Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Timeline of the Marvel Universe (as of December 1961)

This is the last of the planned "year end" posts that I have lined up.  I'm intending to create a detailed time-line of the Marvel Universe as it stands at the end of each calendar year.  I'm using real dates, but I'm going to move them forward when necessary to accommodate Marvel's sliding timescale.  At the moment everything is anchored to 1961 and works very well.  Obviously this is another one that's going to get too big for the blog, but I'll continue posting it as long as it remains practical.

1950 ("long ago")
  • Fantastic Four (1961) #1, page 22.2 to 22.9 flashback: After being ridiculed for his ugliness, the Mole Man strikes out alone to find the land at the center of the Earth.  After traveling the globe he washes up on Monster Isle, and enters a strange cavern.  Mole Man finds the center of the Earth, but is blinded in a sudden avalanche. (The clothing being worn by characters in this flashback leads me to believe that this takes place somewhere in the post-World War 2 era.  I have chosen 1950 on a whim.)
  • Mole Man learns to sense things like a mole, and develops a radar sense. He masters the creatures below the earth, and uses them to carve out an underground empire.  (Mentioned in Fantastic Four (1961) #1 page 23.1 and 23.2) 

1957
  • Work begins on a memorial statue (that will be melted by a Skrull posing as the Human Torch in five years time). (Mentioned in Fantastic Four (1961) #2 page 3.2.)

1959
  • This is the latest year in which Reed Richards can begin constructing his rocket to the stars.  (Mentioned in Fantastic Four (1961) #1 page 9.6)

Before Fantastic Four (1961) #1 origin flashback
  • Reed Richards and Susan Storm are engaged to be married.  (Mentioned in Fantastic Four (1961) #1 page 9.4.)

Tuesday 4th April, 1961
  • Fantastic Four (1961) #1, page 9.1 to 13.8 flashback: Reed Richards, Ben Grimm, Susan Storm and Johnny Storm fly Reed's test rocket into outer space.  They are bombarded by cosmic rays, and after landing the shuttle discover that they have all developed super-powers: Reed can stretch, Susan can turn invisible, Johnny can burst into living flame, and Ben has become a hulking monster.  They decide to aid humanity, calling themselves the Fantastic Four. (The only requirement for placing this flashback was that it had to go before Yuri Gagarin became the first person in space on April 12th. I chose the 4th day of the 4th month for my own amusement.)
  • Fantastic Four (1961) #2, page 6.8 flashback: Reed uses his stretchy arms to hail a passing plane.

July/Early August 1961 (before Fantastic Four (1961) #1)
  • Atomic plants in Australia, South America and behind the Iron Curtain are dragged beneath the earth by an unknown force.  (Mentioned in Fantastic Four (1961) #1 page 14.3 and 15.1) 

Tuesday August 8th, 1961
  • Fantastic Four (1961) #1, page 1.1 to 25.7: Reed Richards fires his signal flare to summon the Fantastic Four.  Susan, Johnny and Ben all make their way across the city to Reed's apartment, where he tells them about the disappearing atomic bases.  The FF track the cause of the disappearances to Monster Isle, and they confront the Mole Man and his monster hordes in his lair deep beneath the earth. The Mole Man's domain, and Monster Isle, are destroyed in an atomic explosion during the conflict, but the FF manage to fly to safety. (I have placed this story on August 8th, to match the release date of the comic.)

Between Fantastic Four (1961) #1's origin flashback and Fantastic Four (1961) #2
  • The Fantastic Four establish a number of secret apartment hideouts. (Mentioned in Fantastic Four (1961) #2 page 11.1. This probably happens between FF #1 and #2, but it's possible that it was done before they fought the Mole Man as well.) 

Before Tales to Astonish (1959) #27/1
  • Henry Pym learns judo.  (Mentioned in Tales to Astonish (1959) #27/1 page 6.6.)

July 1961
  • Tales to Astonish (1959) #27/1, page 2.6 to 2.7 flashback: At a monthly meeting of his scientific peers, Henry Pym is mocked for his outlandish ideas. (This flashback takes place several months before Tales to Astonish (1959) #27/1.)

