Top 10 Marvel Covers of the 1960s

Silver Age Marvel Comics may be the most collected comics in all of collectingdom. I’m sure we all have our favourite covers from this all-important era. In this post, I’ll give you my top ten. In all honesty, I’m happy with my top 8 but feel that those last two spots could have gone to about fifty worthy candidates.

For my top 10, I’ll be looking at Marvel Comics from November 1961’s Fantastic Four #1 up through to December 1969 issues. The end of the Silver Age differs depending on who you ask but for this post, I’m defining January 1970 as the beginning of the Bronze Age. To compare apples to apples I will not be looking at pre-Fantastic Four #1 Kirby Monster books not will I be looking at Romance titles or Westerns, this will be a heroes centric search for the best covers of the Silver Age.

Lets start, and let me know which ones you felt should have been on here.

10. I have to cheat and pick a tie for 10th spot, Gene Colan’s cover for Daredevil #53 is one of my favourites, the action on the scales reminds me of those great Golden Age crime covers. From June 1969.

10. Sharing the 10th spot is this classic from Steve Ditko. I think Amazing Spider-Man #13 is the best of all the Ditko covers, its helped out by the heavy whites and that too cool Mysterio scene. From June 1964.

9. For this spot I had a tough time choosing between Cap #110 and Cap #115 and as much as I liked the Steranko I’ve always been mesmerized by Marie Severin’s cover of Captain America #115. From July 1969.

8.Here I have a Jack Kirby classic, the key to the desirability of Strange Tales #107 is the simplicity of the action scene on the cover. From April 1963.

7.This cover is so good Marvel used it three times, here, on the Spectacular Spider-Man magazine and then on Annual #9. John Romita really made a statement on his first Amazing Spider-Man cover, its one of the best titles in a run full of great covers. From August 1966.

6. Marie Severin is back after my heart again with this stunning cover for Incredible Hulk #104, this cover has always been one of my favourites. From June 1968.

5. Jack Kirby’s Amazing Fantasy #15 is hands down the best Early Key Marvel cover, I was worried that the weight of this icon was pushing it farther up this list than it deserves but I think I got it right. As everybody should know it’s from August 1962.

4. Step back and take in this beauty. John Buscema pulls out all the stops for his epic cover to Avengers Annual #2. I can’t stop looking at this cover. From September 1968.

3. Hulk’s King-Size Special #1 is one of those must-have covers that always seems to be in demand. Everything works on this cover, the colour scheme, the pose, the crumbling and heavy HULK mast, all rolled into one it is irresistible. The motif has been sampled countless times since. From October 1968.

2. This top 10 list was always going to come down to 2 covers and putting John Romita’s Amazing Spider-Man #50 in the second spot maybe shows my preferences a bit. This covers significance and impact cannot be overstated, its one of the most instantly recognizable covers in comics and it’s beautiful. From July 1967.

  1. We’ve arrived at the best cover of the Marvel Silver Age! John Buscema gives us a masterpiece with his cover to Silver Surfer #4. Its simplicity, style and elegance combined with its power and substance take my breath away every time I see it.
Walter Durajlija
Walter Durajlija

Walter Durajlija is an Overstreet Advisor and Shuster Award winner. He owns Big B Comics in Hamilton Ontario.

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3 years ago

I would certainly put ASM 50 at the #1 spot–it’s instantly recognizable in pop culture, more than probably any other Silver Age Marvel cover.

Bud Plant
Bud Plant
3 years ago

Narrowing that all down to ten, so so hard. Sad not to see a Fantastic Four in there. I love Marie Severin but don’t think her Hulk belongs here. The Steranko Hulk is a true classic. AF #15 of course, and both John Buscemas are just amazing, but not necessarily at #1.

This make me realize how personal these choices are for each of us. Those Steranko Caps like #110 were wondrous books, i still can remember reading them as they came out on the stands. The “death of Cap” and then the double-page spread return in #113 still is among my favorite scenes. FF was my favorite title up to the #60s or up #70s… so I would have picked a cover from there. #5 with Doc Doom, #40 with DD, a Galactus or inhumans…stronger than Romita unmasking Spidey, for example, in my book.

I think your fondness for Romita shows here. As a Ditko fan, It took me a long time to begin to appreciate Romita after he took over. It was so conventional compared to the the power and angst Ditko brought to Spidey, and that was compounded in his final issues befor Romita came on board. Romita’s Peter Parker suddenly grew up, less gangly and unsure of himself, better looking, more fit, finally getting the girl and what girl’s those were.

Ditko’s Spidey was a tormented loner, easier for awkward jr. hi or high school kids (like me and many fans back then) to identify with. Not Romita’s slick character.

