Having started reading comics in the 70s and experiencing the Silver Age through reprints, I am wondering what you guys who read them when they first came out felt about certain occurances. My reactions were in hindsight, sometimes already knowing what was going to happen and how they were resolved. So in no order, how DID you feel about....

  • the death of Ferro Lad (or Lightning Lad or Triplicate Girl)
  • the New Avengers of 1964
  • the New Look Batman
  • Ditko leaving Spider-Man
  • the Million Dollar Debut of Batgirl
  • Steranko
  • Adams
  • the Marvel Expansion
  • the DC collapse
  • Galactus and the Silver Surfer
  • Black Canary joining the JLA
  • The Vision
  • the new Green Arrow
  • the weddings of the Flash & Iris, Aquaman & Mera, Reed & Sue and Hank & Jan
  • the deceit of Professor X

You can comment on whichever you like or add something that strongly effected you.

 

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"he didn't have George Klein inking him any more"

 

Mind-boggling (but true):  Carmine Infantino FIRED George Klein as part of a general move to "weed out the older guys".  That's how he wound up at Marvel, inking Buscema, Colan and Kirby for a year (until he suddenly passed away).

 

I did love the Buscema-Klein team, but nothing could replace Swan-Klein on LEGION.

Dave Blanchard said:

 

Plus, the worst indignity of all was when comics went to 15 cents. Where in the world was I going to come up with an extra three cents -- PER ISSUE?!?


Isn't it great to live in the future ... when each issue is $2.99 (or more)?

Plus, the worst indignity of all was when comics went to 15 cents.

Yeah, that was much more of a shock than many of the other things listed at the beginning. There were house ads for Supergirl taking over Adventure Comics (a really bad idea on its own) that showed the "15 cents" in the corner. I couldn't believe it! I don't think I started plotting which comics I was going to drop or anything, but I knew I was going to start taking a hit--and might have to think about cutting out some that weren't making the grade. And by that point, a lot weren't.

-- MSA

OK, I wasn't buying them off the rack yet, (had to wait another four months for the lightbulb to go on in my head, but I was lucky enough to score the entire Inhumans arc plus the Galactus trilogy in the collection that I bought at the school carnival.   As a result, they were just more of those Marvel Comics that I picked up for a nickle a piece.

The impact of the Galactus story was huge.  The artwork had matured, the writing and reaction of the characters, from awe to fear, to overconfidence to waiting and worrying, was just incredible.  The artwork that depicted the Watcher in greek philosopher robes and Galactus in Roman centurian garb was not lost on me.  One appeared to be God, and the other a warior..at least to my young mind.  I caught the emotional impact of the storyline much more than anything else.

It established for me what comics should be...artwork, accessibility, and scope of the adventure.  But it also underscored for me how poor the artwork/inking had been in either the George Bell phaze or Chic Stone time periods.  Though I thought Chic Stone to be "cartoony", I have come to love that period like no other...seeking it out as much as Vince Colleta's work over Kirby.

So, the impact of these stories were through a ten-year old's eyes...and didn't matter a great deal...though it was giving me a baseline for the rest of my life in the hobby.  As for the fan reaction,  that's best gauged in the letters pages, about three months after each issue came out, I'm afraid.

Philip Portelli said:

Great examples of the Silver Age in other media, Henry, but I want to know what that initial reaction to the original comics were. Using Galactus and the Surfer for instance, even as a child, I understood that Fantastic Four #48-51 were considered the pinnacle of the Lee/Kirby era but at the time of publication? Did whoever read it off the newstand realize it was something amazing? Was it just a good comic? Did it mean anything? Or were they merely wondering what Stan and Jack were drinking and/or smoking when they did it?

"the Watcher in greek philosopher robes and Galactus in Roman centurian garb.....One appeared to be God, and the other a warior"

Interesting. Don't recall anyone pointing that out before.

