Marvel Super-Heroes 12-20: Hits & Misses

When DC comics re-energized the super hero genre in the late 50’s and 60’s they had two titles that they used to introduce and re-introduce characters, namely Showcase and Brave & the Bold. The new Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman, Teen Titans, and others being some examples of characters and groups that made their debut in these titles.

Marvel comics had just re-entered the super-hero genre and practically everything they introduced was new for a while. They did do some market testing in existing books like Strange Tales #114 with the Captain America character, but they did not have a title dedicated to new character introductions.

Marvel Super-Heroes debuted as a title in Oct. 1966 as a one-shot reprint issue featuring, Avengers #2, Daredevil # 1, and Marvel Mystery #8. The title Fantasy Masterpieces debuted in Feb. 1966 and featured marvel reprints from Marvel’s golden and monster age. The title ran bi-monthly for 11 issues and ended in Oct. 1967. In the next issue #12 the title changed to Marvel Super-Heroes and featured new content, followed by golden age stories. The new stories were mostly intended to be try-outs for possible new titles to be introduced into the Marvel universe. Like most experiments the results varied widely. Let’s take a quick look at the hits and misses of this short but fun run, complete with baseball analogies of their success or failure.

Marvel Super-Heroes 12Marvel Super-Heroes #12
The coming of Captain Marvel

Cover and interior art by Gene Colan, inks by Frank Giacoia. Story by Stan Lee.

The first new story in this title introduces the world to Captain Marvel, who is a high-ranking soldier from another planet and race. The race is the Kree and advanced race from another galaxy. We meet the love of his life Una and his jealous boss Colonel Von Rogg. The Kree are investigating the destruction of one of there Sentry (FF#64), and determine if the planet earth should be allowed to continue to exist. We all hope they like what they find. Captain Marvel is sent alone investigate the planet, his destination is Cape Canaveral Florida. There is more but we’ll leave it at that – the story continues in MSH#13…

I really liked the premise of this story. A story like this could be taking place on earth right now (imagination on high). It takes a little while for the character of Captain Marvel to catch on. He is a bit like a well-meaning German solider in a WWII movie, a bit hard to root for if he isn’t on your side. This book is a home run for me and its best days as an investment maybe a head of it if the character is adapted in to the cosmic Marvel movie universe.

43rd Overstreet: 6.0 $36 | 8.0 $82 | 9.0 $179 | 9.2 $275

Marvel Super-Heroes 13Marvel Super-Heroes #13
Where stalks the Sentry

Cover and interior art by Gene Colan, inks by Paul Reinmann. Story by Roy Thomas.

Our story continues with Captain Marvel on earth testing out his powerful Uni-beam wrist band. His other wrist band is connected to his boss Colonel Von Rogg who we find out is beyond jealous of Mar-vell but homicidal. Von Rogg attempts to shoot down Captain Marvel as he returns to the ship, unfortunately he hits a small plane piloted by Walter Lawson an expert on missile guidance systems from the base who is killed. Captain Marvel finds Lawson dead and his identity papers, which he modifies to take over his identity and obtain access to the base. Still one problem to be solved, Captain Marvel can’t breathe our air without a Kree breathing potion (hope we don’t need that someday) and his girl Una finds a way to get it to him. Next it’s on to the Cape and a meeting with General Bridges who takes him to a well guarded building containing two important items. First the lost Kree Sentry 459 thought to be destroyed and more importantly the chief of security Carol Danvers. Carol Danvers goes on to become a long standing heroine in the marvel universe as Ms Marvel. Meanwhile Von Rogg sees the latest developments thru Mar-vell’s wrist band and decides to activate the Sentry, hoping he kills Captain Marvel. Once activated the Sentry begins to lay waste to the base, Captain Marvel changes out of his Walter Lawson identity and confronts the Sentry as this issue comes to and end. The end of this issue states that the “pulse pounding payoff” will be concluded in Marvel Super-Heroes # 14. Of course we know this doesn’t happen. A decision is made to give Captain Marvel is own book and in May of 1968 Captain Marvel #1 is released and our story is concluded there.

The Captain Marvel title has a start and stop and some changes along the way, but does have a successful run of 62 issues’. MSH#13 is part of the same home run I gave our issue #12. It may or may not have the same collector value (Carol Danvers 1st appearance not withstanding) however it’s still a good book to own.

43rd Overstreet: 6.0 $21 | 8.0 $49 | 9.0 $92 | 9.2 $135

Marvel Super-Heroes #14
May 1968
The Reprehensible riddle of the Sorcerer

Cover art and interior art by Ross Andru, inks by Bill Everett, story by Stan Lee.

