Marvel Silver Age
Due to strong sales on the character’s first appearance in Amazing Fantasy #15, Spider-Man was given his own ongoing series in March 1963. The initial years of the series, under Lee and Ditko, chronicled Spider-Man’s nascent career with his civilian life as hard-luck yet perpetually good-humored teenager Peter Parker. Peter balanced his career as Spider-Man with his job as a freelance photographer for The Daily Bugle under the bombastic editor-publisher J. Jonah Jameson to support himself and his frail Aunt May. At the same time, Peter dealt with public hostility towards Spider-Man and the antagonism of his classmates Flash Thompson and Liz Allan at Midtown High School, while embarking on a tentative, ill-fated romance with Jameson’s secretary, Betty Brant.
By focusing on Parker’s everyday problems, Lee and Ditko created a groundbreakingly flawed, self-doubting superhero, and the first major teenaged superhero to be a protagonist and not a sidekick. Ditko’s quirky art provided a stark contrast to the more cleanly dynamic stylings of Marvel’s most prominent artist, Jack Kirby, and combined with the humor and pathos of Lee’s writing to lay the foundation for what became an enduring mythos.
Strange Tales switched to superheroes during the Silver Age of Comic Books, retaining the sci-fi, suspense and monsters as backup features for a time. Strange Tales‘ first superhero, in 12- to 14-page stories, was the Fantastic Four‘s Human Torch, Johnny Storm, beginning in #101 (Oct. 1962). Here, Johnny still lived with his elder sister, Susan Storm, in fictional Glenview, Long Island, New York, where he continued to attend high school and, with youthful naivete, attempted to maintain his “secret identity” (later retconned to reveal that his friends and neighbors knew of his dual identity from Fantastic Four news reports, but simply played along).
The title became a “split book” with the introduction of sorcerer Doctor Strange, by Lee and artist Steve Ditko. This 9- to 10-page feature debuted in #110 (July 1963), and after an additional story and then skipping two issues returned permanently with #114. Ditko’s surrealistic mystical landscapes and increasingly head-trippy visuals helped make the feature a favorite of college students, according to Lee himself. Eventually, as co-plotter and later sole plotter, in the “Marvel Method“, Ditko would take Strange into ever-more-abstract realms, which yet remained well-grounded thanks to Lee’s reliably humanistic, adventure/soap opera dialog. Adversaries for the new hero included Baron Mordo introduced in issue #111 (Aug. 1963) and Dormammu in issue #126 (Nov. 1964). Clea, who would become a longtime love interest for Doctor Strange, was also introduced in issue #126.
Tales of Suspense, Issue #39 (March 1963) introduced the superhero Iron Man, created by editor and plotter Lee, scripter Lieber, and artists Heck and Jack Kirby. He starred in generally 13-page but occasionally 18-page adventures, with the rest of Tales of Suspense devoted to the anthological science fiction and fantasy stories the comic normally ran.
After debuting with bulky gray armor, Iron Man was redesigned with similar but golden armor in his second story (issue #40, April 1963). The first iteration of the modern, sleek red-and-golden armor appeared in #48 (Dec. 1963), drawn by Ditko (though whether he or Kirby, singly or in collaboration, designed it, is uncertain). From #53-58 (May-Oct. 1964), the cover logo was “Tales of Suspense featuring The Power of Iron Man”. Two months before the debut of the sorcerer-hero Doctor Strange, Lee, Kirby and scripter Robert Bernstein, under the pseudonym “R. Berns”, introduced a same-name criminal scientist and Ph.D., Carl Strange. Making his sole appearance in the Iron Man story “The Stronghold of Dr. Strange” in Tales of Suspense #41 (May 1963), the character gained mental powers in a freak lightning strike. The Mandarin debuted in issue #50 (Feb. 1964) and would become one of Iron Man’s major enemies. The Black Widow first appeared in #52 (April 1964) and Hawkeye followed five issues later.
The Fantastic Four debuted in The Fantastic Four #1 (Nov. 1961), which helped to usher in a new level of realism in the medium. The Fantastic Four was the first superhero team created by writer-editor Stan Lee and artist/co-plotter Jack Kirby, who developed a collaborative approach to creating comics with this title that they would use from then on. As the first superhero team title produced by Marvel Comics, it formed a cornerstone of the company’s 1960s rise from a small division of a publishing company to a pop culture conglomerate.
Chamber of Darkness is a horror/fantasy anthology comic book published by Marvel Comics that under this and a subsequent name ran from 1969-1974. It featured work by such notable creators as writer-editor Stan Lee, writers Gerry Conway and Archie Goodwin, and artists John Buscema, Johnny Craig, Jack Kirby, Tom Sutton, Barry Windsor-Smith (as Barry Smith), and Bernie Wrightson. Stories were generally hosted by either of the characters Digger, a gravedigger, or Headstone P. Gravely, in undertaker garb, or by one of the artists or writers.
After the eighth issue, the title changed to Monsters on the Prowl, and the comic became almost exclusively a reprint book.
Journey into Mystery was initially published by Atlas Comics, then by its successor, Marvel Comics. Initially a horror comics anthology, it segued to giant-monster and science fiction stories in the late 1950s. Beginning with issue #83 (cover dated August 1962), it ran the superhero feature “The Mighty Thor“, created by writers Stan Lee and Larry Lieber and artist Jack Kirby, and inspired by the mythological Norse thunder god. The series, which was renamed for its superhero star with issue #126 (March 1966), has been revived three times: in the 1970s as a horror anthology, and in the 1990s and 2010s with characters from Marvel’s Thor mythos.
Daredevil debuted in Marvel Comics‘ Daredevil #1 (cover date April 1964), created by writer-editor Stan Lee and artist Bill Everett, with character design input from Jack Kirby, who devised Daredevil’s billy club. When Everett turned in his first-issue pencils extremely late, Marvel production manager Sol Brodsky and Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko inked a large variety of different backgrounds, a “lot of backgrounds and secondary figures on the fly and cobbled the cover and the splash page together from Kirby’s original concept drawing”.
Writer and comics historian Mark Evanier has concluded (but cannot confirm) that Kirby designed the basic image of Daredevil’s costume, though Everett modified it. The character’s original costume design was a combination of black, yellow, and red, reminiscent of acrobat tights. Wally Wood, known for his 1950s EC Comics stories, penciled and inked issues #5–10, introducing Daredevil’s modern red costume in issue #7.