I've always been fascinated by the earliest stages of enduring comic book characters. Much like a long-running TV series, the beginning "baby steps" of now-familiar figures are often a period of growth and experimentation, before their signature cast, concepts and personalities were in full bloom.
A good example of this awkward stage is Iron-Man's early appearances in Tales of Suspense. While the core elements were in place from his debut in issue #39 (billionaire genius as armored adventurer), the next seven or eight issues featured fantastical settings and oddball villains that (in hindsight) seemed a poor fit for the character (click on the covers for a larger view).
It's during this period that you realize just how fluid and improvisational the nascent Marvel Universe was. The cover of Tales of Suspense #41 (May 1963) certainly drove that point home, as Iron-Man faced a supervillain named Doctor Strange...a mere two months before Strange Tales #110 hit the newsstands, featuring the debut of Marvel's Sorcerer Supreme: Doctor Strange!
On a completely unrelated note: For those of you who've already read this week's DC Universe #0, see me after the jump (MAJOR spoilers ahead)....