"it also underscored for me how poor the artwork/inking had been in either the George Bell phaze"

I remember reading the intereivew in ALTER EGO with George Roussos. Such a NICE guy, with NO ego whatsoever! He offered to help Stan out in a rough patch, inking a book OVER A WEEKEND for half-rates.  no wonder they looked like crap-- EVEN by Roussos' own standards! He was doing 10 pages a day!!! Mind you, I also feel his style and Kirby's style did not mesh AT ALL. I've seen Roussos ink other pencillers where it "worked" much better. As soon as Martin Goodman coughed up the money for Stan to hire someone better, Roussos was happy to move on.

"or Chic Stone time periods"

Stone being the "better" in question.

"Though I thought Chic Stone to be "cartoony", I have come to love that period like no other...seeking it out as much as Vince Colleta's work over Kirby."

Kirby-Stone tends to remind me of Saturday morning cartoons (the GOOD ones, like SPACE GHOST). Whereas Dick Ayers' inks made me think of newsreels. ("Real-world gritty")

Getting the right inker to compliment the right penciler is a challenge in and of itself.

If talented artists like Kirby, Gene Colan, Neal Adams, etc.; could not ink themselves, you need inkers at least on par, if not above, the quality of the pencils to present the finished art at its best.

While all the combinations I've seen discussed so far I only know of from either reprints or back issues, other than Klien, the absolute best inker for Curt Swan was Murphy Anderson, in my humble opinion.

But as for THE ultimate inker, I would have to give that award to Terry Austin. From what I've seen in my long association with comic books, he could make even rough layouts look great.

And if Austin wasn't available for an assignment, my back up go to guy would be Bob Layton.

Then again, I only know comic books from the reader's side of the page. Your opinion(s) may differ.

Bob Oskner did very well over Curt Swan too, I think.

I've never seen the philosopher/warrior thing pointed out before either, but I'm sure Kirk is right (except I wouldn't take the Watcher to be more like God than Galactus; or do you have in mind some depictions of Jesus, Kirk?). Kirk's description of Galactus reminded me of Kirby's designs for a production of Julius Caesar, shown here.

I have to add that while the Galactus Trilogy (as it has come to be called by college students at first, not by Stan nor Jack nor Marvel) was an ultimate high point, it is not the single most commented upon story.  That honor falls to #51, the single story of the Thing being replaced by a nameless villain who sacrifices himself for Reed.  This story also introduces the concept of the Negative Zone, though the terminology is extremely muddled.  At times, this concept is referred to as "Sub-Space"  or part of it is "The Distorion Zone or field"...  It's not clear, but the idea seems to be that this is a region of space where one can cut between galaxies, by taking a shortcut through sub-space, avoid the black hole at the center of the zone, and emerge thousands of light years away.  Over time, the concept will be refined, and distorted so that it becomes what we know as the populated, threatening, evil Negative Zone... complete with Annilius, Blastar, and an area 52 prison...

But the hits keep on coming with the introduction of the Black Panther (boy, Stan was really feeling his oats this year) and eventually, Doctor Doom stealing the Silver Surfer's power. As one letter writer sent in a missive in the form of a poem,

"Doctor Doom on a surfboard,

oh Stan, now come on,

You keep this stuff up,

and  your readers will be gone!"

(even after 45 years, I remember the lymrics the kids sent in... how sad is that.)

But to answer your question, what did we think of these as they came out, it was all just Fantastic Four, Stan and Jack greatness.  We were at the zenith of the first 100 issues, and didn't know it.  We enjoyed it, but couldn't wait to see where the story arcs were going to go NEXT issue.  Each issue was eagerly awaited... but no clue what was coming.  Did it have an impact on fandom (which wasn't organized yet) or create a buzz among readers?  Not in my town. No one was talking kid to kid about their reading habits or their favorite issues.  Maybe older kids were, but I didn't know any yet.

Yes, in hind sight, Prof. X is a cruel man, who deceives his students frequently and manipulates them without regard to their feelings.  However, I remember thinking at the time that he was killed off, that this was not supposed to happen, and that the writers were desperate to inject a new direction or plot device cause they couldn't think how to make the old format work. (Remember, they all just had received their own "new costumes" in a form of graduation to adult status.)