Between Fantastic Four (1961) #1 and #2
  • The Fantastic Four become well known public figures.  (Mentioned in Fantastic Four (1961) #2 page 2.2.) 
  • The US military prepares special cells designed to imprison the Fantastic Four.  (Mentioned in Fantastic Four (1961) #2 page 8.2.)
  • The alien Skrulls, who are planning to invade Earth, learn of the Fantastic Four and decide to eliminate them.  (Mentioned in Fantastic Four (1961) #2 page 16.5.)

Thursday September 28th, 1961
  • Fantastic Four (1961) #2, page 1.1 to 3.6: Four Skrulls impersonate the Fantastic Four while committing acts of sabotage, theft and vandalism.
  • An order is put out by the US military that the Fantastic Four are to be shot on sight.  (Mentioned in Fantastic Four (1961) #2 page 4.1.)

Friday September 29th, 1961
  • Fantastic Four (1961) #2, page 4.1 to 10.7: The real Fantastic Four are laying low at a hunting lodge, but the military manages to track them down and arrest them.  The FF are placed in special holding cells, but all of them escape and fly away in a stolen helicopter.
Saturday September 30th, 1961

  • Fantastic Four (1961) #2, page 11.1 to 24.5: The FF track down and defeat the Skrull impostors. They then fly a shuttle to the Skrull mothership in Earth's orbit, masquerading as Skrulls themselves. Reed manages to trick the commander into believing that Earth's defenses are too strong to risk an invasion. The Skrull fleet retreats.  The Skrull impostors, who are still captives on Earth, promise not to cause trouble as long as they are given lives where they can be contented.

Sunday October 1st, 1961
  • Fantastic Four (1961) #2, page 24.6: The Fantastic Four leave the three Skrulls, who have been hypnotised into believing that they are cows, to graze in a pasture.

Friday October 27th, 1961
  • Tales to Astonish (1959) #27/1, page 3.1 to 3.3 flashback: Henry Pym has nearly completed his newest invention, a serum that can shrink anything.  He daydreams about its possible applications.

Saturday October 28th, 1961
  • Tales to Astonish (1959) #27/1, page 2.1 to 7.8: Having completed his serum, Henry Pym tests it by shrinking a chair, then returning it to its normal size.  He tests it on himself, but shrinks faster than he had expected.  He runs outside in a panic and attracts the attention of a nest of ants.  Pym runs inside the ants’ nest to hide, and is chased mercilessly by them.  A friendly ant helps him to return to his home, where he uses the enlarging serum to return to normal size.  Pym decides the serums are too dangerous, and pours them down the drain. (I have moved this story forward a month from its publication date so that it doesn't fall on the same day as Fantastic Four (1961) #2.)

December 1961
  • Tales to Astonish (1959) #27/1, page 7.9 to 7.10: At a monthly meeting of his scientific peers, Henry Pym tells them that he has abandoned his crazy ideas.  Even so, from now on he will never again knowingly step on an ant hill.

Between Fantastic Four (1961) #2 and #3
  • The Fantastic Four purchase the tower of the skyscraper that serves as their headquarters.  Reed Richards redesigns the roof so that it will work like the deck of an aircraft carrier.  (Mentioned in Fantastic Four (1961) #3 page 5.6. Reed presumably designs the Fantasticar and other vehicles at this time as well.) 
  • The Invisible Girl designs costumes for the Fantastic Four. (Mentioned in Fantastic Four (1961) #3 page 7.1.)

Tuesday December 12th, 1961
  • Fantastic Four (1961) #3, page 1.1 to 5.7: The Fantastic Four are in the crowd watching a stage magician called the Miracle Man.  The Miracle Man shows off his seemingly limitless powers, and uses them to humiliate the Thing.  The FF return to the Baxter Building, while the Miracle Man decides that the time has come for him to conquer the world.

