A Look back at old #1s (the iconic and the outragious)

After the DC reboot or revamp or whatever you call it was announced, we started hearing all this stuff about these new #1 issues and more recently we are actully seeing the interior art. That got me thinking about the importance of great first issues. I mean, the sucess of a series and its followers depends on the sucess of how it started off. This site, I think really understands this importance of these covers as that is what we see when we search for a series (the first issue!). As we were only able to see the covers of DC's new series, I thought we'd look at some Iconic Covers from the past. To see what attracted people or why they...didn't.

The Iconic

 Lets start with Batman #1 (the original):
  A nice contrast (blue/red/grey on a bright back ground). It really emforces Robin and Batman's sense of team work. Its simple, but its better simple. It would loose something if it was just cramped. 
Action Comics #1 (the original...I see this renumbering is going to cause confusion...):
This golden age of comics was just that golden. They used all these bright colors which really attracted people to comics. One of the most iconic shots in comics right there. This shows that this many is very powerful and his legicy would be long reaching. (on a side note, I have always wondered if this was product placement)
Superman #1
superman (1)
"Look up in the sky! its a bird! its a plane!   Its an elevator?" Sorry, moving on from Rocky and bullwinkle quotes. The boarder design of this cover reminds me of a picture frame and makes me think it would look great with one of them old black and white pictures with a person's name undernieth. Even still, the picture of Sups flying in the air (even with a funny looking s) is really great. We can see that he is starting to become the character we know and some of us love (no comment...just going to say with most writers he's over powered and uses his brains less than he uses his bronze to solve problems...but pay no heed and let's go to the next cover!)

The incredible Hulk #1
This cover is actully suprisingly good to show the character's slit personality.  Its contrast between dark blue (or is that purple) and white or gray is just great! If I saw this on the shelf (and it was new and cheep), I would actully pick it up just because of the cover!
Whiz Comics #2 (which is actully #1...long story)
Sort of similar to Action comic's cover what with the same style of car and wheel coming off, but Captain marvel is slightly different. It has great contrast colors for Captain Marvel.  This shows his strength (and how good Billy would be at baseball). Fawcett has had some great covers, so I'm glad this was suggested.
Wolverine #1
This cover really infosises Wolverine's character. This what covers should be like: it should give the perspective buyer a clue what they should expect from the series. I haven't read this series, but I would expect Wolverine would be (to use a phrase:) "Bad Ass".
Wonder Woman #1
How could I forget this one? Here is another example of a cover showing a character's personality. Here, I can see that Diana is strong and can hold her own agiast the group of enemies she is attacking.
Excalabur #1
  I'll be honest, I had not really heard of this series before now. However, this is a great Iconic group cover. You can tell this team has a varity of personalites from different places. Note the looking down from the roof top portion of the cover. This is a theme which has been used by many cover artists (as well as for movie posters). In film, we would call this a "low angle shot". This angle (looking up at a person or a team), gives the person (or team) a look of power. Same sort of angle Darth Vader was shot with throughout the films (to make him look more menacing).
X-men #1
  I'm not a fan of this cover, but what the fans like I'll post. The perspective is strange for me. What should my eyes be drawn to? They are all wearing the same costume, so I would think I should focus on Magneto, but his suit is the same color as the title and text box. I mean, this is really interesting shot, but not my favorite cover (what exacty is Gene doing? and sense when does Magneto have a sheild? Did I miss something?)
Darkwing Duck #1
I appogise. I know I should be focusing on covers which are even more iconic, but I am just a fan of Darkwing Duck. Sort of reminds me of the Batman the animated series picture with the cape up like wings being folded in on themselves. The stars are also cool in this picture. Would love to know how Silvani did that.
Journey into Mystery #1
I think this is just so cool. This cover would be ruined if they had drawn the arms as continuing off cover. This way just looks cooler. Puts the true mystery into this series and shows that this will be a supernatural-esce series. 
Silver Surfer #1
I'll admit I had never seen or hear of this series before, but this seems interesting. Not many #1 issues you see have the character in outer space. This sets the theme for the series (that is assuming that this is a space-related journey).
Fantastic Four #1
 Let me say, I am not really a fan of this cover. This is one of those early series whose covers have something directly from the comic, or at least it something related to the issue. It seems busy, but it is iconic (if the Simpsons' series has cover parodying this it must be iconic!).
Justice League #1
Something tells me the new #1 won't have them playing chess...Anyway it is an interesting cover. Wish it had a focus more on Flash and Whatshisface, but good cover.
The Avengers #1
What can I say about this cover? Well, it shows a unique group of heroes agianst a foe who seems right for a first issue. I wonder if this is what the Avengers will look like. I sort of wish they would get Captain america in a bit earlier to be in the issue instade of Hulk (he only appears for a few issues and then wanishes...what is that about?). Well, thats the Fabulous Marvel Manner!

