As the Gold Age of comics was coming to end in the late 1950s, Atlas Comics was on the cusp of becoming Marvel Comics. During this transitional era Atlas was churning out various anthology series, often centered on menacing monsters in the vein of the behemoths populating the classic Sci-Fi films of the period. This phase is greatly admired by dedicated comic collectors for the numerous "Prototype" characters that filled the pages of titles such as Tales to Astonish, Journey Into Mystery, Tales of Suspense, Amazing Adventures and Strange Tales. At the cutting edge of this trend were masterminds Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Dick Ayers and of course the legendary Stan Lee.
Kirby, Ditko and Ayers are joined by Paul Reinman in the credits noted on the CGC grading label accompanying the offered 3/61 Atlas Comics "Journey Into Mystery" #66 issue. Menacing the front cover of this classic comic, is a towering gray monster taking up half of the page under the banner "The Return of the Hulk!". This title blurb refers to an appearance of the character "Xemnu" (The Hulk) who was introduced in J.I.M. issue #62 months earlier (available elsewhere in our current auction). While Xemnu bears little in resemblance to the big green monster we have come to know and love by the name of "The Hulk", this issue remains prized for the status of its featured star, which is cited on the grading label with a "Hulk prototype" notation. This top quality issue is bestowed with a grade of (8.5) with a notation of "Off-White to White Pages" by CGC, good for a prestigious Census rank of "1/2" with just 1 higher, out of a total Universal Grade population of 64.
This new to the market comic comes from the spectacular Maryland collection, which has been lovingly stored by the original owner for more than half of a century. H&S began the sale of this high grade collection in our November, 2018 auction and we are proud to conclude this sale in our current February, 2019 auction, Please see our "Americana/Comics" category to review the other lots from this incredible collection, including both single graded issues and several box lots.