After following the forum for a Big Month for Marvel Comics, and looking at the link for Mike's Kang Time Platform to see month by month what was on sale, I've noticed something that may have been obvious to others.

 

First, the sequencing of the first few Avengers stories clearly sets up and leads to the classic FF 25-26 Hulk vs. Thing fight and then the Avengers take-over.  Elsewhere, someone has suggested that between the two titles, the story continues through four issues, following the hunt for the Hulk...

 

But flipping month by month afterwards, I was struck by the number of guest appearances that Namor makes in other marvel titles.  After showing up in Avengers #3 where he turns the Hulk, he appears in X-men, DD, FF # 27 & 33, Thor, Strange Tales...

 

In fact, the Sub-mariner appears on the cover virtually every other month in some form or another from September 1963 through December 1964.  It's amazing how much exposure he got.

(And we thought Stan was pushing Captain America when he appeared in Strange Tales, Iron Man (tales of Suspence), Avengers #4, and then in his own strip in Tales of Suspense!  Those frequent appearances are nothing compared to Subby's promotional schedule and dance card!

Has anyone else noticed this before?

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Yeah, Namor was all over the place, even moreso than Cap for awhile.  Subby starts off in the modern MU as an FF antagonist and then branches out to other titles, and eventually got his own strip in Tales to Astonish.  I think it was always in the back of their minds that Namor, Cap, and the Torch were big successes in the Golden Age, and they tried to re-create that success.  The Torch not only got his own strip in Strange Tales, in the pages of FF, he often saved the day, his powers kept expanding, and he got the girl and had the cool cars.

Namor may not have enjoyed Cap's level of success in the modern MU but I would argue he eclipsed Johnny Storm's solo efforts.

Oh yeah, I'll give you that.  I recently looked at the Human Torch stories in Strange Tales, and they definitely go through several phazes.  At least the first half are all solo or individual stories set against the backdrop of the FF's home life.

But in the final year, it's very much a Johnny and Ben team-up series.

I hadn't thought of Stan's efforts to bring the golden age heroes into the modern world as an agenda. Other than introducing Cap...in Avengers #4....and Submariner in FF #4... and I guess the Human torch didn't get formally introduced into the MU again until WestCoast Avengers #50...despite Submariner #14... but Johnny held that place pretty well until FF Annual #4.

I just never realized there was such a coordinated effort to keep Namor in the public eye...and Cap's imitators we're pretty obvious, when they were preparin to bring him into the Avengers. (I've said before that I think Cap was planned from the get-go, just as the Hulk was planned to not-work out from issue #1...)

I think Stan liked using what resources he had rather than trying to make up new characters that were fresh and not appear derivative of what DC already had in place. So trying to make stars out of earlier big stars made sense, even if one was incredibly close to being Aquaman..

Likewise with the Hulk, who was appearing pretty regularly after his series failed. That indicates Stan thought he could make these guys popular despite sales figures to the contrary if he could just get them out there enough. Of course, as the Hulk showed in the Avengers movie, being a supporting star makes it easier for audiences to take than if they are the one big star.

It's really surprising he tried so hard with Namor, but it paid off. I never understood it myself, but then I was never a big fan of the split books or of Namor or the Hulk, so TTA was about my least favorite comic.

No doubt Johnny got a partner in ST to try to boost sales, because certainly the interplay between Ben and Johnny was a major part of Johnny's appeal. I'm not sure whether the changes resulted from Johnny not being capable of being the star or of the goofy approach they took to his stories. They truly deserved to be in a comic called Strange Tales.

-- MSA

Although the mythology of the fourth issue in Marvel's silver age is very well known and documented...(Avengers #4 -Cap, FF #4 - Subby, She-Hulk #4 - Blonde Phantom)... I've just noticed that it might also extend to FF Annual #4 (human torch), and if you squint a little, Sub-Mariner # 14 -Toro/Human Torch....  [Well, at least it had a four in it, right?]


I wonder how many other examples we could come up with if we tried looking at all the fourth issues or multiples of four, 14, 24, 34, etc?   Have I missed any?

My guess is it was Stan's way of paying tribute to SHOWCASE # 4, without which the Marvel Age never would've happened.

I was struck by the number of guest appearances that Namor makes in other marvel titles.  After showing up in Avengers #3 where he turns the Hulk, he appears in X-men, DD, FF # 27 & 33, Thor, Strange Tales...

And lest we forget, he was in Avengers #4 as well - featured on the cover no less - having discovered the Cap-cicle being worshiped by Eskimos.

I actually used to like the Submariner - that is until he got his own series.

Andy

Andrew, that's so odd.  Namor is portrayed and drawn so differently in every different series he guest-star in.

It wasn't until Gene Colan took him on in Tales to Astonish and the Quest, plus the pursuit of Kang the Conquerer, that I really really dug him.  (Of course, guestaring as a hero/gueststar in FF #33 wasn't bad either, considering that I missed #9, 14, 27 and most of the other villainous appearances).

About the time that we see him casting about for a direction, after "Uneasy hangs the head", that I loose interest.

As I recall, the very first Submariner book I saw actually on the spinner rack was a two parter where Attuma finds an outer space robot that somebody dropped in the ocean, and then (much like Infant Terrible ) Mommie or Daddy comes to claim the bad child and resolve the power imbalance...  What ever issue that was, that was the beginning of the end for me.... though I continued to buy his mag all the way up to the Dr. Doom/Amesia thing with his father, Capt. McKensie in the 40s...

This interesting coincidence makes me wonder how well Aquaman was doing at the time. Perhaps Marvel saw he was selling well for DC and tried to push their own aquaman.

Mr. Silver Age:

"Likewise with the Hulk, who was appearing pretty regularly after his series failed."