Watchmen #1
  I'd like to thank IrishX for reminding me of this and I curse myself for forgeting this series (how could I forget?). This is one of the greatest covers we could could have in the iconic section (no offense, Action comics). Most of the covers on this blog have little to nothing to do with the plot or at least what the direction the series would take. However, the whole Watchmen series revolves around this whole image and is a repeating theme in the 12 part series. The image of the smily face bution splattered with comedian blood would go onto the end with ketchup (fans would know what i mean...). It's graphic while not being graphic; just like the series.


The Outrageous!

On to the outragous. The covers which just suprise me that such series lasted this long if they had such covers.
Green Lantern #1
  This is actully the second series to star Hal Jordon, so the name itself and not its first issue might have been the reason it would be popular enough to have 88 more issues after this. I mean, "Menace of the giant puppet"? Can you get more rediculous and I know it will only get more rediculous inside. Of course, during this time, most series would let people pick up random issues and still understand (a process which has become less popular in comics).
Captain America Comics #1
You'll have to appologise me fans of CA for including this under outragious. It is my oppinion this is just too cluttered to be an iconic cover. I mean if you look at the iconic section, you will see that most of the covers don't have that many details: just a hero doing something with maybe a few people or buildings. I can understand how punching Hitler was a priorty at the time (we were slightly annoyed by him at the time with a war and such), but this is just out of touch for our time.
The Amazing Spider-man #1:
While not exactly my favorite cover, I can see Marvel's plan. I guess they were trying to attract people from the already popular Fantastic Four to buy this series because it had them on the cover. I would have like something more...flashy to infosise the playful character, but I guess it all has to start somewhere...
MAD #1
  When I say "outragious covers" I think of Green lantern #1, but several hours later I think of another series. And that is MAD! For such a strange series, this cover is actully relaxed from what the series covers would become. There's shots at pop culture figures here, but it shows what this series would become

Closing thoughts

Well, thats a look at the covers of the past. Can you think of some other iconic covers (and do you know why they are iconic?)?  Based on these elements, do you think any of the new #1s are inflenced by these covers? Do you think some 60 years or so in future, we will have some iconic #1 covers which will be remembered or are they just outragous? I would love to know and will keep adding covers as long as you guys keep replying! Poet out.
35 Comments Refresh
Posted by ssejllenrad

The Outrageous thin in the Cap cover is not really the detail.. It's that Bucky pic! Also how did Cap shield/dodge the bullets from that upper left side?

Posted by Amegashita

  Though it's titled Whiz Comics #2, it's actually the first issue in the series so if this doesn't qualify, just tell me and I'll choose a different title. 

I'm Calling Iconic for this 
   The cover is simply great, while the background colors are a low shade of colors, Captain Marvel is clad in bright garments to attract the eye of the reader, and the fact that the Cap is throwing a car is a note of his strength, and a knock at Superman showing how Fawcett Publications were trying to overthrow Superman, (which they did).  There's more reasons why this comic is iconic, but that has nothing to do with the cover so I'll save it for another time.
Posted by fesak

Did you know that AC#1 is based on this:

Posted by War Killer

I can understand the Cap cover, even though I still this it's a great cover :P
Personally I really like the recent modern version of that cover Marvel put out not too long ago...

Posted by The Poet
@Amegashita: yeah I think Whiz's first issues (which was offically its 2nd for some reason) works on the iconic covers. Added.
@fesak: I can sort of see it. Just have to turn the figure metally to face his left.  
@War Killer: see this new cover has a focus. You know exactly what to look at. CA wearing blue in a sea of green and reds, so your eyes are instantly drawn to him. This is different from the original, because in the original Captain is wearing blue in a complementing blue room. This confuses the viewer on what to look at. It is a great cover, but just by some differeent coloring it would be perfect and more appealing. or thats my view. :P
Posted by Raven0207

I would personally love to see someones take on Cap #1 with a homage to the movie Cap. Maybe I'll throw that on my to do list
Posted by IrishX

I like the thread. I thought you would go into more #1's though. This one may not be from the 30's or 40's but I'd say it's Iconic anyway. It's simple yet sends a clear message.....




Posted by The Poet
@Raven0207: that would be interesting to see :)
@gravitypress: I appologise as i won't do every #1, but to you, what makes those cover iconic or outragious (in your own words)?
Posted by gravitypress

Actually, I did a delete as they did not seem to fit with the others.

