Johnny Storm tries a secret identity in another classic from The King!

1917 to 2017: 100 years of Kirby.

Join us to celebrate Jack “King” Kirby’s 100th birthday by learning about the characters and stories he created that changed comics forever. To commemorate Jack’s centennial, we’ve sat down with the modern-day creators he influenced—and the decades of work he gifted us all.

Stan Lee and Jack Kirby broke a lot of super hero molds when they debuted the Fantastic Four in 1961. It didn’t take long for the team of super adventurers to become so popular that people wanted more and more out of the team. So, with STRANGE TALES #101, the duo decided to give the FF’s young heartthrob his own solo adventures!

Human Torch began anchoring the series in 1962; at that time, Johnny Storm didn’t want his Long Island neighbors knowing he moonlighted as the Torch, so he took traditional precautions to keep his alternate identity a secret. And yet, he still lived with his sister, Sue Storm, whose super hero identity remained public knowledge. To help Johnny live in suburbia, Reed Richards outfitted their house with a variety of Torch-specific additions like asbestos furniture and a room for him to work on his hot rods.

Following a nice, concise recap of the Fantastic Four’s origins, we met the villain of the piece: a green and yellow clad individual calling himself Destroyer who looked out over the local amusement park.

Strange Tales (1951) #101

Strange Tales (1951) #101

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Later, while walking to school, Johnny used the smoke from a nearby lighter and cigarette to cloud his own transformation into The Human Torch so he could save a man trapped on a runaway roller coaster at the same park. Storm saved the hapless victim, but the ride still broke in the process. The next day, something similar happened with the parachute drop ride. This time, Johnny shot out small fire pellets into the sky to distract the people around him so he could run into the fun house to transform.

With two of his schemes broken up by the young hero, Destroyer publicly challenged the Torch to a battle in the newspaper. Seeing this, The Thing showed up to back his little buddy, but Torch told him to kick rocks. Though Destroyer played Torch with this ruse, Johnny did eventually return to the amusement park and realize the villain’s game. Though it seemed like he wanted to simply destroy a fun place, Destroyer actually intended to take out the higher points of the park in an effort to keep prying eyes away from his dealings with a ring of Communist subs not far away!

Under the mask, Destroyer turned out to be local newspaper publisher Charles Stanton. With this first solo mission behind him, Johnny would go on to continue trying his hand as a secret identity-sporting hero for a while.

Stay tuned to for more throughout Kirby Month and beyond! And join the conversation on all of our social channels with the hashtag #Kirby100.

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The King helps introduce the Silver Surfer, Galactus, Black Panther and much more!

In celebration of Jack “King” Kirby’s 100th birthday, we’re reviewing the man’s legendary creations with a year-by-year examination of his unparalleled career at Marvel Comics. Read on and witness the work that made him comic book royalty.

Imagine a year in which the entire comics industry changed, and for the better. While the rest of the world danced to the beat of the British Invasion, thrilled to spy adventures on the big screen, and smiled ear to ear from the high camp on their televisions in 1966, Jack Kirby stood in the middle of a bonafide revolution in comic books.

In FANTASTIC FOUR #48, Jack and Marvel editor-writer Stan Lee brought a silver star down from the heavens to change the life of their family of super heroes forever. Legends tell of Lee’s astonishment to see a silver man on a surfboard in Jack’s art for the issue, and asked who it might be. The artist figured their bran-new cosmic baddie, Galactus, needed a herald of sorts, and the Silver Surfer sprang to life before the writer’s eyes. Soon, the herald would eclipse his big, purple master in popularity, and Jack’s simple design would go down in comics history.

The so-called “Galactus Trilogy” of 1966 showcased other Kirby art flourishes, such as Galactus himself, sporting a look that could only be described as Galactic Chic a la Jack Kirby. As the story continued into FANTASTIC FOUR #49 and FANTASTIC FOUR #50, readers marveled at Galactus’ “attack dog,” his mind-boggling personal spacecraft, and the ultimate weirdness of the Ultimate Nullifier, the one device that set the world-devourer quaking in his space-booties. It’s hard to imagine any other artist illustrating the tale and it creating an indelible mark on comics still felt to this day.

If that didn’t constitute a revolution, Lee and Kirby wasted no time in filling the rest of the year with such triumphs as the poignant “This Man, This Monster” story of FANTASTIC FOUR #51, the ground-breaking introduction of the Black Panther in FANTASTIC FOUR #52, and the return of the Silver Surfer in FANTASTIC FOUR #55. Lee, knowing Jack’s penchant for delineating Doctor Doom, also arranged to end the year with the newest assault by the Latverian monarch in FANTASTIC FOUR #57.

