Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Sargosso of Space

I've written before about my admiration of pulp and comic book writer Edmond Hamilton. Recently, I ran across a short story he published in Astounding Stories magazine in 1931 that emphasizes just how cool and imaginative Hamilton was.

Due to a fuel leak, a space ship ends up floating helpless near the outer edge of our solar system. They soon drift to a point in space where all the gravitational forces of the sun and the planets are perfectly balanced. Hundreds of other wrecked ships are there as well.

The crew begins to search other wrecks, hoping to salvage some fuel. They run into survivors from another ship who claim to want to help, but actually have a violent agenda of their own. A flurry of captures, escapes and hand-to-hand space combat follows.

The whole thing is more fun than a barrel of space monkeys from beginning to end. The idea of a graveyard of space ships is inherently cool and generates some great mental images. The plot moves along rapidly but logically, generating both tension and excitement. The characterizations are pretty basic, but we like the heroes and loath the villains, which is all we really need out of a short, fast-moving pulp adventure.

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I wish there were more writers like Hamilton around today--guys who could produce intelligent plot-driven stories that have a consistent internal logic. These stories entertain us as well as stimulate our imaginations. That is always a good thing.


"The Sargosso of Space" is, by the way, avaialable to read or download for free from this site.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

History of the Marvel Universe: October 1963, part 2


A Communist scientist—the world’s foremost expert on electricity—creates a powered suit he calls the Crimson Dynamo. Sneaking into the U.S., he begins a campaign of sabotage against Stark Industries.

Things get so bad that Tony is soon worried about bankruptcy and the government begins to suspect him of sabotaging his own factories. But eventually, Iron Man and the Dynamo confront each other. The Russian is defeated and Tony clears his name.

Iron Man continues to have pacing problems. Once again, a large percentage of this relatively short story is spent setting up the story and introducing the villain. Consequently, his encounter with Iron Man is fairly short, with Tony winning far too easily. Oh, well—the Dynamo (with someone else wearing the suit) will eventually be more of a challenge.

There is a nice twist at the end of the story. After defeating the Dynamo, Tony gets him to defect by playing him an intercepted radio message about the Russian being assassinated by the Commies after his mission is over. At first, this seems too much of a dues ex machina, but then it turns out that Tony faked the message. Devious of you, Tony, but kinda cool all the same.


Henry Pym seems to run into an awful lot of disgruntled scientists.

This time around, it’s a disgruntled Defense Department researcher who feels the battle suit he designed is unappreciated. The suit is modeled on the porcupine and bristles with quills that are actually a variety of different weapons.

Using this suit, the self-styled Porcupine robs a bank. Ant Man tracks him down, but gets captured and is nearly drowned in a bathtub before the Wasp rescues him. They then defeat the Porcupine by clogging his weaponry with liquid cement. The villain gets away at the end, but the heroes are safe (and they presumably recover the loot from the bank job—though writer H.E. Huntley seems to have forgotten about that).

The Porcupine is a pretty good idea for a villain—though he can’t help but look a little silly. As is typical of many Ant Man stories, this one is good but not really memorable or exceptional in any way.

But things will be looking…. UP… for Henry Pym in the next issue.


This story gives us the first appearance of Dorrie Evans—Johnny’s first-ever regular girl friend. She’ll never be an important part of the Marvel Universe, but she’ll pop up from time to time both here and in the FF for a little while.

Johnny and Dorrie’s first date actually manages to set up a potentially interesting relationship. Dorrie likes Johnny despite his being the Human Torch—all that flaming on actually annoys her. For his part, Johnny is both pleased to be liked for himself and a little bothered that he can’t use his powers to show off for her like he does with other girls.

Oh, yes, there’s also a supervillain. The Plantman has a ray that increases the intelligence and mobility of plants, allowing him to command them to assist in committing crimes. After framing Dorrie’s father for a burglary, though, he moves on to thoughts of world conquest—figuring that plants far outnumber us mere humans.

But Johnny manages to get the best of him, using a fire ball to dry out the plants that are attacking him and forcing all that vegetation to realize that Plantman is just getting them in trouble. The plants turn on the bad guy and wreck his ray gun.

Interestingly, Plantman himself manages to make a getaway after the plants all revert to normal. This is a good month for villains who need to escape—Doctor Doom, Porcupine and now Plantman all manage to do so.

That’s it for October 1963, bringing the second full year of the modern Marvel universe to an end. We now have three groups of heroes active (the FF, the Avengers and the X-Men), with the Avengers all maintaining their solo careers as well. Spider Man is well-established and has already added several important members to his rogue’s gallery. I’ve long since lost count of how many times Earth has been invaded by aliens and we’ve been introduced to two or three subterranean and one sub-atomic civilizations. Just about everyone has had a chance to do some time traveling and the FF has been to the moon and to another planet.

The Marvel Universe is really starting to fill up, but before another year goes by, we’ll see yet another important hero—a blind lawyer in a brightly colored costume—join the pantheon. The Hulk will get his own series again. Kirby and Ditko will continue to produce absolutely astounding visuals and nifty-keen fight scenes.

But we’ll still be taking it in one month at a time. In November 1963, the FF and the X-Men will each encounter a new villain, while Dr. Strange fights an old enemy; a “possessive” alien will cause some internal strife among the Avengers; Ant Man will expand his powers; yet another new villain will give Iron Man a hot time; Spider Man will meet a one-armed scientist who will prove to be both a good friend and a dangerous enemy; Thor will continue to have girl friend troubles; and the Human Torch will meet a certain Living Legend from World War II... or will he?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Friday's Favorite OTR

The Shadow: “Drum of Obi” 10/24/48

A man buys a coffin, orders it delivered to his home that night, explains to the funeral parlor guy that the coffin is for himself, then gets killed by a hit-and-run driver a few moments later.

At first, it seems as if a voodoo curse is at work. But Lamont Cranston doesn’t believe in such things and soon a more “traditional” motive and suspect are uncovered.

Like many of the best Shadow episodes, this one manages to generate a really creepy atmosphere when it appears that something supernatural is going on, then morph gradually into a more straightforward murder mystery without becoming any less eerie. The rather ghastly end to the killer adds to the creepiness factor, making this yet another rewarding episode of this excellent series.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Smugglers of Death

Most of the really cool covers from The Shadow Magazine were done by George Rozen, but another artist named Graves Gladney contributed a number of good ones as well. Here's Gladney's eye-catching cover for the June 1, 1939 issue. I like the choice of perspective and the sense of real tension the image generates.

The original Shadow novels only rarely featured any significant female characters, but every once in awhile, a smart and brave lady would manage to slip into the plot and lend a hand to the mysterious crime fighter. In a few instances such as this one, they even manage to make their way onto the cover.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

History of the Marvel Universe: October 1963, part 1


This is another of my favorite issues—imaginative in both plot and visuals, with some important characterizations tossed in as well.

Reed’s been doing some research into Egyptology and thinks he’s stumbled on to evidence that an ancient Pharaoh had a cure for blindness. That means Ben’s girlfriend Alicia might be cured.

They make use of Doctor Doom’s time machine to head back to ancient Egypt. Almost immediately, they’re attacked by Egyptian soldiers. They’re making short work of these guys when a mysterious ray hits them and drains them of their powers and strength.

The Pharaoh Rama-Tut, it turns out, is a time traveler from the year 3000. Bored with the universal peace mankind had achieved, he traveled to the past to find adventure. (An origin story similar to the Tomorrow Man—a villain Thor had fought back in Journey into Mystery #86.) He traveled back to Egypt in a time machine disguised as the Sphinx and made himself ruler.

With his ray gun keeping the FF under his control by sapping their wills, he puts the three males to work as slaves, then prepares to marry Sue.

This leads to a super-nifty plot twist: Ben is working as a galley slave and the hot Egyptian sun temporarily turns him human again and frees him from the effect of the ray gun. Ben immediately jumps into action-hero mode, escaping from the galley and sneaking into the palace to snatch the ray gun away from Rama-Tut before he reverts to the Thing again.

The ray gun releases the good guys from Rama-Tut’s control and they play some cat-and-mouse with him through the high-tech interior of the Sphinx. Eventually, Rama-Tut gets away in a time traveling escape pod.

Sue finds the radioactive material that cures blindness, but they discover too late that Doom’s primitive time machine won’t transport anything radioactive. They lose the cure for Alicia on the journey back to modern times.

This issue is extraordinarily entertaining on several levels:

1)Kirby’s visuals are exceptional—the fight scenes; the Egyptian setting; Rama-Tut’s future tech; it all looks incredible.

2)The idea that the FF is going on this incredible adventure not because the world is threatened, but simply to help a friend.

3Showing Ben to be a capable and intelligent hero even when stripped of his super powers.

4)The suggestion that Rama-Tut might be Doctor Doom’s ancestor—or even Doom himself. It’s not really important to this story, but it opens some fun plot opportunities for future stories.

5)Ben’s sense of humor has really developed and is constantly reflected in his dialogue. Also, the last panel, when he tells the others he’ll never forget that they risked their lives to help Alicia, is honestly touching.

Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful issue.


While the Fantastic Four is busy time traveling, their arch enemy is tussling with Spider Man.

Doctor Doom, still licking his wounds from his recent defeat, takes note of all the bad publicity Spidey gets and tries to use this to get the webslinger to join forces with him. Spidey refuses and thus gets on Doom’s bad list.

Soon after, schoolyard bully Flash Thompson dresses in a Spider Man costume as a joke on Peter, figuring “puny Parker” will be scared silly if Spider Man suddenly appears in front of him. But Flash is kidnapped by Doom, who thinks he’s the real Spidey, before he can carry out his joke.

That leaves Peter with the annoying job of rescuing the guy who always bullies him at school. In the ensuing fight, Spidey does pretty well against Doom, but the armored villain proves to be too powerful. Only the timely arrival of the Fantastic Four saves Peter. Doom escapes to fight another day.

The story’s general premise and “mistaken identity” plot twist are both a little weak, but the Spidey vs. Doom fight is yet another strong, entertaining action sequence. And the idea that Spider Man could fight with skill and intelligence but still not quite defeat Doom is an appropriate and “realistic” touch.

Some other details of note: Peter takes note of J. Jonah Jameson’s pretty secretary Betty Brant for the first time. His willingness to risk his life for someone he hates is a great indication of Peter’s basic decency. J.J.J. is described as the publisher of both Now Magazine and the Daily Bugle. (Though the magazine will hardly ever be mentioned again.) And Flash Thompson (who loathes Peter so much) is established as Spider Man’s number one fan.

Something else that should be mentioned. Between Steve Ditko’s work on Spidey and Dr. Strange AND Jack Kirby’s work on the FF, we’re being given some of the consistently best fight scenes that have ever appeared in comic books. Both these men had many strengths as artists, but one strength they definitely shared was their ability to give us superhero battles that unfold in an exciting and logical manner. We always understand what’s going on. We can grasp the tactics being used and we can always tell where the various combatants are in relation to one another. These fight scenes aren’t just random panels of character whacking away at each other, but follow their own patterns that make sense in context to the superpowers and super-technology being used. They are exuberant and spirited examples of fine comic book art.


In fact, Thor’s battle with the Lava Man in this issue is yet another example of Kirby’s great fight choreography. It’s not quite as awesome as the FF’s battle against Rama Tut, but it’s still awfully good.

The issue actually starts with Dr. Blake moaning about being in love with the mortal Jane Foster. When he asks Odin’s permission to marry her, the All-Father pretty much just tells him to forget about it. In the meantime, Jane gets sick of waiting for the apparently weak-minded Dr. Blake to confess his love and quits her job, going to work for another doctor.

Loki sees that Thor is despondent and calls up the Lava Man from beneath the surface of the Earth. This leads to the aforementioned cool fight scene, in which Thor eventually manages to force the villain back to his subterranean world.

There’ll be more on Thor/Blake’s love life in the next issue, but the really important part of this issue is the first “Tales of Asgard” story. This series-within-a-series starts with a five-page synopsis recounting the birth of the original Norse Gods. It’s an opportunity to let Jack Kirby really go to town with some truly inspired visuals. “Tales of Asgard” will run as a back-up feature in Thor for something like four years—epic storytelling in five-page doses that will represent some of Kirby’s finest work.

Next week, we’ll visit with Iron Man, Ant Man and the Human Torch to finish up October 1963.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

The most awesome make-believe guy ever?

