ISSUE #78: MONSTER MASH

 

Welcome back to Cover Tunes, fellow hunters. As we approach Halloween, I continue my dive into the horror and monster titles across comics. Last week, we hit on part 1 of swamp monsters and the second part is ready to go. I know I promised it for this week, but I got sidetracked by a different set of books which you will soon see. Plus, it’s probably better to wait a week to present it so as to avoid overkill. Thus, instead, this week I thought I’d get into something I’ve avoided for some time and that is Silver Age Marvel Monsters.

Simply said, I’ve avoided them because they are not “Cover-Tunes-Cheap.” However, they are cheap in the grand scheme of what they are and when they’re from. At the moment, most people don’t consider them to be keys, but more and more, people are beginning to take notice of these issues and the reasons are two-fold. First, many of the issues serve as clear prototypes for eventual mainstream Marvel characters. Secondly, Marvel has something “monster” up their sleeve and people are spec’ing on which monsters those might be, including these Silver Age jobbies. All of these are the issues that come right before the really, REALLY famous issues where some big superhero gets introduced.

DISCLAIMER: These issues are rather rare AND they are going to run you at least $50-$100 if you can even actually find them. In my opinion, that is extremely inexpensive for what amounts to pretty rare 2nd level keys. Of course, like anything from the Silver Age, higher grades will run you exponentially more, but in low-to-mid grades, these are VERY attainable.

To be fair, many of these Silver Age Marvel Monsters are pretty similar to each other. Stan Lee, Ditko and Kirby were definitely fishing in very creative waters during this time, but there definitely was some thrashing about in those waters until finalized versions of some of their most iconic characters would be settled on. There is a metric ton of these amazing books (with equally amazing covers) during the early years of Marvel. Inasmuch, a second one of these articles is probably forthcoming. But for now, I’ll just highlight a few of my absolute favorites. Here we go…    

   

Amazing Adult Fantasy #13 (1961 Series)

PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – June, 1962

ARTIST: Steve Ditko

 

Man, do I love this cover. It is probably my overall favorite from this Marvel era. All art by Ditko, all writing by Stan Lee. That ought to be enough right there, right? Well, from a value perspective, it definitely isn’t. Copies of this pop up for under a hundred pretty often and it is a brilliant Ditko with an amazing backdrop, really cool line work that is uniquely Ditko. There is fantastic action and excellent layout. Quite simply, this is a classic cover that stands out amongst a sea of similar treatments.  

 

Tales to Astonish #21 (1959 Series)

PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – July, 1961

ARTIST: Jack Kirby/Dick Ayers

 

Eyes! Creepy eyes do it for me every time. This series is a little different than the others in this week’s column in that a couple of mainstream characters came out of this series during its early Silver run: Groot and Ant Man. However, there were plenty of other great ones and this is my favorite. These pre-superhero Silver Age titles had some great names for monsters… Titano, Gorgilla, It, Thing, Hulk (not that Hulk), The Blip, Groot (yes, that Groot), Mummex, Droom, Monstrum (not that Monstrum), The Monster in the Iron Mask, Krang (not that Krang), Thorr, Rommbu, Vandoom’s Creature, X, Trull, Moomba, Creature from Krogarr… you get the idea. You can’t make that stuff up… well, I guess you can, actually, as long as you’re Stan Lee.

 

Tales of Suspense #31 (1959 Series)

PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – July, 1962

ARTIST: Jack Kirby/Dick Ayers

 

Um… WHY IN THE WORLD IS THIS NOT WORTH MORE!!!!! This is CLEARLY a prototype for Dr. Doom. it is a Stan Lee story, it is a Kirby book, yet it can be gotten for less than $100 fairly regularly. I got one pretty recently for $65. This cover is amazing and, in my opinion, far more classic looking than Doom’s “first appearance” in Fantastic Four #5. How this hasn’t been latched on to more by the collector community is beyond me. With a new Doom book on the shelves and the Fantastic Four poised to hit the big screen, soon, this could end up being a HUGE sleeper.  

 

Journey Into Mystery #66 (1952 Series)

PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – March, 1961

ARTIST: Jack Kirby/Dick Ayers

 

Yeah, so not THAT Hulk? Maybe? Maybe not… The first appearance of this particular Hulk is in JIM#62, but this one is a WAYYYYY better cover and the #62 actually goes for a fair amount. Obviously the prototype for the eventual real Hulk (he’s even grey which Hulk of course was in his first solo issue prior to turning green), this is one of the most obvious early incarnations of later Marvel “Blue Chip” characters. With a classic Kirby feel and very Silver Age color palette, I am in love with this book.

 

Strange Tales #74 (1951 Series)

PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – April, 1960

ARTIST: Jack Kirby/Dick Ayers

 

Such a cool character and perhaps the impetus for the later Gargoyles or perhaps the Gorgon, I just love the stance and presentation of this cover. In many ways, it has the cookie-cutter layout of many of the other similar books, but the character design is really clever and iconic-looking. Not a lot else to say about this one other than that it stood out to me as bold and unique.  

 

Strange Tales #87 (1951 Series)

PUBLISHED: Marvel Comics – August, 1961

ARTIST: Jack Kirby/Dick Ayers

 

Grogg! Uhhh… don’t you mean Fin Fang Foom (who would appear on an almost identical cover just literally two issues later (#89) in this very series). A wicked cover who is clearly the prototype for FFF. I am a sucker for Silver Age fire and dragon-ish characters. I can’t help it.

 

*****

 

Next week, part 2 of swamp monsters (and maybe a surprise or two). The week after and just in time for Halloween, Bronze Age DC horror. Sooooo, lots of cool horror and monsters are incoming. Please, leave a comment and let me know your thoughts.

Until next time, thanks for reading, be well and happy hunting.

 

5 comments

  • Avatar

    I love Grogg cover. Fing Fang Foom is a book I have been looking out for, but Grogg will sufice for now.
    I always love the monster names in the Silver Age. They feel like they opened up some tupaware and liked the sound it made.

  • Avatar

    Some great choices Mike. I’ve tried getting a few of these in auctions but haven’t been able to snag any yet. My fave is the Ditko cover on AAF 13.

  • Ben C

    Love it Mike! 10000% on the Doom proto. The Hulk and Iron Man, Magneto, Dr Strange and a couple others I see but it is what it is, the Doom one is real close and right there on the cover, could be a scorcher down the road!

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