MARVEL REPRINT TITLES
OF THE 1960s

Part Three (late 1967 to 1969)

 

 

 

KEYWORDS TO SUCCESS: "MARVEL" AND "SUPER-HEROES"

 
The steady bi-monthly publication schedules of Marvel's three reprint titles Marvel Tales, Marvel Collectors' Item Classics and Fantasy Masterpieces was subject to sudden changes when the December 1967 cover date production slot rolled around - and the changes came with more than just one twist.

The first was a less than obvious change of title, as Fantasy Masterpieces #11 (October 1967) was followed two months later not by Fantasy Masterpieces #12 but rather Marvel Super-Heroes #12 (cover dated December 1967, on sale October 10th 1967).

 

 

With no actual announcement made to the title change, the continued numbering was the only clue to what was happening, even though Marvel Super-Heroes #12 featured most prominently in Stan Lee's op-ed Stan's Soapbox on the Bullpen Bulletin page:

"Every so often we like to toss a completely unexpected bombshell surprise at you. Well, we've got one for you now! We decided to mention it in this space, which is the most widely-read paragraph in all of comicdom, so that none of you will miss it. Just for kicks, yours truly and Genial Gene Colan have created a brand new superhero who we think is destined to become an overnight sensation.

 


Marvel Super-Heroes #12
(December 1967)

His name - CAPTAIN MARVEL !! We don't wanna say anything more about him now, except to tell you that he's starring right now in MARVEL SUPER-HEROES. It's on sale right now!" (January 1968 Bullpen Bulletin)

There are, however, a few aspects of this communication which don't hold up to closer scrutiny - and that is twist number two: Captain Marvel was neither a "a brand new superhero" nor did Stan Lee and Gene Colan come up with the character "just for kicks".

By mid-1967 Martin Goodman and Stan Lee had cornered the comic book market and taken the top spot. Nobody was outselling them, and their dominance and business success was pretty much down to two keywords only: Superheroes and Marvel.

Their take on the first was innovative and highly popular, and their brand enjoyed wide recognition and a fan following even outside of the comic book market segment.

But there was a problem.

Way back in 1939, writer Bill Parker and artist Charles Clarence Beck had created a superhero they chose to call Captain Marvel. Originally published by Fawcett Comics, he made his debut in February 1940 in Whiz Comics #2.

 
In this first incarnation, Captain Marvel was actually adolescent radio news reporter Billy Batson who is given super powers by an ancient wizard; he only needed to say the magic word "Shazam!" and - struck by magic lightning - instantly turned into Captain Marvel, "the world's mightiest mortal". The character, now in his own title, quickly became a top seller - so much so that Fawcett received a cease-and-desist letter from National Comics Publications (DC Comics) in June 1941, who felt that Captain Marvel was a Superman knockoff.
 

Captain Marvel Adventures #4
(Fawcett, October 1941)

 

Turning into one of the longest running legal battles in comic book publication history, Fawcett finally sought an out of court agreement and in 1954 paid National $400,000 in damages and agreed to cease publication of all Captain Marvel related comics. By that time, the sales of superhero comics had decreased dramatically, and Fawcett shut down its entire comic book branch.

For quite some time, that was the end of Captain Marvel - until publisher Myron Fass took up the all but forgotten and dormant (and hence copyright-free) name and came up with his version of Captain Marvel (which is almost too wacky to explain - in essence, this incarnation could split and rejoin parts of his body by uttering "split" and "xam" respectively). Published in four issues between April 1966 and September 1967, the title put the name Captain Marvel back in use - and gave Fass the publishing rights to it.

Goodman clearly saw Fass's move for what it was: the attempt to cash in on Marvel and other publisher's successes was thinly veiled, if at all.

 


Captain Marvel #2
(MF Enterprises, June 1966)

 
Fass's Captain Marvel did indeed contain a whole slew of embarrassingly close copies of well-known characters, including from DC, and it set off Goodman's alarm bells. Given the lawsuit of the 1950s, any possibility of DC getting involved and possibly retaking rights to the name Captain Marvel had to be prevented, and Marvel's only way to make sure of that was to act themselves.

