COVER STORIES for 01/22/2006
COVER STORIES INSTALLMENT #37
Welcome to this 37th edition of "Cover Stories," in which I look at a number of comics covers with a common theme!
With apologies to David Bowie... the theme this time around is "Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes," and boy, are there a lot to choose from when looking at comics covers throughout history!
Of course, "changes" is a pretty wide net to cast, isn't it? It could refer to costume changes, or even complete identity changes... or even to wacky and/or bizarre transformations... and I'll try to hit at least one of each here!
And, oh, yes, I have covered this theme once before... back in installment #7, although in that installment, I just focused on Superman transformations. And surely, I wouldn't even start the second column with this theme with another Superman cover, would I? Would I?
You bet your red trunks I would!
Yep, it's Action 325, with a giant Superbaby on Krypton... and the promise of "The Best Superman Story of the Year!" (given this issue is cover-dated June, and probably hit the stands in February or March, that's a bit premature, isn't it?) Anyway, this cover, naturally, was penciled by Curt Swan and ably inked by George Klein.
"The Skyscraper Superman" featured artwork by the same cover art team. I think I used to have this issue myself, but frankly, I can't recall the story (I think I get this one confused with the story where Brainiac kidnapped baby Kal-El from Krypton, and accidentally hit him with a growth ray).
This issue also featured a Cap's Hobby Center by Henry Boltinoff, plus Supergirl in "The Ugly Duckling Teacher of Stanhope College" by Leo Dorfman and Jim Mooney.
OK, even I wouldn't cover a theme a second time within a year, and only use Superman-related covers that second time... well, unless the theme itself was Superman-centric. But anyway... this cover's from Amazing Adventures #11, and unlike most covers I've got for this theme, this was a permanent change - unless one counts the change in coloring from the gray shown here to the deep blue later on!
I'm sure many comics fans, when they saw this issue on the newsstands, wondered why the heck Marvel was featuring a different Beast than the one who had been one of the original X-Men... little realizing that this was the same character! Yep, Hank McCoy, he of the oversized hands and feet, who was the only X-Man whose costume didn't have gloves or boots, found himself working for a corporation (which, as was traditional starting in the 1970s, was an evil one), working to discover the source of mutagenic changes, or something like that... and to test his theory, Hank drank the serum himself, getting the world's worst case of all-over facial hair!
Bizarrely, Hank took to wearing a rubberized mask and gloves to maintain some sort of secret identity (you know, the same kind of rubber mask that Batman used to wear over his cowl when he'd be in disguise... or was worn in TV shows like Mission: Impossible... masks that nobody could detect as being rubber, despite the fact that nobody has ever produced such a mask in real life?)... and was even responsible for bringing Patsy Walker into the Marvel Universe proper! But maybe I'm throwing out too much at once here.
This cover was fantastically penciled by Gil Kane, with inks by Sub-Mariner creator Bill Everett (and weren't they a perfect team?). This story was reprinted in the trade paperback X-Men: Mutations. Within, the story "Lo! A Beast is Born!" was written by Gerry Conway (these days he works on the TV show "Law & Order: SVU"), penciled by Tom Sutton, and inked by Syd Shores.
Here's another Marvel transformation cover by the late great Gil Kane, from Amazing Spider-Man 101! Actually, the change occurred at the end of issue #100, but it wasn't cover-featured. Y'see, Peter Parker was convinced that his spider-powers weren't enough to defeat Morbius, the Living Vampire, so he experimented with a way to increase his spider-powers... and gained four extra arms (I suppose he should've been thankful he didn't get organic web-spinners in the place real spiders have them!). John Romita inked this cover.
Has anyone ever compiled a list of all the bizarre transformations DC characters underwent in the Silver Age? I'd imagine it would be a rather long list, and probably dominated by Superman, Jimmy Olsen (heck, he had an 80-Page Giant devoted to them), and the Flash!
Poor Flash... he went through some truly bizarre ones, and probably none more frustrating to him than this one, in which he was hit by a ray that made him weigh 1,000 pounds! (By the way, Superman was turned into a super-fatso himself once, and when I make the third go-round of this theme, I may well include that one!).
The cover of Flash 115 was penciled, of course, by Carmine Infantino and inked by Murphy Anderson, while the story was written by John Broome, with art by Infantino and Giella. This issue was reprinted in 80 Page Giant #4, and probably in Flash Archives #1, too.
This issue also featured an Elongated Man tale, "The Elongated Man's Secret Weapon!" by Broome, Infantino and Anderson. Barry Allen made an appearance in that story, too!
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 !