I've just re-read Around the World in Eighty Days, my favorite Jules Verne novel. For me it even edges out Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. Why? Almost entirely because the protagonist, Phileas Fogg, is just so gosh-darn AWESOME!!!!! (Not that Captain Nemo isn't pretty awesome himself.)
Here's a guy who has his whole life regimented just exactly the way he wants it--he dines at the same times, wakes and sleeps at the same time, walks to his club every day to play whist at the same time. Always calm, always unflappable, seemingly emotionless.
Then, one day, he has a discussion with his fellow club members about how quickly it would take to travel around the world. Fogg claims it can be done in 80 days. Soon, he's staked his entire fortune on a wager that he can do just that. He leaves his carefully regimented life behind just to prove his point.
So, with his confused servant Passepartout in tow, he sets out to circumvent the world as quickly as possible. And all through the journey, he remains implacable and emotionless. When they encounter problems and delays, he calmly overcomes them. When a young lady needs to be rescued from religious fanatics in India, he calmly rescues her. ("Mr Fogg, you are a man of heart!" "When I am 12 hours ahead of schedule," he coolly replies.)
He just reeks with awesomeness. He even falls in love with the rescued lady with complete implacability (though his lip does quiver ever so slightly when she confesses she also loves him).
He's a wonderful character, forming the backbone for a wonderful book that remains as entertaining today as when it was published in 1873.
There are, by the way, two excellent radio adaptations of this novel. Orson Welles plays Fogg in the October 23, 1938 Mercury Theatre on the Air broadcast. Ronald Coleman gave us his take on Fogg on the July 23, 1949 broadcast of Favorite Story. Both actors manage to capture Fogg's inate awesomeness.
I've never happened to see the 1956 film version with David Niven. Nor have I seen the 1989 miniseries with Pierce Bronson. I can easily picture either actor as Fogg, though. Someday, I'll get around to watching these.
I have seen the 2004 film version, in which the plot was altered to work as a Jackie Chan vehicle. This by itself is fine--I enjoy Chan's combination of martial arts and slapstick humor--but the film had little to do with Verne's novel and poor Fogg is presented as a goofy inventor.
But it will always be the original novel that gives us Phileas Fogg as he should be--the single most awesome make-believe guy ever.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

History of the Marvel Universe: 1963 Annuals


When a master thief known as the Fox steals a Da Vinci painting and frames Spider Man for the crime, the webslinger decides to contact the Human Torch for help in clearing his name.

But Johnny has been annoyed with all the publicity that Spider Man’s been getting and is quick to assume his guilt. The two have briefly met before in FF #1 (and Peter had a brief out-of-costume encounter with Johnny in Spider Man #3), but this is their first real get-together—and of course it quickly evolves into fight. It’s a good fight, though, with typically strong action choreography provided by artist Jack Kirby.

Eventually Johnny gets it through his head that Spidey might be innocent. The two do indeed team-up, using Peter’s spider-sense to track down the Fox’s numerous secret lairs before finally catching the thief and recovering the stolen painting.

It’s a fun issue that sparks off a nifty Marvel Universe tradition. Spidey and the Torch continue to get on each other’s nerves even after they team up, providing us with some funny banter. It’s the beginning of a mildly adversarial friendship that will be the springboard for many entertaining stories in the years to come. A minor corollary to this is that they meet atop the Statue of Liberty after they decide to join forces—this would become their usual meeting place whenever one of them needed to contact the other.

Within this particular story, both characters use their brains as well as their powers to track down the Fox. This is particularly true of Spider Man, who early in the story has to come up with a fireproof version of his webbing to use against the Torch. There’s also a nice touch when a police detective tells the Torch to hold off on the flashy super hero stuff, then finds a clue by methodically going through the police files.

There is perhaps one small weak point in the plot in that the method used to frame Spider Man seems a bit of a stretch (“Looks like part of a giant spider web! Hey! That’s it! It musta been Spider Man.”). But the rest of the story is pretty darn cool.


Prince Namor, the Sub-Mariner, finally finds the rest of the Atlantians and is ruling over them once more. With access to an army and advanced Atlantian technology, he decides to bring his grievances with the surface world to a head. Before too many pages go by, an army of Atlantians have occupied New York City. Namor now effectively holds seven million people hostage.

