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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My favorite Bob Oksner art is on JERRY LEWIS.

I read Oksner's Superman stories in B&W. I think of him as having used heavy holding lines but otherwise as having had a light touch and having been good at detail, with a nice realism. In his hands the Swan Superman was very muscular.


Well, it makes sense that the episode of "Star Trek" might lead you to Greek and Roman mythology...but stretching as far as Norse mythology?  That would seem to be a job for ....(wait for it....)  Thor, the god of Thunder!   It was Thor and Stan Lee that influenced me to look for Norse mythology, but I found it far more difficult to find and to follow.  I had always preferred Jack Kirby's version of it...in Tales of Asgard...and in Thor's regular strip.
Philip Portelli said:

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! 

 

D'Aulaires' Norse Gods and Giants, now republished as D'Aulaires' Book of Norse Myths, is a really good version of the Norse myths for kids.

I read their book on Greek mythology as a kid, then read that one. They toned the stories down but didn't sugarcoat the facts, like Chronos swallowing his children or the various wars, deaths and unhappy endings.
And you clearly saw Loki's descent from mischief to mayhem to evil!
Luke Blanchard said:

D'Aulaires' Norse Gods and Giants, now republished as D'Aulaires' Book of Norse Myths, is a really good version of the Norse myths for kids.

I don't know the Greek one, but I mean to look for it, to see if it would make a good present for my niece. So told me she wasn't very familiar with Greek myths, as opposed to Norse ones, and I think it's better to be.

 

This came up in another thread recently; the god was Cronos, which probably is not etymologically the same word as chronos, which means "time", although the two words were already associated in antiquity.

Not to exclude our Egyptian gods and godesses from this discussion:

I just drove my son around his paper route this sunny, warm Sunday morning, cause he slept in.

And I saw a bumper sticker on a car parked in this college town that makes me smile each time I see it:

 

"Isis! Isis!

Ra! Ra! Ra!"

I remember reading some reprints of "classic League of Super-Hero stories" as a kid that seemed to make a big deal out of this death/resurrection of Lighning Lad story. (Maybe it was the originals that a cousin had purchased or something.)  At any rate, the issues that I saw kept making a big deal about it...and that Proty had died instead.  It wouldn't have mattered to me at all, except they kept referencing it, like it was a really big deal...very important!

I think that's part of the key to this more innocent age.  First, as comc book material, it was about normal fare for kids...not taken too seriously, and dismissed by adults as just kids' stuff.  We weren't all obsessed with continuity nor artists, nor writers or credits.... these stories just were...and if we had the cash, we bought the books, and traded them with friends or cousins or whatever.

But the seriousness that the writer brings to the story, the grave tones that the caption box uses, the self-importance that the comics took about themselves and the actions that happen.... made us take serious and took their tone as gospel. If the comic said this was a really important death..or a very serious turning point, we bought into it.

 

I remember Neal Adams work showing up in a Green Arrow/Green Lantern book, that seemed to take on serious issues with the most dramatic covers. Though I didn't buy nor read GA/GL... I did pick these books up off the stands and skim them, expecting to absorb the thrust of the story with a casual flip through.  I never bought one, but was impressed that these "reality issues" were being produced.

I didn't connect the artwork to Neal Adams arriving on the X-men.  What did register was the radical shifts that X-men kept going trhough...Graduation, new costumes, death of Prof X, solo stories, reassembling to fight Lorna Dane/Magneto, bizarre Steranko artwork, a cartoonish fill in with BLASTAR from the FF (how strange!) and then suddenly a new brother shows up, and another radical artwork change... all added up to a title that didn't know which way to go. 

So when this new realistic artwork showed up, portraying the X-men as ADULTS... I didn't care for it, and I avoided it. But within a half a year, after the Living Monalith storyline progressed into the Sentinels comback, that seemed SO important and SO dramatic, I was hooked.  I started buying it and hunting the back issues.  I almost let those most important issues slip through my fingers.

I'm not sure the reprints convey the feel of the newsprint issues, and the dramatic covers and all, but the closest thing to it would be the final X-men reprint volume of Marvel Masterworks than includes issues #54 through 66 to wrap up the first six volumes.  As a graphic novel, that collection is pretty damn good.  But what's missing is the muted colors that soaked into the newsprint, the smell of the ink, the wrinkles in the covers, the letters pages, and the anticipation and delay of a month between each chapter of this long, sweeping story that enthralled us.