Across the Rainbow Bridge in fabled Asgard, Stan and Jack promoted their Thunder God into his own book with THOR #126, and in an effort to put their star through his paces, tossed him into the fires of Pluto’s underworld to rescue the wayward Hercules. Jack’s art never looked better as he fashioned incredible set pieces to make us believe in Pluto’s evil and the fiery world around him. Thor later met a living planet named Ego in THOR #133, and pondered the mysteries of the High Evolutionary—another fantastic Kirby design—in THOR #134.

Jack’s inventiveness and creativity extended past his art, of course, and over a few issues of Nick Fury’s adventures, he proved it by not only co-plotting a few stories with Lee and others, but handling full scripting chores along with his cover and layouts on STRANGE TALES #147.

Stay tuned to for more throughout Kirby Month and beyond! And join the conversation on all of our social channels with the hashtag #Kirby100.

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Stan Lee and Steve Ditko conjure up a new mystic hero for the Marvel Universe!

Who do you call when supernatural problems need tending to? Why Doctor Stephen Strange of course!

Stan Lee and Steve Ditko debuted the Sorcerer Supreme in the pages of STRANGE TALES #110 back in 1963 and he’s been battling the forces of evil ever since. Dubbed the “Master of Black Magic” in the title treatment, Doctor Strange jumped right into the Marvel Universe by helping out a man hounded by horrible dreams that kept him awake.

After agreeing to help the man, Strange used his astral form to meet with his teacher the Ancient One and then entered the sufferer’s mind. There he met a shackled being who claimed to be the dreamer’s own evil deeds taken shape.

Immediately following the realization, Strange found himself face to face with Nightmare. While the Master of the Mystic Arts dealt with this villain the man awoke with murderous intent. However, thanks to some help from the Ancient One, Strange prevailed over Nightmare and returned to his body to stop his physical assailant.

With Doctor Strange’s second appearance in STRANGE TALES #111 his longtime foe Baron Mordo made his first appearance. He didn’t pop up again until issue #115 of the anthology title because, as the intro box at the beginning of the issue explained, the editors wanted to see how popular the character proved.

At that point, Lee and Ditko laid down the now-famous origin story of a haughty and egotistical narcissist surgeon saw his career go down the tubes after a car crash left his hands too shaky to operate. Embracing a downward spiral into self-contempt, Strange wandered around the city until he heard about an Ancient One who could heal anything.

Refocusing his attention to locating this supposed healer, Strange cleaned up his act and eventually found his quarry on a mountain in India. However, after hearing the doctor’s tale, the Ancient One said, “I cannot help you…for your motives are still selfish.”

Strange intended to leave, but soon discovered Baron Mordo’s plot to kill the Ancient One. The villain cursed the former surgeon so that he could not tell their elder about the plan. So, to prevent the murder, Strange stayed on to study with the Ancient One and keep Mordo’s schemes at bay thus beginning their eternal struggle.

However, the Ancient One released Strange of Mordo’s curse, explaining that he knew about it all along, but that it served as a test that Strange passed. With that approval, he went on to become the Sorcerer Supreme and one of the most interesting and dynamic characters in the Marvel Universe!

Opening the Book of Vishanti

First appearing in STRANGE TALES #111, Baron Mordo quickly became Doctor Strange’s number one enemy during his time in that series and beyond. In that first appearance, Mordo sent his astral projection to possess the Ancient One’s servant in an attempt to kill his former master. Luckily, Stephen attempted to contact the potential victim at that time, failed and sent his own astral form to investigate. Understanding that Mordo’s black magic abilities surpassed his own, Strange resorted to mind games to eventually succeed!

Next time, Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin send Stephen on a pan-dimensional mystery in DOCTOR STRANGE: THE OATH.

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Revisit the classic horror anthology series with alien invaders, killer sculptors, and more!

Every day this month a new supernatural character or story from the Marvel Universe gets the spooky spotlight leading up to Halloween!

Before the Silver Age of Comics, Atlas anthology books like STRANGE TALES offered readers a variety of sinister yarns to unravel.

In 1951, STRANGE TALES #1 featured a variety of morality tales dressed up with sci-fi and horror elements. “The Strange Men” follows pilot Ted Halsey on an adventure that lands him on an unknown island above a secret underground city built by aliens from Saturn. A true fighting American, Halsey battles his way out of the place and explains the invasion plot to a general only to discover that the military might not be as trustworthy as advertised.

