COVER STORIES for 10/09/2005
COVER STORIES INSTALLMENT #22
Welcome to this 22nd edition of "Cover Stories," in which I look at a number of comics covers with a common theme! Yeah, yeah, those of you who've been reading this column for a while know the drill, right?
But for the benefit of those who may be reading this column for the first time, I should probably explain this (hey, every issue is someone's first issue, isn't it?). The purpose of this column is to present three to four comic book covers each week, with a related theme. With each cover, I'll tell you the credits for that comic (courtesy of the Grand Comics Database, a columnist's best friend), any information I might have about the book (ok, that's fairly rare), as well as any observations, humorous or otherwise, about the cover. I may also throw in some personal reminiscences here and there relating to the books or the theme. Plus, every four or five weeks, I present an installment of "Comics They Never Made," in which I present some faked-up comic book covers, and tell you about the contents of those faked-up comics (usually two of those per installment).
So, now that everyone's on the same page... I present this week's theme, "I Want My Mummy!" Yep, ghosts last week, mummies this week... gee, ya'd think Halloween was coming up or something, eh?
Mummies don't seem to be nearly as common in today's comics as they were in the 40s, 50s, 60s, or even the 70s (anyone out there remember "The Living Mummy"?). And in fact, comics companies' use of the mummy motif wasn't limited to traditional mummies. But before I get into that, a brief history of the mummy, which might help explain the popularity of them.
I'm sure most of you are familiar with the ancient Egyptians' use of mummification... their culture probably was the best known for it, although there's evidence that Aztecs and even possibly Incans did it, as well. The most famous mummy is probably Tutankamen, aka King Tut. Finding his tomb was one of the major archaeological finds, and the so-called "Curse of King Tut" filled many a newspaper headline at the time. Although as shown in the Straight Dope, it's not that much of a curse... see http://unmuseum.mus.pa.us/mummy.htm for an example of how that's been debunked.
Despite the debunking, Hollywood caught the "mummy bug," with the most famous movie being, naturally, "The Mummy," starring Boris Karloff, which led to a series of films from Universal, and later, Hammer Pictures.
Enough history? Fine... let's see what comics did with the mummy concept!
Yes, Vicki Vale, why are Batman and Robin wearing mummy costumes? Well, I'm not entirely certain. During this time period in the Caped Crusader's comics career (how's that for alliteration?), Batman (and sometimes Robin, too) would don a variety of costume variations that, frankly, I'm amazed Kenner didn't latch onto when they started producing various Batman action figures, all a little different from the others. There was a Rainbow Batman costume in the comics, a jungle Batman costume, and so on (I was hoping to find a web page devoted to these bizarre variations, but I've come up dry on that... sorry!). So, naturally, there had to be a mummy costume at some point or another, eh?
The cover for this issue was penciled and inked by Sheldon Moldoff. Shelly also penciled the interior story, "Batman and Robin - The Mummy Crime-Fighters," with inks by Charles Paris. Also in this issue were the text filler "Undersea Sleuths," John Johns, Manhunter from Mars in "The Curse of the Golden Eagle," with art by Joe Certa, and the Henry Boltinoff filler, "True Crime Laffs."
So, why were Batman and Robin wearing mummy costumes? Well, to be honest, I don't know for sure... but given this time period, it's probably for one of the following reasons:
1. As part of an elaborate hoax to catch some criminals (something that the world's greatest detective should have been able to come up with a better version of), or
2. Some kind of hoax to teach Vicki Vale/Bat-Girl/Bat-Woman or someone else "a lesson."
Going away from the Caped Crusaders, let's look at this ACG Forbidden Worlds mummy cover... as I've noted before, ACG's creepy creatures rarely stayed to standard form... most comics mummies were very well-wrapped, and nothing like the gruesome spectacle above! I mean, sheesh... who would use such narrow bandages on a mummy, and then not even bother to attach them properly? It's amazing this one held together long enough to menace that poor archaeologist!
This very-detailed cover was courtesy of artist Ken Bald. I'm guessing the cover tied into the first story, "The Domain of the Dead," with art by Pete Riss. Other features in this issue were "The Haunted Gallery" with art by Sam Cooper, "The Flopping Head" with art by Al Williamson, Larry Woromay, and King Ward, "The Haunting Refrain," "The Devil's Typewriter" with art by Pete Gattuso, "The Bride of the Beast", with Cooper art again, and "Uncanny Mysteries: Were-Jackals" with art by Paul Gustavson and Charles Quinlan.
Quite a package of stuff, eh?
From the sublime to the ridiculous, here's The Inferior Five #9!
Yep, that's one wacky group of also-ran heroes, hmm? And our requisite mummy stands just behind Dumb Bunny.
But wait... I sense that some of you may have never heard of the I-5! Well, they were a parody super-team... the members themselves didn't really parody any particular character, but they were all the sons and daughter of the Golden Agency, whose members bore a strong resemblance to the JLA members of the time. The team featured Dumb Bunny (the blonde babe), Merryman (at the far left), White Feather (on the floor, fainted), Awkwardman (in the blue), and barely squeezing into this cover, the Blimp! They were a silly and fun group, and hardly seen or heard from in many a year... I believe that the group appeared in an issue or two of Animal Man (during a Crisis storyline, but not a Crisis on Infinite Earths tie-in, natch), and Dumb Bunny herself appeared in the first Angel and the Ape mini-series, as we learned she was related to Angel O'Day.
Totally lost now? Well, if you are, do yourself a favor and track down a copy of any of their issues... or even the DC Digest story that reprinted their origin and a few other tales! Or, for the time being, visit Don Markstein's Toonopedia web site and read about them at http://www.toonopedia.com/inferior.htm.
Back to this issue, which was the next-to-last issue of all-new material... this cover was by Win Mortimer and Tex Blaisdell (although it looks like Carmine Infantino may have done some touch-ups, particularly on White Feather's face... but that's purely my call there). "Mummy's the Word!" was written by E. Nelson Bridwell, with the same art team that did the cover. In the story, the I-5 battle a mummy that steals jewels... and I'm sure that description doesn't do the story justice!
To wrap up this week's mummy covers (ouch! Bad pun, that), here's a Marvel monsterwork, from Journey Into Mystery!
Yep, not just a mummy, but a giant mummy! Moreover, a giant mummy with but three fingers on each hand! Those wacky Marvel guys... what wouldn't they come up with? This cover was penciled by Jack Kirby, although I'd love to see what Ditko would've come up with instead!
This cover was the first story in the book, "I Defied GOMDULLA... The Living Pharoah!" with art by Kirby and Dick Ayers. This story, in case you can't afford a copy of the original, was reprinted in Monsters On The Prowl #12. Also in this issue were "I Dared Enter the Haunted Forest" with art by Don Heck, itself reprinted in Monsters on the Prowl #13. "I Opened The Door To... Nowhere!" was drawn and inked by Steve Ditko, and reprinted in Where Monsters Dwell #17, while "The Curse of M'Gumbu!" by Paul Reinman was reprinted in Fear #7.
I'm not sure why that last story wasn't entitled something like, "I Defied the Curse of M'Gumbu," or "I Dared The Curse of M'Gumbu!" Nor do I have any idea why every story in this issue was reprinted! Maybe the stats were still at hand or something like that.
Anyway... 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 !