Daring Mystery Comics #1 - Jan 40
"The fantastic thriller of the walking corpses" (Fiery Mask) - Joe Simon
Red Raven Comics #1 - Aug 40
"The Red Raven" (Red Raven) - Joe Simon & Louis Cazeneuve
Marvel Mystery Comics #13 - Nov 40
"The Vision" (Vision) - Jack Kirby
Marvel Mystery Comics #26 - Dec 41
"The Sub-Mariner smashes a Nazi uprising!" (Sub-Mariner) - Bill Everett
USA Comics #1 - Aug 41
"Whizzer" (Whizzer) - Al Avison & Al Gabriele
Marvel Mystery Comics #27 - Jan 42
"The Sub-Mariner" (Sub-Mariner) - Bill Everett
All Winners Comics #1 - Summer 41
"Carnival of fiends" (Human Torch) - Carl Burgos
"The case of the hollow men" (Captain America) - Joe Simon & Jack Kirby
"The Order of the Hood" (Black Marvel) - Stan Lee, Al Avison & Al Gabriele
Marvel Mystery Comics #23 - Sep 41
"The Vision" (Vision) - Jack Kirby
Comedy Comics #9 - Apr 42
"The Fin" (Fin) - Bill Everett
"V Battalion" (Citizen V) - Ben Thompson
I had the first Golden Age of Marvel Comics trade paperback for a while and found it interesting as a sample of mostly random Golden Age stories. It was a little weird that the trade had so few "firsts" but it worked as a brief overview of the period. As this project has grown, however, i've become more interested in the original Golden Age period and i've now picked up this second trade, mainly for the first appearance of Red Raven, and was pleasantly surprised to find it had a number of other "firsts" including the Fiery Mask, the Vision, and the Whizzer (both trades also have a few stories that i have reprinted in other formats and are therefore covered in other entries). Unlike the other trade, this doesn't jump into the post-War period, so it covers a tighter set of years which makes it better (but not perfect) for this project without interruptions, although the stories are oddly not printed in exact chronological order.
Daring Mystery Comics #1 - This Fiery Mask origin certainly is a "fantastic thriller" as the title promises. It wastes no time starting off with a young doctor, Jack Castle, facing off against a homeless man (or "tramp") animated by a green light, which also paralyzes the doctor.
Investigating the disappearance of other missing "bums", Castle winds up at a house that has a creepy manservant (the trade has him colored more like what i'll call "oriental yellow" but it's less obvious in the scan of the original).
He's led past a box of entranced humans in boxes...
...and a giant buzzard that even the manservant can't control...
and finally encounters a huge super-scientist.
The giant scientist focuses his green ray on Castle, but instead of putting him into a trance like the others (because he refuses to submit!)...
...he's given super strength. He defeats the giant...
...brushes off the babe...
...and returns to the police HQ where we hear that his face "flares up as if afire" when he gets angry.
The final panel shows what he'll look like as a super-hero.
The Fiery Mask was created at the request of publisher Martin Goodman who specifically requested another hero in the vein of the Human Torch. Interestingly that the flame aspect is very subdued in the first appearance here; just a bare mention at the end of this story.
Red Raven Comics #1 - The Red Raven only had this one actual Golden Age appearance, but he had a number of returns thanks to Roy Thomas.
The original story presumes the existence of a floating island of bird people ("as man came from apes, we were evolved from birds in this gravity-free island") and when a plan crashes into it, they decide to raise the lone child survivor as one of their own.
The "rapid stride of evolution" gives this child a superior brain and body, and the bird people's king sends him back to the world of man to eradicate "the elements that make for unhappiness in their world". This tends to involve punching people in the face.
Trapped in a pit by a criminal mastermind, the Red Raven reveals that he has "membranous wings", although they're not that useful in their first outing.
But he does get out and gets back to the business of punching people in the face.
He's aided by one of the bird people's royal scientist, who gives him an element detector.
Not only does this device detect gold (the criminals in this story are all gold hoarders; there's probably something relevant to say here regarding the Gold Reserve Act but i'm not smart enough)...
