Retroactive: Detective Comics 1939 & Amazing Spider-Man 1963

It’s time for the first edition of Retroactive.  In Retroactive I’ll take you on a visual comic cover tour of the past covering all the covers for a particular series. Each entry will cover an entire year and I’ll always have one comic from DC and one comic from Marvel. Since Batman and Spider-Man are my favourite characters for their respected companies I’ve decided to kick it off with Detective Comics and Amazing Spider-Man. Batman’s first appearance was in Detective Comics #27 so that will be the starting point for that series and Spider-Man debuted in Amazing Fantasy #15 before getting his own series so I’ll be including that issue as well. At the end of each edition of Retroactive I’ll select my overall favourite cover for that year for each series. With that said, let’s begin:

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Detective Comics (1939)
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Detective Comics #27 (May 1939)

Detective Comics #28(June 1939)

Detective Comics #29 (July 1939)

Detective Comics #30 (August 1939)

Detective Comics #31 (September 1939)

Detective Comics #32 (October 1939)

Detective Comics #33 (November 1939)

Detective Comics #34 (December 1939)

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Amazing Spider-Man (1963)
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Amazing Fantasy #15 (August 1962)

Amazing Spider-Man #1 (March 1963)

Amazing Spider-Man #2 (May 1963)

Amazing Spider-Man #3 (July 1963)

Amazing Spider-Man #4 (September 1963)

Amazing Spider-Man #5 (October 1963)

Amazing Spider-Man #6 (November 1963)

Amazing Spider-Man #7 (December 1963)

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Favourite Covers
Okay, so our journey through the past is complete for this week but which covers reign supreme? Detective Comics #27 and Amazing Fantasy #15. Did you expect anything less? They are simply iconic and have stood the test of time with countless homages to them being done over the years. That was a little too obvious a pick so I’ll indulge everyone this week, and this week alone, and name my second favourite covers as well. For Detective Comics, second place would go to: Detective Comics #31. The image of Batman hovering larger than life over the castle with the fog seeping into view is simply eye-catching. For Amazing Spider-Man, second place would go to: Amazing Spider-Man #3. The debut of Doctor Octopus, his face shrouded in shadow to create an air of mystery, and that caption “Can anything that lives, defeat the mighty Doctor Octopus?” seals the deal.
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So that’s it for this week. Agree/Disagree? Which covers are your personal favourites from this week? Comment below!

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12 thoughts on “Retroactive: Detective Comics 1939 & Amazing Spider-Man 1963

  1. My favorite Batman cover is Detective Comics # 31, pretty much for the reasons you listed.
    As for Spider Man, I particularly like ASM # 4, because it gives us a neat idea of what we are going to see in the comic book. I’ll try to explain you why this is so important to me.
    As you know, if I want to read comic books in the U.S. version, I must order them the month they are announced on the Diamond Preview. This means that all my purchases are made blindfold: I have to order the U.S. comics without seeing a single interior page. That’s why the covers are so important to me: they are the main means I have to understand if the comic book could be interesting for me. Yes, there is also a short description on the Diamond Preview, but I tend to notice the cover first.
    That’s why I love so much ASM # 4: it includes 4 scenes of the fight between Spidey and Sandman without spoiling too much, so it shows us what we are going to see, but doesn’t tell us the end of the story. Of course we know that too (Spidey will save the day), but the end of the story is not the intriguing part: the intriguing part is finding out HOW Spidey will save the day.
    For example, I’m a big fan of western novels. When I read one of them, I know in advance that, 9 times out of 10, the main character won’t die, the people he loves won’t get hurt too much and, at the end, he will get everything he wants. What makes those stories intriguing is that, in every single western novel, the hero seems to be doomed at least 10 times, and, every time he’s about to die or fail, there’s always an umpredictable event that make things go well. The so called deus ex machina.

    • “That’s why the covers are so important to me: they are the main means I have to understand if the comic book could be interesting for me.”
      I’ll be the first one to admit that I’ve bought a few comics due solely on them having an awesome cover.