“The Beast” then examines the difference between man and beast by comparing Homo sapiens to apes, which one character explains as being “powerful, vicious…and evil!” Roger Phillips winds up stuck between a man who wants to be a primate and a scientist who wants to evolve an ape into a man. They compromise, with the latter devolving the former into an ape. In the end, Phillips lets the transformed fight an actual primate and stands as the only survivor.

Up next, “The Room that Didn’t Exist” stars a writer named Mr. Reston who heads to the Black Forest to absorb the right kind of atmosphere for his next book. Soon he meets and falls for Luren, a woman in a nearby cabin, but as the title implies, events don’t quite roll out in the way he expects.

Strange Tales (1951) #1

Strange Tales (1951) #1

  • Published: June 01, 1951
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: April 28, 2007
  • Penciller: George Tuska
  • Cover Artist: Carl Burgos
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The issue ends with “The Call in the Night,” the craziest and most surreal tale in the bunch. TV repairman Joe heads out in the rain to fix Mr. Grey’s set only to discover that his customer turned his wife into a statue and shows him this on the idiot box. But that’s all a dream! Until the next page when Joe winds up in the similar looking Mr. Brown’s house where—the exact same thing happens.

These decades-old stories bounce between themes of not trusting the government to the mysteries of television as well as a fear of our animal nature and the ghostly power of love which continue to fan the flames of fear to this day.

FRIGHT FACT: STRANGE TALES eventually became the home to one of comics’ most interesting odd couples: Doctor Strange and Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Though the two remained on separate paths in very different adventures, fans found themselves wrapped up in stories that traversed time and space as well as international date lines. Even if the tales remained thematically different, never underestimate the appeal of a comic featuring artwork by Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko.

Come back tomorrow for another Halloween Spooklight featuring Captain America’s war on vampire Nazis!

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The tyrant and his niece Clea first appeared way back in 1964!

As luck would have it, Doctor Strange unknowingly encountered both his greatest enemy and possibly his greatest love while on the very same inter-dimensional mission.

Both the dread Dormammu and the sorceress Clea resided in the treacherous depths of the Dark Dimension. Both possess a mastery of magic and strong – albeit opposing – attitudes towards Stephen Strange, but only Dormammu has a head that constantly burns with mystical fire.

Strange Tales (1951) #126

Strange Tales (1951) #126

  • Published: November 10, 1964
  • Added to Marvel Unlimited: November 13, 2007
  • Penciller: Steve Ditko
  • Cover Artist: Jack Kirby
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Dormammu and Clea made their first appearance 50 years ago this month in STRANGE TALES #126. The story begins just as Strange returns home, exhausted from a battle with Baron Mordo. Strange doesn’t even have time to remove his cape before he gets transported to the realm of his master – the Ancient One. Once there, Strange finds the powerful sorcerer besieged by a minion of Dormammu. The Ancient One tells Strange that the warlord must be trying to break out of the Dark Dimension. Even though no known force has been able to take on Dormammu one-on-one, Doctor Strange knows what he has to do and travels to the Dark Dimension.

Art from Strange Tales #126

Art from Strange Tales #126

Dormammu laughs at Strange’s arrival and starts throwing every minion he has at the good Doctor. As Strange survives every one of Dormammu’s trials, he catches the attention of a mysterious figure.

Art from Strange Tales #126

Art from Strange Tales #126

Stephen Strange continues to use his spells to cut a swath through his flaming foe’s forces, dealing each one of them a sound defeat. Dormammu does not deal with their failure well.

Art from Strange Tales #126

Art from Strange Tales #126

Clea hurriedly introduces herself to Strange and urges him to not fight the dread Dormammu in one-on-one combat. Doctor Strange, knowing that the Earth will be Dormammu’s for the taking if he does nothing, forges ahead. When the hero finally makes his way to the villain’s lair, Dormammu acquiesces to Strange’s request for battle.

Art from Strange Tales #126

Art from Strange Tales #126

The two mystics engaged in the first of many battles in STRANGE TALES #127.  Clea and Dormammu have since become essential parts of Doctor Strange’s mythos, with the former spending time on Earth as both Strange’s lover and a super hero in her own right, and the latter vexing everyone from the Avengers to Spider-Man.

You can read Clea’s most recent acts of heroism in the pages of FEARLESS DEFENDERS!

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