Which is why Marvel Super-Heroes #12 featured yet another Captain Marvel. Goodman had beaten everybody else to it by being the first to infringe on Myron Fass's newly established usage of the character name, quickly pasting him into a reprint book and changing its title to include Super-Heroes, just to be sure. In 1968, Fass agreed to a one-time payment of $4,500; in return, he dropped a legal suit he was preparing and Marvel got to trademark the name (Howe, 2012). The two keywords to Marvel's success were safe - so much so that when DC licensed the rights to all of Fawcett's superheroes in 1972 and revived the original Captain Marvel in his own title, they had to call it Shazam (and drop the tagline "THE ORIGINAL CAPTAIN MARVEL" after a few issues, following a call from Marvel's lawyers).

There was a final twist, albeit only from the perspective interested in Marvel's reprint titles. With the change of title came a change in concept, which reflected the modus operandi of the annuals: add a few pages of new material with lots of reprint material, and you instantly enlarge the potential customer base.

 


Shazam #1
(DC, February 1973)

 
In this case, the all-new copyright-winning 15 page story "The Coming of Captain Marvel!" (by Stan Lee and Gene Colan) was accompanied by the original Human Torch in "The Threat of the Jet" (first printed in Men's Adventures #27, May 1954), the Destroyer in "The Beachhead Blitz!" (All-Winners Comics #12, Spring 1944), Captain America in "Kill Captain America!" (Men's Adventures #28, July 1954), Black Knight in "The Abduction of King Arthur!" (Black Knight #1, May 1955) and the original Sub-Mariner in "The Sub-Mariner Strikes!" (Sub-Mariner #38, February 1955).

When the fans cast their votes for the 1967 Alley Awards, Martin Goodman's good business sense and Stan Lee's deft publishing delivery proved a double winner as Fantasy Masterpieces grabbed the award for the year's "best all reprint title" and Marvel Super-Heroes did the same for the "best combination new and reprint material title".

 
 

"MARVEL'S MIGHTIEST MASTERPIECES"

 
As the first 1968 cover date production cycle rolled around, Marvel's line of reprint titles steadily kept presenting readers with "Marvel's mightiest masterpieces" and, when it came to mixing in Golden Age material from long ago, rushing in "mixed-up memory time".

Marvel Tales #12 was the January 1968 reprint title while the reprint title for February 1968 was Marvel Collectors' Item Classics #13. Both titles had now switched from the previous "four covers on one cover" formula to simply featuring single theme covers - no doubt a better selling point at the newsstands.

 


Marvel Tales #12
(January 1968)


Marvel Tales #13
(March 1968)

 

In the case of Marvel Tales #12 this was a composite of the Spider-Man figure from the cover of Amazing Spider-Man #17 (reprinted in this issue) and the Green Goblin figure from the cover of Amazing Spider-Man #39 (not actually reprinted in this issue).

Other than Spider-Man readers got to read reprints featuring the new Human Torch, the Wasp, and Thor.

Marvel Collectors' Item Classics #13 simply featured the cover of Fantastic Four #18 (reprinted in this issue) and featured additional reprints featuring Iron Man, Doctor Strange, the Watcher, and the Hulk.

Marvel Tales #13 (March 1968) featured Golden Age material for the first time by introducing Marvel Boy from 1950, while Marvel Super-Heroes #13 continued with the all-new Captain Marvel material alongside more Golden Age material that same month; the April 1968 cover date publishing cycle only featured one reprint title, Marvel Collectors' Item Classics #14.

But while Marvel's two by now long-established, king-size reprint titles kept to their alternating bi-monthly publication schedule like clockwork, Marvel's approach to labelling reprints was changing once again.

Whereas both Marvel Tales #12 (January 1968) and Marvel Collectors' Item Classics #13 (February 1968) featured the by now common (and often rather large) arrow-shaped box with the "originally presented in ..." message on the splash page of each feature, this information was scaled down considerably for the following issues of both titles. In fact, one might argue that it was all but hidden from readers, as the only way of telling (for someone who did not know otherwise already) that this comic contained reprints, was reduced to a small line blended into the original artwork.

 


Marvel Collectors' Item
Classics
#13
(February 1968)


Marvel Tales #13
(March 1968)

 

There was also no reprint information contained on the inside cover page, and readers thus lost the information they had previously had as to which title and issues originally featured the repinted story.

