Monday, January 02, 2012


Returning to the cover gallery of my collection of TALES OF SUSPENSE, I present here the covers for numbers 21, 23, and 24. At this point Marvel Comics was hurtling toward a change that would render the science-fiction and horror titles moot. As soon as Stan Lee unleashed Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko to create a superhero line, all bets were off. Both of these men had been waiting all of their professional lives for a chance at such a gig.

In the case of Jack Kirby, he'd never stopped creating new versions of the old costumed hero. He was so imaginative that some of his costumed heroes didn't even wear costumes! But no one outside of Kirby himself had the slightest idea of what the man was capable if only he could be given the chance. Around the time of the year after these issues appeared, Goodman's company was walking a fine line between existence and dissolution. Goodman probably didn't mind all that much, but his nephew's career was in jeopardy. Lee needed to take a great big chance, and in the talents of Kirby and Ditko he had everything he'd need to recreate his uncle's company, thereby assuring his own professional standing and his regular paycheck.

In fact, though, the guy had no idea at all what was about to happen.

A typical Stan Lee name for one of Kirby's monsters. Lee had probably been watching Disney's THE SCARECROW or the Hammer film adaptation of the same character and decided to take Clegg's name and transform it into something catchy.

This is a really effective cover. You don't see many covers like this one. Looks to be Kirby layouts with Ditko finishes and inks.

This book has become something of a monster on the collector's market. Some consider it a kind of prototype for what became one of Marvel's principle superhero characters, ANT MAN. But Ant Man proper appeared in issue # 27 of TALES TO ASTONISH, a companion magazine of TALES OF SUSPENSE. In that issue, the hero of the story was specifically Henry Pym who went on to become first Ant Man and then Giant Man (and then Ant Man again) in the pages of TALES TO ASTONISH, and THE AVENGERS, and many other Marvel superhero titles. The character of Ant Man/Pym was wholly a creation of Jack Kirby (of course) based on any number of diminutive heroic costumed characters from other publishers (DC's THE ATOM, and Quality's DOLL MAN, etc.).

No comments: