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.
Tales to Astonish was published from January 1959 to March 1968 . It began as a science-finction anthology that served as a showcase for such artists as Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko. It became The Incredible Hulk with issue #102 (April 1968). Its sister title was Tales of Suspense.
Following his one-shot anthological story in #27 (Jan. 1962), scientist Henry Pym returned donning a cybernetic helmet and red costume, and using size-changing technology to debut as the insect-sized hero Ant-Man in #35 (Sept. 1962). The series was plotted by Lee and scripted by Lieber, with penciling first by Kirby and later by Heck and others. The Wasp was introduced as Ant-Man’s costar in issue #44 (June 1963). Ant-Man and Pym’s subsequent iteration, Giant-Man, introduced in #49 (Nov. 1963), starred in 10- to 13-page and later 18-page adventures,
The Hulk, whose original series The Incredible Hulk had been canceled after a six-issue run in 1962-63, returned to star in his own feature when Tales to Astonish became a split book at issue #60 (Oct. 1964),]after having guest-starred as Giant-Man’s antagonist in a full-length story the previous issue. The Hulk had proven a popular guest-star in three issues of Fantastic Four and an issue of The Amazing Spider-Man. His new stories here were initially scripted by Lee and illustrated by the seldom-seen team of penciler Steve Ditko and inker George Roussos. This early part of the Hulk’s run introduced the Leader, who would become the Hulk’s nemesis, and this run additionally made the Hulk’s identity known, initially only to the military and then later publicly.
After issue #99 (March 1968), the Tales of Suspense series was renamed Captain America. An Iron Man story appeared in the one-shot comic Iron Man and Sub-Mariner (April 1968), before the “Golden Avenger”] made his solo debut with The Invincible Iron Man #1 (May 1968). The series’ indicia gives its copyright title Iron Man, while the trademarked cover logo of most issues is The Invincible Iron Man. Artist George Tuska began a decade long association with the character with Iron Man #5 (Sept. 1968). Writer Mike Friedrich and artist Jim Starlin‘s brief collaboration on the Iron Man series introduced Mentor, Starfox, and Thanos in issue #55 (Feb. 1973). Friedrich scripted a metafictional story in which Iron Man visited the San Diego Comic Convention and met several Marvel Comics writers and artists. He then wrote the multi-issue “War of the Super-Villains” storyline which ran through 1975.
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.