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Astonishing Tales

Astonishing Tales
Astonishing Tales #1 (Aug. 1970), cover art by Marie Severin and Bill Everett.
Publication information
PublisherMarvel Comics
FormatOngoing series
Publication date(Volume 1)
August 1970 – July 1976
(Volume 2)
April 2009 – September 2009
No. of issues(Volume 1) 36
(Volume 2) 6
Editor(s)Stan Lee
Roy Thomas
Collected editions
Essential Super-Villain Team-Up, Volume 1ISBN 0-7851-1545-5

Astonishing Tales is an American anthology comic book series originally published by Marvel Comics from 1970 to 1976. Its sister publication was Amazing Adventures (vol. 2).[1]

In 2008 and 2009, Marvel produced 11 webcomics starring different characters under the umbrella title Astonishing Tales. Several stories were reprinted in the six-issue miniseries Astonishing Tales (vol. 2) (April–Sept. 2009).

Publication history

Ka-Zar and Doctor Doom

Astonishing Tales began as a split title with solo features starring the jungle lord Ka-Zar and the supervillain and monarch Doctor Doom in 10–page stories each. The latter feature was dropped after issue #8 (Oct. 1971). The creative team of "Doctor Doom" was initially composed of writer Roy Thomas and penciler-inker Wally Wood, a veteran of 1950s EC Comics stories and one of the early, signature artists of Daredevil. Wood remained as artist through issue #4 (Feb. 1971), succeeded by penciler George Tuska for two issues and Gene Colan for the final two. Larry Lieber was writer for issues #3–6, succeeded by Gerry Conway.[2][3]

"Ka-Zar" was initially by the longstanding and highly influential team of writer and Marvel editor-in-chief Stan Lee and penciler and co-plotter Jack Kirby, the duo who had introduced the jungle lord years before as a one-issue supporting character in The X-Men. Ka-Zar had since guest-starred in Daredevil and in other series before gaining his first solo feature here. After that initial story, Roy Thomas scripted the second installment, with the team of writer Gerry Conway and penciler Barry Windsor-Smith taking over for issues #3–6.[4] Thomas and signature Hulk artist Herb Trimpe teamed for the next two issues, with Thomas abetted by Mike Friedrich on the latter. Astonishing Tales then starred Ka-Zar solely in stories ranging from 16 to 21 pages each.[2]

A variety of creative teams followed, with Lee, Thomas, Conway and Len Wein individually writing or collaborating on stories before Mike Friedrich became regular writer with issue #14 (Dec. 1972). Pencilers included Dan Adkins, Rich Buckler, Gil Kane, and John Buscema, plus a Buscema-Neal Adams collaboration on one issue. The feature ended with issue #20 (Oct. 1973).[2]

Barbara "Bobbi" Morse first appeared in the Ka-Zar story in Astonishing Tales #6 (June 1971)[5] and would later become the superheroine Mockingbird.[6] Joshua Link was introduced in Astonishing Tales #8[7] and later became the supervillain Gemini[8] of Zodiac. Issues #12 and #13 introduced the Man-Thing to color comics, as a Ka-Zar antagonist. Issue #14 featured a censored color reprint of the black-and-white Ka-Zar tale in the comics magazine Savage Tales #1 (May 1971). Two issues contained back-up-feature reprints of 1950s jungle stories from Marvel predecessor Atlas Comics: two stories from Lorna the Jungle Girl #14 (July 1955) in Astonishing Tales #9, and a Jann of the Jungle story from Jungle Tales #2 (Nov. 1954), in Astonishing Tales #14.[2]

It! and Deathlok

Astonishing Tales #25 (Aug. 1974). Cover art by Rich Buckler and Klaus Janson.