...but when you set it to 18.000 magnematic prelons (!) it actually attracts gold.
Oh and at 20.000 magnematic prelons it produces a red gas that lets him do some skywriting (the trade screws this up and colors the smoke text in white).
Marvel Mystery Comics #13 - I was pretty disappointed when i first learned that the Golden Age Vision existed. The modern Vision was a unique and interesting character, with a striking visual, and to find out that he was based on an existing character was a bit of a letdown. But while the characters are visually similar (especially when you throw in a bit of the Golden Age Destroyer), and both have an ethereal quality, that's about where the similarities end.
This Vision is an extradimensional alien who is brought to our world by a scientist who owes money to the mob; the mobster in charge also has a grudge against smart people.
The Vision can appear wherever there is smoke, which makes it a good thing that he was a hero during the Golden Age, when a lot more people smoked.
In addition to smoke-teleportation, he also has a freezing touch.
And he can appear in a regular human form; in fact he says "Only those approaching death can see me in my true form as the Vision!".
Oddly, a little later he seems to need the smoke to transform back into his true form. I guess the second-hand smoke caused the criminal to approach death.
Wikipedia's summary of the Vision's first appearance includes information that the Vision comes from "Smokeworld" and that he's an alien law enforcer, and some wild story about leaving a criminal on Jupiter. None of that is evident in this issue.
Marvel Mystery Comics #26 - To get my screenshots i download digital copies of comics (so much easier and less destructive than scanning stuff from my trade) and that often allows me to poke around and see stories that aren't included in the reprints i have. And one thing i've observed that was a little surprising to me is that the Sub-Mariner stories, especially, have a "continuity" to them. I don't mean that there's a vast interconnected universe, but there were continuing stories, or at least cases where the status quo doesn't automatically reset at the beginning of each new issue. It's enough to get me poking around on Amazon looking at Golden Age Sub-Mariner Masterworks, although they don't seem to cover nearly enough issues to make it worth it. Anyway this story picks up in the aftermath of the previous issue where Namor encountered "the Lavarites of Venus and their Queen, the Empress Jarna".
In this issue he finds that Jarna did not leave "with her tiny horde" as promised...
...and has instead made an alliance with the Nazis, helping them to establish an underwater base to use as an invasion launch point against America.
Namor foils it, but in the end he frees Jarna from a prison before US naval forces, with info supplied by Namor, bombard the undersea city.
(Somewhat ironically, i couldn't find a digital copy of this issue, so the above scans are my own fault.)
Speaking of the lack of an interconnected universe, its worth noting that this story is by Bill Everett, who will later give us another character from Venus (namely, Venus) and based on the little we see and hear about both Jarna and Venus' versions of their home planet, they're not at all related.
USA Comics #1 - Timley already had Mercury/Hurricane but i guess you can't have too many super-speedsters so here's the unfortunately named Whizzer.
The Whizzer has gone through a number of minor costume variations, but i like his original version that has an early sci-fi movie serial look to it (especially Crash Corrigan from Undersea Kingdom).
The art here doesn't do a great job of getting the super-speed point across...
...but that's ok because about half of this six page first appearance is devoted to the Whizzer's origin which... say it with me... involves a transfusion of mongoose blood.
It's possible the Whizzer wasn't originally really meant to be as super-fast as, say, the Flash, but only as fast as a mongoose. But i'm sure we're not supposed to think about it too hard.
I've read that Stan Lee was involved in the writing of this story but that's not confirmed in the trade credits or the UHBMCC or GCD.
Marvel Mystery Comics #27 - My trade rather oddly inserted the Whizzer story between two consecutive Sub-Mariner stories in Marvel Mystery Comics, but in any event we're back to Namor. A text box recaps the plot of last issue before moving on to Namor heading to Seattle to break up an illegal fur importing ring masterminded by "the Fox".
It turns out the Fox is smuggling the furs into the country via torpedo.
