I’ve read a lot of comics.  And especially a lot of Marvel comics.  I’ve done many features on titles and characters, following teams like The Fantastic Four and The Avengers all the way from the beginning into the 21st Century.  And recently, I got the idea of reading every Marvel comic in chronological order.  So, I’m revising all the posts I’ve done on all those books, and republishing them as a new series: Every Marvel Comic Ever Published!

Note: I’m NOT doing a “chronology of the Marvel Universe.”  There are already dozens of sites that try to put all these stories and comics in order.  I’m trying to catalog every book Marvel published since the Silver Age, and share interesting little factoids with you.  Like how many times Thing busts through a floor.  I’m also going to *try*  to read and share about every issue, but there are some books and some runs that, no, I just can’t.  Even as I start this journey, I honestly don’t know if I’ll make it.  But I’ll surely try….

Note 2: Many of these posts are updates of features I’ve already done; for the republished posts only, check here.

Grades.  I’ve graded the books…But how to grade comics?  How do you compare, for example, the wordy and sometimes plodding style of the Silver Age to a modern book that had a bigger budget?  Well, these are the factors I’m basing the grades on:
  • Overall quality compared to other books out during the same year
  • Significance to the Marvel Universe
  • Innovation (did it do something really different for its time)
  • Sentimental or “re-read” value (can you read it more than once and still love it?

Overall, it should about like this:

  • A is excellent, one of the best examples of the art form
  • B is above average, for one or more of the reasons above
  • C is average.  Not great, not terrible, not very memorable.
  • D is below average.  Bordering on bad, and should be read only by freakish completists like myself.
  • F is terrible.  Stay away.

1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968

1961

Although characters like Captain America and Submariner existed before 1961, this is really when it all began.  Over at DC, editor Julie Schwartz was redefining Golden Age heroes like Green Lantern and, in the pages of Showcase #4, bearing a July 1961 publication date, introduced “Flash of Two Worlds,” which broke the superhero genre wide open.  Over at Marvel, Stanley Lieber needed to do something new, and was floundering writing genre books.  Then, under the pen name “Stan Lee,” he teamed up with Jack Kirby to create The Fantastic Four.  What followed was a tsunami of creative activity, unparalleled by any entertainment company, ever, including Disney.

Find all 1961 posts here.

Comics Published in 1961 (with links to posts):
Fantastic Four #1 [Check out my reading of just about every F4 issue, ever, here]
Strange Tales #89 (First Appearance of Groot)

The 1961 Awards: 

  • Best Comic: Fantastic Four #1
  • Best Selling Marvel Title of the Year: Tales to Astonish (#40, according to Comichron)
  • Best Debut: It’s gotta be Thing, right?  Thing.

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1962

The year in which Marvel Comics explodes, introducing Thor and all the Asgardians, Spider-Man, tons of fabulous,timeless over-the-top villains like Dr. Doom, The Skrulls, and Doctor Octopus, Hulk, and so much more.

Find all 1962 posts here.

Issues published in 1962:

  • Amazing Adult Fantasy #14 (First appearance of “mutants”)
  • Amazing Fantasy #15 (First Spider-Man)
  • Fantastic Four: #2 (First Skrulls); 34 (First Silver Age appearance of Namor); 5 (First Doctor Doom); 6#7 (1st Impossible Man); #8 (1st Puppet Master); 9
  • Journey into Mystery: #83  (1st Thor); 84 (1st Loki); 858687
  • The Incredible Hulk:  #1234
  • Strange Tales: #101-102
  • Tales to Astonish: #27 (First appearance of Hank Pym); 35 (1st Ant-Man); 36-38

The 1962 Awards

  • Best Comic of 1962:Fantastic Four #5.  Runners up: Amazing Fantasy #15, Incredible Hulk #1, Fantastic Four #7
  • Best-selling Marvel Book of 1962: Modeling With Millie (#44).
  • Best Debut: Spider-Man.  Runners up: Doctor Doom, Hank Pym, Hulk, Thor, The Skrulls.

