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CSBG Archive

When We First Met #1

This is the first in a series (of indefinite length and regularity) of pieces showing you the first appearance of stuff that later became notable parts of comic book lore. Not like “the first appearance of Superman,” but rather, “the first time someone said, ‘Avengers Assemble!’” or “the first appearance of Batman’s giant penny” or “the first time Spider-Man’s face was shown half-Spidey/half-Peter.”

Enjoy!

NOTE: Those examples are specifically the three things I’m showing you today, don’t ya know…

The giant penny in the Bat-Cave is something that has been there for decades, but where did Batman get it?

That honor comes from World’s Finest Comics #30, written by Bill Finger and drawn by Bob Kane and Ray Burnley, where we meet a bad guy obsessed with pennies…

The giant penny comes in here…

Interestingly enough, it wasn’t like the giant penny was supplied by the crook, it seems. So, what, Batman just decided that he was going to take home the giant penny from the exhibition as a trophy? That’s not an absurd request, but it smacks a bit of mercenary-ism, doesn’t it? Maybe Bruce Wayne bought it after the exhibition ended?
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One of the interesting quirks of Steve Ditko’s Spider-Man run was that he liked to do a bit where he had Spider-Man’s mask show up on half of Peter’s face. He would do this at two different times…

1. When he wanted to make sure to highlight that Peter was Spider-Man (in situations where it would be especially ironic – like on the cover of Amazing Spider-Man #8 when Peter is boxing Flash – we know that it is really Spider-Man boxing Flash, so he could kick his butt easily, but he has to hide his secret identity…

)

2. When he wanted to show Peter using his powers while as Peter, specifically the Spider-Sense.

This confused a generation of young children reading Spider-Man who had problems understanding symbolism.

It caught on, though, and John Romita used the effect, as well, and occasionally you’ll still see it today.

It did not show up in the first four Spider-Man stories (the first one in Amazing Fantasy #15, the two stories in Amazing Spider-Man #1 and the first one in Amazing Spider-Man #2).

In fact, at the end of the first story in Amazing Spider-Man #2, Ditko actually went a different direction…

(by the by, you have to love the prison folks letting Vulture wear his costume in jail).

But finally, in the second story, Ditko went with it to show Peter using his powers while out of costume…


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The Avengers did not really have a catch phrase for months. You could tell Stan Lee wanted to give them one. Preferably, it would be nice if the catch phrase was alliterative. Stan Lee LOVED alliteration – Peter Parker, Reed Richards, Sue Storm, Scott Summers, Bruce Banner – and the same went for his catch phrases!

So in Avengers #10, he did it!

Amusingly enough, for a phrase that only debuted in the tenth issue of the magazine, by issue #16, it was already treated as a major part of the book’s history.

It made the cover…

And Iron Man is already wistfully thinking back upon a phrase that debuted six months earlier…

And the crowd already knows it!!

That’s quite an impressive catch phrase that it became beloved by the public so quickly!

Thanks to MrNorrinRadd for the correction on the first appearance of the phrase.
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Feel free to send in ideas for future debuts I should feature here to bcronin@comicbookresources.com!

51 Comments

It did not show up in the first four Spider-Man stories (the first one in Amazing Spider-Man, the two stories in Amazing Spider-Man #1 and the first one in Amazing Spider-Man #2).

Typo. First “Amazing Spider-Man” should read “Amazing Fantasy.”

This piece was pretty funny. Esp. the part of how much Avengers Assemble meant to Iron Man after only two months.

Typo. First “Amazing Spider-Man” should read “Amazing Fantasy.”

Thanks! Fixed.

And at least for me “Avengers assemble” does not sound so good when said out loud. Works better on paper.

But then I’d also have to point out that Avengers is not the best of all possible names anyway…

That half-mask look of Spidey was a great trick though, at least in those “Spider Sense kicks in” moments.

I really like this idea, Brian. Great stuff. Keep it up.

Surely the first Bwahaha should be posted in the future.

Also, Batman’s dinosaur.