This is a long-standing myth that should be put down right now. The HULK was not cancelled due to poor sales, but because Jack Kirby got really angry at Stan second-guessing the series repeatedly. At one point, midway theu issue #6, Jack reportedly TORE SEVERAL PAGES of art in half and stormed out of the office. Presmably, because the book was already on the printer's schedule, they still needed a 6th issue, so Stve Ditko was brought in to do it. Steve had not really proven himself doing a superhereo book yet, which is why the book was cancelled. The "positive spin" given was that the resources doing the book were shifted around to do some other project. Funny enough, after Ditko had "proven" himself with SPIDER-MAN, he was the one tapped to revive The Hulk series, for TALES TO ASTONISH, after Jack had used him in the early issues of THE AVENGERS.

I find it odd that the original Hulk series was bi-monthly, and yet, just as it hit the one-year mark, it was canned.  Wasn't the replacement book Sgt. Fury?  or was it Spider-man?

I guess with limited access to printing only 8 books through National's distribution chain, they had a creative way to squeeze more heroes out there, but it still seems odd to me that books were initially put on a bi-monthly basis for their first year or so.

How many books was this true of?  Hulk?  Avengers?  X-men?  DD?  even Spidey?  The split books were all monthly, as was Thor and the FF.  I wonder if that signals a lack of confidence in some concepts?  I know Martin Goodman was notorious for telling Stan to do something or cancel something, just on the basis of a conversation with the competition or some slight sales figures.  It was all numbers for him, and not content, as I think Stan was concern with as Editor in Chief.

Kirk G:

"It wasn't until Gene Colan took him on in Tales to Astonish and the Quest, plus the pursuit of Kang the Conquerer, that I really really dug him.  (Of course, guestaring as a hero/gueststar in FF #33 wasn't bad either, considering that I missed #9, 14, 27 and most of the other villainous appearances).

About the time that we see him casting about for a direction, after "Uneasy hangs the head", that I loose interest.

As I recall, the very first Submariner book I saw actually on the spinner rack was a two parter where Attuma finds an outer space robot that somebody dropped in the ocean, and then (much like Infant Terrible ) Mommie or Daddy comes to claim the bad child and resolve the power imbalance...  What ever issue that was, that was the beginning of the end for me.... though I continued to buy his mag all the way up to the Dr. Doom/Amesia thing with his father, Capt. McKensie in the 40s..."

My first exposure to Sub-Mariner (please note spelling & hyphenation) was the FF cartoon based on FF #33, where he was called "Triton", and voiced by Mike Road ("Race Bannon" from JONNY QUEST).

My first exposure to the REAL Sub-Mariner was the reprint of FF #6, "Captives of the Deadly Duo", in FF ANUAL #3. To this day, I still think of that as the highlight of the Kirby-era Subby.  He's such a complex character! Laughing and swimming with dolphins, lamenting the disappearance of his people, mooning over Sue Storm, and taken in by Dr. Doom. That's a plot point that should NEVER have been tried again after this story. Anyway, you never knew if he was a good guy or bad guy.

Later, my first exposure to Gene Colan was the reprints in IRON MAN ANNUAL #1, the 3-part Iron Man-Subby fight. What an overblown egomaniac he was in there!!! I didn't realize that Gene wasn't drawing Namor right at all in those stories for some time. Still, I suppose his version was a LOT more palatble than the twisted, distorted one seen during WW2 when Bil Everett was in the service and his replacements gave Namor a triangle-shaped head. What the hell were they thinking?

I think my first exposure to Bill Everett may have been the reprint in Jules Feiffer's THE GREAT COMIC BOOK HEROES, where Namor invades Manhattan. Talk about a BAD ATTITUDE!!! This guy is the "hero"????? I still laugh about that one.

As it happens, the story with Attuma and the space robot was one by Bill Everett, in TALES TO ASTONISH #88-89. It's all too obvious to me now that Everett was writing his own stories (even though he wasn't being credited for them-- or paid either, most likely).

I started buying Subby's book, as it happens, shortly after Everett passed away. Some of them weren't too horrible... but it's clear the book was on the way down. Roy Thomas' editorial efforts to save it only made things worse, really, which should have been predictable, since Thomas and Conway really ran the book into the ground over the course of 49 issues.

It was only about 10 years ago that I finally got to see Bill Everett's 1972 run on his own character.  WOW!!! Someone in one of the letters pages summed it up for me. "After 49 unreadable issues, the book finally got good." Opinions were very divided, of course, as Everett's work in 1972 went completely against-the-grain of everything else Marvel was publishing at the time.  But to me, that was a GOOD thing! The real shame is that he wasn't "allowed" to take back his book until after Roy & Gerry had already destroyed it, and sales were probably plummetting, so the feeling was probably, "At this point, what can it hurt?"

That's an interesting take.  I have only ever heard that the book was cancelled due to low sales.  Do you have anything to corroborate this?
 
Henry R. Kujawa said:

 

This is a long-standing myth that should be put down right now. The HULK was not cancelled due to poor sales, but because Jack Kirby got really angry at Stan second-guessing the series repeatedly. At one point, midway theu issue #6, Jack reportedly TORE SEVERAL PAGES of art in half and stormed out of the office. Presmably, because the book was already on the printer's schedule, they still needed a 6th issue, so Stve Ditko was brought in to do it. Steve had not really proven himself doing a superhereo book yet, which is why the book was cancelled. The "positive spin" given was that the resources doing the book were shifted around to do some other project. Funny enough, after Ditko had "proven" himself with SPIDER-MAN, he was the one tapped to revive The Hulk series, for TALES TO ASTONISH, after Jack had used him in the early issues of THE AVENGERS.

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