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TwoWorldsHow Carmine Infantino Designed DC’s Silver Age

DC Comics’ Showcase #4, cover dated October 1956, is usually recognized as the book that launched the so-called Silver Age of comics by reintroducing the Flash and effectively reviving the superhero genre. The iconic cover… [more]

Thor_04Thor’s Early Identity Crisis

Marvel’s introduction of Thor in Journey Into Mystery #83 (published in August 1962) ushered into the world a comic book character that transcended traditional superhero characteristics. Stan Lee, who created Thor, along with his brother… [more]

From Journey into Mystery #98How “Tales of Asgard” Changed Everything

In Journey into Mystery #83 (Aug 1962), Donald Blake finds a magical walking stick that transforms him into Thor. It’s a rather inauspicious beginning. In that first story, Thor fights stone-skinned aliens, who simply land… [more]

scan5The Renaissance Man, The Master Of The World?: One Last Look at the Ditko / Lee Doctor Strange (Part 12)

One recurrent criticism of Doctor Strange as a character is that he’s simply too powerful. A great many writers and fans alike have contended that comic book magic provides him with the tension-destroying ability to… [more]

scan1You Just Haven’t Earned It Yet, Baby: On What Made Doctor Strange Unique (The Penultimate Part)

Why would the Ancient One wait until after Strange had confronted Dormammu before rewarding his triumphant student with “new powers”? Perhaps the physical and magical enfeeblement caused by the Dreaded One’s spell had left the… [more]

scan1Father, Son; Mentor, Student; Friends: On Doctor Strange & the Ancient One (Part 10)

It was the unprecedented degree of conflict, of course, which marked out the earliest Marvel superhero comics from their characteristically more polite, repressed competitors. No-one had ever produced the likes of Fantastic Four #1 before,… [more]

scan4Who’s the Superhero, Who’s the Supporting Player? On Doctor Strange & the Ancient One (Part 9)

In the years since Ditko and Lee stepped away from writing Doctor Strange, the Ancient One tended to be characterized in terms of, at best, his moral authority and, at worst, his physical decrepitude. Yet… [more]

scan1On the Ancient One, Earth’s Greatest Super-Hero (Part 8)

Steve Ditko was often displeased with Stan Lee’s interpretation of his plots during the last few years in particular of their collaboration. Sadly, there seems to be no way of telling how the artist felt… [more]

scan1On the Coyly Affectionate Doctor Strange (Part 7)

It took almost two years of monthly adventures before Strange finally realized how tremendously fond he was of Clea. As if the relief of finally rescuing her from Dormammu’s banishment had cut through the magician’s… [more]

scan1On the Romantically Disengaged Doctor Strange (Part 6)

As with friendship, so with romance. Love, or at least lovelornness, tended to ground Marvel’s superheroes in a version of mundane reality that reflected the world-view of young boys just learning to recognise both longing… [more]

scan3On the Entirely Uncomplaining, Yet Distinctly Overworked Doctor Strange (Part 5)

It seems hard not to believe that Strange was deliberately making himself and his mission known to the world in a somewhat indirect and yet undeniably insistent way.

scan3On the Profoundly Rational Doctor Stephen Strange (Part 4)

Even smiling at the literal-mindedness of the West was no little matter in the Marvel books of the period.

scan1On the Profoundly Rational Doctor Stephen Strange (Part 3)

The Sorcerer’s Code committed Strange to the defense of the Earth, and it obliged him to place the welfare of humanity above that of any alien race.

scan 1On the Profoundly Rational Doctor Stephen Strange (Part 2)

Having found his way to “India, land of mystic entanglement” in the hope of having the “Ancient One” heal his hands, the still entirely cynical Strange discovered that magic really did exist.

scan1On the Profoundly Rational Doctor Stephen Strange

Who’d pitch a character such as Steve Ditko and Stan Lee’s Doctor Strange to one of the Big Two today?

twoOn the Ethics of How and Why Hank Pym Created a Wasp (Part 2)

By design and chance, Tales to Astonish #44 had presented a fledgling romance between Pym and Van Dyne which had the potential to constantly and plausibly generate both conflict and reconciliation over and over again.… [more]

one creatureOn Stan Lee and H.E. Huntley’s the Wasp and Ant-Man (1963 to 1966)

Suddenly, Ant-Man’s wife was dead.

eight repititionX-Men #1-19 by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, et al (1963-66), Part 2

In the wake of their first public appearance, the X-Men appear to have been briefly embraced by the American people. Having defeated Magneto’s attempt to seize the U.S. military base of “Cape Citadel”, Cyclops and… [more]

X-Men 01X-Men #1-19 by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, et al (1963-66), Part 1

In a profoundly reactionary society, even a gentle and sincere challenge to the status quo can be read as a significant marker of dissent.

Tales to Astonish #35The Adventures of Henry Pym (1962 to 1965)

Don’t print the legend. There was no such thing as an archetypal “Marvel superhero” for the first few years following the publication and unexpected success in 1961 of the Fantastic Four. What would in hindsight… [more]

Avengers 001On Iron Man in 1963, by Stan Lee, Don Heck, and Jack Kirby

Why should we care about Tony Stark? More importantly, why should we pity him?

Batman 10On the Batman of Three Worlds, by Bill Finger and Sheldon Moldoff (1963)

It’s not so long ago that the very idea would have sounded thoroughly absurd. Yet, the Batman tales of the late ’50s and early ’60s by editor Jack Schiff, writer Bill Finger, and penciler Sheldon… [more]

1 coverOn Jeff Hawke: Overlord, by Sydney Jordan and Willie Patterson (1960)

“Adult” all too often has a different meaning now. But in the very best sense of the term, Jordan and Patterson’s Jeff Hawke was a newspaper science-fiction comic strip for adults.

coverOn Adventure Comics #332, by Edmond Hamilton and John Forte (1965)

The received wisdom has it that the future world of the Legion Of Super-Heroes was originally an inspiringly optimistic, comfortingly cosy, super-scientific utopia.

CoverOn Wally Wood and Stan Lee’s Daredevil #7

The years steam past, the comics pile up, and the canon for any single moment of time soon collapses to a ridiculously over-simplified, back-of-a-Trivial-Pursuit-card answer.