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Make Mine '39

Take 10: Still Golden

The Secret Cabal celebrates Marvel's 70th anniversary by recognizing some of its first heroes

Every week, a secret cabal of Marvel staffers gathers to discuss the best of the best when it comes to the House of Ideas.

There's no such thing as a mandatory retirement age in the Marvel Universe, and that's something we're plenty grateful for.

From stalwarts like Captain America to the recently rediscovered members of the Twelve, dozens of heroes who made their debut way back in the 1940's still fight the good fight as effectively as their younger counterparts. This week, Marvel's Golden Age generation gets a double spotlight with the release of both the MARVEL MYSTERY HANDBOOK and AVENGERS/INVADERS hardcover collection.

This week, the Secret Cabal continues the year-long celebration of Marvel's 70th anniversary by honoring the House of Ideas' most tenured do-gooders.

For each entry you get the quick rundown as well as a special spotlight comic courtesy of Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited.

As always, these picks reflect the personal choices of the Secret Cabal, not the official opinion of Marvel or Marvel.com, and can be considered subjective at best. Enjoy!


Learn More About Him... here
First Appearance: DARING MYSTERY COMICS #3 (1940)
Why He Makes the List: Nobody can really put it better than writer/artist Michael Kupperman, who was responsible for Marvex's recent reappearance in ALL SELECT COMICS 70TH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL: "Marvex is a character from the early days of Marvel, a robot man created in the sixth dimension. His stories lack the intensity and drive of modern super hero comics; he basically wanders around and gets involved in situations, and refuses the romantic advances of young woman because, after all, he is a robot." 'Nuff said.
Spotlight Comic: DARING MYSTERY COMICS #3-The daring debut of Marvex!

Learn More About Him... here
First Appearance: MYSTIC COMICS #5 (1941)
Why He Makes the List: During World War II, despite a unique origin-burning skull-headed aliens taught him to be flame-resistant-and a fantastic visual, Mark Todd maintained a similar demeanor to his Invaders allies upon becoming the Blazing Skull. However, after being unearthed in modern times and not having aged a day, the Skull has become eccentric to put it lightly, and there's not many things more fun to watch than a nutjob with his skull on fire trying to work alongside Namor or Colossus.
Spotlight Comic: NEW INVADERS #1-The Blazing Skull enlists for an Invaders reunion!

First Appearance: USA COMICS #5 (1942)
Currently Appearing In: THE TWELVE
Why He Makes the List: Glory-seeking would-be swashbuckler the Blue Blade-aka Roy Chambers in those rare moments when he puts the cape and goofy hat aside-certainly stands out from his counterparts in the Twelve, not to mention most characters in the Marvel Universe. What other hero do you know would try to parlay their fame as a champion of virtue into a televised cabaret? Still, for not only fighting evil in that outfit but also with no super powers to speak of other than some skill in fencing, we give Blue Blade his due props.
Spotlight Comic: THE TWELVE #1-Along his fellow Golden Age refugees, the Blue Blade finds a new world awaiting him in the present day!

Learn More About Him... here
First Appearance: HUMAN TORCH COMICS #2 (1940)
Currently Appearing In: THE TORCH
Why He Makes the List: While many people see Toro merely as a smaller, younger Human Torch, Thomas Raymond has dimensions to him we're only now really getting to see explored. As one of the only sidekicks in the Marvel Universe who seemingly outlived his partner, Raymond carried a major chip on his shoulder into death; now that a resurrected Toro finds himself in that same situation once more only knowing that he too perished, that chip has become a boulder.
Spotlight Comic: HUMAN TORCH #5 (1941)-Toro teams with his mentor the Torch to battle Nazis!

First Appearance: DARING MYSTERY COMICS #3 (1940)
Why He Makes the List: A few years ago, few folks outside of true Golden Age aficionados had heard of Dick Jones, aka the Phantom Reporter, but we're glad that has since changed. A 1940's newspaperman frustrated by his inability to enact change, Jones chose to become part of the stories he was reporting on, using his contacts to track down crime and then don a mask and attempt to put a stop to it. As the everyman narrator of THE TWELVE, struggling with feeling outdated in a world where newspapers can barely stay afloat, the Phantom Reporter has found new life.
Spotlight Comic: DARING MYSTERY COMICS #3-The Phantom Reporter dispenses Golden Age justice!

Learn More About Her... here
First Appearance: MARVEL MYSTERY COMICS #82 (1947)
Currently Appearing In: INCREDIBLE HERCULES (upcoming)
Why She Makes the List: It takes a tough gal to swim alongside a princely powerhouse the likes of Namor, but Namora was up to the task in the Golden Age and is proving still capable in the present. Strong-willed yet flirtatious, Namora wears her heart on her sleeve-or would if she was wearing any-and never plays second fiddle to anybody, be it her cousin the Sub-Mariner, her sometime paramour Hercules, or her Agents of Atlas cohorts.
Spotlight Comic: AGENTS OF ATLAS #4 (2006)-After decades at rest, Namora returns to the surface world thanks to the Agents of Atlas!