You could get a couple articles just out of Batman’s trophies: the dinosaur, the Joker card, Thomas Wayne’s Bat-Man costume, the stuffed(?) penguin, etc.

A follow-up to this post: when was the first time the penny from this adventure appeared as a part of the Batcave? Was it in the very next issue or did it take a while?

That Spider-Man robot sure does have a rich inner life.

It’s been a while since I read that Vulture story, but if he’d just been arrested he probably hadn’t been issued his prison uniform yet.
(Then again, I’ve seen stories with bad guys still wearing their costumes after months in prison.)

Now that we know about Batman’s penny, are we going to see the debut of Scrooge McDuck’s dime?

Other possible ideas–
Colossus and Wolverine and the Fastball Special
‘It’s Clobberin’ Time!’

Tangled Up in Blue is probably my favorite Dylan song.

OK, now THIS is the kind of obscure comics trivia I enjoy finding out about! Thanks Brian, may you make many more columns like this! :D

It might be interesting, if applicable, to examine how the “explanations” have changed over time. For instance, the giant penny is now associated with Two-Face in some versions of the backstory. (The Animated Series comes to mind immediately.)

Um, why is Cap wearing green underwear? To show support for Quicksilver? Plus, I think that “Avengers Assemble!” worked so well because Thor looks so badass yelling it.

funkygreenjerusalem

November 1, 2010 at 10:55 pm

So, what, Batman just decided that he was going to take home the giant penny from the exhibition as a trophy? That’s not an absurd request, but it smacks a bit of mercenary-ism, doesn’t it? Maybe Bruce Wayne bought it after the exhibition ended?

I love the idea that it was early on his career, he was still figuring things out, and just decided to take the Penny with him.

Brian-

I’ve been wondering this one for a while… what was the first comic that firmly established what Wolverine’s powers are? (ie: healing factor that makes him virtually invulnerable, heightened senses & animal instincts, and adamantium laced bones.) I know it was in Dave Cockrum’s original X-Men run where it was established that Wolverine’s claws came out of his arms (not his gloves), and where he tells (I think) Banshee at one point that he heals fast, but when did everything get more specific?

When was the first time both Hal Jordan and Reed Richards were drawn with the white hair above the ears?

When did Hal Jordan start being referred to as a legendary, or the greatest Green Lantern?

First gimmick cover?

What was the first time a lead character’s (Marvel or DC) internal monologue was in a text box instead of a thought balloon? (This seems like a major innovation to me, but I may be alone in that belief.)

First time Batman gets referred to as “Dark Knight?” “Caped Crusader?”

First time Superman is referred to as “The Man of Steel?” “The Man of Tomorrow?”

First Marvel or DC trade paperback of a single story (discounting stuff like “The Greatest Batman Stories Ever Told”)?

First time a cover blurb stated “Because you demanded it!”

OK, I think that’s it for now!

Original concept, I’m gonna enjoy going reading this column.

Um, why is Cap wearing green underwear? To show support for Quicksilver?

You try spending 15 years encased in ice wearing the same shorts and see how fresh you turn out.

First time:
DC used “not a hoax, not an imaginary story” or such on a cover?
An Imaginary Story was used by DC?
Hulk said “Hulk is the Strongest one there is!”
Thor said “For Asgard!”
Spiderman said “Spidey sense tingling”?
Non married characters had sex?
Some Inhuman called Black Bolt “My Liege”?
The Vision partially became solid inside someone (not named Scarlet Witch hahahahaha)?

Ed’s question of ‘not a hoax, not an imaginary story’ reminds me of Fantastic Four #331. It was during the time Englehart was writing as ‘John Harkness’, and he was using the character’s dreams to tell the stories he’d planned to tell. The cover actually says ‘It’s a dream! It’s a hoax! It’s an imaginary story!’

How about the first time we saw Joker committed to an insane asylum? (Batman #74, I believe.)

What about the first actual view of the Batcave in the comics? (As opposed to references to tunnels & what not.)