As of Marvel Tales #14 (May 1968) and Marvel Collectors' Item Classics #15 (June 1968) the reprint information was moved to the bottom of the indicia on the first page of every issue.

Martin Goodman felt the need to switch gears and be somewhat less frank about Marvel's reprints - and once again, it was his business sense that told him to do so.

 


Marvel Tales #12 (January 1968)

 


Above: Marvel Tales #13 (March 1968) - Below: Marvel Collectors' Item Classics #15 (June 1968)

 
After all, his business sense had proven its strength time and time again. There had, however, been a time, back in 1957, when Goodman had experienced a rare lapse of his good business sense: he switched his distributing company for his comics only to see his new distributor go out of business just a few months later. As a result, Goodman found himself with no other choice than to switch to Independent News, which was, however, owned by National Periodical - who also happened to own rival DC Comics.

The well-known outcome of this was that Atlas and then Marvel Comics was limited by contract to a monthly publishing output of eight titles only (Cooke, 1998). As a result, Stan Lee juggled with a mix of bi-monthlies, cancelling Romance and Western titles, turning Horror books into Superhero titles in order to get the distribution slots freed up for what was selling (Marvel's approach to the genre featuring "superheroes in the real world"), and creating two-feature titles. These were comic books which were essentially shared by two different starring characters, each in their own stories, such as Doctor Strange and Nick Fury in Strange Tales, the Hulk and the Sub-Mariner in Tales to Astonish, and Iron Man and Captain America in Tales of Suspense.

But that was now all about to change.

 
 

"THE BEGINNING OF THE SECOND GOLDEN AGE OF MARVEL"

 
In what was the April 1968 cover date Bullpen Bulletin (but which featured in comic books actually on sale during the first half of January 1968) Stan Lee kicked his usual hyperbole into the stratosphere as he made the thinly veiled announcement that all the two-feature titles were going to expand into separate titles.

"It's finally happened! The star-spangled Captain America and the great green-skinned Hulk have both been awarded their own full-length mags each month! (...) We've got some big changes coming month after month (...) Yessir! 1968 is the year of Marvel (...) And like we said, this is only the beginning! (...) This is the beginning of the SECOND Golden Age of Marvel - and it's gonna be a never-ending joyride!" (April 1968 Bullpen Bulletin)

Marvel Comics was finally able to break free from its distribution constraints when DC Comics and Independent News were purchased by Kinney National Company at the beginning of 1968. Martin Goodman had already managed to wrangle a slightly better deal in 1967 from Jack Liebowitz (after all, Marvel's comics were selling better than DC's), but now any kind of distribution cap was lifted.

 


Marvel Super-Heroes #13
(March 1968)

  The result was an explosion of new titles as established characters finally could be given their own comic book (Tales of Suspense, Tales to Astonish and Strange Tales alone split to become six titles instead of three) - the title count went up from 14 (January 1968 cover month) to 20 (July 1968).

This expansion of titles also affected one of the three reprint titles as Captain Marvel branched out of Marvel Super-Heroes into his own title for the May 1968 cover date production - replaced by none other than Spider-Man himself in Marvel Super-Heroes #14 (May 1968), thus continuing the formula of adding some new material to the mostly reprint features.

Outwardly, the title reverted to the logo used on the one-shot Marvel Super-Heroes #1 from October 1966, and the Spider-Man story, albeit written by Stan Lee, came from inventory; originally planned as a fill-in issue of Amazing Spider-Man when regular artist John Romita suffered from a wrist injury, it was not used to Romita's speedy recovery.

 


Marvel Super-Heroes #14
(May 1968)

 


Marvel Super-Heroes #14
(May 1968)

  The provenance of "The Reprehensible Riddle of... the Sorcerer!" was even explained to readers on the splash page, and while this was Ross Andru's first ever pencils on Spider-Man, he would become the regular artist on Amazing Spider-Man several years later.

Somewhat in sharp contrast to the verbosity reagarding the circumstances surrounding the creation of the Spider-Man feature, the Golden Age reprints which filled the remainder of the 68 pages were in no way marked as such, nor could readers determine the titles in which the stories had first been published - the matter-of-fact statements "Character A reprinted courtesy of publishing company B" in the indicia were all there was.