We know now that the sales of those issues were climbing, and would have justified keeping the book around in today's marektplace... but someone (Goodman?) had decided to cut their losses and cancelled it.  Low sales may be the excuse, but I think someone wasn't reading those figures right, or there was something underhanded going on to skew the data. (We know that organized crime was slicing off the masthead titles of comics and mailing them back in for credit. But these damaged books were then being packaged in groups of two or three and sold via some of the same distribution chains as two for 15 cents or 25 cent packages... and you could find mint (except for the missing title) copies of back issues periodically at corner grocery mom and pop operations.  Occassionally, you'd find a vintage silver age gem in one of those packs, but that was very rare.  It is my theory that when returning some of these books, it was not clear to these mob men how to report this, and so, rather than count them all, they simply lumped the figures at the bottom of the chart form... where the X-men book was listed.  After all, what could be more clear...you X-ed off the title, therefore, that "X-men" must be the row where you reported this loss to the distributor and publisher for credit, right?

 

I also think that some of the fan speculators in the big cities may have been trying to horde these important, desirable books, with the intent of cornering the market on some key books....then re-selling them either at the growing comic convention market place or through back issue sales listed in comic books themselves.  This grew more common in the 70s, but I think that may also have damaged the distribution of the Neal Adams X-men book as well...and played a role in it's cancellation too.

Another thing that was striking was the use of Sauron, the psychic vampire terradactile, without using either of those terms.  That is, they never called him a dinosaur...nor a vampire, but that clearly was what he was.  One term was banned by the Comics code, and the other wasn't used.  It amazed me that they flirted with the concept, but would call a spade a  spade.  The Code's control continued, but was clearly being challenged soon.

But the big surprise that really knocked me on my butt was the full page reveal of "Clothes really do make the man"...at the end of the Savage Land first issue, where Angel is revived and turned against the X-men...by the Creator...and he is finally revealed though subtle splash page reveal, to have Magneto's helmet in his possession.  SHOCK ENDING!  We knew he was dead, but here he is again!   It was a stunner of an ending... similar to the cliffhanger at the end of the Sentinel's "Do or Die Baby" where Scott gambles it all to defeat the Sentinels with their own logic.  But then ignors his brother's growing problem until it's too late!

 

Anyway, those are my memories and impressions of the Neal Adams run when he came out.

"Johnny, boy, we hardly knew ye'."

Ditko leaving spider-man wasn't a big deal for me.  Though I had regularly picked up comics off the spinner rack to flip through on my way home from Saturday morning bowling, walking through town, I never bought one. I know I would look at the Ditko spider-man issues, and saw the same art style over in a strange tales book with Clea and Liz Allen wearing the same hair...and Fedora hats on men in both strips.

The end of the Green Goblin was a temendous high point of the series...with a shift in artwork at the same time, but I didn't notice the shift in art yet.  I wasn't buying the series but started to take notice of the new feel in  the book.. more concerned with girls and dating and the gang in Spider-man, but also some large newr villians, like Rhino, Vulture, Kraven, Shocker, Jameson the astronaut, etc.

It seemed that this series suddenly was getting higher profile exposure, though I can't say why.  Maybe it was brighter, more bold covers.  Certainly Spider-man was more muscular and Pete Parker was more handsome.

Fans commented about the change in artists in the letters pages of the day,but Marvel didn't have too much to say about it, except how good Romita was.  Ditko was just real gone....

but over in Fantasy Masterpeieces, occassional Ditko horror stories were being reprinted and credited.  So he didn't really feel total gone yet.   Marvel would also attempt this years later when Kirby left, reprinting everything Kirby to try to blunt the impact of the defection.

I could never understand why they stopped reprinting those beautiful, classic Kirby covers, instead substituting some hack redrawing of a different scene on the cover.  Were they trying to mislead kids that the inside content was different? That it was a new story?   Or just trying to reach a younger, less knowledgable audience with a kiddie cover?  It was off-putting for me, though I bought them all anyway.  A couple of the worst were the covers of the World's Greatest Comic with Dragon Man attacking the FF...or the Frightful Four and the FF at battle.   Ugh.... who drew those covers with word balloons?

So, Ditko's passing was not really an event though I noticed him show up in DC's Creeper title.... just that Jake Rider had Norman Osborn for a boss...with different colored hair...and that the women looked like Gwen Stacy, and that the villian was so similar to the Chameleon, and their big confrontation was down in the flooding sewers.... and the poses that Creeper struck looked an awful lot like spider-man...and the men still wore Fedora hats!   Otherwise, it was new and daring and different and DC didn't stick with it past issue 6!

I never saw nor followed his charleton work, so Capt Atom, Blue Beetle and the Question were all foreign to me and remain so to this day.

The arrival of the Vision in the Avengers is harolded as a ground-breaking event, but I was there for it, and I have to say that it was just another story that came rolling off the line. The Avengers were overly dramatic, somewhat wallowing in angst (Capt, Hawkeye, Pym, etc)  In hindsight, the use of an android body for Wonder Man's brainwaves doesn't seem to be all that shocking... but I'm not sure that the subsequent revelations of the Human Torch as the basis of the android was planned.