Spidey #13 is an interesting and deserved choice, most of those in that period are amazing. I admite you for choosing Strange Tales #107, its an elegant, iconic cover. Excellent pick there. Another one-on-one cover, your preference comes out for these and your #1 pick, Hulk and Spidey picks. Sorry, Cap #115 seems awkward and honestly doesn’t work for me, but obviously it hit a cord for you.

That Strange Tales run with the Torch is still generally neglected, marred by changing artists inside, but I have a fondness for them and enjoyed re-collecting them. The Kirby covers never disappoint. I think he indentified with the teen-aged, impulsive Torch. It shows in the FF stories right from the beginning in FF #1. Who wouldn’t want to Flame On and fly up into the sky. Reminds me of the last scene in the first Matrix film…

mel taylor
mel taylor
3 years ago

I love it when Walt puts together lists for any reason at all. My mind immediately started rambling over some of my own faves of the ’60s and it is completely different, as I’m sure anybody’s would likely be. Anyroad, here goes, just off the top of my head and in no particular order:

Silver Surfer #3 with that great Mephisto cover. I know a lot of people prefer the Thor cover of #4, but I think the Mephisto is a much better composition, and that red and yellow just leaps off the page.

Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. #7 with Steranko’s wonderful Daliesque cover.

Daredevil #44 for pure genius composition and the added bonus of some rare Steranko inks on somebody else’s pencils. Too cool

Amazing Spider-man #33 with the pivotal scene in that three issue story arc that blew everybody away. This is the kind of work that made it so hard for me to swallow when Romita took over. They totally lost me with that choice although I realize there is a whole generation of Spidey fans for whom Romita is the definitive artist on the title.

Avengers #57 with that beautiful Buscema Vision cover. And, just as a side note, that must be one of a very few comics to end with a lengthy quote (well, actually, the entire poem) from Shelley’s Ozymandias. It works brilliantly!

Doctor Strange #180 with Daredevil and Eternity hovering over Manhattan.

Strange Tales #89. Now I know Walt decided to leave out the monster books from the early ’60s, but, seriously, how could you not include Fin Fang Foom in a cover gallery of ’60s classics?!

Now my last three choices are FF heavy because I think they were the basis of much of what was to come in the Marvel Universe, and they have always been my favourite Marvel creations bar none, so….

FF#49 for that wonderful Galactus cover.

FF#51 The perfect wrapper for what Len Wien once called that “single issue story that tore everybody’s heart out.”

and finally

FF#55 Mostly for the great battle cover and that lovely deep purple ink. This also happens to be the first Fantastic Four I ever bought (before going back to fill in the holes right down to #1) and I can still see it sitting on the spinner rack at Lou’s Variety. And, for trivia buffs, notice that Kirby gave Ben Grimm four fingers and a thumb on his right hand!

So there you have it!

Thanks for the challenge Walt!

cheers, mel

3 years ago

Nice picks Walt, Ben, Bud and Mel

Fantastic Four Annuals 2 and 3 Walt. Id never seen so many characters on a cover as FF annual #3. Too bad that middle word blurb spoils it a bit. And a surprise cover appearance of Kid Colt…how’d that happen? They should do a story explaining Kid Colts unseen involvement.

Daredevil 43…DD and Cap fighting,never better

Id choose Strange Tales 108 Walt, for its subject matter and colors.

I couldn’t argue with Silver Surfer 3 or 4…both favorites of mine too….
Avengers annual 2 I have 3 copies….nuff said?
Submariner covers 5,6, 8 and 9….consistent delights. An Under appreciated Run, with great covers and guest stars.

Tales of suspense #49…what a beauty

And Xmen # 9…gosh it gets my blood boiling…what a cover that captures the essence of each character

I hope you do DC comic covers next Walt…
Their sales were more then doubling Marvels for your described silver age period. It wasn’t until Nov 1971 and the Marvel 25 center trick that the sales numbers became to change.

Chris O.
Chris O.
3 years ago

Good choices Walt! However I really don’t think that DD should be in there. If the 1960’s were anything to comics, it definitely included dynamic storytelling and covers, and that DD is just too golden age for my liking. If you replace the Daredevil title with Crime Does Not Pay, its pretty much the same thing.

I think Nick Fury 1 should be on this list as well as FF 12 and Strange Tales 146.

Just my two cents.

Gerald Eddy
Gerald Eddy
3 years ago

Well, I certainly like these covers but like the other would have had some different picks. For me, the less is more approach on FF 48 does it. It is my all time favorite silver age cover because ( then) we did not yet know what it was our stalwart hero’s were gazing up at!

3 years ago

I agree FF # 48 is great Gerald…it too would be my pick

3 years ago

I feel that one of the Steranko Nick Fury covers belongs in this list.