But Read counters the invasion by whipping up an “evaporation ray,” forcing the water-breathing Atlantian soldiers to retreat into the ocean when the water in their helmets dissipates. This, in turn, forces Namor to attack the FF. After a brief tussle, he manages to take Sue hostage.

The remaining three heroes mount a rescue operation. In the ensuing chaos, Sue is nearly drowned and Namor must give up the fight to rush her back to a New York hospital. Ths ends the fighting, but when he returns home again, he finds his people have abandoned their undersea city and rejected him as their ruler. They’re upset, you see, that he placed the life of a surface dweller over the interests of his kingdom.

Poor Sue gets a bit of a demotion in this story—after getting a number of awesome moments in recent issues, she’s playing “helpless hostage” once again. But this particular story pretty much demands this, so it’s easy to forgive.

Otherwise, it’s all great stuff. We meet a couple of Atlantians who will play important roles in Namor’s future life—the love-struck Lady Dorma and the duplicitous Warlord Krang. We get an effective retelling of Namor’s origin, reminding us his father was a human and explaining why he can breathe out of the water. There’s great characterization stuff all through the story; indications that Ben continues to set his bitterness aside and think of Reed as his best friend once more; reminders that Namor is not a ruthless conqueror, but rather a ruler doing what he feels is best to protect his people; and some fun banter between Ben and Johnny. Jack Kirby yet again provides great action sequences, while his designs of Atlantian war vehicles and the various strange sea monsters controlled by Namor are pure joy to just look at.

Namor won’t remain separated from his people for long, though. He’ll soon make peace with his subjects, but not with the surface world. Before too much time goes by, we’ll see him and his troops tussling with various Marvel superheroes once again.

This issue also gives us a re-telling of Spider Man’s encounter with the FF from Spider Man #1, in which the webslinger tries to join the group. Drawn by Kirby rather than Steve Ditko and expanded to show us a longer FF vs. Spidey fight, it obviously exists to plug Spider Man’s relatively new book. But it’s a good story with great art, so Kirby and Stan Lee are welcome to plug away all they want.

We, in the meantime, will be moving on next week to October 1963 (thus completing the second full year of stories from the modern Marvel universe). The Fantastic Four will be doing some more time traveling; Spider Man will encounter one of the FF’s villains; while Thor, Iron Man, Ant Man & the Wasp and the Human Torch will each encounter a brand new villain.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It.

The Case of the Beautiful Begger (1965), by Erle Stanley Gardner

In the 80 or so Perry Mason novels Gardner pumped out, I don’t think the formula ever varied at all. Someone would come to Mason about a legal matter of some sort. While Mason was dealing with that, someone would be murdered. Mason’s client would be accused and the lawyer would have to uncover the real killer’s identity to win his case.

But if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Gardner was a masterful storyteller, able to concoct infinite variations on this theme. The Mason novels are plot-driven, dialogue-heavy tales that are quick and fun to read, dripping with entertaining plot twists.

In Beautiful Begger, a young woman comes to Mason for help after her rich uncle has been declared mentally incompetent by greedy relatives. Mason, as he always does, goes all out for his client—even when his client isn’t really playing ball with him.

In this case, his client’s primary concern is helping her uncle. To this end, she takes it on herself to pretty much bust him out of the sanitarium in which he’s been confined. This, in turn, makes Mason’s job that much more difficult.

It’s not long before someone turns up dead and the young lady is arrested for murder. But Mason soon comes up with a ploy (involving tampering—but not really tampering—with evidence) to trick the real killer into revealing himself.

Gee whiz, this is fun stuff. Mason is a smart, likable protagonist. There’s not a lot of deep characterization here, but little touches (like Mason giving a large tip and making a special point of verbally thanking his waitress after getting good service in a restaurant) help make the various cast members seem real.

But Gardner’s incredible skills at sound plot construction and basic storytelling are what really carry the novel along. Erle Stanley Gardner could not have written a boring Perry Mason novel if he tried.

Next time, we’ll see what Belgium sleuth Hercule Poirot is up to in The ABC Murders.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

History of the Marvel Universe: September 1963, part 1


Loki comes up with yet another plot to avenge himself on Thor. This one involves making it look like the Hulk tried to wreck a passenger train, with the idea of getting the Hulk and Thor into a fight.