Namor is definitely in pure good guy mode in these stories, and seems to have no qualms working directly with the US government. Last issue he worked with the Navy, and here he contacts US Customs to pick up the defeated Fox.
All Winners Comics #1 - This trade features three stories from the first issue of All Winners. Note that the first appearance of the All Winners Squad doesn't occur until issue #19; the book is just an anthology title featuring pre-existing super heroes.
The Human Torch story is especially random. It features the Torch and Toro participating in an effort to help China in World War II...
...and then preventing someone from stealing the money.
The criminal has a hypnotizing gas (and at least for this story, assumes that the Human Torch does need to breathe)...
...and he puts the Torches to work robbing banks.
The Human Torch snaps out of it when he bumps his head falling down a flight of stairs, and he socks Toro in the head to bring him back as well.
The story is free of stereotypes in depicting the Chinese people unless Banjo-Eyes is some sort of slur i'm not aware of.
Also in All Winners #1 is a Captain America story which also doesn't have any specific "first", but holy crap it does have Cap and Bucky fighting zombies.
Not zuvembies... not milquetoast hypnotized-by-voodoo people... real walking undead horrors.
Simon & Kirby do a great job with the grotesque creatures.
And lastly for All Winners #1 (in this trade, anyway), we have Black Marvel. I don't know much about this guy, but it seems like Dan Lyons is a third wheel that's always hanging around this poor couple that just wants to be left alone on their dates. And they know he's secretly the Black Marvel so when they want to get rid of him they start going "Gee, i wonder why the Black Marvel won't go stop those bank robberies or whatever." and eventually Lyons takes the hint and goes off and punches a bunch of dudes in robes.
The bad guys - the Order of the Hood - have some remarkable resources... large numbers...
and a death-ray.
They're almost a prototype Secret Empire or something.
Marvel Mystery Comics #23 - Ok, i thought guys in robes were impressive, but we're back to the Vision in this (oddly out-of-publication-sequence) story, and he is straight up wrestling a gigantic shark-man.
The creature, Kai-Mak, claimes to be a god...
...but the Vision isn't hearing it.
The underwater wrestling match ends in the brutal killing of Kai-Mak.
I was going to say that there's no real explanation as to why the Vision happened to show up to rescue this particular group of explorers, but honestly "To wrestle Shark-Man" is all the reason anyone needs.
Comedy Comics #9 - Two stories from this issue: one about the Fin and one about Citizen V.
The Fin is by Bill Everett, and you'd think if he wanted to tell stories about a nautical hero he had a better option.
In this story the Fin finds a magic cutlass. When he first finds it, it gives him a foreboding sensation and he tries to get rid of it...
...but is eventually enticed by its power into keeping it.
The rest of the story just has him using it to fight some Nazi pirates; there's no resolution to the problems hinted at with the sword, and from what i've been able to determine it seems he keeps it forever; it grants him longevity.
The exploits of the Golden Age Citizen V would have been of interest to readers at the time these trades were published (1999) due to the Thunderbolts connection, but this is his only story in these two trades, and it's not his first appearance. It is a good sampling of the character, however. Citizen V is
a little ridiculous looking; a man who has clearly outgrown his boyscout uniform fighting the Nazis in Occupied France with nothing but his fists and the flash of his white thighs.
Quality Rating: C+
Historical Significance Rating: 6 - first Fiery Mask, Red Raven, Golden Age Vision, Whizzer. Early Golden Age stories.
Chronological Placement Considerations: My whole Golden Age collection is a little bit of a mess due to the way the reprints have been published. The stories are generally put out in unorganized bundles, which would mean i'd have to cut them up to place them in strict publication order. Luckily, most Golden Age stories are self-contained (although there are exceptions) and furthermore the Invaders series established that the comics did not necessarily take place when they were published, so i'm feeling relatively comfortable in leaving the stories in their respective collections and just going for a loose ordering. Not something i could get away with starting in the Silver Age, but it works for now. So what's important is making sure that the first appearances in this trade are actually their first sequential appearances.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: The Golden Age of Marvel Comics TPB vol. 2