Learn More About Her... here
First Appearance: MISS AMERICA MAGAZINE #2 (1944)
Currently Appearing In: MARVEL DIVAS, MODELS INC.
Why She Makes the List: Few Marvel characters, Golden Age or otherwise, have had quite so wild and divergent a career as Patsy Walker. She started out a pure-hearted fashion model, became the over-enthusiastic Avenger called Hellcat, married no less than the Son of Satan himself, did some time in hell, and has since returned, retaining her upbeat attitude and feisty sense of adventure. There's just something undeniably charming about the versatile Patsy in all her guises, which explains in large part her longevity and ability to skip about the Marvel Universe with style.
Spotlight Comic: PATSY WALKER: HELLCAT #1-Marvel's cutest redhead beats feet to Alaska!

Learn More About Him... here
First Appearance: CAPTAIN AMERICA COMICS #1 (1941)
Why He Makes the List: For years, Bucky was nothing more than Captain America's dearly departed sidekick, a forgotten character who appeared as an apparition only to remind Cap of why he needed to push ever onward; all that has changed over the past five years, as the prodigal fallen squire returned and even took up the mantel of his mentor. Today, it's Bucky, as the new Captain America, who is experiencing the "man out of time" dilemmas that plagued Steve Rogers for so long, giving them a fresh take and us some great stories.
Spotlight Comic: CAPTAIN AMERICA #43 (2008)-Flashing back to the 40's, Bucky recalls his first encounter with a scientist who will greatly impact his life!

Learn More About Him... here
Currently Appearing In: UNCANNY X-MEN
Why He Makes the List: Namor was a troublemaker from the moment he first appeared inc comic book form, and 70 years later, while almost everything about and around the character has changed, that fundamental has not-nor would we want it to. Whether he was battling the Human Torch above New York City in the 40's, alternating between the Fantastic Four's friend and foe 20 years after that, or betraying Norman Osborn to the X-Men just recently, the Sub-Mariner has always been a wildcard who shakes things up when they need it most. Namor may have donned regal robes and royal titles since his early days, but they'll never mask his wild side.
Spotlight Comic: SUB-MARINER COMICS #1-Namor bursts into his own Golden Age solo title!

1. CAPTAIN AMERICA (Steve Rogers)
Learn More About Him... here
First Appearance: CAPTAIN AMERICA COMICS #1 (1941)
Currently Appearing In: CAPTAIN AMERICA: REBORN
Why He Makes the List: The gold standard of the Golden Age, the original Captain America remains a popular and relevant character nearly seven decades after his introduction, a testament to the incredible heart of Steve Rogers. While Cap has evolved over the years, a core of his 1940's values and more focused worldview have not only remained intact, but influenced those around him and provided fans with a refreshing hero to look up to. Captain America will always be one of the cornerstones of the Marvel Universe, no matter what year it is.
Spotlight Comic: CAPTAIN AMERICA THEATER OF WAR: OPERATION ZERO-POINT-Steve Rogers faces the unorthodox threat of robotic Nazis during World War II!


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Where the heck is Jim Hammond aka the Original Human Torch, I mean seriously. Otherwise a pretty good list.


Both pretty legendary amoung Golden age comic fans, so why did Mavel NOT reprint the more-expensive than your monthly mortage Miss America #1? And why did blonde Phantom get 'shortchanged' in All-Select, with no Golden age reprint backup story of her own?And when in the heck is Mavel(?disney?) going to reprint ANY Godlen Age Venus stories?! Stan Lee did back in teh '70's, but chopped up and incomplete. Hey, any character so loved by Bill Everett deserves a reprint book, even if only in paperback. Still, two Masterworks Archives and you've got the whole Venus run...By the way, since Marvel can't decide who the 'Venus' in Agents of Atlas is, maybe Parker would like to know (if he doesn't) that Aphrodite and Hercules had a younger half-sister, 'the most beautiful girl in the world' (according to the Greeks), whose demi-goddess status is frequently missed. You might have heard of her: Helen of Troy.


I LOVED this series, recommended it to dozens of reader when I worked at Bender's in VA, and am frustrated beyond measure that Marvel seems to have totally forgotten about this moving and enthralling series (a natural for a 'Watchmen-type' movie, by the way). WHEN, if EVER, will the end of the series see print? Heck, at this pint I'd even go for the 'Renfield comic' ending, when, instead of publishing issue #6 of the comic, the publisher issued a collected paperback edition, giving those shops that had been ordering the Renfield comic a special one-time discount price for the book, so the shop could then sell it to the Renfield fans at the same price the last issue of the comic would have been. I'm concerned that now that Disney owns Marvel we will NEVER see those last issues of The Twelve. And that would be a a shame, because it's, serioulsy, one of the best comcis Marvel's turned out in the last decade, right up there with Agents of Atlas and Incrediable Hercules, to name two other favorites. So, if there any news about the fate of The Twelve?