Not even the Hulk’s friend Rick Jones is sure the big green guy is innocent. So Rick and the Teen Brigade radio the Fantastic Four for help to bring the Hulk in—either to subdue him or prove he’s innocent.

The FF can’t come—Reed explains they’re wrapped up on another case (I doubt Stan Lee was overly worried about continuity in this much detail, but this actually works out. They were busy dealing with the Super Skrull in their own book and there's a point in the story where they would have been back at the Baxter Building to take Rick's radio call.). But Thor, Iron Man, Ant Man and the Wasp do answer the call.

This leads to some great Jack Kirby action stuff. Iron Man, Ant Man and Wasp fight a running battle with the Hulk, starting in a circus big top (where the Hulk is posing as a mechanical man in order to hide out) and then moving on to a Detroit auto factory. In the meantime, Thor has deduced that Loki is behind all this and returns to Asgard to fight his evil half-brother. Kirby’s art really shines here—especially a few panels in which Thor has to engage in a sort-of wrestling match with the creepiest looking Troll ever designed.

When Thor finally defeats Loki and proves Hulk’s innocence, the fighting comes to an end. At Wasp’s suggestion, the five heroes decide to remain together as a group, calling themselves the Avengers. Even the Hulk joins up, stating “I’m sick and tired of bein’ hunted and hounded. I’d rather be with you than against you.”

Of course, Hulk’s tenure won’t last long before everyone realizes he’s not much of a team player. But it’s a strong first issue with some great fight scenes.

It's interesting to compare the Avengers to DC's Justice League of America. Both books feature the teaming up of superheroes who also appear in their own solo books. Both are very well-written, but there is a notable difference. Gardner Fox, who was writing the JLA, did very plot-oriented stories, with little effort to give the characters individual personalities. The ability to generate clever plots was Gardner's main strength as a writer and those early JLA stories are still entertaining to read today.

The Avengers would be much more personality-driven right from the get-go. The various heroes would grow into very individual (if sometimes broadly defined) characters, much more so than the JLA did until later in the 1960s. And their personalities would often be the main driving force for some of the stories.

The Avengers differ from the Fantastic Four in a key way as well. The FF is definately a family and their interpersonal relationships reflect this. The Avengers, though, are (in very rough terms) more like an elite military unit. The members respect and usually like one another, but the team dynamic is very different.

X-MEN #1

Stan Lee and Jack Kirby had a busy month. They turned out a fine FF story and gave the Avengers a worthy premiere. Now they toss a whole bunch of brand-new super heroes into the Marvel Universe in yet another strong debut.

The background for the X-Men is clever and engaging. It also gives a reason for introducing more super powered beings into the world without having to come up with individual origin stories. It seems that there are a growing number of mutants in the world—people simply born with strange powers.

Wheelchair-bound Charles Xavier (Professor X) opens a school to train young mutants to use their powers for good. These are the original X-Men: Cyclops, Angel, Beast, Iceman and Marvel Girl. He intends for them to protect mankind from evil mutants.

And before you know it, an evil mutant turns up. Magneto uses his magnetic powers to take over a nuclear missile base. The X-Men manage to defeat him and free the base from his control, but he escapes them in the end.

It’s a strong story with lots of good action. We’re introduced to the X-Men while they are training in what will eventually be called the Danger Room. This allows us to get a grip on both their powers and personalities while having fun watching them avoid traps and spar with each other.

The fight with Magneto is also quite good. The villain employs his magnetic powers to gain control over a variety of captured army weapons, while the X-Men work effectively together as a team.

There’s a few interesting details to note as well. Bobby Drake—the Iceman—has a snowy look to him in these initial appearances. It’ll take 7 or 8 issues before he finally gets the smoother (and more visually pleasing) look we’re used to. And Hank McCoy—the Beast—has a gruff personality very similar to Ben Grimm. Stan and Jack soon realize he’s too much of a carbon copy of Ben, though. Before long, he’ll morph into the wise-cracking scientist we know and love today.

That’s it for September. It was a great month for Marvel, with several very strong stories; the introduction of several important villains; the formation of the Avengers and a chance to meet the X-Men.

Next time, we’ll take a look at a couple of the 1963 annuals before moving on to October 1963. Spider Man and the Human Torch will be teaming up for the first of many times, while the Fantastic Four will be doing battle with the Sub Mariner yet again.
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