Monday, March 16, 2020

Marvel Immersion Project: The Amazing Spider-Man #36-38, Fantastic Four #31-33 and Annual #2

This week, I wrapped up the Steve Ditko run with Spider-Man, at which point the Comic Book Herald list shifts to the Fantastic Four.  I'm a little sad to leave the Spidey saga just as the Gwen Stacy and Norman Osborn stories are taking off but I know I'll be back.  I have to admit the villain-of-the-week formula gets tiresome but Peter Parker's personal life hardly ever does.

The introduction of The Fantastic Four in 1961 - not Spidey, the Avengers or the X-Men - ushered in a new age for Marvel Comics.  For starters, it marked the beginning of the most important collaboration in American comics, that between writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby.  Plus, the FF were different from the superheroes who had populated comic books to that point.  They embraced their own fame, eschewing the idea of secret identities from the get-go.  They also had real personality differences beyond the variations in their superpowers.  Their relationships with each other would serve as important drivers in the narrative.  This, in a nutshell, was the Lee/Kirby gift to the medium.  Marvel has been kicking DC's butt in character development ever since.  The relative success of the two 21st-century movie franchises is not coincidental.

Assuming I stick with the Comic Book Herald list, and I see no reason not to, I'll be with the FF for issues #31-60, plus the second annual.  That should keep me going for a few weeks.

Our heroes...

Reed Richards, Mr. Fantastic:
Image result for reed richards marvel
via Marvel Database
Sue Storm, Invisible Girl (now Invisible Woman):
Image result for sue storm marvel
via Marvel Database
Johnny Storm, Human Torch:
Image result for johnny storm marvel
via Marvel Database
Ben Grimm, Thing:
Image result for ben grimm marvel
via Marvel Database
My Recent Reads

The Amazing Spider-Man #36
Originally Published May 1, 1966
Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Steve Ditko

Image result for looter marvel comics
via Marvel Database
  • Villain: The Looter

The Amazing Spider-Man #37
Originally Published June 1, 1966

Image result for robot master marvel
via Wikipedia
  • Villain: Robot Master, aka Dr. Mendel Stromm
Image result for norman osborn marvel
via Marvel Fanon Wikia
  • Important character introduced: Norman Osborn, father of Harry.  He is a sneaky and malevolent operator - rotten dad, too.

The Amazing Spider-Man #38
Originally Published July 1, 1966
  • This is the last Spidey comic book for Steve Ditko.  John Romita Sr. takes up the artistic reins for the series in issue #39.  
Image result for joe smith marvel
via Marvel Database

  • Villain: Joe Smith, a down-on-his-luck boxer who gains superpowers through an accident on a movie set.  He actually isn't much of a villain as he comes to his senses by the end of the story and is absolved - even gets a movie deal.
  • The Norman Osborn story gets more interesting.  He puts out a $20,000 reward for anyone who can take Spider-Man out of the picture.
  • Peter Parker runs into Ned Leeds at the Daily Bugle.  Ned doesn't know where Betty is either.  Peter's worried about her.
  • Campus protests are referenced.  The late '60s are coming.  Stan and Steve are clearly unimpressed by the protesters.

Fantastic Four Annual #2
Originally Published September 10, 1964
Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Jack Kirby
  • We get two full-length stories plus fun extras.
  • Story #1: Dr. Doom's origin and probably my favorite early Marvel tale so far.  
  • In between, among other things, a gallery of most famous foes, including:
    • The Super-Skrull
Image result for super skrull
via Wikipedia

    • Rama-Tut, now known as Kang the Conqueror
Image result for rama-tut
via Marvel Database

    • The Molecule Man
Image result for molecule man marvel
via Wikipedia
    • The Hate Monger
Image result for hate monger marvel
via Wikipedia
    • The Infant Terrible, now known as Delinquent
Image result for infant terrible marvel
via Marvel Database

    • Diablo
Image result for diablo marvel
via Villains Wiki
  • Story #2 begins with a chance encounter between Doom and Rama-Tut in outer space.  Are they related to each other?  Are they actually the same person split in two by a time travel paradox?  Neither is sure.
  • Doom is the main villain, returning to Earth to exact revenge upon the Fantastic Four.
  • Don't let the presence of Sue Storm on the team fool you?  There's still plenty of 1960s male chauvinism flying around.

Fantastic Four #31
Originally Published October 1, 1964
  • Villain: Mole Man
Image result for mole man marvel
via Marvel Database
  • Crossover: The Avengers
Image result for doctor storm marvel
via Marvel Database

  • New character introduced: Dr. Storm, Sue and Johnny's father.  He escapes from prison, then shows up at the hospital just in time to save Sue's life.
Fantastic Four #32
Originally Published November 1, 1964
  • Villain: Super-Skrull
  • Appearance by Alicia Masters, The Thing's girlfriend
Image result for alicia marvel
via Marvel Database

  • Dr. Storm dies heroically.  We'd only just met... 

Fantastic Four #33
Originally Published December 1, 1964
  • Crossover: Sub-Mariner (Namor) and Lady Dorma
Image result for sub-mariner marvel
via Marvel Database
Image result for lady dorma marvel
via Marvel Database

  • Villain: Attuma
Image result for attuma marvel
via Marvel Database

  • I love underwater adventures.  I adore deep sea documentaries.  If I'd had the money and lived closer to the ocean, I'd have followed the Scuba hobby a lot further than I did in my 20s.  As such, I'm a sucker for both Namor and Aquaman.  Any visit to Atlantis is a treat.  I especially enjoyed the following full-page panel on page 8.  Jack Kirby's talents are on full display:
Image result for fantastic four 33 page 8
via The Fantasticast


  1. I didn't realize you were following a guide.
    I wonder why the jump all the way to FF30. I'm going to have to take a look at this.

    1. Your comment reminded me that I forgot to include a link to the list. It's on there now. They describe the choice of this run as "diving straight for the meat."