Wednesday, August 10, 2016

It Came From The Fourth Issue! The Magic Of Four #4s

As a youngster growing up during the Silver Age of Comics, I developed a belief that great things happened in the fourth issue of comics -- but only team comics. My ultimately flawed belief system was spawned by this quartet of team-book classics: Justice League of America #4, Fantastic Four #4, Avengers #4, and Uncanny X-Men #4.
(The foundation of my youthful beliefs)
First up, Justice League #4 brought Green Arrow out of the shadows and into the limelight for my spellbound eyes.
(What to heck? When did Green Arrow get interesting?)
He never seemed like much to me prior to this comic story, but when the 'real' heroes of the DC world vetted him as being cooler than ice cream, how could I disagree?
(They like him! They REALLY like him!)
(Well, I guess he is cool now...)
Fantastic Four #4 was a mind-blowing book, too. In the previous issue, The Human Torch walked off the team!
(It's as if Aquaman turned bad.)
Then, as the story picks up in this issue, his teammates can't even find him! Good golly! And then... then, it turns out he's been hiding in a flophouse. Unthinkable! Batman or Green Lantern would never visit a flophouse! (Note: young innocent that I was, I didn't know exactly what said flophouse was, but I did know it couldn't be good.)

And then -- the Torch reads a comic about a hero I'd never heard of, The Submariner. But wait! That old bearded bum in the flophouse is none other than the Submariner -- and he's not happy about it when the Torch revives his memory!
(Flophouse, old comics, bums and superheroes? I was hooked.)
 Amazingly, at the story's end, the former hero goes away mad and vows revenge!
(This was bold new territory for a comic book of the era.)
 The most teased superhero revival of the era happened in Avengers #4 with the return of Captain America.
(Pure magic on paper, often referenced, but never equaled.)
We'd first seen the villainous Acrobat impersonating Cap back in Strange Tales #114:
(I'd never seen Captain America, but knew he was great from just this wonderful cover image.)
(DC never had action like this, or dialogue with that flair.)
The Torch defeats the evil impersonator, then, looking at his old comics, wonders if  the real Cap might return someday. And even better, the editors asked if we wanted the revival to happen!
(Would we like Captain America to return? Would we ever!)
Strangely enough, Cap's next appearance was not in a Marvel comic but in a Warren magazine, Screen Thrills Illustrated #7.
(The serial Captain America did seem a bit portly, but who cared?)
 It cover featured the Star-Spangled Avenger, and had an article detailing his past as a comics and serial star...
(That golden Age art in the background stuck in my imagination and got looked at over and over again.)
...and his coming return in Avengers #4! It was a long couple of months waiting for that comic.
(This was the first time I ever saw a comic cover months prior to publication -- and in glorious black and white, too.)
When the actual comic finally came out, it delivered on the promise with one of the best stories of the Silver Age.
(This splash page said it all, there could be no doubt. Captain America was something special.)
(To this day, one of my favorite comics of all time. What a great tease for that which was still to come.)
 And while Avengers #4 marked the return of a classic character, The Uncanny X-Men #4 introduced two new antiheroes destined to be major draws to this day: Quicksilver and The Scarlet Witch.
(So what if the Scarlet Witch was colored green on the cover?)
(So what if Quicksilver was colored green in the story?)

(The ending left us wanting more of those two not truly evil Evil Mutants!)
While my belief in fourth issues was shattered over time, these #4s are four well worth remembering.

And, finally -- don't forget you can get even more Mayhem on Amazon!

More reasonably priced Mayhem!


  1. I know it's A DC Comic...but SHOWCASE #4 was the first to Feature the Silver Age FLASH.

  2. It DC-ishness wasn't the reason I didn't include it. I was only five when it came out and didn't see it on the spinner rack, let alone buy it. I was trying to stick to the stuff whose moment of publication I actually experienced.