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1963

Marvel’s core characters were created in the prior year: Spidey, Hulk, Ant-Man, and Thor, as well as some terrific villains.  The Fantastic Four were developed and turned into a wellspring of Science Fiction genius.  So what next?  Well, for one thing, we’d only had one Spider-Man comic so far.  For another, no Iron Man yet.  No Dr. Strange.  And no team-up book.  1963 would fix all that…

Find all 1963 posts here.

Issues published in 1963:

  • The Amazing Spider-Man: #1 (Fantastic Four guest appearance); 2 (1st Vulture, 1st Tinkerer, 1st J. Jonah Jameson); 34 (1st Sandman); 56 (1st Lizard); 7 (1st web parachute).
  • The Avengers: #12.
  • Fantastic Four: #101112 (FF vs. Hulk, and, with Amazing Spidey #1, the start of the true “shared universe”); 13 (First Watcher and Red Ghost); 14 (Namor proposes to Susan Storm); 15 (1st Yancy St. Gang, Mad Thinker and Awesome Android); 16-17 (1st FF two-part story!); Fantastic Four Annual #1 (1st appearance of Atlantis), 18 (1st Super Skrull);19 (1st Rama Tut); 20 (1st Yancy St., 1st Molecule Man); 21 (first Nick Fury post-WW2).
  • Incredible Hulk: #56 (Final issue).
  • Journey Into Mystery: 88-9090-97.
  • Sgt Fury#1 (1st Nick Fury) *Note: This series is not covered in full because it is not fully integrated into the Marvel Universe.
  • Strange Tales: #105-109;110 (1st Dr. Strange); Strange Tales Annual #2 (1st time Spidey and Torch meet at Statue of Liberty), 111112-114 (Captain America teaser); 115 (origin of Dr. Strange); 116-119.
  • Tales to Astonish: #39-4344 (1st Wasp), 45-474849 (1st Giant-Man); 50.
  • Tales of Suspense: #39 (First Iron Man); 40-4445 (1st Happy Hogan and Pepper Potts); 46-4748.
  • The Uncanny X-Men: #12

The 1963 Awards: 

  • Best Comic of 1963: Fantastic Four #12.  Runners up: Tales of Suspense #39, Amazing Spider-Man #1, Fantastic Four #14
  • Best-Selling: Rawhide Kid (#24).  Comichron doesn’t rank issue sales, only title sales, at this point, and superheroes still hadn’t quite caught on.
  • Best Debut: The X-Men.  Runners up: The Watcher, Magneto, Awesome Android, Dr. Strange, The Wasp, Iron Man, Sandman…With so many incredible characters coming out, it’s impossible to pick just one.

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1964

By this time, Marvel has more than a dozen regular monthlies.  In terms of debuts for this year, it’s a little sparse.  Daredevil comes on board, and that’s about it.  Still, the sheer volume of titles I’m covering here (leaving out Westerns and books that barely count/matter as part of the Marvel Universe official history, like Sgt. Fury and Rawhide Kid) means soon I’ll have to start batching by title and stop listing each issue in order of chronological release date because, um, it’s too damn cumbersome.  But we’ll see.

Find all 1964 posts here.

Issues published in 1964:

