We will bookend our first year of Arcs & Runs by highlighting the final days of the title Tales to Astonish. We started the year with TTA’s sister title Tales of Suspense. Both of these titles began production in 1959. Tales of Suspense started with horror stories from issue #1-#38, Iron Man from #39-#58, and an Iron Man/ Captain America split book ran from issues #59- #99 until the end of the title and the launch of a solo series for each character.
Tales to Astonish had started production two months earlier and its run was a bit more diverse than Tales of Suspense. It also started with horror titles from issues #1-34 and ironically this part of the run has now produced two very popular (expensive) and tough to find books TTA #13 (1st Groot) and TTA#27 (1st Ant Man). Ant-Man ran from issues #35-43, The Wasp was introduced and the Ant-Man/Wasp ran from issues #44-48. Ant-Man turned into Giant Man and the Giant-Man/Wasp combo ran from issues #49-58. A split book with Giant-Man and the Wasp sharing the book with the Incredible Hulk started in issue #60 thru #69. Giant Man and the Wasp leave at the end of issue #69 and the Sub-Mariner and the Hulk split the book from issues #70 thru issue #101 and the titles end. Whew! I did say it was more diverse.
Unfortunately for me I absolutely hated the Sub-Mariner character as a kid. He was a villain! Not many shades of grey back in the sixties. You were either fer us or agin’ us – no middle ground. Vietnam, Watergate, some great movies (Midnight Cowboy) and the anti-hero and the many shades of grey were on the way. The Punisher and Wolverine followed in the early 70’s and were enormously popular – pop culture was ready and wanted them then. I don’t know if they would have cut in the mid sixties culture. Sorry I digress –end of rant. The Sub-Mariner was not a popular character with me and although I liked the Hulk he wasn’t usually enough of a draw to get my whole $0.12 out of my pocket, consequently I didn’t buy many Tales to Astonish comics when I was a youngster. There were some exceptions, issues #82 (Iron Man) & #93 (Silver Surfer) because I was a fan of those characters.
In the early 80’s I purchased a reader run of Tales to Astonish #35-101. The Sub-Mariner read much better for me then and I see most of his books if not undervalued certainly under appreciated by a lot of the Marvel fan base. The other side of this split book is of course the Incredible Hulk. I always liked the Hulk. Almost always a good solid read. The Tales to Astonish run here (#60-101), follows on the heels of his own cancelled book The Incredible Hulk issues #1-6. How I wish I had bought and owned that collection!
Without further ado let’s take a look at the end of the Tales to Astonish run and the launch of two new titles into the Marvel Universe of 1968. Each of the five books in this arc delivers a little something special.
Let there be battle
Cover and interior art by Marie Severin and Dan Adkins. Story by Stan Lee.
We begin with the 100th issue of Tales to Astonish a feat in itself and it’s a battle issue to boot. Our tale begins with the Sub-Mariner once again contemplating an alliance with the Incredible Hulk. He sets out to find him and on his way, unwittingly disrupts some no good plan of the evil Puppet Master. He has had it with the Sub-Mariner as well and decides to do him in with the equally unwitting Hulk. The Hulk awakens in a trance like state thanks to a Puppet Master puppet, he breaks free from some rubble and leaps headlong into the just arriving Sub-Mariner and the battle is on. The battle works into the Sub-Mariner’s favour as it is taking place near water and the Hulk isn’t at his fighting best as a puppet. The battle moves to an island and as luck would have it is the hidden base of the Puppet Master. The Hulk is standing on the island and the Sub-Mariner creates his own little tsunami to wipe him out. The wall of water smashes into the island taking out the Puppet Masters secret base and everything else. When the water subsides the only thing left on the island is an unconscious human being – Bruce Banner, who is of no interest to Namor who decides the Hulk has perished and leaves.
Rick Jones, Thunderbolt Ross, Betty Brant, General Talbot and the military, Lady Dorma and ruins of Atlantis all appear in the book as well. There just not as fun as a Hulk/ Subby battle.
This is a split book and the last issue in this long running title.
