COVER STORIES for 11/06/2005
COVER STORIES INSTALLMENT #26
Welcome to this 26th edition of "Cover Stories," in which I look at a number of comics covers with a common theme!
This week, I feature four "rounds" of boxing covers! Yep, that's right... covers featuring the "sweet science" of boxing! If you're not familiar with comics from the golden and silver ages, it may surprise you to see that a lot of comics had sports-themed covers (and I'll be doing another sports covers column in 2 weeks, as I follow up next week's Thanksgiving column with a football one). For me, a big part of the fun of doing this column is finding covers the likes of which we haven't seen in years and years... and I doubt that we'll ever see comics these days revisiting those good old days, eh?
So, without further ado, let's ring the bell, and start the round!
When it comes to stylized violence, or even just capturing a moment... you can't really go wrong by looking at Simon & Kirby's amazing work... and here, we see the Sandman by S&K in a boxing-related situation (I'll have another S&K cover at the end of this column). This version of the Sandman had started out as the possibly more-familiar gas-mask-and-green-suited version of Wesley Dodd's alter ego that you've seen in the JLA/JSA team-ups of the 60s and 70s, but not too far along in the character's publishing history, it was decided to give him a makeover... with the results you see here! He lost the suit, and gained the purple and gold costume, as well as boy sidekick Sandy Hawkins (who can be seen today as Sand in JSA) and his wirepoon gun, a very handy thing for swinging around the city!
The cover story was "The Lady and the Champ," also by the S&K team, of which the final half-page was a Boy Commandos ad in story form. Also in this issue, we had Starman in "Wish Upon a Star" with art by Emil Gerswin, the Shining Knight in "Checkmate to Chivalry" with art by Louis Cazeneuve, Genius Jones debuting in "The Case of the Haunted Opera" by Alfred Bester and Stan Kay, Manhunter in "Justice Was Taken for a Joy Ride" with art by Pierce Rice, and Hourman and Thorndyke, the Minute man, in "The Riddles in Rhyme," with art by Bernard Baily.
Sounds to me like this issue was a definite knock-out, full of good readin', eh?
OK, OK, I know... enough with the boxing puns already!
Moving ahead in time, let's look at an ACG boxing-themed cover!
Here's Adventures Into the Unknown, with kind of a surprise for an ACG book (that is, if you're only familiar with ACG through the covers I've posted in this column)... no freaky green ghosts at all... no bizarre monster combinations... just a skinny guy knocking out a bigger guy!
Now, this cover may be triggering a memory for some of you... and yes, you may well recall a story in which there's a skinny guy who just can't put on weight, but is then subjected to the rays of a machine which increases his mass (although still appearing skinny), and is able to then beat the crap out of a heavyweight boxer! That story appeared originally in Strange Adventures 54 in 1955, entitled "The World's Mightiest Weakling," by Otto Binder, Carmine Infantino, and Bernard Sachs. It was reprinted in Superman #242, if you're curious. This may have well inspired the 1957 cover and story presented here! And, just to be complete, here's a few pages from the DC story:
My thanks to Steve Chung from the Silver Age Reviews list for his timely assistance in identifying the DC story!
Back to Adventures Into the Unknown, this cover was by Odgen Whitney, a regular ACG contributor. Behind this cover lurked the stories "Doom Foiled" with art by Kurt Schaffenberger, "Little Man Who Wasn't There," a text filler, "A Higher Power" with art by Whitney, "The Any-Weight Champion" with art by Al Williamson, "Remote Control," and "Puzzle of the Ring" with art by Whitney.
Here's a more recent comics cover, relatively speaking, which features the Caped Crusader and the Earth-B Wildcat slugging it out wearing Roman cestuses, thanks to the Clown Prince of Crime!
OK, I should explain that "Earth-B" reference... the "B" stands both for Murray Boltinoff (the editor) and Brave and the Bold, and is a designation used by many to provide an alternate Earth for, among other stories, the Brave and the Bold tales in which an apparent Earth-1 Batman meets up with Wildcat, who was from Earth-2. Yes, there was a Batman on Earth-1, but this one can't be that one... E2's Bats never had the yellow bullseye around the bat insignia!
Anyway, the basis of this story is that the Joker's using a virus to kill people, as per his usual stratagem, but this virus is apparently being carried by a dog! Batman and Wildcat go looking for the dog, their only hope for a cure, and eventually, the Joker gets them to fight each other, or he'll destroy the mutt. All works out in the end, however!
Yep, that's right, I not only read that issue, but I remembered it!
I don't even need the GCD to tell me this cover was by Jim Aparo, one of my favorite Batman artists! Aparo also did the art, and the story was by Bob Haney, a top writer of Batman team-ups!
Now, as the final bout on this title card (oh, wait, didn't I promise no more boxing puns?), it seems appropriate to finish out with yet another Simon & Kirby boxing cover, this one featuring the Guardian and the Newsboy Legion, one of my favorite S&K creations!
This title was another of DC's great anthology books... with a great bunch of features! Of course, it lead off with the S&K Newsboy Legion story, "The Newsboy and the Champ," but the goodness just kept on coming with the Star Spangled Kid & Stripesy in "Needle in the Haystack" with art by Hal Sherman, Liberty Belle (whom I didn't become familiar with until Roy Thomas' All-Star Squadron - I've never read any of the original stories) in "Belles of Liberty," by Don Cameron and Chuck Winter. And then, what would be a Golden Age anthology title without at least one feature I've never heard of? In this case, it's Penniless Palmer in "The Case of the Capering Mice," with art by Stan Kaye. We're back to more familiar characters with the final two features, TNT and Dan the Dyna-Mite in "Solid Ghosts" with art by Louis Cazeneuve and Robotman in "The Jigsaw Crimes" by Jerry Siegel and John Daly.
Now, I'll be honest... I've read more GA Newsboy Legion stories than any of the other features (thanks to reprints)... and probably have only read one GA Star Spangled Kid, maybe two Robotman, and no TNT stories... but doesn't this issue sound like some great reading? Then again, as I've no doubt mentioned, you just can't go wrong with any book that included Simon & Kirby stuff in it!
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 !