  • The Amazing Spider-Man: #8 (Peter Parker stops wearing glasses); 9 (1st Electro); 1011-12 (Doc Ock unmasks Spider-Man); 13 (1st Mysterio); 14 (1st Green Goblin, Spidey fights Hulk); 15 (1st Kraven the Hunter); 16 (Spider-Man meets Daredevil for the first time); The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1 (1st Sinister Six); 1718-19
  • The Avengers: #34 (1st Silver age Captain America); 56 (1st Silver Age Baron Zemo, 1st Masters of Evil); 78 (1st Kang); 9 (1st Wonder Man); 1011
  • Daredevil: #1 (1st appearance of DD); 23 (1st Owl); 45 (1st Wally Wood issue)
  • The Fantastic Four: #22 (1st time Invisible Girl uses forcefields); 2425-26 (includes the Top 10 Hulk vs. Thing fights); 27Fantastic Four Annual #2 (origin of Dr. Doom); 282930 (1st Diablo); 31-32 (Sue and Johnny Storm’s father introduced, dies); 33
  • Journey into Mystery: #100101-102;103 (1st Executioner); 105-106 (2 part story, Hyde and Cobra team-up); 107108109110-111
  • Marvel Tales Annual #1 (reprints only)
  • Strange Tales: #116-119120121-123124-127 (1st Clea and Dormammu and Mindless Ones)
  • Tales to Astonish: #51-56 (1st Black Knight, 1st Tales of the Wasp); 57 (1st Wasp stinger); 585960-62 (Hulk gets a solo series, 1st Leader)
  • Tales of Suspense: #49 (1st Tales of the Watcher); 50 (First Mandarin); 51 (1st Scarecrow); 52 (1st Black Widow); 53545556 (1st Unicorn); 5758-60 (Captain America gets a solo series)
  • The Uncanny X-Men: #3 (1st Blob); 4 (1st Brotherhood of Evil Mutants); 567 (1st Cerebro, the mutant-finding computer); 8

The 1964 Awards

Best Single Issue: The Amazing Spider-Man #14.  Runners up: Fantastic Four Annual #2, The Amazing Spider-Man Annual #1, The X-Men #4.

Best multi-issue story: The Amazing Spider-Man #18-19.  Runners up: Journey Into Mystery 105-106, Fantastic Four #25-26, Strange Tales #124-127 (Dr. Strange story only).

Best Debut: Captain America and Daredevil (tie), because it wasn’t really Cap’s first appearance–just his first one in Marvel Universe continuity).  Other than that, it was a great year for villains, with Runners Up: Mysterio, Green Goblin, Mandarin, Black Widow, Executioner, and Kraven the Hunter.

Bestselling Marvel Book of the year: Action Comics was the bestselling title of 1964.  Marvel still didn’t report sales of its superhero books, so their best title was Strange Tales, which barely cracked the top 40, selling under a bunch of other DC books like The Atom and a ton of Archie and Gold Key titles.

1965

Find all 1965 posts here.

  • The Amazing Spider-Man: #20 (1st appearance of the Scorpion), 2122 (1st Masters of Menace, Princess Python, spider-tracer), 23, 2425 (1st appearance of Mary Jane Watson, but she is obscured, and 1st appearance of Spencer Smythe), 26-27  (1st Crime Master), 28 (1st Molten Man),  Annual #2 (Spider-Man meets Dr. Strange), 29, 3031-33 (1st Gwen Stacy, Harry Osborn, and Miles Warren; only #31 is a 1965 issue).
  • The Avengers: #1213 (1st Count Nefaria, 1st Maggia), 141516 (first lineup change, first appearance of Jarvis), 17, 18, 19-20 (1st Swordsman), 21-22 (Captain America quits), 23-24 (only #23 is from 1965).
  • Daredevil: #6 (1st Mr. Fear)7 (featuring Sub Mariner, the 24th best DD comic ever), 8, (highly influential issue, firstappearance of Stilt Man), 910-11  (1st appearance of the Organizer and the Ani-Men: Cat-Man, Ape-Man, Frog-Man, and Bird-Man).
  • The Fantastic Four: #3435 (1st Dragon Man), 36  (1st Madame Medusa and the Frightful Four), 3738Annual #3  (Sue and Reed get married), 39-40 (guest starring Daredevil), 41-4344 (1st Gorgon), 45-47 (1st appearances of the rest of the Inhumans; only #45 is from 1965).
  • Journey into Mystery: #112 (Hulk lifts Thor’s hammer!), 113, #114-115 (1st Absorbing Man), 116-119 (War of the Gods; 1st Destroyer, Norn Stones, Odinsleep, Hogun, Fandral, and Volstagg), 120-123 (Crusher Creel lifts Thor’s hammer!), Annual  #1  (1st Hercules).
  • Strange Tales: #128-131 (feat. The Beatles), 134135-138 (First appearance of Nick Fury in modern timeline, First appearance of Eternity (first appearance of a Marvel Cosmic Being)), 139.
  • Tales to Astonish: #63-6970-76 (Sub-Mariner and Hulk stories begin)
  • Tales of Suspense: #61-6263-64 (Black Widow gets her first costume; Lee/Kirby Captain America origin), 65 (1st Red Skull–but not the real one), 66-68 (1st appearance of the real Red Skull), 69-71 (first Titanium Man), 72.
  • The X-Men: #9 (vs. The Avengers), 10 (1st Ka-Zar and Savage Land), 11 (1st appearance of the Stranger), 12-13 (1st Juggernaut), 14-16 (1st Sentinels, Bolivar Trask; only #14 is from 1965)