The Incredible Hulk
Where Immortals Walk
Cover by Marie Severin, Jack Kirby, Syd Shores and Frank Giacoia. Interior art by Marie Severin and Frank Giacoia. Story by Stan Lee.
The still unconscious Bruce Banner is once again used as a pawn this time by a real heavy weight – Loki. Loki plans to use the Hulk to attack and destroy Asgard. He transports the Bruce Banner who turns into the Hulk at the rainbow bridge. He attacks Heimdall and The Warriors Three and is creating a lot of havoc in the process. Loki arrives and the Warriors Three smell a rat. They want to take the Hulk to an Oracle of truth to determine if he is attacking them of his own free will. On the way there Loki cast a spell at the Hulk and he falls into a cavern turning back into Bruce Banner and to his certain doom in the process. The story will continue in Incredible Hulk #102.
And Evil Shall Beckon
Interior art by Gene Colan and Dan Adkins. Story by Archie Goodwin.
The Sub-Mariner is being plagued by nightmares. There is an unknown power a voice that keeps taunting him about his lost time as an amnesiac. He feels drawn but doesn’t know where, and leaps to the sky. Flying over the USA does draw the attention of the military, but there attempts to bring him down prove futile. He finally makes his way to ice cold Antarctica (along way to go for a White Christmas). There is nothing. In his frustration he smashes his fists into a block of ice. A cavern emerges and the Sub-Mariner enters and at the end of the cave he is assailed by more visions in his head and he meets the man in his dreams – Destiny. To be continued in the bridge issue Iron Man/ Sub Mariner #1 up next.
This a split book with continuing stories for both Iron Man and the Sub-Mariner leading to their own #1 titles. We covered Iron Man in our first Arc and Run and we will cover the Sub-Mariner now. This is still a unique one of kind book.
Call him Destiny…..or call him death!
Cover and Interior art by Gene Colan and Frank Giacoia. Story by Roy Thomas.
The Sub-Mariner lashes out at Destiny to no avail. Destiny attacks with his Helmet of Power shooting icicles at Namor but it only slows him down. He then uses the Helmet to immobilize the Sub-Mariner. We are then treated to a brief partial origin story of the man called Destiny. He possesses the power to read peoples minds. He wants to expand that power and joins an expedition to the Antarctic that is in search of a power source left by the “ancients”. The expedition is lead by Captain Leonard McKenzie father of the Sub-Mariner. Destiny and Mackenzie clash and before we can find out what happens the Sub-Mariner breaks free of Destiny’s mind control and attacks him. During the battle there is an ice cave-in. Destiny’s Helmet of Power saves him while the Sub-Mariner is buried in ice. This story will be continued in Sub-Mariner #1.
This world not his own!
Cover art by Marie Severin and Frank Giacoia. Interior art by Marie Severin, George Tuska, and Syd Shores. Story by Gary Friedrich.
The Hulk has changed into Bruce Banner and he is falling into a cavern when he is caught and saved by the The Enchantress & the Executioner. Now the Enchantress wants to use the Hulk to help destroy Asgard. The Warriors Three are still with the Oracle and she “see’s the Hulk’s origins and history which we the comic reader also get to enjoy. Meanwhile Bruce Banner is trussed up by the Enchantress and she tells him what she wants him to do. He of course refuses and just before the Executioner can smite him with an axe he turns into the Hulk once more. The Hulk takes out the Executioner, and army of trolls. The Enchantress is not happy and kills the Hulk. Odin finally shows up and decides the Hulk should not be killed and uses his godly powers to bring him back to life. He then sends him to deep space away from Asgard (what a guy). Next issue the Hulk gets to meet his old buddy from Avengers #2 the Space Parasite! So begins a very successful and 30 year plus series featuring old greenskin. For more details on the merits of this book check out Walt’s Undervalued Spotlight #128.
Years of Glory Day of Gloom
Cover by John Buscema and Sol Brodsky. Interior art by John Buscema and Frank Giacoia. Story by Roy Thomas. A great cover rendition by Big John.