Marvel Super-Heroes #14 was joined by Marvel Tales #14 as the second reprint title on newsagent stands in February 1968, albeit cover dated May 1968.

 


Marvel Tales #14
(May 1968)

 
The June 1968 cover production output from Marvel featured 18 titles. Of these, only one was a reprint title (Marvel Collectors' Item Classics #15), although also squarely set in the superhero genre - which was driving Marvel's success while Western, War and Romance titles were down to one each now.
 


Marvel Super-Heroes #15
(July 1968)

  Marvel Super-Heroes #15 (July 1968 cover date, on sale 9 April 1968) featured yet another character as the star of the original material: Medusa of the Inhumans (who incidentally featured as the semi-villain of Amazing Spider-Man #62 that very same month).

Drawn by Gene Colan in Marvel Super-Heroes and John Romita in Amazing Spider-Man, Medusa's one-off feature in Marvel Super-Heroes #15 was one of Marvel's first attempts to showcase a character who is not a clear-cut good guy (or, in this case, good girl) in their own feature - ultimately preparing the groundwork for Astonishing Tales #1 (August 1970) which featured an outright villain as its star: Doctor Doom.

Marvel Tales #15 completed the reprint title bundle for July 1968, with reprints featuring Spider-Man, Human Torch, Thor and the Golden Age Marvel Boy.

 


Amazing Spider-Man #62
(July 1968)

 
 

THE MARVEL UNIVERSE: EXPANDING
MARVEL REPRINTS: GOING DARK

 
As Marvel's line-up of titles kept expanding - adding up to an unprecedented total of 21 for the August 1968 cover month production - Stan Lee had his own way of touching on the subject.

"We sometimes receive letters accusing us of publishing too many different titles. A number of fans have said it's too expensive trying to buy all our mags, and they ask us not to be so greedy, and to publish less of 'em. So we thought you might like to hear OUR side of it. The only reason we constantly add new titles is because YOU ask for them (...) you swamp us with letters demanding more than ever. Personally, we'd be happy to let up a bit. Many of us, including yours truly, haven't had a vacation in years! But, our policy was, is, and always will be to give Marveldom what it asks for, and judging by our ever-skyrocketing sales, we're not far from the mark. That's the lowdown, loyal one (...) anyway, remember this: no matter how many stories we create each month, our credo will always be the same - Nil Nisi Optimus - nothing but the best! Excelsior!" (August 1968 Bullpen Bulletin)

Apart from the fact that Stan Lee's love for Latin didn't always ensure he got it quite right (it should be optimum, not optimus), Martin Goodman's new distribution deal and the "ever-skyrocketing sales" had, of course, more to do with the growing number of titles than anything else. Lee did however have a point - "Marveldom" was buying the new titles, so the demand was clearly there.

The expanding line-up also had its effect on Marvel's reprint titles.

 


Tales of Asgard #1
(October 1968)

 

Tales of Asgard #1 (October 1968) followed the standard reprint "king-size" format of 68 pages selling for 25 and contained reprints of the back-up Tales of Asgard feature from Journey Into Mystery #97-106 (October 1963-July 1964).

A Jack Kirby favourite, these five-page installments each gave insights into aspects of Norse mythology and the biography of some of the main Asgardian characters which featured prominently in the regular Thor stories. But somehow, the God of Thunder didn't fare too well in the realm of reprints - Thor Annual #2 (September 1966) would not be followed by a third issue until January 1971, and Tales of Asgard #1 would remain a single issue one-off attempt.

In terms of labelling reprint material, Tales of Asgard #1 continued to be vague; in this case, the only hint to the fact was the somewhat implicit blurb "From the Vintage Years of Magnificent Marvel" on the inside cover. Neither the indicia nor the stories themselves carried any other indication as to their original source of publication.

 


Tales of Asgard #1
(October 1968)

 


Mighty Marvel Western #1
(October 1968)

 

If Tales of Asgard #1 was a further step down the road to going "dark" about Marvel's reprints, Mighty Marvel Western #1 was the moment that journey hit stealth mode.

