COVER STORIES for 09/04/2005
COVER STORIES INSTALLMENT #17
Welcome to this 17th edition of "Cover Stories," in which I look at a number of comics covers with a common theme!
Today's theme takes us under the big top to look at five covers featuring cowboys and Indians... but I'm not "cheating" and using Western comics! Nope, these all come from Action Comics!
Yep, that's right, the cover says, "The Covered Wagon of Doom!" Wanna make something of it? Okay, I may as well admit that I've not read this story at all, and don't know much about it. I do know that the cover was by Win Mortimer, and this was during the Whitney Ellsworth era. The reason I mention the editor was that it's fairly well-known that when Mort Weisinger took over editing the Superman books, he'd often ask neighborhood children what they'd like to see in the comics... perhaps Ellsworth did the same here... or, for all we know, one of the artists had a hankering for drawing horses and covered wagons!
The cover story, "The Covered Wagon of Doom!" features art by Wayne Boring and Stan Kaye. Backing up this story (it's the Golden Age, so you know there's lots of back-up features!) are Buzzy in the PSA "How Safe is Your Driving?" by Jack Schiff and Win Mortimer, Congo Bill in "The Forgotten Man of the Jungle" by Ed Smalle, Shorty in a half-page filler by Henry Boltinoff, Jerry Jitterbug in another filler by Boltinoff, Tommy Tomorrow in "The Holidays of Tomorrow" by Jim Mooney, and the Vigilante in "The Crime Rhymes!" by Bob Brown.
Now, this is a bit more like the standard Superman Golden Age covers, with the Man of Steel in a situation turned on its side due to his super-powers. In this case, it's running the gauntlet, which is known as a cliché in western movies and so forth. Apparently, this tribe doesn't get any edition of the Daily Planet, wouldn't you say?
This cover was by Win Mortimer, with the cover story, "Tests of a Warrior" drawn by Wayne Boring with Stan Kaye inking. This story was a re-working of a TV script that appeared on "The Adventures of Superman" in 1955 or so.
Also appearing in this issue were Tommy Tomorrow in "The Human Circus" by Otto Binder and Jim Mooney (reprinted in World's Finest 162), Jerry Jitterbug and Little Pete fillers by Henry Boltinoff, and Congo Bill in "Bombo, Killer of the Jungle!" by Ed Smalle. I should mention that the Congo Bill story was pre-Congorilla!
Here we have a later Silver Age cover, where the Native Americans aren't quite as stereotyped as the previous cover... part one of 2 parts (the second part is below). Now, these two issues do happen to be ones that I've read in the past, amazingly enough!
I'll talk about the story in a few minutes. First, the cover credits: Carmine Infantino (with Curt Swan corrections on the Superman figure) with Murphy Anderson inks. The story, "Invaders Go Home" was written by Leo Dorfman, with art by Curt Swan and Murphy Anderson. Cary Bates wrote, Curt Swan drew and Murphy Anderson inked the back-up story, "The Boy Who Begged To Die!", and the issue also had a Varsity Vic filler by Henry Boltinoff.
And here's the conclusion, with a cover by Neal Adams! "This Hostage Must Die", part 2 of the story, was also by Leo Dorfman, Curt Swan, and Murphy Anderson. The back-up "Tales of the Fortress" story is "Feud of the Titans," featuring a Superman-Supergirl tussle, by Leo Dorfman (as Geoff Browne), Curt Swan, and Murphy Anderson.
OK, now for the story! Basically, the crux of the plot is a clash between tradition and modern, with the Navarro Indian tribe. We're introduced to Don Hawks, one of the nation's leading astro-physicists, and a member of the Navarro tribe. We're also introduced to Frank Haldane, who is building a rocket base on what was Navarro land, a plateau called Montezuma's Castle. Using magic, Don Hawk is able to capture Superman (guardian of Earth), and use him as a hostage to regain the Navarro land! And it turns out that Navarro is not only a slave-driver, but he's also a sneaky dude, as the rocket on the base is actually a mechanical mole, and when it's launched, it goes deep into the earth, in search of Montezuma's treasure! We also discover that there was no magic involved with Superman's capture... just a bit of science, as Don Hawks used a jewel that drew rays from a far-off red sun to render Superman powerless. All turns out well in the end, with the Navarro getting their treasures back, and using them to build hospitals, schools, etc. and starting a tourist trade!
Special thanks to Steve Chung of the Silver Age Reviews list, whose review of the latter issue helped me remember what was going on!
And, what would a column about cowboys and Indians be without at least one Terra-Man cover? Terra-Man, as you may recall, is an Earth man who was taken by aliens and equipped with all kinds of high-tech gadgets with an old west theme. This issue's cover was by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez, one of DC's best 1970s and beyond artists, with Bob Oksner inks. The cover story, "The Night Superman Was Buried on Boot Hill" was by Cary Bates, Curt Swan, and Tex Blaisdell, and involves Superman's friends being kidnapped by Terra-Man and put into a rebuilt old west town, and brainwashed to act like old west equivalents of their modern jobs. Unfortunately for Terra-Man, among the friends he kidnapped was Clark Kent!
The back-up story for this issue is a "Private Life of Clark Kent" story called "Clark Kent's Lonely Christmas," and it's a classic, written by Bob Rozakis, with art by John Calnan and Tex Blaisdell.
Join me next time for another installment of "Cover Stories," and in the meantime, you can check out my blog at http://waffyjon.blogspot.com for other musings and ramblings by me, or email me with comments about this column at !