Torch eventually faded into literary limbo, to be replaced by today's junior member of the Fabulous F.F. in this, the mixed-up Marvel Age of chronological confusion!" Sub-Mariner, as we all know, joined the Marvel Age in Fantastic Four #4, May 1962 and the original Human Torch shows up again, too in Fantastic Four Annual #4, November 1966 only a month or so after this issue. You don't think that was planned, do you?

In nine short pages, the Sub-Mariner is nastier and scarier than he's ever been in the Silver Age and beyond. In fact, he's nastier than most Marvel villains. You think the nineties were the decade of murderers as heroes? It's got nothing on the forties; at least as far as the Sub-Mariner is concerned. Look at what he does in this story: puts a hole in the Hudson Tunnel that must kill hundreds, murders a pilot by ripping off his plane's propeller, releases savage lions from their cages, hurls an iron bar at zoo keepers which has to seriously injure each of them, causes a stampede of elephants, and starts to tear apart the George Washington Bridge. And all because he doesn't want the Torch to disrespect him! What makes it all so chilling is how casual and cold- blooded he is about it. And yet, he also takes a moment to save a baby from the elephant stampede. Beautiful. Where has this Sub-Mariner been for all these years? I want more of him. As far as I'm concerned, this is the best story in the book. Five webs.

If the conclusion of the Subby-Torch story seems a little incomplete, don't worry. After reprinting 3 more Cap stories in Fantasy Masterpieces #6, December 1966 ("Captain American and the Red Skull" from CA Comics #7, October 1941, "The Phantom Hound of Cardiff Moor" from CA Comics #10, January 1942 and "Meet the Fang, Arch Fiend of the Orient" from CA Comics #6, September 1941), Stan and company return to this story in Fantasy Masterpieces #7, February 1967. That issue features the Human Torch story from Marvel Mystery Comics #8, June 1940 which paralleled the Sub-Mariner story as Torchy deals with Namor's mess (the elevated train, the mooring mast, and the zoo) before the two of them meet. (The final panel, by the way, of the Subby story originally said "Attention!!! Do you want a surprise? Read the Human Torch! Now!!!" with an arrow pointing the way to this story. So you can see why Stan had to replace it with something else in Marvel Super-Heroes.) This Torch story, however, ends right where the Subby story ends. (By the way, this issue of FM also reprints the Subby story from Marvel Mystery Comics #3, January 1940 and a Cap story ("Death Loads the Bases") from CA Comics #7, October 1941 in which you've just got to see the Batman-derived villain (called the Toad) and Cap in a baseball uniform. To really get the rest of the Subby-Torch battle from Marvel Mystery Comics #9, July 1940 ("The Human Torch versus The Sub- Mariner in the Battle of the Comic Century!") you have to pick up Fantasy Masterpieces #8, April 1967, which also reprints "Death Plays the Scales!!", a Cap story from CA Comics #7, October 1941.

Let's bring this on home. FM #9, June 1967 reprints the first Torch story from Marvel Comics #1, November 1939, the Subby story from Marvel Mystery Comics #4, February 1940 and a Cap story ("A Personal Account of his smashing a Spy Ambush") from CA Comics #10, January 1942. FM #10, August 1967 reprints the All-Winners Squad 43 page story, "The Crime of the Ages!" from All Winners #19, Fall 1946 featuring Cap, Bucky, the Whizzer, the Torch, Miss America, Subby, and Toro. And FM #11, October 1967 reprints the story "Introducing Toro, the Flaming Torch Kid" from what Stan calls "the very first issue of the Human Torch" to get around the fact that the first Torch issue was actually Human Torch #2, Fall 1940 since it took its numbering from Red Raven Comics #1, August 1940 until someone realized how ridiculous that was and decided #2 was #1, #3 was #2, #4 was #3, and #5 was #4, and fixed it all by publishing a second Human Torch #5 (Fall 1941) which must have confused just about everybody. After the Toro story came an Atlas Comics Subby tale from Sub-Mariner #34, June 1954, an Atlas Comics Black Knight tale ("The Menace of Modred the Evil!") from Black Knight #1, May 1955 followed by the Cap tale "Hotel of Death" from CA Comics #10, January 1942 from back in the Timely books again. But by the time #12 of the series came out, it had a name change, going from Fantasy Masterpieces to Marvel Super- Heroes which explains why the MSH we're looking at is actually a one- shot and why MSH #s 2-11 do not exist.

For nine issues, MSH headlined new stories (including a Spidey tale in MSH #14, May 1968) but kept reprinting Subby, Torch, Cap and others. But with MSH #21, July 1969 the book went all-reprint again, finally following up with the story from Avengers #3, January 1964 featuring a guest cameo by Spidey. Daredevil #2, June 1964 is finally reprinted in MSH #22, September 1969 which also finally reprints the cover of DD #1 with that Spidey cover appearance. In time, Marvel Super-Heroes becomes a regular-size book reprinting Subby and Hulk stories from Tales to Astonish and then Incredible Hulk at the point where Astonish split into Subby and Hulk solo books. The series breathes its last with issue #105 reprinting The Incredible Hulk #157, November 1972, though Marvel does dredge up the title and use it now and again.

General Comments

If I had to pick the best of the king-size 60s reprint issues, I would choose this one. From an early Avengers tale that shows Stan and Jack's willingness to shake things up to the origin of Daredevil to a Golden Age tale demonstrating the Sub-Mariner at his most menacing, you are looking at stories all worthy of a top rating. Even the Captain America text piece is worth reading just to see the budding (though shaky) writing of the 19 year old Stan Lee.

Overall Rating

The whole package is an easy five webs.


Next: Back to Spidey and the Rhino with ASM #43.

 Title: Marvel One Shots
 Lookback: From The Beginning
 Posted: 2006
 Staff: Al Sjoerdsma (E-Mail)