Both titles went on sale July 16th 1968 with a cover date of October 1968, but Mighty Marvel Western #1 - Marvel's first all-Western reprint title - contained not even the slightest hint that the material contained on its 64 interior pages had all been published before (namely in Rawhide Kid #23 (August 1961), Two-Gun Kid #61 (January 1963), Kid Colt Outlaw #100 (September 1961), Two-Gun Kid #62 (March 1963) and Rawhide Kid #36 (October 1963)).


Mighty Marvel Western #1 splashpage indicia

But not just that - one could argue that the cover of Mighty Marvel Western #1 even tried to suggest otherwise, with its blurbs telling readers "Now: Bigger than Ever!" and "Gun-Slingin' Galore Starring the World's Greatest Quick-Draw Heroes!". It seemed as suggestive of new material as could be without actually using the adjective "new".

 

Within the span of just a few months, Marvel's policy of indicating reprints to readers had gone from full and prominently placed disclosure on splash pages (including title and issue number of the original publication source) to limiting any such indication to the very basic notices in indicias to no indication at all.

 


Marvel Collectors' Item
Classics
#17
(October 1968)

  This increasingly reductionist publisher's practice was now also accompanied by an increasingly nebulous editorial way of labelling reprints.

Marvel Collectors' Item
Classics
#17 (October 1968) was something of a give-away due to its title, yet still seemed to tiptoe around anything which might indicate reprints, instead filling cover bullets with labels such as "Historic First Appearance" and "Never-To-Be-Forgotten Marvel-Masterworks"
.

 


In-House Advertising, published in Marvel Collectors' Item Classics #17 (October 1968)

 
And in that very issue, an in-house ad trumpeting "Two More Triumphs for Marvel!" included Marvel Super-Heroes #16 (September 1968), the cover of which contained the blurb "Plus: Another Marvel-ous Mish-Mash of the World's Most Fabulous Fantasy Characters!" to label Golden Age reprints.
 
 

NEW OWNERSHIP, OLD REPRINT ATTITUDES

 
On July 1st 1968, the Wall Street Journal announced the purchase of Martin Goodman's Magazine Management Company (including Marvel Comics) by a business conglomerate called Perfect Film & Chemical Corporation, owned by Martin S. Ackerman. The price of the transaction was just short of $15 million - approximately the amount which Goodman made in sales a year (Howe, 2012).

Much could be said about this transaction, but if put in a nutshell it could be summarized as a shrewd businessman (Goodman) selling his company to a "flamboyant businessman who specialized in financially troubled companies (...) a lawyer whose career was in mergers, acquisitions, financial workouts and banking. Business Week Magazine described him as a razzle-dazzle financial operator" (Ackerman, as described by the New York Times in his obituary of 4 August 1993).

 


Martin Goodman

  Martin Goodman, who had turned 60 in early 1968, never had any significant interest in what he published (Hilgart, 2014); the only thing that really mattered to him (and in which he took some pride) was that it sold - and he was an ace at reading trends and then following them.

"Martin was one of the great imitators of all time (...) Whatever other people were selling, we would do the same thing (...) Martin was good at what he did and made a lot of money, but he wasn't ambitious." (Stan Lee in Minton, 2009)

Although both Martin Goodman and Stan Lee were given contracts tying them to the new management (Goodman as publisher for five years, Lee as Marvel's public figurehead), work atmosphere at Marvel changed (Howe, 2012).

 
Ackerman, who was 36 when the deal with Goodman was sealed, became president of Curtis Publishing earlier in 1968 by lending $5 million through the Perfect Film and Chemical Corporation, a conglomerate that he had built.
 
During his short reign at Curtis, Ackerman sold its Ladies Home Journal and American Home magazines along with its profitable subscription and distribution division - and closed The Saturday Evening Post amid protests against his dealings. His actions drew lawsuits from trustees and stockholders, and he was accused him of diverting $6 million in pension funds.

When Ackerman's murky dealings saw him ousted from Perfect Film board and replaced by new CEO Sheldon Feinberg in mid-1969, the company was renamed Cadence Industries; the board felt it was necessary to distance the company from Ackerman’s controversial reign (Howe, 2012).

Martin Goodman may have been steamrolled somewhat by a "razzle-dazzle financial operator", but then he himself was not exactly a philantropist in his business dealings - a trait clearly displayed in his handling of reprint material.