The first Batmobile that actually looked like something that should be called a Batmobile.

Green Arrow’s first use of trick arrows.

The first appearance of kryptonite.

The first appearance of Scrooge McDuck’s dime I actually remember as a good duckist would: The Round Money Bin, One Shots #495, September 1953…in case a future installment wants to give it a go (the issue I had to check from the net).

Reed Richards and Ben Grimm war references: when were they said to have been in Korean War, and when was that war updated to later ones?

The first war I recall Reed and Ben were said to be veterans of was WWII I believe, not Korean War. I could be wrong though.

>>The first war I recall Reed and Ben were said to be veterans of was WWII I believe, not Korean War.

Yep. I’m sure there were references in earlier FFs, but Reed appears as a soldier in Sgt. Fury #3, Ben in Capt. Savage #7.

I’d love to see a story on exactly how Batman got that giant penny into the Batcave. Or why a guy who seems to have no emotional attachment to anything other than his parents murder would keep all that stuff in the cave. Poor Alfred must cringe every time Batman drags some new crap in there. He’s the one who has to figure out how to display it and clean it.

Best use of the word “assemble” ever.

Ideas:

First “Long Live the Legion!”
First use of “mutant menace” (either the phrase or the concept)
First “Flame on!”
Superman’s first ID change in a closet and a phone booth
Superman’s first flight (after bounding over tall buildings)
Iron Man’s first heart attack
Green Lantern’s first running out of power after 24 hours
Thor’s first turning back to Dr. Blake after 60 seconds
Jimmy Olsen’s first use of the signal watch
Lois Lane’s first accusation that Clark Kent is Superman
First “Hulk smash!”

I’m sure we could go on and on with these. There must be dozens of ‘em for each popular character.

In that last picture…what exactly is Quicksilver doing with his right hand…

The first “When Titans Clash!”

I love the idea that it was early on his career, he was still figuring things out, and just decided to take the Penny with him.

Strapped to the roof of the Batmobile.

Ben and Reed were shown in FF#11 to have been in the Second World War, and even then Reed was described as thinking about the girl back home, Sue. When I first read the story it was reprinted in about 1974 in a Treasury Edition, with an editor’s note added at the bottom of that panel, suggesting that they must have served in Korea as well, because “Sue’s not that old!”
And so the dates began to melt and blur, like the clocks in Dali’s trees. (Was that reprint the first appearance of Marvel Time Revisionism?)

1st time Spider-Man used his Spider-sense to track a Spidey-tracer
– in particular did they actually refer to Spider-Man re-calibrating the Spider-tracer to work with his Spider-sense? (Or did Stan simply forget that he had previously used a specific tracking device for this purpose?)

bernard the poet

November 3, 2010 at 5:59 am

@Third Man

I was going to ask when Wolverine first revealed he had a healing factor – I think it was when the Brood put an egg inside him during Cockrum’s second run (#162 or thereabouts), but it is treated as though it is common knowledge, so maybe it was earlier.

Stan Lee loved alliteration so much that he saddled the Avengers with a battle-cry that makes no sense. Galactus is going to eat the planet, Doom is leading an army of killer robots, the Masters of Evil are about to attack, but don’t worry because the Avengers are going to “Assemble”. Yeah, I bet that puts the fear of god into wrong-doers.

As bad as “Avengers Assemble” was, I thought “Titans Together” was even worse. It just sounded so hokey and childish. Both slogans are pretty bad. Nothing beat’s “Clobberin’ Time.”

Didn’t someone in the 80s get a Marvel No-Prize for explaining that Avengers Assemble was a call to arms, while Iron Man’s Avengers Attack was a battle cry?

Personally, I like the phrase “Avengers Assemble” because it has symmetry. Both words start with A, and both have three sylables.

Theno

This is a really great idea for a column

Yeah, I bet that puts the fear of god into wrong-doers.