      “Yes, there is also a short description on the Diamond Preview, but I tend to notice the cover first.”
      And sometimes those descriptions can be incredibly vague or simply filled with spoilers or not match the contents once the issue is released due to one reason or another.

      “Of course we know that too (Spidey will save the day), but the end of the story is not the intriguing part: the intriguing part is finding out HOW Spidey will save the day.”
      I feel the same way. Especially with the Sandman (no matter if it is comics, movies, or TV shows) they have to get real creative each time on how to beat that particular villain.

      “The so called deus ex machina.”
      Doctor Strange is a living, breathing Deus Ex Machina if there ever was one… 🙂

      • I had never thought about it, but you’re right about Dr Strange. He, exactly like Madame Web, is one of those characters who are so much “in the background” that you never notice how interesting they are.
        The best comic books starring Dr Strange are Guardian Devil and Thor: Vikings, in my opinion. But my experience with the character is so limited that I probably didn’t mention a lot of key issues. Thank you for your reply! : )

        • Never read too many Doctor Strange solo issues either. I’m more familiar with him in a guest-starring role/part of a team. I think he’d make a great choice for a live-action movie, however. Get on it Marvel!

          • Talking about supporting characters getting a solo series, I wonder why some of them, like Lex Luthor or the Joker, never had a solo series. Even far less popular characters got their “reserved seat”, and this honour was never given to such great characters.
            Maybe it’s because, in the unwritten code of comic book publishers, the leading character must have something positive, even it’s a pure antihero like the Punisher or Vigilante. If he/she is pure evil, like the 2 villains I mentioned, then it’s too politically incorrect to give him a solo series.
            Also, it is true that, each time the Joker peeps out on a DC title, the sales of that title hugely raise, but maybe it’s exactly because he peep out from time to time: if his presence becomes routinely, as it would happen with a monthly series focused on him, then that “I would kill for a comic book with the Joker” effect would vanish.

            • You nailed it. Publishers don’t like leading characters that are purely evil. Joker has no redeeming qualities so he’s disqualified and works better in an antagonizing role. As for Luthor, one day maybe he’ll get a mini-series as he is somewhat “the lesser of two evils”. Also they think who would read a book about a villain that loses all the time because you obviously can’t have them routinely triumph over the good guys.

              • In Italy we have a comic book focused on a villain who routinely triumphs over the good guys. It’s called Diabolik. I don’t read it regularly because it has a very repetitive narrative scheme, but, if you read it from time to time, it’s a very nice read. All the issues of Diabolik are stand – alone stories, and this is another thing I appreciate very much. Diabolik is a very old series: ask your grandma, maybe she knows it and can tell you something more about it. : )

                • “In Italy we have a comic book focused on a villain who routinely triumphs over the good guys.”
                  Wow! Is he really evil? Like on a scale of 1-10, what would you consider him in your experiences with the character?

                  • “Wow! Is he really evil? Like on a scale of 1-10, what would you consider him in your experiences with the character?” I would say that, on a scale of 1-10, Diabolik stands in the middle.
                    He’s a burglar who loves to pile up money and jewels for the sake of it, and who has a moral code that prevents him from robbing someone, unless he/she is very rich.
                    Also, he kills someone only if he/she deserves it: if he/she is an obstacle on Diabolik’s way but is also a good person, Diabolik just narcotizes him/her.
                    Another particular thing about Diabolik: 9 times out of 10, he kills with cold steel.
                    He has a long time lover, Eva Kant, who often helps him with his thefts, and he’s always obstacled by a detective, Ginko. He always gets very close to catching Diabolik, but, every time he’s about to handcuff him, a deus ex machina saves our antihero.
                    The weirdest thing is that, no matter how honest you are, you EXULT when that deus ex machina comes, because that comic book makes you support Diabolik. Of course something like this could never be published in America, for the same reason we will never see a solo series of Joker.
                    “Also, is the tone overly depressing?” Not at all. On the contrary, you are constantly delighted by the cleverness both of Diabolik and of the deus ex machina that saves him. I LOVE deus ex machina.

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