 


Martin Ackerman

 


New York Times, 24 January 1942

  As mentioned before, Goodman's business practices had gotten him into some trouble with the Federal Trade Commission before - which in 1942 even earned him a not so honorary mention in the New York Times.

"[Goodman] had no respect for others’ intellectual property, insofar as he was a blatant imitator and published works to which he had no rights. He created a maze of separate companies to divide up his legal and financial risk. He also understood intellectual property only in the narrowest of business senses: He paid writers and artists once for their work, and then the content was his to print or reprint." (Hilgart, 2014)

The fact that Marvel reduced its labelling of reprints to the necessary bare bones (and sometimes even less) as of mid-1968 could therefore also be seen as a conscious decision in view of the impending sale.

Maybe it was just Goodman picking up bad habits again, or maybe it was deliberate window dressing of his company in an attempt to boost the output perception a bit.

 
 

REPRINTS ROLL ON, FIRST OF THE "FILL-IN"

 
The missing reprint indication for Mighty Marvel Western finally appeared in the indicia (together with the naming of new owner Perfect Film as publisher) of issue #3 (February 1969) - the standard procedure for all reprint titles with cover dates of late 1968.
 


Marvel Tales #17
(November 1968)

 


Marvel Super-Heroes #17
(November 1968)

 


Marvel Collectors' Item
Classics #18 (
December 1968)

 


Mighty Marvel Western #2
(December 1968)

 
Things remained unchanged at Marvel as far as reprint titles were concerned; Marvel Tales and Marvel Collectors' Item Classics continued in their established formats and pubication schedules, with Mighty Marvel Western alongside in a bi-monthly slot too. Marvel Super-Heroes kept its mixed content formula, its new material featuring the Black Knight (#17, November 1968), the Guardians of the Galaxy (#18, January 1969) and Ka-Zar (#19, March 1969).

The "Marvel Expansion" of 1968 was taking a heavy toll on the artistic staff working to make all those new additional titles happen, and the entire House of Ideas was running on fumes at times. There was no substitute staff to fall back upon, and so the inevitable happened for the April 1969 cover date publication schedule: Dr Strange #179 would not be finished on time for the printers.

 


In House Ad, July 1968

  According to the blurb on the splash page, this was due to artist Gene Colan falling sick, but there simply was nobody available to come up with a short-notice replacement story the way Ross Andru did for Amazing Spider-Man when regular artist John Romita suffered from a wrist injury - a contribution which then wasn't needed after all and ended up being published, as noted before, in Marvel Super-Heroes #14 (May 1968).

The only way out this time was to go for a straight reprint, and Lee picked "The Wondrous World of Dr. Strange!" from the 1965 Amazing Spider-Man Annual #2.

 


The Mighty Marvel Check-List for April 1969 produced some rather nebulous wording to indicate that Dr Strange #179 contained a full-issue reprint - fans probably only became aware of this when they actually did put it on their "must list" and bought it

 
Of course Stan Lee gave it his usual spin by calling the reprint (which was actually labelled as such in the blurb) "one of our most requested sagas of all time". In reality, this yarn plotted and drawn by original Doctor Strange artist Steve Ditko (who in 1965 was, of course, also the regular Spider-Man artist) stuck out like a sore thumb tucked in between the ongoing Roy Thomas and Gene Colan storyline.
 


Dr. Strange #179
(April 1969)

 


Dr. Strange #179
(April 1969)

 


Amazing Spider-Man Annual #2 (1965)

 

Perhaps most vexing of all was the fact that the Sorcerer Supreme had recently been given a costume makeover and now featured a facial mask similar to other superheroes - and hence bore little resemblance to the original Ditko visuals.

But Marvel was willing to have its readers bite that bullet, and the "fill-in issue" would become an almost regular feature by the mid-1970s when overworked staff could not meet the "dreaded deadline doom".

 
First applied in Dr Strange #179, the complete or partial (e.g. half an issue) use of reprints to get a title on the newsstands in time would become the go-to solution for editors who found themselves without any material at copy deadline.
 

Rather surprisingly, the Dr Strange #179 issue was even used by Williams Verlag of Hamburg (who published various Marvel titles in the 1970s for the German language markets of Germany, Switzerland and Austria).