Posted by RazzaTazz

I guess Wonder Woman #1 would be iconic 
Posted by The Poet
@RazzaTazz: @IrishX: I'll be adding more later in the afternoon. Keep submitting!
Posted by cosmo111687
@fesak said:
Did you know that AC#1 is based on this:
Heracles #1?
Posted by harleyquinn12

X-Men #1 is pretty iconic. 
Posted by Avenging-X-Bolt

while not as iconic as those you have listed, the Creeper was a big hit and one of the covers from Beware The Creeper was included in the 75th anniversary poster book in wich Creeper was rferred as foremost among all of Ditko's dc creations
Posted by DoomDoomDoom
  I know Metamorpho isn't an iconic character but this cover is to me simply because It was the first time I had ever seen a cover layout resemble interior page layouts. 
@fesak: You don't happen to know where this art comes from do you? It looks like a detail of a larger piece.
Posted by The Poet
@Avenging-X-Bolt: yeah that cover is cool. Like the contrast espehselly with him so bright on a dark background.
@DoomDoomDoom: hmmm...didn't know he had his own series...cool.
to answer your question, that is Hercules Clubs the Hydra by Antonio del Pollaiolo
Thank you wikipedia!
Posted by DoomDoomDoom
@The Poet: Thank you good sir.
Posted by fesak

yep. Also i found a nice article about the AC1 cover here

Posted by The Poet
@fesak: wow. that is really cool how much time they spent on that article. @DoomDoomDoom: you see the article?
Posted by DoomDoomDoom
@fesak: Awesome!
@The Poet: Yeah, giving it a read through now.
Posted by The Poet

Just added #1 one to a series which makes a comedian bleed, the smartest man driven insane (my opinion, not his) and the very sands of mars shake and reform.
 You guessed it! I have added Watchmen #1!

Posted by RedheadedAtrocitus

Why didn't you include Superman #1? I think that look is more iconic than even Action Comics #1.

Posted by The Poet
@RedheadedAtrocitus: I was going to stay away from posting similar characters titles (so I don't get requests for X-men the 1991 series, or the 2004 series or the 2010 series...it would be a little chaotic). however, agianst my better judgement, I'll include it (what with it being a long standing series).
Added with discription.
Posted by RedheadedAtrocitus
@The Poet said:
@RedheadedAtrocitus: I was going to stay away from posting similar characters titles (so I don't get requests for X-men the 1991 series, or the 2004 series or the 2010 series...it would be a little chaotic). however, agianst my better judgement, I'll include it (what with it being a long standing series).  Added with discription.
Heh oh you didn't have to though I just thought it to be an iconic cover too...I just have always liked that pose for the Man of Steel, even when it was copied by others later on (::coughs:: Supreme ::coughs:: )
Posted by The Poet
@RedheadedAtrocitus: tis alright. added any way (plus anytime I get to quote Rocky and bullwinkle is just fun for me!)
Posted by kfhrfdu_89_76k

Sir Poet  
Magneto can create a magnetic forcefield.  
I think that the Darkwing Duck-cover was made with pencils, ink and Photoshop. 
Nothing else to write.  

Posted by The Poet
@kfhrfdu_89_76k said:
Sir Poet  Magneto can create a magnetic forcefield.  I think that the Darkwing Duck-cover was made with pencils, ink and Photoshop. Nothing else to write.  

hmm...I didn't know that about Magneto (but then agian, I'm not a x-men fan) 
WAIt! I've been knighted while I was gone?! YES!!!!!!!!!!!!
Posted by jloneblackheart
Posted by Dracade102
Fantastic Four #1
Posted by The Poet

I'll add those when I get back. commenting straight from New York (using a computer with a session time out funtion, so need to deal with other things).
Edited by Jake Fury

Nice work Poet. 
I'll add some recent #1 issues to complement the classic issues you presented originally.  
One of my favorites in recent memory: 
I had actually stopped reading comics for awhile when I spotted this at a Books A Million. I honestly had no idea who any of the characters were and my curiousity got the best of me.   
These are just personal favorites of mine from over the years. 
Posted by Mighty Thorion
Posted by The Poet
@Mighty Thorion: Added.
@Jake Fury
Thanks. And thanks for showing your favorties. It is interesting to see what other people like.
Posted by Darkmount1

Man, this just reminds me of what my criteria is for collecting old comics from the Big Two: 
-First issues 
-Milestone/Landmark or first appearance issues 
-Final issues 
-The occasional one-shot or interesting miniseries; for example, yesterday I found all four issues of the 1993 Metamorpho miniseries.
Posted by djotaku

great job putting that together.  Enjoyed reading through it.  I'd like to see how #1s look nowadays compared to then.  Perhaps a future subject for you?