Silver Age Mysteries, or Things I Couldn't Grasp as a Kid

It seemed pretty obvious to me back in the 1960s, that Marvel had three split books that featured two super-heroes in a book.  They were the books that weren't named for the lead characters, like Spider-Man or X-men or Daredevil.

These books had unusual names of Strange Tales, Tales of Suspense, and Tales to Astonish.  Although, it was clear that Strange Tales was (NOT) named for their character Dr. Strange, he never seemed to dominate the covers...settling for a small strip along the bottom, or a veiled reference to the title of his adventure.  Pretty odd for a book that was apparently named after him. (NOT!)

And then there was the oddly named "Journey into Mystery"...with a major story featuring Thor. And even the back-up was about him, but oddly named "Tales of Asgard".  What was mysterious about Thor and his companions?  There were no mysteries going on, just straightforward adventures and soap opera drama.  So, what was with the name, that suddenly vanished with issue #126?

 

Tales of Suspense was a pretty clear title, cause those Cap adventures drawn by Jack Kirby were full of suspense....what would happen next?  And Iron Man, drawn by Gene Colan was both exciting and a soap opera too.

Tales to Astonish seemed to be an odd duck, with two Marvel Anti-Heroes, the Hulk and Submariner sharing soap opera drama...and yes, while it was astonishing that people could speak under water, and the hulk's strength and transformations were astonishing, it didn't trouble me that they had an umbrella name.

Strange Tales was even more odd, as the paring was either Human Torch and Dr. Strange...again, a back-up feature in his own book!  Or later, the high tech Bondian "Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD" that fronted the book.

 

It wasn't until I was older, in fact fairly recently, that I caught on that TTA and TOS were monster books originally...conceived in the post code, Twilight Zone era, and running for three years before the superheroes came along.

Even worse was the Strange Tales and Journey into Mystery revelation.  These were both PRE-code HORROR titles...and now their titles made sense!

What other non-sequitors did you run into as kids, when comics were changing?

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Werner Roth I do believe .. :-)

He certainly seemed to have a thing for floating head shots along the left side.  Was he former DC artist? (heh hehe...)

When Jack Kirby was doing JIMMY OLSEN, Werner Roth & Vince Colletta were doing LOIS LANE.

On the three examples shown the floating heads compensate for the absence of the characters from the main image. This was again the case with #33, the original version of which was drawn by Gil Kane and can be seen here.(1) After that the next one is #42, where the use of floating aheads allows the central image to be a silhouette.

 

Covers aren't necessarily designed by the artists who draw them. I had a look for examples from other 60s Marvel titles with teams. Fantastic Four covers with floating heads or similar devices include #41, #50, #54 and #75. Avengers examples include #9, #19, #22, #30, #38, #43, #56, #60 and #62. Sgt. Fury examples include #12, #18 and #26.

 

(1) Until I read the issue I wondered why the figures in the main image and the heads were changed. Apparently the impulse was a desire to accurately reflect the story; in the issue only Cyclops and Marvel Girl fight the demon, Xorak. Mr Evanier's page on the issue, at the link, discusses possible reasons it was changed. Contrary to Mr Evanier's view, I'd guess the original version was rejected for Code-related reasons. It probably did push the envelope by the standards of the time. It might be the Code guys sent a response along the lines "rejected because of demon on cover", or Marvel didn't have time to risk another cover getting rejected, or it tried toning the cover down and found that the tamer Xorak looked boring.

 

I was about 12 when this series came out, but I didn't catch on to the amusing aspect of the title until I was well into my 40s, and that was from comments about it on a blog.
 
Richard Willis said:

Of course, that led to this unfortunate title which, at the tender age of 27, didn't occur to me as strange.

George Poague said:

As a really young kid, I saw a comic book called "Giant Batman." I assumed it was about a giant named Batman. Didn't know "giant" meant it had more pages than usual!

...As far as that goes , it has sort of occurred to me that , at least symbolically/in outline , Swamp Monsters/Agents Of God-Fate-GiiaKarma faces tend to bear a certain resembelance , urrr , to genital regions !!!!!!!!!

more , they sort of tend at times to be drawn as bodies like bodily waste , the Skywald b&w version of The Heap particularly looked like he was deemed to be monickered The Turd .

Of course, that led to this unfortunate title which, at the tender age of 27, didn't occur to me as strange.

George Poague said:

As a really young kid, I saw a comic book called "Giant Batman." I assumed it was about a giant named Batman. Didn't know "giant" meant it had more pages than usual!

...And , by the way.........

  Don't forget a certain Dell RIFLEMAN cover !!!!!!!!!

  And , of course , the Rickles clan..." Don't Ask !!!!!!!!! Just Post It !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! "

  There's a certain NANCY & SLUGGO cover revolving around an ice cream cone , too...

  Oh , and an Archie cover where the phrase " beat " comes up !!!!!!!!!!! Huh huh huh . I said..." up " . Huh huh huh...............................

The carrot-nosed look was an imitation of the Golden Age Heap, who sometimes had a similar nose. You can see it on later Airboy Comics covers.

...Briefly , Kirk , I was never so confused by anthology/non single character titles...maybe I was a born-later throwback to an earlier era !!!!!!!!!

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