While I generally agree, I think you can make a good argument that the whole notion of the Avengers is that you are putting the best and most powerful heroes together to face an enemy that none of them could stop on their own, so when you hear that they are “assembling,” you know that means you’re about to face off against an imposing force of heroes, so that’s something, I think.

Except those times, of course, when the assembled Avengers was unimposing, like the saddest Avengers team of all, the pre-Crossing Avengers….”Oh no, it’s Black Widow, Quicksilver, a de-powered Hercules, Deathcry and Crystal!!! Run!!!!”

@Third Man, bernard the poet

Several of Wolverine’s abilities were already mentioned in Uncanny X-Men #116, which was featured here : http://goodcomics.comicbookresources.com/2009/05/12/a-year-of-cool-comic-book-moments-day-132/

I was thinking just the other day, “when was the LAST time Batman added something big and cool to his Trophy Gallery?” He’s shown as so much less cheerful and sentimental nowadays compared to decades ago; all he ever adds are new “costume tubes” for dead or retired Robins and Batgirls. When was the last time he added something new?

As to the giant penny, I think I remember a DC ad page showing Batman & Robin tied to a giant penny that was falling through the air, and I always assumed it was from that story, probably via Two-Face but I never got the comic. In a similar way, the image of Wonder Woman shrunk down and held tight in the grip of a man with tweezers is iconic to me from those house ads. Has that one ever been referenced in a more recent WW story?

Avengers….. AWAAAAAAAAAAAAAYYYYY!

@Rob Schmidt:

First use of “mutant menace” (either the phrase or the concept)

I’m not sure about the phrase, but I’m very certain the concept first appeared in issue #14, which was the first appearance of the Sentinels and the whole concept of mutants as a group to be feared/hunted.

Before that, there wasn’t much in the book about mutants beyond just being people born with powers, some of whom were good and some bad. In fact, the X-Men were cheered by the general population in some of the early issues (and the ladies loved that dreamy Angel).

great info! btw, Lee used alliteration so that he would remember the names of the characters. If he could remember the first or last name, he would be able to recall the other half. Just lettin’ ya know :) as it’s in my book of interviews with him: Conversations: Stan Lee

I never really understood “Avengers Assemble”. They’re already there, together. What’s to assemble?

Does sound cool though.

“Avengers Assemble” is an example of assonance, not alliteration. Assonance is repeating vowel sounds. Alliteration is repeating consonants.

I guess you just gotta yell something when you’re Thor and smashing your hammer into the ground!

“Assonance Assemble!” to be used right before English class.

I have to apologize; my post from November is not correct.

Assonance is repeated vowel sounds, and “Avengers Assemble” is an example of assonance, but it is also an example of alliteration. Alliteration is the repetition of sound in the first syllables of words, both vowel and consonant. I was mistaken.

Assonance can be found in any part of words, not just the start.

I’ve always loved the half-Peter, half-Spidey scenes! And actually, when I read Spider-Man comics when I was a kid, I understood what they were doing.

I was searching the first time someone said ‘Avengers Assemble!’ and I found this page, and I am having a great time reading everything you have write!! But I must tell you something… Look at Avengers #10, page 19; when Thor breaks free from Baron Zemo’s trap, he says… ‘Avengers Assemble!!’

MrNorrinRadd

May 3, 2012 at 4:24 pm

I’m reading the original Avengers stories right now and as I was reading, I was looking for the first time anyone said “Avengers assemble.” This article says that they started looking for a catch-phrase in issue 11, and the phrase “Avengers assemble” does not appear until issue 14, but that is incorrect. In issue 10, 2 pages before the end of the story (page 245 of my Avengers Omnibus), Thor yells “Avengers assemble!”

I’ll be darned, he DOES yell “Avengers Assemble!!”, and for some reason has lost his long pants.

one note about spiderman half face – it was a trick used by Ditko because Stan Lee always wanted complained that Ditko didn’t show Peter Parket as Spiderman enough in the stories . Ditko was more interested in Parker aspect of Spiderman .. So by showing the half mask he could explore keep exploring Peter Parker and not be forced to have him turn into Spiderman so much.

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