Wednesday, March 14, 2018

They Might Be Giants! (1965) ~~ A "Comical Wednesday" Post!


Another snowstorm, one that dropped about two feet of that white shit crap on my area, but I managed to post this on Wednesday nonetheless!

So here we go again, fellow babies! This edition's focus is on the giant-sized comic books (or annuals) which hit the stands in 1965.

Well, mainly...

You may very well be wondering, whuzzup with the Giant Superman Annual #2, pictured above? That book came out all the way back in 1960!

Well, y'see, I estimate that it was in 1965 that I first saw that annual, which belonged to either my friend Jeff or my friend Kevin. Only his copy looked more like this:


That's right, no front cover! But plenty of great stories in it, nonetheless! It reprinted the first appearances of villains like Brainiac, Metallo, Bizarro, and -- I swear -- Titano, the Super Ape! And no, in case you're wondering, Titano did not wear a freakin' mask like Ace, the Bat-Hound did!

And there's another ultra-cool, giant-sized book that I missed, this one back in 1961... and why I'm even mentioning it will be apparent very, very soon, I promise.


Since 1961, DC has come out with a lot of Secret Origins annuals, series, one-shots, etc., but the first one I ever saw devoted to that theme was yet another issue of the 80 Page Giant series!


80 Page Giant #8 was the first of a terrific four-issue run.

That issue contained mostly cool stories, as I recall, except for (maybe) the Flash story, "The Origin of Flash's Masked Identity!" Back in the 1940s, y'see, the original (Golden Age) Flash, Jay Garrick, never wore a mask... and yet, no one ever realized that Jay and the Flash were the same guy! (Hey, it worked for Superman, right?) Well, in this particular story, the new (Silver Age) Flash, Barry Allen, daydreamed about how his life would be if he tried the maskless route. He ended up deciding it was a stupid idea. What a surprise.

So, now we're back to the real 1965. Or something.

I was still at the stage where I thought The Flash was one of the coolest superheroes ever, and 80 Page Giant #9 reprinted plenty of early appearances by members of Flash's Rogues Gallery, plus "Flash of Two Worlds" from The Flash #123, the landmark issue which established that the modern-day DC heroes (and villains) lived on an Earth called Earth-One, while DC characters from the Golden Age had existed on a different Earth, called Earth-Two (actually an entire universe)!


Actually, the so-called Earth-Two heroes came first, so their universe probably deserved to be called Earth-One instead. It gets complicated... and I'm barely scratching the surface, believe me!

DC and Marvel, which produced all of the giants and annuals that I'm gushing about in this series -- except for one, in my next installment -- seemed to enjoy re-publishing first appearances of certain characters, hero or villain origins, and the like. Both companies really knew what their audience wanted.

(Well, they knew I wanted, anyway. I can't speak for the rest of the country's comic book readers.)

Two examples of "re-publishing first appearances of certain characters, hero or villain origins, and the like" would be the reprinted debut of The Kryptonite Kid, as well as the story which told how a teenage Lex Luthor met Superboy and became his friend at first, only to end up as his greatest enemy.


And speaking of Lex Luthor, the next issue of 80 Page Giant featured several stories of the adult Lex Luthor against Superman... and in one case, Superboy.

How did that happen? Via time travel!


In a fairly well-told, effective story called "The Impossible Mission," Superboy decides to go back in time to prevent the assassination of none other than Abraham Lincoln. Purely by coincidence, Lex Luthor, who is an adult in "our" time (1960, when this story first appeared), is in Washington, D.C. on that very same day! Apparently, he'd traveled to 1865 just to hide from Superman. No, really.

Luthor spots Superboy, and assumes that Superman had sent his own younger self to capture him (Luthor). Lex luckily has some Red Kryptonite with him. "Red K" is a variation of plain ol' Green Kryptonite, which can kill Superman or Superboy. However, Red Kryptonite doesn't kill Superman/Superboy. Instead, it causes strange effects, transformations, etc. that last (in most stories) for forty-eight hours, but that period sometimes varied, depending on the writer of the individual stories!

In this instance, the "Red K" completely immobilizes Superboy, while Luthor stands there gloating. Suddenly, a commotion from nearby begins as news hits the streets that Lincoln has been shot. A tear runs down Superboy's face because he knows that he's failed in his mission. Luthor, hearing the uproar and seeing Superboy's reaction, realizes the real reason Superboy was in 1865. With an "I'm evil, but not that evil!" kind of attitude, the horrified Lex exits the room (and, presumably, leaves 1865 by whatever method he'd used to get there in the first place).

Whew! And all that just to teach Superboy that it was impossible to change what's already happened.

Now, on the Marvel Comics side of things...

The Mighty Thor had been introduced back in 1962, in a title called Journey into Mystery. The comic was later renamed The Mighty Thor, but as of 1965 J.I.M. still bore its original title. That's why the first annual featuring Thor was actually Journey into Mystery Annual #1.

This annual introduced Marvel's version of Hercules in an all-new story. And if that wasn't enough, it reprinted the first appearances of the Lava-Man (whom I'd first seen in The Avengers #5), the Radioactive Man (whom I'd first seen in The Avengers #6 as a member of The Masters of Evil), and last but not least, Thor's perennial nemesis, his scheming half-brother Loki!


