The Mystery Ends, The Tales Begin in Marvel Tales #93, Up for Auction

The end of the Marvel Golden Age of Superheroes seems to have happened before the publisher was quite ready for it.  Marvel Mystery #92 contains a retelling of the Human Torch's origin with a few changes (most notably, the Human Torch and Professor Horton do not part ways on bad terms at the end of the origin, as they do in Marvel Comics #1), and the ending blurb of the story in this issue promised, "More about the early days of the torch in the next issue of Marvel Comics!"  Of course, that issue would never come.  What would come next was something else entirely — Marvel Mystery would be renamed Marvel Tales, becoming part of the publishing going all in on the horror genre.  An incredibly important moment of Marvel history, there's an affordable Marvel Tales #93 (Atlas, 1949) Condition: PR up for auction 2022 July 24-25 Sunday & Monday Comic Books Select Auction #122230 at Heritage Auctions.

Marvel Tales #93 (Atlas, 1949)
Marvel Tales #93 (Atlas, 1949)


Just prior to that transition, Amazing Mysteries #32 had already become Marvel's first true horror comic.  It's commonly believed that this series launched with #32 to take over numbering from Sub-Mariner Comics — but of course, Sub-Mariner Comics would also run its own series #32 the next month.  Since both titles have the same Marvel indicial publisher (Comic Combine Corp.), it's possible that this is some sort of bookkeeping error and that the horror of Amazing Mysteries #32 was launched sooner than originally anticipated.  The lead story of that issue includes obvious stand-ins for Stan Lee and Marvel publisher Martin Goodman, working for at a company that is clearly meant to be Marvel — and participating in a tale which itself was clearly inspired by H.P. Lovecraft's Shadow Over Innsmouth.  Although the Amazing Mysteries series would be short-lived, the series that did pick up where Marvel Mystery leaves off, Marvel Tales, would continue Marvel's fledgling horror line.

While Eerie Comics #1 is widely considered the first horror comic book, and ACG's Adventures into the Unknown is considered the first comic book horror series, Amazing Mysteries #32 is likely much more important than it gets credit for as the start of the boom period of Pre-Code Horror.  Marvel would become the driver of the genre with around 389 comics which can be considered PCH, vs EC Comics PCH output of about 91 comic book issues.  And before the end of 1949, Marvel's head-first dive into horror would result in one of the most famous and sought-after issues of Captain America Comics ever published.  Marvel Tales #93 is an important part of this Marvel history, and there's an affordable Marvel Tales #93 (Atlas, 1949) Condition: PR up for auction 2022 July 24-25 Sunday & Monday Comic Books Select Auction #122230 at Heritage Auctions.

Marvel Tales #93 (Atlas, 1949) Condition: PR. The first issue of the comic, formerly titled Marvel Mystery Comics, and the beginning of a run of horror stories in the title. Gene Colan cover and art. Brittle pages, spine split throughout book, and glue repair inner front cover. Overstreet 2021 GD 2.0 value = $290.

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About Mark Seifert

Co-founder and Creative director of Bleeding Cool parent company Avatar Press. Bleeding Cool Managing Editor, tech and data wrangler. Machine Learning hobbyist. Vintage paper addict.
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