COVER STORIES for 03/26/2006
COVER STORIES INSTALLMENT #46
Welcome to this 46th edition of "Cover Stories," in which I look at a number of comics covers with a common theme!
So, what do I have for you guys this week? Why... it's a quartet of "first meetings!" Yes, it's four comics featuring the first meetings with characters!
Let's begin, shall we?
This first cover, from Action Comics 252, features a first meeting that's so famous, it was even made into a DC Direct statuette! Yes, it's the first meeting of Superman and his cousin from Krypton, Supergirl! The cover, by Curt Swan and Al Plastino (credited in the DC Silver Age Classics reprint as inked by Stan Kaye) is definitely a familiar one to many Silver Age fans, but strangely, I don't recall any time it had ever inspired a different cover!
And as you can see from the blurb, this issue featured a second first meeting, too... with Metallo!
But let's begin with the cover story... which was reprinted in its entirety as a DC Silver Age Classic and a Millenium Edition, and in the Showcase Presents Superman Volume 1... Well, actually, we're not. The first story was the Metallo tale (yeah, DC liked to do that in the Silver Age books with more than one story). This tale is credited to Robert Bernstein and Al Plastino. John Corben is a criminal who's almost killed in an auto accident, but he's found by one of those comic-book scientists who save his life by giving him a robot body powered by uranium! So Corben gets a job at the Daily Planet (somehow getting a reference from the editor of the Eastport News, but how isn't revealed) in order to steal more uranium to power his body, then Lois Lane is convinced Corben is really Superman after bullets bounce off him! Then Corben impersonates Superman, then discovers he can also power his body with Kryptonite, he attempts to steal some, but accidentally steals fake Kryptonite instead, and he dies! A lot of stuff in 13 pages, isn't it? And I didn't even mention Superman saving himself from real Green K by melting it with his heat vision (something I doubt they ever used again). This story was reprinted in Superman Annual #2, Superman #21, and the aforementioned books.
This exciting tale was followed by Congo Bill in Congo Bill Dies at Dawn, which also featured Congorilla, and was by Bernstein with Howard Sherman. Congo Bill Dies at Dawn! (Sequence 2 - Story , 6 pages )
I find it both ironic and strangely appropriate that Binder, who wrote many of the best original Captain Marvel stories, introduced Supergirl, Superman's answer to Mary Marvel! Don't you?
I'm sure you're familiar with the story, but here's a brief recap: A rocket crashes outside of Metropolis, Superman arrives at the scene, and Supergirl comes out of the rocket, telling her origin (her city was preserved on a chunk of rock when Krypton exploded, and her father, Zor-El, discovered a bubble of air came along with it, but when the rock changed to Kryptonite, Zor-El rolled out lead sheet metal over the entire rock to protect them, and years later, Kara [Supergirl] was born, but when she was a teenager, meteors burst through the lead shielding, exposing Kryptonite to the air, so Zor-El sent Kara to Earth in a rocketship because he discovered Superman was there.). Superman realizes Supergirl is his cousin, and helps set her up with a secret identity and tells her to keep her identity a secret from the world.
Of course, this origin was revised in later years so that instead of an air bubble, there was actually a dome over the city, and since it had been posited that Green K only affects super-powered Kryptonians, it was later revised that it was anti-Kryptonite, or X-Kryptonite, or pistachio-Kryptonite that the rock turned into.
And here's Adventure Comics 128, which revealed how Clark Kent met Lois Lane! This story, which was reprinted in the Superman From the Thirties... volumes mentioned above, is a story I've actually read, thanks to that reprinting. Basically, Lois Lane won a contest that earned her a day at the Daily Planet, which Clark Kent also won, and the Planet staffer who worked with them decided to have a contest to see who could get the best story. Or something like that, anyway... sadly, I sold my copy of that book over a year ago, and that's the best I can remember!
Bill Finger, best known for his Batman stories, wrote this tale, with art by George Roussous. I remember when reading this story noting that Roussous's teenage Lois in this story bore a remarkable resemblance to movie Lois Lane Margot Kidder!
Also in this issue: Green Arrow in "The Man of a Thousand Flags" by George Papp, Aquaman in "The Sea Circus" by Joe Samachson and John Daly, and Johnny Quick in "The Miracle Farmer" by Don Cameron, Mort Meskin and George Roussos!
OK, time for a few first villain meetings! And I'm sure expected another Superman family cover, but here's a surprise: All-Flash 32 (the last issue), by Lee Elias and Moe Worthman!
Yep, in this issue, the Golden Age Flash meets the Fiddler... but before we get to that... we have "The Amazing Star Sapphire" by Robert Kanigher, Lee Elias, and Moe Worthman. And this is a bonus "first meeting," because this is the first appearance of the Golden Age Star Sapphire! This tale was reprinted in Flash Annual #1.
Yeah, I know, I was surprised to find a Golden Age Star Sapphire, too... especially one that was a Flash foe, and not a Green Lantern foe! Well, at least I was surprised when I read the issue of Flash and Green Lantern: The Brave and the Bold that featured her!
Next in this issue was "Crime Incorporated" by John Broome, Carmine Infantino, and Frank Giacoia, in which Jay Garrick battled the Thinker, followed by a text story, "An Apple a Day" by Lee Grant and Raymond Perry. Next up was "Ton O' Fun" by Harry Lampert.
And finally, "Duet of Danger," by Robert Kanigher, Lee Elias, and Moe Worthman, reprinted in Flash #160! Yep, this story introduced The Fiddler, who apparently made a great impression on someone, given how often he was used in the Silver Age, eh? I remember that he was used in at least two JLA-JSA team-ups. The Fiddler is the kind of villain that nobody would try to introduce these days, eh? I mean, the guy somehow uses his violin to create strange effects... heck, if he was introduced in the Silver Age, he probably would've had to have his violin given to him by aliens or something, eh?
And to wrap up this column... here's Gil Kane and John Romita introducing the Punisher! This tale, reprinted in Essential Punisher #1 and Marvel Tales #106 and #209, was called "The Punisher Strikes Twice," and was by Gerry Conway, Ross Andru, Frank Giacoia, and Dave Hunt. In this tale, the Jackal convinces the Punisher that Spidey is evil and sends the assassin to kill him. The story was continued in Amazing Spider-Man #134 and #135.
And, given how much I really hate the Punisher, that's all I'm going to say about that!
Thanks as always go to the Grand Comics Database for their invaluble assistance in providing credits for these comics!
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 !