Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
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.”
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?
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…
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.
Feel free to send in ideas for future debuts I should feature here to firstname.lastname@example.org!
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