This week, I thought I suggest a few ‘must haves’ from Marvel’s Silver Age. Don’t worry, there are no Avengers #4 or Fantastic Four #48 in this list. These are great, and very affordable books that you may have overlooked. From my perspective, they are all Single Issue Hall of Famers, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you could track down solid copies of all 5 for well under $50.
Iron Man #14
What a treat! Of all of the early Iron Man stories – this one shines on like a crazy diamond. Like the cover? Well, it’s by EC Legend Johnny Craig so it’s bound to be beautifully composed. The story is by the late great Archie Goodwin. The word that keeps coming to mind each time I re-read this book is ‘sophisticated’. The first three pages, in which a security guard recounts an attack by the Night Phantom is unlike anything else put out by Marvel at that time. Craig’s opening splash page is unbelievably beautiful. What I really love are all of the little nods to Gaston Leroux’s ‘Phantom’ – from the disfigurement to the underground lair. I only wish that we’d seen a Chaneyesque unmasking. This is a true classic folks – mixing Silver Age superhero fun, with a bit more Bronze Age depth. Goodwin really was a master and proves that a great, multi-layered story can be pulled off in a single issue. Unlike early Iron Man appearances in Tales of Suspense, early issues of his solo title are still relatively inexpensive. A VG/F copy of this one failed to sell at $4.99 recently on eBay.
Sgt. Fury King Size Special #2
For one reason or another, issues of Sgt. Fury (especially the post-Kirby ones) have often sold for far less than their other Marvel contemporaries. This is likely due to a bias towards superhero books, and that’s good news if you’re looking for some good, cheap reads. This would be a good place to start, as it has a superb lead story focusing on the Howlers role on D-Day. As an added bonus, both Hitler and Evan Braun make an appearance. The art is solid, and the charming Howlers banter is in full swing throughout. There are some great bonus features, too. You’ve also got a reprint from Sgt. Fury #11 and a reprint of Nick Fury’s first appearance as an agent of SHIELD from Strange Tales #135. A VG- copy recently sold on eBay for $2.80. That’s an awesome deal for a giant-size book from the 60s.
Rawhide Kid #46
I know that westerns are not everyone’s cup of tea, but I implore you to give them a try. You average issue of Rawhide Kid or Kid Colt from the mid-60s sells for a fraction of Spidey or Fantastic Four from the same period. This is great issue to pick up, because not only do you get a great Jack Kirby cover, but the lead story featuring an appearing by none other than Doc Holliday is quite fun. The real treat here, hidden at the back, is a 5 page story penciled by Alex Toth. This is one of the very few jobs Toth did for Marvel in the 60s, and he does a fantastic job. No recent eBay sales of this book, but a lots of 7 VG/F books from the #41 to #50 range, including this one, sold for for $39, so that’s about $5.50 each. I recently sold a stack in the #40 to #50 range as well, and not of them sold for more than $6.50.
Amazing Spider-Man #80
If you have read my regular blog, you’ve figured out that I’m a pretty big Steve Ditko fan. It may surprise you to discover that my favourite Spider-Man story is one that may not be considered to be much of a classic by the Spidey cognoscenti. What’s so great about Spidey #80? Well, it really begins and ends with the Chameleon. He was Spidey’s first real super-villain (although, he has not super-powers per se), but IMHO he’s been brutally underused throughout Spider-Man history. Spider-Man was a revolutionary book in the sense that much of the storyline line flowed from issue to issue and there were several multi-issue arcs, a real rarity in the 60s. This one, however, accomplishes a great deal in one issue, and is a real treat for those who miss crisp and concise storytelling. The artwork is by the three-headed BuscemaRomitaMooney Monster, and it’s quite strong. The story here is a lot of fun, as Spider-Man tries to set a trap to catch the Chameleon. The plan almost backfires, though but a great twist ending enables Spidey to triumph. The ‘master of disguise’ premise is a really good one, as it forces Spidey to fight with brain rather than brawn. I could not find any lower grade comparables from recent eBay sales, but a FN+ copy failed to find any bidders at $22, so that indicated a VG copy might go below $10.
Marvel Super-Heroes #16
I think that every comic book fan should add a copy of this book in his or her collection. It is beyond beautiful. The cover story is a wonderful tale full of aerial acrobatics featuring the WW1 era hero, the Phantom Eagle. It’s too bad that Marvel was never able to find a permanent home for him (say as a back-up in Sgt. Fury or Captain Savage, perhaps). This was one of Herb Trimpe’s very first jobs, and I don’t think that he ever surpassed it. That’s not meant to slight Happy Herb, but more to illustrate just have fantastic and passionate a job he did here. There are also loads of Atlas-era reprints packed into this one, including Joe Maneely’s Black Knight, a John Romita Captain America story and a Bill Everett Sub-Mariner story. A FN+ copy sold a few days ago for $1.48 from well respected seller with whom I’ve done a ton of business. That’s a crazy low price, but it is great news for someone looking to add a fantastic book to their collection.
There are deals to be had out there, folks, and plenty of great books that you may have never read. For more comic book chat, stop by my blog: Seduction of the Indifferent
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