Rather than doing the logical thing (i.e. to skip the fill-in and go straight to Dr Strange #180), the editorial team at Williams Verlag published the Amazing Spider-Man Annual #2 reprint as Doktor Strange der Magier #11 - which made as little sense within the continuity of the Thomas/Colan storyline then as it had back in 1969.

What made even less sense was that readers were given the same information (i.e. Colan haven fallen victim to a bug and the subsequent need for some "classic" replacement material) more than seven years after the fact, now translated into German. Possibly the strangest (pun intended) use ever of a Marvel reprint, the reasoning behind it was, most likely, the selling power of Spider-Man.

 


Doktor Strange #11
(Williams, August 1976)

 


Doktor Strange #11
(Williams, August 1976)

 
Marvel's line of reprint titles continued without much ado throughout the remainder of the last year of the decade: king-size, bi-monthly - and with the reprint information buried deep in the indicia.
 


Marvel Super-Heroes #20
(May 1969)

  One rather significant change did, however occur.

While Marvel Super-Heroes #20 (May 1968 cover date, on sale 11 February 1969) featured a brand-new 24 pages story by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber and Frank Giacoia starring Doctor Doom, Marvel Super-Heroes #21 (July 1968 cover date, on sale 10 April 1969) no longer featured any original material alongside the reprints.

The source of the reprint material changed along with the logo, as Marvel Super-Heroes #21 stepped up to more recent exploits of Marvel's superheroes - in this case from Avengers #3 (January 1964) and X-Men #2 (November 1963).

The "mixed format" (new material with added backup reprints) was no more - Marvel Super-Heroes was now an all-reprint title only, just like Marvel Tales, Marvel Collectors' Item Classics and Mighty Marvel Western.

 


Marvel Super-Heroes #21
(July 1969)

 
Incidentally, the Alley Awards (in what almost seems like a clairvoyant move) dropped the category "combination new & reprint title" in 1968; the winner of the "best reprint title 1968" award was, nevertheless, Marvel Super-Heroes. For the 1969 Alley Awards the reprint category was dropped altogether.

The information that the contents of consisted entirely of previously published material continued to be rather well hidden in the indicia, although Stan Lee snuck in some pin-up size hints in Marvel Super-Heroes #22.

 


Marvel Super-Heroes #22
(September 1969)

 

Seeing the covers of Daredevil #1 as well as X-Men #1 and #2 as interior pages was, however, a bit strange as the actual reprints in Marvel Super-Heroes #22 were from Daredevil #2 (the cover of which was also included) and X-Men #3 (also with cover), but the wild concoction gave away its true and actual purpose.

It wasn't as much about transparency towards the readers as it was about filling the pages of a king-size reprint title. The procedure would not be repeated any time soon.

 


Marvel Super-Heroes #22
(September 1969)

 
For the next few issues and leading into 1970, Marvel Super-Heroes became a Daredevil and X-Men reprint title for a short while.

Inspired by the Annuals, Martin Goodman and Stan Lee had found and forged their reprint title formula throughout the 1960s, and put out a steady stream of bi-monthly, king-size and, ultimately, reprint-only titles. The format would prevail during the first couple of years of the 1970s before it would give way to a regular comic book page count - which came with an explosion of titles reprinting single issues rather than three or four. Eventually, all of Marvel's big name characters got their own reprint title at some point during the 1970s, along with reprints from Atlas horror titles embellished with new covers. What had started in the 1960s as an easy way to generate extra business turned into an entire line of producton in the 1970s.

 

 
BIBLIOGRAPHY

COOKE Jon B. (1998) "Stan the Man & Roy the Boy: A Conversation Between Stan Lee and Roy Thomas", in Comic Book Artist #2, Summer 1998

HILGART John (2014) "Review of: The Secret History of Marvel Comics", The Comics Journal

HOWE Sean (2012) Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, Harper Collins

MINTON Jeff (2009) “How I Did It: Stan Lee of Marvel Comics”, Inc Magazine, November 2009

VASSALLO Michael J. (2014) "Martin Goodman: The Crime Digest Paperbacks", Timely-Atlas-Comics Blog, June 2014

 
 

The illustrations presented here are copyright material.
Their reproduction for the review and research purposes of this website is considered fair use
as set out by the Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. par. 107.


(c) 2019

 

uploaded to the web 17 July 2019