Featuring an anatomically exaggerated cover by the great Jim Steranko, here’s the first “King-Size Special” (which means it cost 25 cents instead of 12 cents) of Marvel’s The Incredible Hulk series, published in October 1968, purchased by a younger version of me at a small grocery shop on Kaimuki Boulevard and then sealed in a wooden box for 45 years.
After years as a grizzled veteran of various wars, in the late 1960s Sgt. Fury suddenly morphed into Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD, and went in a decidedly science fictional direction. Issue #6 was published in November 1968, and featured this spectacular cover by the great Jim Steranko showing the Earth blowing up — something that, uh, didn’t actually happen in the comic but hey, it looks awesome.
I haven’t posted one of these in a while, but we still have hundreds of vintage comics yet unseen in the Lizard Collection crypt. Tonight’s item is the “Big Premiere Issue” of The Incredible Hulk, featuring a great Hulk-transformation montage drawn by two Marvel artists, Marie Severin and Frank Giacoia, with lettering by Sam Rosen and Morrie Kuramoto. This copy looks almost new, like many of the books in our collection.
It’s numbered “102” because this series carries over from Tales to Astonish, in which the Hulk was sharing a book with the Sub-Mariner, because let’s face it, sharing anything with the Hulk never works out.
In this storyline, the Hulk has been transported to Asgard by Loki, that trickster. He’s a prankster, Loki. A series of incomprehensible events occurs, followed by a big fight. The Hulk gets killed, then Odin brings him back to life.
We’re talkin’ full-on deus ex machina here, people.
I posted a not-very-good photo of this comic a while back, but here’s a much better one: the Lizard Collection’s copy of The Avengers #2, published in November 1963, with an awesome Jack Kirby cover featuring the retro-original all-golden Iron Man costume.
In the second issue of The Avengers, they’re tormented by the Space Phantom, a shape-shifting alien who assumes the appearance of the Incredible Hulk on this cover. The story of this one ends with the Hulk getting all pissed off at the other Avengers because he thinks they hate him, and quitting. Marvel pioneered the emo superhero.
This copy is in really good shape — obviously some creases on the lower right cover where a kid’s hand touched it a lot, but the inks are incredibly bright for the age of the book, thanks to being preserved in a sealed box in the Arizona climate for 40 years.
The back cover, as many of these early comic book covers were, is an advertisement for Famous Artists Schools:
It was December 1965 when I first got my hot little hands on this copy of Fantastic Four #45 — you can probably tell from the condition it’s in. With these stress marks and creases it’s not super valuable any more, but the colors are bright, the paper is white, and it’s still worth a lot more than 12 cents.
This issue featured the first appearance of one of my favorite obscure Marvel characters: Lockjaw, the giant bulldog with antennae.
The Lizard Collection contains 56 issues of The Avengers, going all the way back to #2. Here’s one of the earliest issues, #10, published in November 1964, with a cover by Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers.
Super-hero groups like the Avengers were always arguing and bickering and fighting among themselves, and in issue #10 it got so bad they broke up — but of course, they got over it in time for issue #11.
Our copy’s in good condition; not mint, unfortunately, but even with a little wear and tear this is still a pretty valuable book — worth a lot more than the 12 cents I paid for it in 1964.
In Tales of Suspense #75, originally published in March, 1966, Tony Stark (aka Iron Man) has accidentally turned his sidekick/bodyguard Happy Hogan into a horrible gigantic freak who looks kinda like that guy who sings for Midnight Oil, and now the cops are shooting him and there’s a girl falling off a building too. This classic from the Lizard Collection has cover art by Gene Colan and story by (who else?) Stan Lee; our copy is in great condition with a few small cover flaws, white pages and bright inks, stored in a sealed wooden box for about 40 years.
Tonight’s image from the Lizard Collection is an unusual and somewhat rare item: issue #1 of “Iron Man and Sub-Mariner,” published in April 1968. It’s unusual because issue #1 was also the only issue ever published by Marvel Comics under this title, by design.
At this time, Marvel was promoting all of the characters who were in “shared” comic books (Tales to Astonish, Tales of Suspense, and Strange Tales) to their own titles. To resolve the story lines, they put together this one-shot book, with two stories featuring Iron Man and the eternally angst-ridden Prince Namor, with penciling by the great Gene Colan. (An odd publishing strategy, never to be repeated.)
Our copy of this book is in excellent condition, with small flaws on the cover but white pages and brilliant inks throughout.
For completeness, here’s the back cover, with an ad for Norman Rockwell’s Famous Artists School.
Marvel’s “Not Brand Echh” was a short-lived (13 issues) attempt at humor in the style of Mad Magazine, mostly poking fun at their own superhero characters, but occasionally taking shots at their DC rivals as well. The Lizard Collection’s copy of the first issue (published in August 1967) isn’t in tip-top condition, but then, neither was the comedy.