Marvel Tales

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Marvel Tales is the title of three American comic-book series published by Marvel Comics, the first of them from the company's 1950s predecessor, Atlas Comics. It is additionally the title of two unrelated, short-lived fantasy/science fiction magazines.

Magazines

The first publication using the title was the amateur magazine Marvel Tales, also known as Marvel Tales of Science and Fantasy, published by Fantasy Publications in Everett, Pennsylvania. The magazine ran five issues cover-dated May 1934 - Summer 1935. Despite its reportedly non-professional status, the magazine, which appeared in at least two sizes during its run, published a story by the already established Robert E. Howard, "The Garden of Fear", in issue #2 (July-Aug. 1934), and "The Creator", an early example of religious-themed science fiction by the noted Clifford D. Simak, in #4 (March-April 1935).

The next was a pulp magazine from future Marvel Comics publisher Martin Goodman. Goodman, who published under a variety of corporate names, released five issues of the science-fiction anthology Marvel Science Stories (Aug. 1938 - Aug. 1939), which then changed its name to Marvel Tales for two issues (Dec. 1939 & May 1940) under the Red Circle imprint. The title changed again, to Marvel Stories, for two final issues (Nov. 1940 & April 1941).

The story "The Test-Tube Monster" by George E. Clark, in the May 1940 issue of Marvel Tales, was reprinted in the mass market, paperback anthology Superheroes (Sphere, 1978), edited by Michel Parry, as an example of an evil superman.


Atlas Comics

In comic books, Marvel Tales was the direct continuation of the series on which Marvel Comics was founded, Marvel Mystery Comics (Dec. 1939 - June 1949) — the first issue of which, titled Marvel Comics #1 (Oct. 1939), marked the debut of the company Marvel Comics' predecessor, Timely Comics.

Marvel Mystery Comics, a superhero omnibus featuring primarily the Human Torch, the Submariner and the Angel, waned along with most other superhero comics after World War II. Timely Comics publisher Martin Goodman, following prevailing trends, retitled and revamped the series as the horror fiction anthology Marvel Tales beginning with issue #93 (Aug. 1949). Marvel Tales ran 67 issues, through #159 (Aug. 1957), and included among its contributors writer and editor-in-chief Stan Lee and such notable comics artists as Golden Age veterans Harry Anderson, Carl Burgos, Bill Everett, Fred Kida, Mike Sekowsky, Syd Shores, and Ogden Whitney, and, early in their careers, Dick Ayers, Gene Colan, Tony DiPreta, Mort Drucker, Russ Heath, Bernard Krigstein, Joe Maneely, Joe Sinnott, and Basil Wolverton, among others.

Red Circle's Marvel Tales (May 1940). Cover artist unknown.

Marvel Comics

In the 1960s, during the Silver Age of Comics, the series Marvel Tales began as a summer special, Marvel Tales Annual, for its first two issues (1964-1965). Like typical annuals of the time, these were 25¢ "giants", relative to the typical 12¢ comics of the time.

The following year, the series began running as initially a bi-monthly and later a monthly reprint title, featuring Spider-Man stories primarily, from # 3-291 (July 1966 - Nov. 1994).

Marvel Tales Annual

A 72-page reprint anthology that gathered complete and partial superhero origin stories from the previous two years, as well as a war comics story, Marvel Tales Annual #1 (1964) contained:

  • Spider-Man: first appearance (11p), Amazing Fantasy #15 (Aug. 1962)
  • Hulk (comics)|Hulk: first appearance, excerpt (6p), The Incredible Hulk #1 (May 1962)
  • Ant-Man: first appearance (13p), Tales to Astonish #35 (Sept. 1962) [1]
    • Revamped as Giant-Man: excerpt (2p), Tales to Astonish #49 (Nov. 1963)
  • Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos #1 (May 1963) (excerpt, 6p)
  • "Meet the Gang in the Merry Marvel Bullpen": Two-page photo gallery of many of the staff and freelancers, including Ayers, Goodman, Lee, Don Heck, Jack Kirby, Joe Orlando, Paul Reinman, Sam Rosen (comics)|Sam Rosen, Artie Simek, Flo Steinberg, Chic Stone, Vince Colletta, Nancy Murphy of the subscription department, and college "campus representative" Debby Ackerman.
  • Iron Man: first appearance (13p), Tales of Suspense #39 (March 1963)
    • Introduction, gold-and-red armor: excerpt (4p), Tales of Suspense #48 (Dec. 1963)
  • Thor (Marvel Comics)|Thor: first appearance (13p), Journey into Mystery #83 (Aug. 1962)

Marvel Tales Annual #2 (1965) contained:

  • Uncanny X-Men|The X-Men #1 (Sept. 1963) (23p)
  • Story: "The Ringmaster" (10p), The Incredible Hulk #3 (July 1962)
  • Doctor Strange: Origin (8p), Strange Tales #115 [2]
  • Anthological science-fiction story: "A Monster Among Us" (5p), Amazing Adult Fantasy #8
  • Avengers (comics)|The Avengers #1 (Sept. 1963) (22p)

Marvel Tales featuring Spider-Man

Beginning with issue # 3 (July 1966), the title became a bi-monthly, continuing in the 25¢-giant format through # 33 though the page-count grew progressively smaller. Through issue #12, Marvel Tales reprinted some of the earliest issues of The Amazing Spider-Man, as well as some of the earliest stories of Thor, Ant-Man, and Fantastic Four member the Johnny Storm|Human Torch (from his solo feature in Strange Tales).

The Ant-Man stories were replaced after a few issues by anthological science-fiction stories framed as "Tales of the Wasp", introduced by Ant-Man's female partner. These in turn were replaced by 1950s Atlas Comics reprints of the superhero Marvel Boy in issues #13-16. That feature was dropped, along with the page-count, with #17.

The series was revamped to feature two Spider-Man reprints and one Dr. Strange from #28-31 — with the exception of #30, where the Dr. Strange backup was replaced by an original story featuring the X-Men member the Archangel (comics)|Angel, written by Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel in one of his very rare Marvel outings. An Iron Man story served as backup in #32, after which Marvel Tales became a standard-priced series reprinting a single Spider-Man story each issue, very occasionally with a new or reprinted backup story featuring anyone from the Inhumans to Spider-Ham.

The series was canceled with issue #291 cover dated Nov. 1994.

Marvel Tales (flip book)

Marvel published a flip book titled Marvel Tales Flip Magazine (Aug. 2005 - present) reprinting Spider-Man stories from The Amazing Spider-Man Vol. 2 (1999 series) on one side, and, on the other, Araña, from Amazing Fantasy Vol. 2 (2004 series) through issue #6, and Runaways (comics)|Runaways through the final issue, #16.


References

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  1. Note: Ant-Man's alter ego, Dr. Henry Pym, had previously appeared in an anthological science-fiction story in issue #27, about a scientist who shrinks to insect size. This One-shot (comics)|one-shot character was repurposed as a superhero.
  2. The character had been introduced in Strange Tales #110, with additional stories running in #111 and #114 before his origin was told.