Discussion on another thread that mentioned Mike's Amazing World of Comics prompted me to take a look to see if I could pinpoint exactly when my comic book addiction began in the 1960s. Sure enough, I was able to narrow it down to May and June of 1963. The first three comics I remember buying were Action Comics # 303, Detective Comics #317 and Superman #163.
I had seen some comics in the children's ward when I was hospitalized in second grade and began looking to buy my own when I got out. I remember staying exclusively with Superman and Batman titles, which came to include Justice League of America. From there I sampled some of the individual titles of the JLA membership, but none of them clicked with me for more than a few issues. I did like the Brave and the Bold team-ups and Metamorpho was a favorite, but the Schwartz titles seemed too "mature" for my young tastes.
A couple of years later, when I was home sick with chickenpox, my wonderful mother brought me a stack of used comics she had found at a second-hand store. They were all Marvel comics. I didn't know the characters and wasn't much interested, but, having nothing else to do, I read them. I became a Marvel fan and abandoned DC until sometime in the 1970s.
Fortunately, I've been able to catch up with a lot of what I missed with the DC Showcase Presents reprints. I also was fortunate to discover the Ask Mr. Silver Age column in CBG that helped me "interpret" those stories in an entertaining manner. I still miss that monthly dose of mirth.
So, what's your Silver Age beginnings story?
Thanks Steve W that's very interesting info I didn't previously know.
That probably explains why I didn't see a copy of Fantastic Four until late 1963 and maybe another year before more Marvel comics started to appear regularly. I bought a Daredevil #1 and Avengers #1 off the rack on the same day and was pretty much converted to Marvel overnight. ( I don't have them today, I sold my collection of about 200 silver age Marvels for what was a then very good price in the early 70's)
Before that day I was a comic reader, Stan, Jack and Steve D turned me into a collector! The only DC I continued to buy was Doom Patrol. Most opinion seems to be that DP and X-men where similar but I always thought DP was closer to FF. Each book had characters that remain my favourites to this day - Ben Grimm and Cliff Steele. Not surprising really as they are almost the same guy. Test pilot/ racing car driver transformed by a scientific genius into "monsters". Angry and resentful at first they became the heart of their teams. They were even the same colour!!
I quit comics in the early 70's and then took them up again in the mid 90's but that's maybe a topic for a different discussion.
Steve W said:
I think @MethodEng that there was no "sale or return" policy in the UK, in those early days of importing US comics. UK importer T & P would import all the SOR's from the US, approx 9 months after the cover date. The vendors would purchase the comics at knock down prices from T & P (or via a wholesaler) but with no option to return them if they didn't sell. Some comics remained on the spinners for years and years. Eventually the retailer would bundle up all the "no sales" and sell them in bulk to 'residual' sellers who would offer them to fans in second-hand goods type shops at knock down prices. I once went to such a shop and bought about 30 comics for 2 pence each. I recall that there was a copy of FF#1 there, but I passed on it as I wasn't a big FF fan. How stupid was that? That was a good way to ignore an opportunity to make $50,000!!
Most opinion seems to be that DP and X-men where similar but I always thought DP was closer to FF. Each book had characters that remain my favourites to this day - Ben Grimm and Cliff Steele. Not surprising really as they are almost the same guy. Test pilot/ racing car driver transformed by a scientific genius into "monsters". Angry and resentful at first they became the heart of their teams. They were even the same colour!!
I've heard others recently saying that the Doom Patrol was more like the FF, and I tend to agree. The X-Men are generally born with their powers either dormant or already manifested. Both the FF and the DP members had their powers forced on them by accident. The only similarity between the X-Men and the DP were their leaders being in wheelchairs, which I think was seized upon by fans as making them the same.
The Doom Patrol is particularly like the early FF. Their featured started the same month as Fantastic Four #16.
Some of their similarities to the X-Men are due to their also being modelled after the FF. That's clearly the case with their use of team costumes and squabbling.
But they have resemblances that go beyond that, and beyond coincidence, I think. Both groups were teams of strange heroes.(1) The Doom Patrollers called themselves freaks, and the X-Men were mutants, which is to say freaks.(2) Both teams were led by a man in a wheelchair, whose disability was in contrast to the power of his brain.
Brian Cronin reports a story here that the X-Men were created because Martin Goodman tasked Stan Lee with creating another FF and Spider-Man. If Lee had heard DC was going to do an imitation of Fantastic Four he may have seen himself as in competition with what DC was going to do.
The freak natures of the two teams may have originated as an extension of an element felt to be present in Fantastic Four,(3) much as the X-Men were super-powered teens like the Human Torch and Spider-Man.
I have a theory Arnold Drake based the Chief on James Robertson Justice, who often played arrogant, intelligent men. He played a man in a wheelchair in Murder, She Said (1961), an adaptation of Agatha Christie's 4.50 from Paddington.
(1) The Doom Patrol were called "the world's strangest heroes" on their first cover. The X-Men were billed as "The strangest super-heroes of all!"
(2) The Patrollers felt cut off from normal society, although they were soon portrayed as celebrities, like the FF. The X-Men saw themselves as set apart by their mutant nature, but that theme wasn't as strongly present in the first issue as later.
(3) Fantastic Four had one tragic hero, the Thing; "The Doom Patrol" had three, since Rita lost her career and faced the prospect of an early death.
The original Doom Patrol series certainly had perhaps the most dramatic ending of any Silver Age comic, with the entire team sacrificing itself to save others (or at least that's how it seemed at the time and, to my knowledge, it was over a decade before 3 of the members were shown to have survived). I didn't really become aware of the Doom Patrol until sometime in the 1980s, and didn't read Grant Morrison's run until about a decade ago.
Somehow they managed to bring all of the DP back except Rita Farr. Kinda sexist.
I've read the Paul Kupperberg run, after Robin Olsen brought it to my attention. It was OK, but it all undercuts their sacrifice at the end of the original run.