But even more so, I thought his hokey, one issue return, with an elaborate explanation of being under deep cover so he could prepare for an invasion... well, even worse that someone wrote that he could divide part of his mental powers and "give them away" to Jean. Only she knew and was sworn to keep his secret!  To prove himself, he almost brain blasts the doubting thomas among them (Iceman and angel?) until they screem in agony to turn the volume down in their heads before he scrambles their brains.

Surprised? Yes. Pleased? Not really...not when you've finally come to accept the change forced upon you two years before.  The stories under Neal Adams were SO GOOD... and lead at breakneck speed to the next one, so this Firestar issue, and the X-Knox and then the awful Hulk filler issue at #66 just seemed so "off".  It was a hell of a way to end.

I was left with the feeling that they threw all their filler issues or plots into the production schedule, when the grand experiment of the prior year had proven not all that popular enough to save the series. Does this answer your question?

Yes, I agree, Steranko WAS Nick Fury and SHIELD...and nothing looked nor felt right after him.  He was as involved in the design of the page and pannels as he was in writing/plotting/drawing the adventure.  He seemed light years ahead of the curve, yet, he left some of the younger fanboys behind with his sophistication.  I agree, his SHEILD was a force for good with trusted, loyal men...not a corruption riddled CIA with bad motives and bad agents on their own agenda that followed.

Perhaps that was the jaundice view of the new generation of writers and creators, post JFK hit, post Vietnam, pre-watergate... but it was a cynical view that I didn't think fit the organization nor Stan's creation well.

Yes, the traditional depiction of Jesus in flowing white robes, or old testiment street people dressed in the same garb as the Watcher was what I meant.   And yes, the non-sequitor of Galactus as angry Roman Warrior God (see Apollo in classic Star Trek : "Who Mourns for Adonis") against the more calm, passive Watcher god DID confuse me as a kid.

Luke Blanchard said:

I've never seen the philosopher/warrior thing pointed out before either, but I'm sure Kirk is right (except I wouldn't take the Watcher to be more like God than Galactus; or do you have in mind some depictions of Jesus, Kirk?). Kirk's description of Galactus reminded me of Kirby's designs for a production of Julius Caesar, shown here.

As a sidenote, it was "Who Mourns For Adonis" that got me interested in Greek/Roman mythology, far more than Wonder Woman. And that got me to read the actual Norse myths as well! 

Kirk G said:

Yes, the traditional depiction of Jesus in flowing white robes, or old testiment street people dressed in the same garb as the Watcher was what I meant.   And yes, the non-sequitor of Galactus as angry Roman Warrior God (see Apollo in classic Star Trek : "Who Mourns for Adonis") against the more calm, passive Watcher god DID confuse me as a kid.

Luke Blanchard said:

I've never seen the philosopher/warrior thing pointed out before either, but I'm sure Kirk is right (except I wouldn't take the Watcher to be more like God than Galactus; or do you have in mind some depictions of Jesus, Kirk?). Kirk's description of Galactus reminded me of Kirby's designs for a production of Julius Caesar, shown here.

Luke wrote: Bob Oskner did very well over Curt Swan too, I think.

 

I absolutely go nuts for Bob Oksner's stuff. Most of the money I've spent on back issues over the past decade or two has been on old humor comics drawn by Oksner. That said, I never liked the way he inked Swan. It always seemed like he was giving us a poor-man's imitation of George Klein. The Oksner style never really shone through the way, say, that Murphy Anderson's shone through Swan's pencils. Instead, it looked to me like Oksner never quite finished the inks. Oksner was one of those guys whose skills were as a penciller and inker of his own stuff. As an inker of other people's pencils, he was just fair-to-middling.

 

Apparently, Swan was a very difficult penciler to "get right," since nobody post-Anderson ever really caught on, though Julie Schwartz gave a lot of inkers a shot at it. Even the great Dick Giordano couldn't do justice to Swan's pencils.

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