This issue was supposed to be the finale of the interesting Captain Marvel story. Instead we are treated to a sub-par Spider-Man filler issue. This issue was apparently written for a possible Amazing Spider-man publication and was drawn by Ross Andru (who I like) because John Romita had suffered a wrist injury. He recovered more quickly than anticipated and the story wasn’t used. I would only pick this up if you were reading the golden age re-prints at the back of the book. Kirby’s first Marvel work is reprinted there.

A ground ball out to the first baseman for this book. I still can’t believe this book has a higher value than Spectacular Spider-Man #2 Magazine. Let it go Mike……

43rd Overstreet: 6.0 $27 | 8.0 $62 | 9.0 $126 | 9.2 $190

Marvel Super-Heroes 15Marvel Super-Heroes #15
July 1968
Let silence shatter

Cover and interior art by Gene Colan, cover and interior inks by Vince Colletta. Story by Archie Goodwin.

Medusa gets her own story that does cover a bit of familiar ground. Medusa is trying to find a way to get Black Bolt his voice back. Her old Frightful Four teammate the Wizard claims to have a technology that would accomplish the task. He will let her have access to it for a price. She must help him steal a quantity of quadranium, which she agrees to do. Once the quadranium is in the Wizards hands she realizes that she has been duped and she fights the balance of the Frightful Four in an attempt to atone for her wrong doing. She succeeds by locking the baddies in a space capsule as they are about to enter outer space. She falls from the capsule to certain death when she is caught by Black Bolt.
Safe in his arms no words are required.

I really like Gene Colan’s artwork but I think if I was going to try and sell Medusa as a stand alone character I would have used the over worked John Romita to draw her. Beauty sells, it always has, and back then no one drew beautiful women like Romita. I know that sounds sexist, and it is, but is also true – especially in the late sixties. Take a look at the cover of MSH #15 and then look at Amazing Spider-Man #62 and let me know which Medusa you (as a young comic reading teenager of course) would want to be tangled up with!

This is an OK book. I’ll give it and infield hit just because I like Medusa.

43rd Overstreet: 6.0 $15 | 8.0 $31 | 9.0 $53 | 9.2 $75

Marvel Super-Heroes #16
Sept. 1968
The Phantom Eagle

Cover, interior art, and inks by Herb Trimpe. Story by Gary Friedrich.

I don’t think this story about a WW1 flying ace Karl Kaufman who dons the cape of the Phantom Eagle was ever considered a “pilot” for a comic book series. One and done. Story blends in well with golden age re-prints in the back.

A high pop fly out to the catcher for this one. It doesn’t get past home plate.

Someone at Overstreet thinks this book is worth the same as our previous book. Nuff said!

Marvel Super-Heroes #17
Nov. 1968
The Black Night Reborn

Cover art Howard Purcell & John Romita, interior art by Howard Purcell, inks by Dan Adkins. Story by Roy Thomas.

Nice story by Roy Thomas about Dane Whitman the on again off again Black Night picking up the ebony blade once more to battle Modred the Mystic. I enjoyed this character right from the get go in Avengers #48. This story might be a more popular read today than it was back then, with all of the fantasy shows from the silver screen and TV. This book also features a beautiful cover by Howard Purcell and John Romita. Treat yourself to a higher grade copy of this book and see what I mean. It is probably going nowhere as an investment, but a worthwhile book to have.

Best of all it too is priced by Overstreet like the Phantom Eagle.

I’ll give this book a single to right field.

Marvel Super-Heroes 18Marvel Super-Heroes #18
Jan. 1969
Earth Shall Overcome

Cover and interior art by Gene Colan, inks by Mike Esposito, story by Arnold Drake.

With the release of the new much-anticipated and hyped Guardians of the Galaxy movie in the next couple of days this has turned into one a very hot book. The movie is about the new current team members, not this one but it is this book that is getting the buzz. In this book we have Major Victory, Charlie -27, Martinex, and Centurion Yondu (in the movie) coming together as a team to battle the evil Badoon (see Silver Surfer #2). This book was enough of a hit to generate future appearances in other Marvel books like Marvel Two in One #5 and series like Marvel Presents and on to modern day series. MSH #18 was a tough book for me to find in decent condition, even a way back in the early 80’s. Guardians of the Galaxy are the second cosmic hit to come out of this run.

I think you have to call this book a homer and potential grand slam if the movie is a hit. Overstreet doesn’t really represent the current going rate for this book but here goes.