Updates and Awards To come…

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1966

After several incredibly strong and imaginative years, 1966 was kind of a come down.  Marvel was getting bigger, most of its flagship titles were established, having been on the market for multiple years, and so this year seemed more about establishing a tone and brand than exploding outward with tons of new ideas.  In fact, there were many “standard” stories that seemed to be repeating, especially villains dressing up like heroes and other ways heroes’ masks made them susceptible to identify them.

Several “great” titles became mediocre—or worse—like X-Men, The Avengers and Dr. Strange.  Most notably, Steve Ditko and Stan Lee’s creative issues took a heavy toll on The Amazing Spider-Men.  On the other hand, others seemed to finally take off—like Thor, especially. 

We also saw a big change in style, as new artists like Gene Colan (who took over Sub Mariner and Daredevil) and John Romita Sr. (Spider-Man) began to redefine what others had begun.  And Roy Thomas wrote the first non-Stan Lee script.  It was terrible, but at least it was a change.  Oh, and Jim Steranko arrived to do finishing work over Jack Kirby’s Nick Fury stories in Strange Tales—it was nothing stellar, but next year Steranko would really make his mark when he got full artistic responsibility for the character.

Find all 1966 posts here.

  • Amazing Spider-Man Vol 1 32-33, 34, 35, 36 (1st Looter), 37, 38 (Steve Ditko’s last issue), 39-40 (Green Goblin unmasked; John Romita Sr.’s run begins),  Amazing Spider-Man Annual #3 (Spidey meets The Avengers for the first time), 41-42 (1st Rhino, Mary Jane Watson), 43 (Peter and MJ’s 1st date).
  • Avengers #24, 25, 26-29 (1st Collector, Hank Pym becomes Goliath), 30-31, 32-33 (1st Sons of the Serpent and Bill Foster), 34-35 (1st Living Laser).
  • Daredevil #12-14 (origin of Ka-Zar), 15, 16-17 (first DD/Spider-Man meeting, John Romita’s audition to become artist for The Amazing Spider-Man), 18-19 (1st Gladiator), 20-21 (Gene Colan’s run begins and I pay tribute to Irving Forbush), 22-23
  • Fantastic Four #46-47 (1st Inhumans), 48-50 (1st Silver Surfer, Galactus, Wyatt Wingfoot) , 51, 52-53 (1st Black Panther), 54, 55, 56, 57-63 (1st Blastaar, “Doomsday” epic)
  • Journey into Mystery #124-128 (vs. Hercules)
  • Strange Tales #140, 141-143, 144-147, 148-149, 150-152 (Jim Steranko joins as artist for Fury)
  • Tales of Suspense #73-74, 75-76 (1st Batroc the Leaper), 77-80  (crosses over with Tales to Astonish #81-83), 81-83 (1st Cosmic Cube), 84-86. 87-91
  • Tales to Astonish #77-80, 81-83 (crosses over with Tales of Suspense #79-80), 84-87
  • Thor (Journey into Mystery becomes Thor with #128): 129-130, 131-133 (1st Ego The Living Planet, 1st Recorder robot), 134-135 (1st High Evolutionary)
  • Uncanny X-Men 15-16 (1st Sentinels, Bolivar Trask), 17-18, 19 (1st Mimic), 20-21, 22-23, 24, 25-26

THE 1966 AWARDS!