I emotional impact of even an android can cry was strong, but Ultron wasn't the eternal baddie that he has evolved into.  In fact, we thought that he was dead by the end.

But it was just the second or thrid salvo in a string of innovations that Roy had in mind...including the Yellowjacket persona which was coming next issue.  I must admit, the artwork of the unmasked heroes left a lot to be desired. In fact, without some additional clues, you can't tell Hank from Clint to Steve. If the hair hadn't been colored, we wouldn't know which was which blonde.  (It might also go to tell you that there was a chance that Hawkeye was being positioned to be revealed as Steve's love child someday... but that has not happened yet.)

 

As far as the New Avengers of 1964... the letters pages tell the tale. Fans objected to these pretenders, calling them Cap's Kookie Quartet, and it wasn't for at least a year before Giant-Man (Goliath) returns that the calls for the original Avengers began to subside.  But then there were some drama stories that had errupted as the newcomers got their sea legs. In particular, Cap gives up and tries to leave the team twice...and applies to SHEILD.  And when Kang returns for a two parter that establishs his supporting cast, it's really all too much. 

Fans criticized the new avengers as being lightweights...no real power.  No Thor, No Iron Man...and as a result, they were clever, and had to learn to work as a team,  and earn respect for one another... but the continuing drama of the black widow was a true annoyance.  As every issue seemed to involve Power Man, Swordsman and the black widow, they were forming the same sort of boring evil team that had plagued the X-men (Brotherhood) and the early Avengers (Masters of Evil).  It became somewhat clear that Stan was either distracted, or not paying attention... until the anti racism story of the Serpent Squad arrived.  And if I recall, that was just about the end of stan's stories. Roy takes over and brings in Hercules and the power question is resolved.

But it was at least two years before the fans really accepted this new line-up of the Avengers.  Again, the reactions are in the letter's pages.

Kirk G:

"the artwork of the unmasked heroes left a lot to be desired. In fact, without some additional clues, you can't tell Hank from Clint to Steve. If the hair hadn't been colored, we wouldn't know which was which blonde."

At another board, I had some people arguing with me about this, but this is EXACTLY what i was talking about when I said, in retrospect, that John Buscema should never have taken over from Don Heck.  Dn had been doing the book for so long, he made those character who they were, and you never got confused as to who was who, even when theywere out of costume. Then in comes John Buscema, and not only are the faces different, the body language is completely different, so they don't LOOK the same, and they don't "ACT" the same. (It gets worse when Roy's having an off day and they all start to SOUND like Roy, which can be even more annoying than those times when all the characters in a story start to sound like STAN.)

To me, all Don Heck needed was a DAMNED GOOD INKER. I forget, did we ever get to see Heck-Klein? I bet that would have looked good.  Wally Wood, John Romita, Frank Giacoia, Syd Shores, Tom Palmer, any one of these guys did fabulous work over Don in the 60's.  (For many years I hated Don's inks, but when I re-read his entire SUSPENSE run of IRON MAN, most in the original printing, which makes a HUGE difference, I was susprised by just how inconsistent he was.  Some months he was average. Some, awful. But some... INCREDIBLE.  I had to put it down to varying deadlines. But in general, on a sci-fi or superhero book, and a team book in particular, Don needed "slick". And you just weren't getting that from Don, Dick Ayers, George Roussos, Vince Colletta, etc.)

"(It might also go to tell you that there was a chance that Hawkeye was being positioned to be revealed as Steve's love child someday... but that has not happened yet.)"

What's funny about this is,,, when you consider how old each othem REALLY was... it WAS a possibility! (Especially if Peggy Carter was the mother... she DID have amnesia for decades, who knows what she might have forgotten?)

There's one long narrow pannel in particular that I'm thinking of that shows this problem.  I think it may be as the Avengers accept the Vision into their membership, but I'm not sure.  Clint, Hank and Steve are all shown, with only their heads appearing in the shot (or head and shoulders) with their cowls pulled down, drapped around their neck.

When this pannel appeared in print, I remember thinking how much alike all three men looked... and how I had never noticed that Hank's hair was orange, as it had been tinted.  Years later, seeing the same page original artwork (probably in the back of the right Avengers Masterwork volume) there's a clear note to the inker to shade that hair more orange, particularly to address this problem.  You can't judge who's who in black and white, and the cowls drapped around their shoulders didn't help.  When this was reprinted in the black and white Essential Avengers, the problem was even worse!

Wish I had a way to reproduce that panel so that you all could see the problem.  It totally derailed the moment, and took you out of the story, as you had to figure out who was who and why they were saying whatever they were saying.  It's probably on the next to last page of #58, "Even an Android can Cry".

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