43rd Overstreet: 6.0 $33 | 8.0 $76 | 9.0 $163 | 9.2 $250

Marvel Super-Heroes 19Marvel Super-Heroes #19
Mar. 1969
My father, My enemy

Cover art by Barry Smith and Herb Trimpe, interior art by George Tuska, inks by Sid Greene, story by Arnold Drake and Steve Parkhouse.

This story features Kazar and his pet Sabertooth Zabu both long-standing established character’s in the marvel universe who have recently appeared as guests in Daredevil, X-Men, and the Amazing Spider-Man. The story itself feels like the start of a series. It features Kazar’s two homes England and the Savage land, unresolved family issues with his brother (Lord Plunderer) and his father that are moved forward in the story but not resolved. A good story leaving your interest piqued.

Kazar has always worked better for me in a smaller or supporting role which is what he soon will have in Astonishing Tales. He later gets a couple of his own series, but the split book works better most of the time (notable exception Astonishing tales #11-13 all very good).

A solid single up through center field for this one. Nice book to own that won’t break the bank.

43rd Overstreet: 6.0 $12 | 8.0 $27 | 9.0 $44 | 9.2 $60

Marvel Super-Heroes #20
May 1969
This man, This demon

Cover and interior art by Larry Lieber and Frank Giacoia, inks by Vince Colletta. Story by Roy Thomas and Larry Lieber.

Our final issue of this run brings us to the tortured villain Doctor Doom. Doctor Doom has been the pre-eminent villain in the early years of Marvel and seemed to have practically taken on every major super-hero at some point along the way. In this issue Doctor Doom locks horns with another villain the alchemist Diablo. As usual the goal is world conquest and Diablo has brought a trump card – an old girlfriend Valeria of the doctor. We get to look into the past of Victor von doom and his current state. He eventually outwits and triumphs over Diablo. He loses the girl once again and Doctor Doom is alone once more with his ambition for company. I actually enjoyed this story the most of all in the run. I want to see more of Doctor Doom and I will get my wish when he teams up Kazar in a split book Astonishing Tales which debuts in August 1970. He later stars in a title more to his true nature in Marvel Super Villain Team-Up.

I’ll give this book a double off the left field wall. I have to give Doom more than a single he’s pointing something at my head.

43rd Overstreet 6.0: $15 | 8.0 $30 | 9.0 $50 | 9.2 $70

Alas issue #20 would be the last book with new content in it, part of the wave of cuts that also took out the Silver Surfer and suspended the X-Men. The golden age content also all but disappears as well. Beginning with issue #21 the book reverted to a re-print title covering early X-Men, Daredevil, Iron Man (TOS), Avengers #3, before switching to Tales to Astonish re-prints in issue #32 and then Incredible Hulk from issue #56 through to the end of the title issue #105 in Jan.1982.

Marvel Super-Heroes was the first in a wave of new try-out titles by Marvel. The aforementioned Astonishing Tales, Amazing Adventures, Marvel Premiere, Marvel Spotlight, Marvel Team-Up and others would help introduce characters to comic readers then, and who we still read and enjoy today.

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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Charlie Kim
9 years ago

I wonder if MSH#20 has or will have any value due to the ad… Many collectors seek out DD#115 for the Wolverine ad which predates Hulk #181. As well, FOOM#2 which supposedly features a Wolverine prototype:

Personally, I’m not convinced that’s a Wolverine prototype but history has a funny way of writing itself.

Charlie Kim
9 years ago

The only similarity seems to be the name and some sort of healing power. In the world of comics, people are always dreaming stuff up in isolation and also copying stuff they’ve seen so either scenario is possible. You can read through the CGC board conversation… some good points being made there:

Your Hockey analogy is very similar to the concept that the more you fail, the more you’ll succeed… which is why I keep buying lottery tickets. I’ve lost so many that I’m bound to hit the jackpot soon! Ha!

Dennis De Pues
9 years ago

I always loved the introduction of Captain Marvel in issues 12 and 13.There was an odd and interesting feel about it.The Walter Lawson character was anything but a standard leading man type of character and the sci-fi/superhero amalgamation was really quite unique. Gene Colan drew a story that had an uneasiness to it and if only the first few issues of his own title were not damaged by the inking style of Vince Colletta, the book may have taken off sooner.The run from about number 5 to 12 were absolutely terrible and the Gil Kane issues leading up to the introduction of Jim Starlins vision were only interesting from an artistic standpoint.