The Atom and Silver Age Pre Super-Hero Era
In the last 4 years, there has been a renewed interest in the Atlas/Marvel “Big Monster Books” along with the DC Horror and Sci-Fi titles. While certain issues within these runs have always been popular books if not keys, the first issues of these titles are somewhat overlooked by the general collecting public. Going to take a closer look at these titles as well as their evolution into the Super-Hero Silver Age.In my opinion all of these first issues are Keys and investment worthy. They are an integral part of comic history and should continue to see an upward trend in pricing.
Amazing Adventures #1 : June 1961, Atlas Comics
Considered the 1st Marvel Age Super-Hero book as it sports the first appearance of Doctor Droom (5 months before Fantastic Four #1), Amazing Adventures 1 was also the series that brought us the debut of Spider-Man.
Originally titled Amazing Adventures, lasting 6 issues before changing the title to Amazing Adult Fantasy, hoping to gain more attention on the newsstands. Once confirmed that the title was canceled, the final issue 15, hit the shelves simply as Amazing Fantasy featuring the now classic Spidey cover.
Though mainly Big Monster Stories and other Horror/Suspense stories in the tradition of Journey into Mystery, Strange Tales, Tales of Suspense and Tales to Astonish, Amazing Adult Fantasy #14 did have a Professor X prototype.
House of Mystery #1 : December 1951, DC Comics
Due to the Comic Code being introduced in 1954, House of Mystery shifted over into a Sci-Fi comic and regularly featured the Martian Manhunter for about a year.
Towards the end of the 1960’s DC shifted back to the comic’s roots, introducing the Biblical figure Cain and focusing on horror stories again with issue #168.
The only other notable appearance in the run would be the introduction of I-Vampire(Issue #290) shortly before the series ended in the 1980’s.
It should also be noted that the House of Mystery was also featured in Gaiman’s “The Dreaming” by Vertigo.
House of Secrets #1 : November 1956, DC Comics
Some pretty well known characters were introduced in the series, such as Eclipso in issue #61 and of course Swamp thing in issue #92.
Starting with issue 81 House of Secrets shifted over to a mystery format and introduced Abel as the narrator for the comic. Much like Cain for House of Mystery and The Crypt Keeper and the Old Witch from the earlier EC titles, Abel would be the host of the comic.
Outside of the Intro of Swamp thing(Issue #92), the most notable contributions from this series are the fantastic covers by Bernie Wrightson such as issues #100, 103 and 107.
Journey Into Mystery #1 : June 1952, Atlas
For the first 82 issues JIM was a mix of Mystery and Horror stories. Starting with Issue #83 it became the showcase for another new Marvel Hero: Thor.
Along with Thor, we also saw the introduction of many other Marvel mainstays such as Loki, Odin, Enchantress and Hercules. We also got to see some great battle stories such as Thor vs Magneto and Thor vs Hulk.
Journey into Mystery ran 125 issues before finally changing the title, but continuing the numbering with Thor #126.
My Greatest Adventure #1 : January 1955, DC Comics
Running a full 79 issues before debuting a new team, The Doom Patrol in issue 80. The success of this team lead to the title shifting over to The Doom Patrol with issue #86 and running until issue #124.
One other issue of note would be issue #99 when we are introduced to Changeling, who would later become Beast Boy of The Teen Titans fame.
Mystery in Space #1 : April 1951, DC Comics
Another of DC’s attempts to combat EC’s comic lines, this time a quick response to the release of Weird Fantasy which was somewhat Sci-Fi based. Mystery in Space was a comic that gave its readers lots of Sci Fi action and took many looks at nuclear power and safety(Which was somewhat ahead of the times.)
Starting with issue #53 it also became the home for Adam Strange who had previously been introduced in DC’s try out series Showcase.
Running a respectable 110 issues, the series finally ended in September of 1966 to make room for the ever growing stable of Super-Hero titles that DC was pumping out.
Strange Adventures #1 : August 1950, DC Comics
White introducing characters such as Captain Comet and Atomic Knights, this series is best known for bringing us Animal Man in issue #180 and then Deadman in Issue 205.
While Animal Man was somewhat a flop at the time, Deadman by Infantino was a hit and starting with issue 206 Neal Adams took over art duties for the title.
Strange Tales #1 : June 1951, Atlas
Throughout the run the comic quickly adapted into a “Big Monster Book” introducing us to characters like Fin Fang Foom and a lot of prototypes for characters such as Iron Man, Professor X, Giant Man, Ant Man and Dr Strange.
With issue #101, Strange tales shifted over to a Super-Hero comic starring The Human Torch until issue #110 when Dr Strange was debuted. Shortly after Dr Strange and The Human Torch would share the title until issue #135 when Nick Fury was introduced. From that point on Fury and Strange shared the title until finishing out with issue #168.
The title would be revived shortly in the 70s introducing Brother Voodoo and then becoming a Warlock title for a few issues before being canceled again.
Tales of Suspense #1 : January 1959, Atlas
Solo Iron Man stories were featured while debuting some major characters like Black Widow, Hawkeye and Mandarin until issue 58 where Captain America crosses over to battle Iron Man. Starting with issue 59 we would see a double feature of Cap and Iron Man until the final issue (#99).
Captain America would go on into his own series, continuing the numbering with issue #100. Iron Man would get the one shot Iron Man & Sub Mariner before getting his own title starting with issue #1.
Tales of the Unexpected #1 : February 1956, DC Comics
Sticking to the same format until issue #40 when Space Ranger was brought over from Showcase and planted in TOTU turning the title into a Superhero book. This lasted up until issue 82 when the title went back to a Sci-Fi comic with no superheroes and ran up to issue 104 when it was retitled The Unexpected and shifted again to a Mystery/Horror and Sci Fi comic with issue 105.
Running as The Unexpected from issue 105 all the way into the early 1980s ending with issue 222. Some of the early issues from this retitled run feature outstanding Bernie Wrightson art, such as issues 116 & 128.
Tales to Astonish #1 : January 1959, Atlas
Though another showcase for the Monsters of Kirby, Ditko and Stan Lee(most notably #13 with Groot!), Tales to Astonish hit the superhero mark a few issues before Tales of Suspense(both released the same month) debuting Ant Man in issue #27 and returning to Ant Man(in costume) with issue #35 and running up to #58 while introducing The Wasp in Issue #44. Ant Man becomes Giant Man in #49.
Starting with Issue #59 The Hulk (about a year after his 6 issue series ended) would share the title with Giant Man which continued until issue #70 when Giant Man was replaced by Sub Mariner.
The series would run up to issue #101 then shift to the Hulk with #102. As with Iron Man, Sub Mariner would star in Iron Man & Sub Mariner before getting his own #1 issue shortly after.