Wednesday December 13th, 1961
  • The police commissioner receives a note from the Miracle Man declaring his attention to conquer the human race.  (Mentioned in Fantastic Four (1961) #3 page 8.8.)
  • Fantastic Four (1961) #3, page 6.1 to 23.7: The Miracle Man uses his power of illusion to animate a giant monster statue in order to help him steal an experimental atomic tank. The Human Torch destroys the statue, while the Invisible Girl trails the Miracle Man to his junkyard hideout. The rest of the FF arrive, and the Human Torch creates a bright flash that blinds the Miracle Man and negates his powers.  After the Thing complains that he's getting all the credit, Johnny quits the team in anger.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Reading Order (as of December 1961)

As I cover each year, I intend to write an updated reading order covering the entirety of the marvel Universe to that point.  At the moment the list is small, but obviously it's going to get very large, and very unwieldy.  Eventually it will become a downloadable file, but for now I can just post it here.

  1. Fantastic Four (1961) #1 - The FF battle the Mole Man in their first mission
  2. Fantastic Four (1961) #2 - The FF stop a Skrull invasion
  3. Tales to Astonish (1959) #27 (1st story) - Henry Pym invents a shrinking serum and is trapped in an ant hill
  4. Fantastic Four (1961) #3 - The FF battle the Miracle Man

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Unanswered Questions: 1961

There are a lot of dropped plots throughout Marvel history, and many subplots that go unresolved for years or even decades. I'm planning to keep track of these unanswered questions, and do a round-up of them as I reach the end of each year.

(I'm also keeping track of characters that don't receive a real name, because a lot of those take a long time to be revealed.)

Unanswered Questions (as of December 1961)

1) What is the Mole Man's real name?
2) How is it that the Fantastic Four always have clothes that adapt to their powers?
3) What happened to the fourth Skrull impostor?
4) What is the Miracle Man's real name?

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Characters Introduced in 1961

As I work my way through Marvel history, I have a number of posts planned for every time I reach the end of a year. The first of these is a list of all the characters, objects, places and other things introduced within that year.  1961 only had four comics set in the Marvel Universe, but as it's the first year there a lot of debuts.

Teams

The Fantastic Four (Fantastic Four (1961) #1)

Super-Heroes

The Human Torch (Johnny Storm) (Fantastic Four (1961) #1)
The Invisible Girl (Sue Storm) (Fantastic Four (1961) #1)
Mister Fantastic (Reed Richards) (Fantastic Four (1961) #1)
The Thing (Ben Grimm) (Fantastic Four (1961) #1)
Henry Pym (Tales to Astonish (1959) #27)

Super-Villains

The Mole Man (Fantastic Four (1961) #1)
The Miracle Man (Fantastic Four (1961) #3)

Aliens/Races

The Skrulls (Fantastic Four (1961) #2)

Creatures

Giganto (Fantastic Four (1961) #1)
The Stone Monster of Monster Isle (Fantastic Four (1961) #1)
Tricephalous (Fantastic Four (1961) #1)
The "Monster From Mars" (really just a statue) (Fantastic Four (1961) #3)

Minor Characters

Central City Police Chief (Fantastic Four (1961) #1)
Lt. General Fredericks (Fantastic Four (1961) #3)

Locations

Central City (Fantastic Four (1961) #1)
Monster Isle (Fantastic Four (1961) #1)
Subterranea (Fantastic Four (1961) #1)
The Valley of Diamonds (Fantastic Four (1961) #1)
Henry Pym's House and Laboratory (Tales to Astonish (1959) #27)
The Baxter Building (Fantastic Four (1961) #3)

Objects & Things

Cosmic Rays (Fantastic Four (1961) #1)
The Fantasti-Flare (Fantastic Four (1961) #1)
The Pocket Rocket (Fantastic Four (1961) #1)
Pym Particles (in the form of Pym's size-changing serums) (Tales to Astonish (1959) #27)
The Daily Bugle (Fantastic Four (1961) #2)
The Daily Globe (Fantastic Four (1961) #2)
The Fantasticar (Fantastic Four (1961) #3)
The Fantasti-copter (Fantastic Four (1961) #3)
The FF's Long-Range Passenger Missile (Fantastic Four (1961) #3)
The Pogo Plane (Fantastic Four (1961) #3)