Marvel 1960s Annuals: Reprints

In our final instalment of Marvel Annuals from the 1960’s we will look at some of the best and my favourite reprints from Marvel’s early days. I confess once again to being completely enamoured with these oversize square bound books and lucky for me there were a lot of them produced from the mid-sixties thru the mid seventies. Let’s get to them!

Strange Tales Annual 1Strange Tales Annual #1
September 1962

This book has been long considered Marvel’s first or second annual, along with Millie the Model Annual #1. They were the only two annuals produced by Marvel in 1962 and no annuals were produced by Marvel prior to this date. Which came first? There are no publishing dates in the books themselves. In previous years the Overstreet Price guide had listed these books with things like –1st Marvel Annual?, 2nd Marvel annual ?, early Marvel annual etc. In the 45th Overstreet Price guide they seem to have settled on Strange Tales Annual #1 as the definitive first and Millie maybe #2. I don’t know what the rationale behind this was, but there it is. Mel Taylor is doing the happy dance.

The book itself comes at the end of the Strange Tales run as a title of horror books which began in Strange Tales #1 (6/51) and ends with issue #100 (9/62).

Strange Tales Annual #1 pays homage to the era that preceded it with thirteen stories from the late 50’s early 60’s and the four titles that would turn Super-Hero by the end of 1963. The stories in the book are from the following books:

  • Journey into Mystery #53, 55(2), & #59.  The Mighty Thor takes over the title in issue #83.
  • Strange Tales # 73,76, & #78.  The Human Torch takes over the title in issue #101.
  • Tales of Suspense # 7 & #9. The Invincible Iron Man takes over in issue #39.
  • Tales to Astonish #1, 6 (2), & #7. The Ant-Man takes over this title in issue #35.

If you enjoy those 5-7 page horror stories of Marvels early pre-superhero days this book should be near the top of your want list.

Marvel Tales 1Marvel Tales #1
January 1964

This is one of my favourite books of all time. It has lost some of its importance over time as origin stories have been reprinted countless times since this book cam out. It was very valuable to young readers and collectors who missed out on the initial release of Marvel’s new wave of super-heroes. Look up the Undervalued Spotlight #74 for an excellent report on this book by guest writer Dave. I do have a couple of future stories planned that are related to this book. We’ll get to them at a later date. Meanwhile the content of this book is listed below.

  • Amazing Fantasy #15, first appearance of Spider-Man
  • Hulk #1, first appearance of the Hulk
  • Tales to Astonish #35, first Ant-Man in uniform
  • Tales to Astonish #49, first appearance of Giant-Man
  • Sgt. Fury #1, first appearance Sgt. Fury and the Howling Commandos
  • Tales of Suspense #39, first appearance of Iron Man
  • Tales of Suspense #48, first appearance of new Red/Gold armour
  • Journey in to Mystery #83, first appearance of the Mighty Thorr (spelling error included)

These origin stories were reprinted within two years of the original release. The paper and printing quality are pretty much the same as the originals.

Marvel Tales 2Marvel Tales #2
January 1965

This is the follow up book to Marvel Tales #1 and arrived on the stands one year later. Although similar to the first annual which was pretty much first appearances of characters and costumes. This book begins to feature additional reprint stories from other titles.  Our book today does feature some key early reprints and full content is listed below.

  • X-Men #1, first appearance of The X-Men
  • Hulk #3, first appearance of the Ringmaster
  • Strange Tales #115, fourth appearance and Origin of Doctor Strange
  • Amazing Adult Fantasy #8, a great little “monster” tale
  • Avengers #1, first appearance of The Avengers

In July 1966 Marvel Tales #3 arrived on the stands as a bi-monthly title. It featured early reprints from The Amazing Spider-Man, The Human Torch (Strange Tales), and Thor (Journey into Mystery). This would give way in the early 70’s to single issues of the Spider Man (MT#34) and continue as title for thirty years ending in November 1994.

Marvel Collectors' Item Classics 1Marvel Collectors’ Item Classics #1
February 1965

We progress one step further as Marvel continues to reprint its early comics. With a re-print book dedicated to its then flagship title the Fantastic Four. I always thought it was kind of odd that they did not reprint Fantastic Four #1 to start this book, however this may have been because they had re-printed their origin a couple of times already in their ongoing title. Listed below is the book’s content.

  • Fantastic Four #2, 2nd Fantastic Four appearance and first appearance of The Skrulls
  • Tales to Astonish #36, 2nd appearance of Ant-Man in uniform
  • Journey Into Mystery #97, 1st Tales of Asgard back-up story
  • Amazing Spider-Man #3, 1st appearance of Doctor Octopus and Human Torch cross-over

Marvel Collectors' Item Classics 2Marvel Collectors’ Item Classics #2
April 1966

The 2nd issue of Marvel Collector Item Classic hit the stand in early 1966 and is the most streamlined reprint book we have reviewed so far. There are only three stories and no extras in this book.

  • Fantastic Four #3, first Fantastic Four in uniform
  • Tales to Astonish #37, cute but ho-hum Ant-Man story
  • Amazing Spider-Man, 1st appearance of the Sandman

Marvel Collectors’ Item Classics #3 is the beginning of a bi-monthly title running opposite Spider-Man’s Marvel Tales. The content in Marvel Collectors’ Item Classics changes as well. Spider-Man is gone and Iron Man (Tales of Suspense) and Doctor Strange (Strange Tales) are in. The Incredible Hulk pops in every once in awhile too. The title changes to Marvel’s Greatest Comics at issue #23, and changes to single issue Fantastic Four reprints beginning with Marvel’s Greatest Comics #35. It runs until issue #96 in January 1981.

Marvel Super-Heroes 1Marvel Super-Heroes #1
October 1966

Next up we have a couple of one-shot reprints and we begin with Marvel Super-Heroes #1. This is a great title for a comic book that does get used little later in Marvel comics, but is one and done here. The book features three Marvel classics and a blend of Gold/Silver age stories. Listed below is the content.

  • Avengers #2, 2nd appearance of the Avengers
  • Daredevil #1, first appearance of Daredevil
  • Marvel Mystery Comics #8, first Golden Age Sub-Mariner/Human Torch Battle

Marvel Super-Heroes re-surfaced as a title in December 1967 as a tryout title for new and established Marvel characters in issues #12-20. It returned to giant size reprints with issue #21 and running until #31 in November 1971. It suspended publication until September 1972 when it resurfaced again as single issue Tales to Astonish/Hulk reprints until it ceased publication with issue #105 in January 1982.

Tales Of Asgard 1Tales of Asgard #1
October 1968

We wind up our look at Marvel Annual reprints with a bit of guilty pleasure for me anyway, with another one-shot Tales of Asgard #1. This is a collection of 10 stories that were featured as back up stories in Thor’s Journey Into Mystery issue’s #97-106. These stories were small 5 pager’s that featured stories about various characters that resided in Asgard and made up a big part of Thor’s world. Storm and Frost giants, Heimdall, Balder the Brave, Odin and others all appeared in various stories here. This book must have been a commercial failure as no second book was forthcoming. Tales of Asgard as a feature ran all the way to issue #145 of the Mighty Thor. I can’t leave this book without mentioning the beautifully rendered Jack Kirby cover. First rate as usual.

Tales Of Asgard issue 1 cover by Jack Kirby and Frank Giacoia. Source.
Tales Of Asgard issue 1 cover by Jack Kirby and Frank Giacoia. Source.

45th Overstreet values for our featured books are …

6.0 8.0 9.0 9.2
Strange Tales Annual #1 $171 $456 $1,028 $1,600
Marvel Tales Annual #1 $93 $223 $499 $775
Marvel Tales Annual #2 $30 $66 $138 $210
Marvel Collectors’ Item Classics Annual #1 $33 $72 $154 $235
Marvel Collectors’ Item Classics Annual #2 $18 $41 $76 $110
Marvel Super-Heroes #1 $33 $73 $157 $240
Tales of Asgard #1 $18 $37 $66 $95

Well, we spent the summer reviewing reprints. It will be time to get back to some original content next month. We’ll see you then!

Mike Huddleston
Mike Huddleston

Mike was born and raised in Cambridge, Ontario. He has read and collected comics for over 40 years. A Marvel Zombie specializing in the Silver, bronze and early copper age of comics.

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mel taylor
mel taylor
8 years ago

Hey Mike
Sadly, a quick check of the Marvel database reveals release dates of September for the Strange Tales Annual and January for Millie the Model, so I’m not exactly doing a happy dance, but that Strange Tales is still one of my all-time favourite comics, just behind Strange Tales #89. I collected Strange Tales for years, mostly trying to hunt down my two faves. When I finally got them both, I sold the rest of my pre-heroes collection just to pay for them, because I’m a specificist, not a completist. And, no, that makes no sense whatsoever to many collectors.

The annuals are a great place for Marvel beginners to start their collection. Fabulous reprints of classic stories and that odd-ball perfect-bound format make for a fun search. You can also specialize in those great blank-back-and-inside-cover Canadian reprints, when Canadian reprints had to sport something other than just a five-cent price difference to attract fanatics. : )

cheers, mel

mel taylor
mel taylor
8 years ago

Isn’t it funny that as soon as you add that “Canadian edition” in quotes, a lot of collector interest flies right out the window, unless,of course, they are Canadian Whites from our Golden Age? Actually, once the War Exchange Conservation Act ended with the close of World War Two, Canada had a rather healthy reprint market that eventually limped along into the Silver Age, long before the “Canadian Price Variant” boom reared its ugly head in Overstreet. Canadian reprints always used to sell for about one third the price of the Yankee originals. I used to think that might change when people realized that the Canaidan variants were ten times as rare. Only time will tell. I know some Archie completists are going crazy now that F.E. Howard’s Super Comics are on the radar. Golden Age Archie’s previously unknown because they were only available in Canada, you say? Pity.