It seems like every year brought us little Marvelites yet another superb annual or two or three, and 1965 was no exception. The third Fantastic Four Annual featured the wedding of Reed Richards ("Mister Fantastic") and Sue Storm, a/k/a "The Invisible Girl." And almost every Marvel hero appeared, and more villains than you could count tried to disrupt the proceedings. At this point, who needed reprints, you may well ask, but F.F. Annual #3 had those, as well!


For today's final selection: In 1965 "Mighty Marvel" gave us a brand new, slightly-more-than-double-sized comic. This was Marvel Collectors' Item Classics, which became an ongoing title. Its first issue contained extremely early stories of the F.F., Spider-Man, Ant-Man, and the "Tales of Asgard" feature which served as a back-up to Thor in Journey into Mystery.


Yep, I was pretty spoiled when it came to relatively recent stories from DC and Marvel being reprinted, but I had no real hopes of ever seeing anything from the supposed "Golden Age." It looked like those would be forever out of my reach.

Well... As it turned out, I didn't know everything!

Next week: 1966, another banner year! (Uhhh, no pun intended, Hulk fans!)

Thanks for your time.

17 comments:

  1. I remember the first one!
    I was really little :)

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  2. Gotta love time travel, can do so much with it. Seems giant menacing apes are a thing in comics. Had to do a whole thing about not wearing a mask to realize it was a dumb idea, hmm kinda up dumb to begin with. Then shine from Garrick's funky helmet must make people not see it is him.

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    1. DC had a "thing" about "gorilla covers" during the 1950s and 1960s! Rumor has it that someone high up (editorially speaking) believed that issues with a gorilla on the cover sold better, so... there you go. If you do a Google search for "gorilla cover" and "DC Comics" you'll find many, many articles about this odd syndrome.

      Sometime relatively recently (in the '70s, I believe), one of the DC writers stated that Jay kept his identity secret by "vibrating" his face ultra-quickly, blurring his features so people wouldn't recognize him as Jay Garrick. Yet there are stories from the Golden Age in which Flash's photo appears (on magazine covers or the like), and the photos aren't blurred, so... WTF?

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    2. Never knew gorilla covers sold better, or so they thought it.

      haha wtf indeed

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    3. I used to love the "gorilla covers" as a child, but I would have bought the comics regardless, as I wanted every comic book I could get my hands on!

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  3. I think .25 was a great deal for an 80 page comic book. What would be the equivalent today? Superboy, learned a valuable lesson. We cannot change what has happened. Yesterday is gone, tomorrow hasn't arrived and we live in today.

    Don't put your shovel away just yet, more snow is coming next week. The sun has decided to make an appearance today. I am hoping some of this will melt before the next downfall.

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    1. I'm not sure what they'd charge for an 80 page book today. I do know that comic prices have not increased at a rate commensurate with inflation. Relatively speaking, they're much more expensive than they used to be.

      Yeah, I heard about the upcoming snowstorm. We were spoiled by a relatively snow-free winter up until February!

      Your sentence "Yesterday is gone, tomorrow hasn't arrived and we live in today" reminds me of a quote from Dave Berg, who wrote and drew for Mad from 1957 until his death in 2002: "The past is dead, the present stinks, and even the future isn't what it used to be!"

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    2. Interesting tidbit regarding the Dave Berg quote. As, I was reading my mind was expecting the last part to say “the future isn’t what we would like to think’. Don’t ask me why my brain went that route?

      Snow is coming be ready!

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    3. Yeah, isn't it great? Spring's almost here (by the calendar, anyway) and we're getting one major snowstorm every week.

      By the way, True, how are you feeling? Kick that flu yet?

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    4. I am starting to feel a bit better. I had some complications from the flu, a month later I am still on the slow road to recovery.

      Thanks for asking...

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    5. Seems like it's taking forever. Hope you're better soon.

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  4. Another great post/trip down memory lane, Silver!

    I loved how those 80 Page DC Giants had themes. That, coupled with those great covers, esp. the Curt Swan Super covers, made the Giants seem extra-special, even if the stories themselves didn't always deliver.

    I also loved the "postcard" covers that Marvel used for books like Marvel Collectors' Item Classics and Marvel Tales. Though wouldn't you know it, the first MCIC I bought off the stands was #12--just when Marvel abandoned the postcard motif and instead had a "normal" full page cover. But no matter, at some point I was able to buy back issues of MCIC and eventually I amassed quite a few with my beloved postcard covers.

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    1. Postcard covers? A great way to label them. I also loved those covers on the earliest issues of MCIC, and Marvel Tales when it became an ongoing title with issue #3.

      I also loved the look of the earlier annuals (which should come as no surprise to anyone following this series), and I flipped when I saw the Swan/Anderson cover of Superman #423, the first part of Alan Moore's "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?"

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  5. Thor looks like someone I wouldn't want to upset. Quite the opposite, if you know what I mean. Smiles.

    Have a great weekend, Silver Fox.

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    Replies
    1. Yeahhhh, I think I know what you mean. Thor may have fit in well with your St. Patrick's Day scenarios, even though he's Norse, not Irish. But then again, there were Viking raiders who "visited" Ireland several times for about 200 years during (roughly) the ninth and tenth centuries, which I assume caused a lot of blood-mingling, so Thor's inclusion wouldn't be totally unfounded.

      As a child, I was really hooked on Marvel's Thor comics. I've always wondered if that could be the result of some sort of genetic memory -- I have an outlook similar to that of the nineteenth century on the subject! -- in my own Irish blood, which may be diluted a bit with some Viking ancestry.

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