The Sub-Mariner is trapped under a mountain of ice while Destiny is free and leaves. Struggling to get free of the ice the Sub-Mariner mind begins to recall his own past. We are then treated to a detailed origin story. This covers his parents, his first meeting with Destiny, battles with the Nazis, amnesia, his discovery by the Human Torch and subsequent battles with the Fantastic 4. As the ice begins to melt, the Sub-Mariner breaks free and vows to track down and destroy the man called Destiny. This title ran for 72 issues and 2 annuals. The Sub-Mariner never seems to be out of series for long. He is a founding member of The Defenders and moves on to Super-Villain (he is a villain) Team-Up with Doctor Doom for a while as well.
44th Overstreet Guide
Tales to Astonish #100 6.0 $21 8.0 $48 9.0 $89 9.2 $130
Tales to Astonish #101 6.0 $24 8.0 $51 9.0 $96 9.2 $140
Iron Man/ Sub-Mariner #1 6.0 $45 8.0 $103 9.0 $227 9.2 $350
Incredible Hulk #102 6.0 $66 8.0 $154 9.0 $340 9.2 $525
Sub-Mariner #1 6.0 $63 8.0 $147 9.0 $324 9.2 $500
All of the books listed above are worth owning. If you combine it with the books in the Tales of Suspense post you have a cool 10 issue collection that captures the feel for both titles and contains some pretty special books.
Hope everyone gets something off their want list from Santa!!!
Tales to Astonish went to a monthly produced book in Oct.1960. Tales of Suspense went monthly in Jan.1961. Tales to Astonish produced two extra books in 1960 #12 and #14. This is how their numbers got out of sequence by two numbers as they both started publishing Jan. 1959. My nerdy factoid of the day. Where is that rum & egg nog…..
Yeah that six-issue run of the Hulk which ended with the beautiful Ditko-rendered #6 was a real treat when I was a kid. That last issue was the first comic I ever bought with my own money and I had it until a few years ago when it literally fell to pieces. They used particularly second-rate paper on some of those early Marvels (see all the early issues of Journey into Mystery to witness the extent of browning and brittle deterioration), so Marvel-chipping wasn’t the worst of our fears. Somehow though, those anthology titles left me cold after the thrill of all those pre-hero Marvels with the marvelous Kirby and Ditko monster stories. Give me Fin Fang Foom any day over pretty much any of the 50/50 splits.
I actually like a lot of the split book stuff. All of TOS and the Steranko Strange Tales being at the top of the list.
Kirby monster books are great too. That Strange Tales #89 (first Fin Fang Foom) is a real tough book. I have settled for NM re-print copy of it in Where Monsters Dwell #21 until I can nab an original. It has been a long wait to date!
Strangely enough, it took me years to track down a decent copy of that Strange Tales #89 with Fin Fang Foom. My first exposure had been in Fantasy Masterpieces #2, which was an understatement of a title if ever there was one. In the interim I had begun collecting any pre-hero Strange Tales I could find and reveling in those great monster stories. Once I had my original though, I sold all the others, which paled by comparison. There’s a moral to this story somewhere, but I’ll be damned if I can pick it out. I can hardly wait for your next post to jog my memory about even more cool blasts from the past.
I came into the scene right when the Hulk and Sub-Mariner started their own series, so everything I picked up was after the fact. In TTA I loved the Gene Colan Sub-Mariner even though Vinnie Colletta would not ever be my choice as an inker(even though he did somehow work on JIM and Thor) bu I had a real problem with the Hulk run and it’s musical chairs version of artists. I couldn’t stand Bill Everett’s version of the Hulk and it looked like he didn’t like it very much either. Gil Kane’s few issues were really interesting and Marie Severen never really turned my crank either.But none the less it is an important part of Silver Age history and one of these days will stop being so affordable.So get ’em while the gettings good!
I certainly agree on the Hulk musical chair version of artists. Youv’e touched on this in your coloum and it’s unsettling. I am not a huge Herb Trimpe fan either but at least he got a chance to run with the Hulk through the bronze age and that is probably my favourite collecting period for this character.
The latter part of the Tales to Astonish run (and Strange Tales) remains very afforadable and I imagine a retailers nightmare. They are very good books. Over the holidays I checked many long boxes at retailers who had them on sale in numbers well below guide (30-40%) and not many takers. I’m with you, I think they are missing a bargain.