  • Best New Hero: Silver Surfer.  Runner up: Black Panther. 
  • Best new “side character”: Mary Jane Watson.  Runners up: Sharon Carter, Wyatt Wingfoot
  • Best New Villain: Galactus!  Runners up: Red Skull (first silver age appearance), Batroc the Leaper, Rhino, Gladiator, Ego The Living Planet.
  • Worst new villain: The Secret Empire.  Runner up: The Locust; The Mimic
  • Best Comic, Overall: Fantastic Four.  Runner-up: Journey Into Mystery/Thor.
  • Best Storyline: Fantastic Four #48-50 (Galactus).  Runners up: F4 #44-47 (Inhumans), Thor #128-135
  • Best Artist: Gene Colan on Iron Man (Tales of Suspense). Runner up: John Romita Sr. on Spider-Man.
  • Best Cover: Strange Tales #139
  • Worst Comic: Strange Tales.  Runner up: X-Men.

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1967

Find all 1967 posts here.

  • The Amazing Spider-Man #44, 45, 46 (1st Shocker), 47, 48-49 (Blackie Drago becomes Vulture), 50-52 (1st Kingpin), 53-56 (Dr. Octopus meets Aunt May), 57-58 (Ka-Zar), 59-61 (Captain Stacy), Annual #4
  • The Avengers #36-37, 38-39 (Hercules joins, first Piledriver and Hammerhead), 40 (vs. Sub Mariner), 41-42, 43-44 (1st Red Guardian), 45, Annual #1, 46 (Goliath becomes Ant-Man), 47-49 (1st new Black Knight)
  • Bullpen Bulletin
  • Daredevil #25 (1st Leap Frog, 1st “Mike” Murdock), 26-29, 30 (vs. Thor), 31-32, 33-34Annual #1, 35
  • The Fantastic Four #58-63 (1st Blastaar, “Doomsday” epic), 64, 65 (1st Ronan the Accuser), 66-67 (1st Adam Warlock, under the name “Him”), 68-69 (Sue gets a miniskirt, pregnant, and Reed breaks up the team), Annual #5 (Susan Storm is pregnant; first appearance of Psycho Man)
  • Strange Tales #153-154 (Jim Steranko joins as artist for Fury), 155, 156, 157-167 (1st Living Tribunal, series ends)
  • Tales of Suspense #87, 88-91 (Red Skull lifts Manhattan in a bubble), 92-94 (1st appearance of MODOK), 95-96, 97-100 (series ends)
  • Tales to Astonish #89, 90-91 (1st Abomination), 92-96
  • Thor #136-139 (1st Sif), 141, 142, Annual #2 (vs. Destroyer)
  • X-Men #28 (1st Banshee), 29-30, 31, 32-33 (return of Juggernaut), 34-35 (featuring Spider-Man), 36-39 (1st costume change)

Best New Character: Kingpin.  Runners up: Mike Murdock, Blastaar, Sif, Banshee. Modok

Worst New Character: The Living Tribunal.  Black Knight

Best Run: Still Lee and Kirby’s Fantastic Four.  Runner Ups: Lee and Kirby’s Thor; Lee and Buscema, Amazing Spider-Man.

Worst Run: Roy Thomas and Werner Roth, X-Men.

1968

Find all 1968 posts here.  [ADD LINK]

The year 1968 marked the end of the “all Stan Lee” era.  Other writers were given control over Marvel books, and Stan became more of an Editor-in-Chief and less of the head writer.  It’s also a period of stabilization.  In the years before it, we saw the formation of Marvel’s character roster, with new heroes and villains appearing every month.

In 1968, instead, we saw the end of “split” titles and an expansion of single-character books.  Captain America, Nick Fury, Dr. Strange, Namor…They all got solo books.  As for the quality…Well, there’s a lot less of it this year, at least in the writing category.  Roy Thomas is no Stan Lee.  But in the area of art, we had Jim Steranko’s groundbreaking work with Nick Fury, John Buscema hitting home runs on The Avengers, and Jack Kirby becoming increasingly bold in his books.

To come…
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