Astonishing Tales #21–24 (Dec. 1973–June 1974) featured "It! The Living Colossus",[9] starring a stone giant introduced in an anthological science fiction-monster story in Tales of Suspense #14 (Feb. 1961), with a sequel in issue #20 (Aug. 1961). Tony Isabella and Dick Ayers comprised the modern feature's writer-artist team.[2][10]

The final feature in Astonishing Tales starred and introduced Deathlok, a conflicted cyborg who predated the popular film character RoboCop by several years. At least two major iterations of the character, featuring different individuals, starred in series in the 1990s and 2000s. Created by artist Rich Buckler, who devised the initial concept, and writer Doug Moench,[11] the feature ran from #25–28 and 30–36 (Aug. 1974 – Feb. 1975 and June 1975 – July 1976), the final issue. Bill Mantlo scripted issues #32–35, with Buckler himself scripting the finale.[2] Buckler described Deathlok as "an extension of a paranoid fantasy. He was a representation of part of my outlook and world view. He was a culmination of many of the messages in some of the music of the time. He was part of some of the things going wrong in our country at the time. Maybe he was the science that was going wrong".[12] Artist George Pérez made his professional comics debut with a two-page backup feature in issue #25.[13]

The last two issues were released in both a 25-cent and a 30-cent edition.[14] Issue #29 (April 1975) was a fill-in that reprinted an edited version of the first Guardians of the Galaxy story, from Marvel Super-Heroes #18 (Jan. 1969).[2]

In addition to Astonishing Tales' sister publication, Amazing Adventures (vol. 2), Marvel announced plans in 1970 for a never-realized third split book featuring Doctor Strange and the Iceman.[15]

Volume 2

In 2008 and 2009, Marvel produced 11 webcomics starring different characters under the umbrella title Astonishing Tales:[16]

Several stories from those series were reprinted in the six-issue limited series Astonishing Tales (vol. 2) (April–Sept. 2009).[17]

Collected editions


  1. ^ Brevoort, Tom; DeFalco, Tom; Manning, Matthew K.; Sanderson, Peter; Wiacek, Win (2017). Marvel Year By Year: A Visual History. DK Publishing. p. 146. ISBN 978-1465455505.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Astonishing Tales (1970) at the Grand Comics Database
  3. ^ Sanderson, Peter; Gilbert, Laura, ed. (2008). "1970s". Marvel Chronicle A Year by Year History. London, United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. p. 146. ISBN 978-0756641238. Marvel's second split book of 1970 gave two longtime Marvel stars their own series. Stan Lee and Jack Kirby collaborated on the first installment of the new series starring Ka-Zar...Marvel's greatest villain, Dr. Doom, also received his own series, scripted by Roy Thomas and drawn...[by] Wally Wood. {{cite book}}: |first2= has generic name (help)CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  4. ^ Sanderson "1970s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 147
  5. ^ Conway, Gerry (w), Smith, Barry (p), Everett, Bill (i). "'Ware the Winds of Death" Astonishing Tales, no. 6 (June 1971).
  6. ^ Grant, Steven (w), Janes, Jimmy (p), Patterson, Bruce (i). "...And No Birds Sing!" Marvel Team-Up, no. 95 (July 1980).
  7. ^ Wein, Len; Friedrich, Mike (w), Tuska, George (p), Esposito, Mike (i). "This Badge Bedeviled!" Astonishing Tales, no. 8 (October 1971).
  8. ^ Friedrich, Mike (w), Adkins, Dan (p), Chiaramonte, Frank (i). "Target: Ka-Zar!" Astonishing Tales, no. 17 (April 1973).
  9. ^ Sanderson "1970s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 161: "It, the immense stone statue from Tales of Suspense #14 (Feb. 1961), won his own series in Astonishing Tales #21".
  10. ^ Markstein, Don (2008). "It, The Living Colossus". Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Archived from the original on April 13, 2013. Retrieved February 25, 2012.
  11. ^ Sanderson "1970s" in Gilbert (2008), p. 166: "Created by artist Rich Buckler and writer Doug Moench, the original Deathlok was Colonel Luther Manning, a soldier in an alternate, post-apocalyptic future".
  12. ^ Poupard, L. Vincent (November 23, 2010). "Interview with Rich Buckler of Deathlok". Yahoo! Voices. Archived from the original on July 29, 2014. Retrieved February 25, 2013.
  13. ^ Lawrence, Christopher (2006). George Pérez Storyteller. Mount Laurel, New Jersey: Dynamite Entertainment. p. 22. ISBN 1-933305-15-0.
  14. ^ Astonishing Tales #36 at the Grand Comics Database
  15. ^ "Marvel News". Marvelmania Magazine. 1970. p. 30.
  16. ^ Marvel Digital Comics (Online) at the Unofficial Handbook of Marvel Comics Creators:
  17. ^ Astonishing Tales (II) (2009) at the Unofficial Handbook of Marvel Comics Creators

External links

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